Hmmm....well, I finally took a look at this thread...it's different. I'm not sure if it's beneficial or not. After all, there are a lot of interesting things one could talk about besides this stuff. On the other hand, it's helping me get to know some of you.
Praise - your comments interest me. This thing of being "Christian" or not being "Christian" is a pretty subjective business. There are some people who would definitely say I am Christian and there are some who would definitely say I am not. Ironical, isn't it? This has to do more with their chosen belief structures than mine, in all probability, as theirs are usually a whole lot more exclusive. As far as I'm concerned, I am Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, a follower of the North American Indian Medicine Way, a mystic, a Pagan, a Bahai, a Hindu, a Jane, you name it. All of those and more. Most importantly, I am human, that's the crux of them matter.
I grew up in a totally atheistic and rational family, with a strong sense of morality and social order. My parents believed in the rule of law, normal morality, science, logic, and MATERIAL GOODS!!!! Oh, and MONEY, of course. I followed along on this basically atheistic path until I was about 21.
I had noticed that the people I admired the most (Dylan, Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Crazy Horse...and so on) were all people who clearly had VERY strong spiritual beliefs. This was obvious. And I began to wonder if maybe they were onto something.
Accordingly, I investigated every religious and mystical notion out there in my early 20's. I now cannot look at any situation in life without seeing it in spiritual terms. I cannot look at any religion without seeing at its core the same essential truths, although the cultural details and the "do's and don'ts" will differ from one to another.
So...although I may sometimes look askance at specific churches for their closed-mindedness and their abuses against humanity...I will never look askance at honest faith in God (or whatever you choose to call your concept of Divinity). If I should happen to criticize the church, I will not be criticizing your faith.
As one believer to another...Hi there. Peace be with you.