Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A New Poll!

I seem to have gotten really into this polling thing. For those of you reading via Bloglines or whatever, there's a new one in the sidebar:

Who had or has had the most formative influence on your religious life?

It occurs to me that answers could reflect both positive and negative experiences . . .

The idea materialized out of a Lenten reflection I just listened to (the one entitled I Know A Guy), which urges us to think about the people who have played significant roles in our religious development. I hope you'll leave comments! ~ because I for one find such stories fascinating. Because I'm in seminary, I often hear people talk about growing up in religious families, which was not the case for me, and so I am interested in all the kinds of influences that bear on a life of faith (or not).

For now, my own list in a nutshell:
Minister, friends, minister, nun, friends, ministers, professor, priests, professor, friends. Later addendum: of course, I should have included authors in my personal list!

You can check more than one answer -- go for it!


Mrs. M said...

OK, I voted, but for further clarification:

1. Single biggest influence: very close friends of the family, who had a large hand in raising me when my mom was deployed. They're Church of Christ (NOT UCC), and our theology is now very different, but I met God through them.
2. My Catholic grandmother. We prayed the rosary together before bed whenever I visited. She's the most faithful pray-er I know (though she's often very difficult in other ways).
There's more, of course, but those are the most striking.

mompriest said...

My grandparents took me to church, but I can't say they influenced me per se, we just went because that's what one was supposed to do...

authors have influenced me, a whole lot of them, and friends, too. And a few clergy along the way. My Spiritual Director, also, of course if I weren't already on a journey I would not have searched out a Spiritual Director.

Purple said...

Clergy, authors, friends were my votes.

I would have to say authors were my first tug. I began, in an area, very different from where I am today. Authors like Charles Swindoll etc. I grew into Ben Campbell Johnson, Eugene Peterson, and Thomas Merton. I remember reading Marcus Borg pre-seminary and thinking...good stuff...and somehow it must of lodged deep in my brain.

Today I find Borg/Crossan, Brueggeman, Freitheim, Eugene Eung-Chun Park, Parker Palmer, Ken Wilbur, and Andrew Cohen among my mentors.

Clergy...who were willing to let me wrestle instead of "giving me the answers"

Friends...who all along said, "purple have you thought about seminary?"

And finding Spiritual direction saved my butt...literally.

Thanks for the poll Gannet

Teri said...

I would actually say that reading the bible was my biggest influence. I didn't grow up in a religious family, but my mom was a huge influence. She taught me to love and respect everyone, to try to make the world a better place, to work for justice and peace. I didn't know it at the time, but those are the foundation of my faith now, but backed up the Bible as I have read it over the past 12 years or so. She would never have said it this way (not being a Christian or even conversant in what the bible actually says), but she taught me to be a Christ-follower.

Lisa :-] said...

My answer to this is a whole blog entry in itself. I think I'll go write it now. You will find it at "Women On" sometime in the next few days (crazy busy at will probably take me several days to crank out one post...)

Sophia said...

My first answers were friends and clergy, by far, and in that order. Surprised and pleased to find friends leading the pack, at least when I voted--I always expect most people who grew up churched (I didn't) to say family.

Then I added authors, who not surprisingly have been a huge influence on this historical theologian.

Then I added my lapsed/ex Catholic parents, who did have an interesting and indirect but real effect I may expand on a bit later, and other for spiritual direction.

The polls are way fun--please keep them coming!

Kathryn J said...

Mostly my parents and through them also my grandparents but that only got me there.

The actual incorporation into my life was a Religious/Clergy including a priest at my first parish as an adult and a lay minister at the parish I attended previous to the one I am part of now.

Then there are friends - especially that Gannet Girl.

Kris said...

Mom heads the list, and it is 50/50 for insisting on going to church, and seeing her faith.
Clergy next with one in particualar priest who took a lot of time with a confused 16yr old. He helped me seperate God's love from Catholic Church Doctrine.
Friends, I think YOU would be surprised at how much you have influenced me, along w/ some of the other loop chats.
Other, that would be AA, and a full circle back to faith and God's love.

Julia said...

having grown up in a very Catholic family and attending 16 years of catholic schools (back when there were still nuns in most classrooms), I'm not sure I knew there were other options. I seriously did not know anyone who wasn't Catholic until sometime in college. I no longer consider myself a Catholic although that is the church we are enrolled in.

Waking Heart (WH) said...

"Others" which in my case would be the larger animal and plant kingdom, but I don't fit with your other readers, as I identify as an animist.

Peace, WH

Daisy said...

Holy cow! That's a big ole question there, GG.

My parents had faith and weren't afraid to question or to think for themselves rather than to simply follow the clergy blindly during a time and in a place where most did just that. I learned to pray and to love God from them despite the fact that, by the time I came along, they seldom went to church at all.

I went to a Catholic elementary school and most of the nuns and priests there scared the you-know-what outa me. I can count on one hand the ones that were warm and compassionate human beings. Thus began my journey away from "the church" and my struggle with God.

Along the way, I have had some very wise friends who were believers who kept me wondering how intelligent people could still believe such seeming "superstition". They helped to keep me puzzled. And then, when my husband announced his conversion experience, a series of events were unleashed that led to my own.

I never would have guessed it myself.


Daisy said...

PS. Some wonderful authors have helped answer many of my questions and guided me along the path to getting to know God again.


Sarah S-D said...

it surprised me that i had a single answer and that it is "friends". others played a role, but it was prayer partners in college and seminary and the group of friends with whom I served as an intern at church that had the biggest influence.

Cynthia said...

So many influences here: parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, clergy, authors. Most had both a good and bad influence on me.

Carol said...

I voted but need to clarify that parents were listed because their lack of faith and religious involvement pushed me toward a great identity, stronger faith, and more active life in my chosen religion. And my grandparents were so ashamed of their religion that they were appalled when I began to identify myself as an active member of our religion.

Jim said...

I chose "others", but only because a variety have influenced me along the way. No one, not one, within my own family attended church or gave witness of Christ in any way other than one aunt who converted to Catholicism when she married and only did I see her faith upn coming to Christ myself. It was my mother-in-law whose life helped lead me to Christ, a young boy who showed me the reality of Christ, a number of authors (Tozer, Yancy, Buechner, Douglas) who helped me to grow along a journey of over 35 years, a single church community for three decades within that walk who taught me that people remain people even though "in" Christ, and, most of all, a Holy Ghost "in" me Who has been faithful in spite of my hard-headed stumble down the path. I'm sure, in fact, that there are yet lessons to be learned and today is just another one with the Teacher...

Stratoz said...

start with parents who took me weekly. move on to a minister who guided me back. move on to authors who fed my desire to learn. move on to friends who share their stories and listen to mine.

would Jesuits fall into others???