I am frequently asked about my faith. At the end of my marriage to Ted Turner I became a Christian. For several years prior, I had begun to feel I was being lead. I felt a presence, a reverence humming within me. It was and is difficult to articulate.
Today I think I know what was happening: I was becoming embodied, whole. I had spent 60 years dis-embodied, trying to be perfect so I could be loved. You can’t be whole if you’re trying to be perfect. Now, as I entered my sixth decade and with much work, I could feel myself becoming whole and I knew: This is what God is. I was stunned when I read in William Bridges’s The Way of Transition, that in Matthew 5:48 when Jesus tells his disciples, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” it was a mistranslation of the Greek adjective teleios which actually means “whole, fully formed, fully developed.” Jesus wasn’t telling his disciples to be perfect like God, he was telling them to be whole, like God.
This is what the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program means. It says we need to give ourselves over to our higher power, become whole (which addicts aren’t) by welcoming the Holy Spirit into our innermost selves.
I began looking for a container to house this fledgling feeling of reverence. Having grown up an atheist I had almost no experience of church and had never read the Bible but I had dear friends in my home-state of Georgia who found comfort and inspiration in their church community and they offered to open this world to me and “bring me to Christ.” Perhaps this would be the container I was seeking.
Unfortunately, my very private, tentative step into religion became a loud public misconception. A small- minded person, knowing about my quest, did an interview on a national website without my permission and said that, because of him, I had become a Born Again Christian. I had no intention of going public about my spiritual journey and in no way wanted to be tagged with the fundamentalism that Born-Again Christianity has come to be associated with. I found myself having to defend my action before I was entirely sure what it meant. I did feel reborn, I couldn’t deny that, but it had nothing to do with the perceived doctrines of fundamentalist Christianity.
Over the months, I went to Bible study every week, had it interpreted for me by biblical literalists, did my homework faithfully but, as time went on, I felt myself losing the very thing that had called me from within: Spirit. The literalness with which I was expected to read and interpret the Bible seemed to simplify and flatten out what I wanted to experience as metaphor. Christianity was beginning to feel shrunken, freeze-dried. Words like ‘Thou Shalt,’ ‘Salvation,” ‘Lord,’ and ‘Repentance,’ drowned out one of my favorite Sufi poems by Hafiz:
Has known God,
Not the God of names,
Nor the God of don’ts,
Nor the God who never does
But the God who knows only four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me.”
As I diligently slogged away in my weekly bible class, doing the homework and studying the charts, I began to notice that the dance was gone. Try to render it literal, concrete, and it dies. I had started my journey with a powerful sense of the divine presence, but the linear approach seemed too rigid to contain this and I began to get scared: What had I gotten myself into?
I had met some inspiring, extraordinary Christians, but there were others that came at me, fingers pointing in my face, demanding to know my position on this or that and if I could not say certain key words like “died for our sins,” it meant I wasn’t a Christian.
I winced when God was spoken of as a man. God is beyond gender, beyond being, and although gendering God as “Him” may not seem consequential to many, I think it belies the nonbeingness of the Divine. Seeing God as “Him” only serves to reinforce the belief that since God is man, then man is God-like and women are less-than.
Riffat Hassan, a Pakistan-born professor of religious studies and humanities at the University of Louisville says that in Islamic, Jewish and Christian traditions there are three basic (and unwarranted) assumptions upon which the ideas of male superiority over women are founded: “first, that God’s primary creation is man, not woman, since woman is believed to have been created from man’s rib and is, therefore, derivative (As Carol Gilligan has said, “If you make a woman out of a man, you are bound to get into trouble); second, that woman was the primary agent of ‘Man’s Fall,’ and hence all ‘daughters of Eve’ are to be regarded with hatred, suspicion and contempt; and third, that woman was created not only from man but for man, which makes her existence merely instrumental.” From what I can see, none of this was Jesus’ idea. He did not see women as less-than after-thoughts. In fact, his friendships with women were revolutionary for that time. The more I study the teachings of Jesus, the more convinced I become that a foundational aspect of his teaching is the equality of women and men in God’s eyes, deserving of equal treatment. Look at the many women who followed him, sustained him. Look at the women who were shunned by all others but who Jesus touched and kissed and loved. Christian women preached and performed the Eucharist. It was to women that the arisen Christ appeared. After his death, when many Christians fled into the desert to set up Christian communities women outnumbered men 2 to 1.
I find particularly moving and plausible his special relationship with Mary, the apostle that is revealed in the Gospel of Mary. Jesus was love, not just love for some and not for others but…love…for all.
I think two thousand years ago, Jesus’ teachings, including and perhaps especially his respect for women, were so radical and so threatening to the Priesthood (Patriarchy) that they had to try to claim and cage and redefine him as “God in our [read male] image.” The formal church that grew up in the centuries following his death had to diminish the revolutionary content of his teachings in order to create a unified Christian church.
In my studies, I learned that 325 years after Jesus was crucified at the Council of Nicea, a gathering of Christian leaders, all men, decided by a show of hands and amidst bitter theological differences, what would be included as Biblical cannon and what was to be left out and decreed that Jesus was not only the Son of God but God himself.
In no way do I want to offend more traditional Christians, but if the content of the Bible was determined by a group of men (not all of whom agreed), then surely those seeking to know Jesus should not be demonized for looking outside the canons to what others (including women) had to say about Him.
I stopped my Bible study classes but was unwilling to renounce faith. I wanted to see if somewhere there wasn’t a perception of Jesus that reflected my intuition of him. This brought me to Elaine Pagels’s books on the Gnostics, along with various theologians’ and religious scholars’ interpretations of the Bible and the books of the early Christians, all of whom believed that experiencing the divine was more important than mere belief in the divine. I needed to move back into the reverence of metaphor, the language of the soul. That is where I know my faith wants to reside.
From time to time, there have been the awakened ones, conduits of perception, who, by fully embodying Spirit, have shown us the way—Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, Allah, and others. Their messages have invariably been bare-bone-simple, remarkably similar and often embedded in metaphor, stories, and poems—all forms of art. Why? Because the non-linear, non-cerebral forms that are Art speak on a different frequency, they by-pass thinking, penetrate our defenses and jolt us open to consciousness.
For a while, I became a student at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta, the largest training center for African American ministers in the country. As a college drop-out who still has anxiety-ridden dreams of leaving a job unfinished, I relished being back in school and overwhelmed with homework: Biblical Exegesis, Feminist Interpretation, Systematic Theology. I was one of the few white students and, despite that, managed to come and go in anonymity—until Monster-In-Law came out and stirred up some excitement—the little old white lady in the back row is the one who kicked Jennifer Lopez’s ass!!
Over time, and, I feel, because I stepped outside of established religion, I was able to rekindle the spiritual experience that I’d been seeking. Some will say that because of all this I am not a true Christian. So be it. I feel like a Christian, I believe in the teachings of Jesus and try to practice them in my life. I have found Christians all over this country who feel as I do. They may not have been ‘saved’ yet they hum with divine spirit.
My faith is a work in progress (as am I) but I will plant my flag on the belief that God lives within each of us as Spirit (or soul). I like what Reverend Forrest Church says: “God is not God’s name. God is our name for that which is greater than all and yet present in all.” I believe that Christ was the personal incarnation of the divine wisdom in everything, including every form of spiritual expression.
Lots of folks go to church every Sunday and spend the rest of their time avoiding dealing with the question of consciousness. They try to pass time with pastimes, possessions, prestige. They think about God and talk about their religious beliefs but avoid experiencing Spirit. Thinking and experiencing aren’t the same. One happens in the head. The other is a flash, a rush of intuition that seems to permeate our entire being. That is what Jesus meant when he said that God is within us. That is what I am seeking, and I have found that since I have come to feel God within me, I experience less fear—of anything, including death. Sharon Salzberg, in her book “Faith,” explains it this way: “As our faith deepens, the ‘container’ in which fear arises gets bigger. Like a teaspoon of salt placed in a pond full of fresh water rather than in a narrow glass, if our measure of fear is arising in an open, vast space of heart, we will not shut down around it.”
Another result of my faith is that I have become a deeper, more embodied feminist. Helen LaKelly Hunt is right when she says in her book “Faith & Feminism,” that feminism is about fighting for the core beliefs and values of Christianity. “Religion and feminism are different expressions of the same impulse toward making life more just and whole.”
William Bridges, The Way of Transition, Perseus Publishing, p. 196
“Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the Woman Apostle” by Karen King of Harvard Divinity School
Thanks for writing such a beautiful and profound essay. I, too, found myself on a Spiritual quest, later in life. For me, it came in my late thirties. I ended up embracing Wicca and Paganism, both of which have a bad reputation in the mainstream.
I like the duality of Wicca: the God and Goddess, dark and light etc. I mostly practice on my own. I found many Wiccans to be dogmatic, in the way that Fundamentalist Christians can be.
Bonnie J Preston
Jane, as always your writing is beautiful – straight from the heart. May you continue to enjoy the journey. Peace be with you.
Though raised in the Baptist faith, my beliefs were always quite unorthodox, to say the least, and as a result, I have experienced (and still experience) much of the finger-pointing you speak of. I enjoy that you reiterate the term “wholeness” throughout your writing, as I too agree that completeness is the goal of spiritual development, regardless of which faith one follows. While I am often criticized for failing to adhere to traditional, read literal, teachings of Christianity, I have never felt that my own spiritually is incomplete in any way, just different. The experience of finding oneself spiritually, and accepting that faith, even when others disapprove, is a tremendously liberating experience and one that I am so happy you have accomplished in your personal journey.
I am thrilled that you discussed feminism and spirituality and successfully bridged the gap between two seemingly paradoxical schools of thought. For me, the feminist identity developed first, spiritual identity second, but both do compliment one another as all women continue to grow individually and progress socially.
I did want to ask if you had an interest in matters of religion and science. I took a few courses in religious studies while in college and much of the literature I was exposed to really helped me develop an allegorical rather than literal approach to theories and ideas within religious teachings, especially with regard to creationism, evolution, theological v. physical eschatology, et cetera. I found these to be very interesting areas of study as well as beneficial.
Finally, I want to thank you for this entry, Ms. Fonda. You are a very gifted writer, and you have truly inspired so many of your readers. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your exciting life via Blog/Twitter/Facebook. I admire your honesty and your eagerness to share your life experiences with us all. Looking forward to learning more.
Thank you for this posting.
I was raised Christian (Lutheran) and felt drawn to the ministry – but was told (then) that women could not be ordained. My family moved to Georgia and encountered Southern Babtists who were worried that I was not saved while their church sponsored segregation academies. This completely turned me off from organized religion for many years. Though I read copiously on other religions and philosophies.
Following a serious illness – cancer – when my only hospital visitors were ministers – I began to reingage with the church – partly for spiritual reasons – partly selfish – I needed to connect with some kind of community or support network outside my work.
There are Christians out there who do not insist on a particular literal interpretation and who do not question other’s faith if they do not toe their particular line.
(It was particularly poignant example of this distinction to me that Dr. Tiller – the doctor who performed abortions – was murdered at his church.)
Your posting was very interesting way of making that point of connecting with the Christian faith as one of many alternative paths to enlightenment. While at the same time pointing out how certain kinds of fundamentalist positions and behavior interfere with people trying to make that connection.
The issue of biblical literalism vs interpretation becomes obvious if one reads/compares various translations.
My goal for my third act when I can retire is to spend more time studying the bible and hoping to learn to read it in the original languages.
Thanks for posting. I’ve always admired your acting and activism – now I have to add that I admire your writing too.
I agree that there is hypocrisy in the people who go to church every Sunday all dressed up in their finery, who go through the motions of being good Christians – the order of service in our local C of E church feels to me sadly just like empty words that everyone simply reads out like emotionless robots – they could be reading the ingredients to a recipe out for all the depth of feeling that comes across! Then, presumably feeling as though they’ve done their bit to keep the Almighty happy, they depart & often as not return to their selfish, materialistic lives & don’t give matters spiritual another thought until, Ground Hog Day-style, they present themselves at church a week later…& so it goes on. I’m not trying to say that worshipping in this matter is completely without merit; the fixed structure of such services is a help to many older worshippers, in particular, who abhor change & welcome the familiar structure. Churches are sort of branded to appeal to different categories of worshippers – traditional, progressive “happy-clappy” & so-on, that’s all.
The bible, like the Koran & other holy texts, provide some guiding principles for kind-hearted, decent people to follow – but must be placed in the context from which they come – essentially, they are texts which were written a very long time ago, and attitudes towards women, children, etc. are very different now in many ways to what they were at that time. If you’ve not already read it, there is a marvellous piece a friend directed me to a while ago which very cleverly addresses the lunacy of slavishly following all of the “rules for how one should lead their life” that one may find in the bible – it’s at:
Ultimately, I personally believe that a superior being or beings exist – I have had the privilege of having a few very infrequent experiences of a spiritual nature which leave me in no doubt as to this. I feel lost, though, in knowing how to grow spiritually – I suppose one has to be patient & wait for moments when one’s understanding may be able to deepen to happen by chance as you go through life.
All this ritual of religion, though – the ornate robes, swinging incense balls, artefacts which purport to have some divine significance are just missing the point – it reminds me of the famous incident when Jesus entered the Temple & was furious to see all the traders making money out of selling all these things that (crafty traders) had cleverly convinced the worshippers to think they needed to buy in order to please God. If Jesus could see all the pomp & ceremony that goes on in so many churches around the world today, I’m sure he’d be blazing mad, as it has absolutely nothing to do with the really important central message – which is to love one another & treat others as you would have them treat you.
As time passes we can only hope that prejudicial attitudes (to women & others) borne out of arcane religious teachings may fade & that the world may become a more pleasant place for us all to enjoy together – maybe then we humans may truly be able to adopt the monicker “homo sapiens”.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on your ongoing journey towards spiritual fulfillment, Miss Fonda – it’s nice to feel that in some ways we are all equal.
I recall reading this in your autobiography. More people who come on here should read your autobiography, so you wouldn’t have to restate so much ;-). I was born and raised Catholic Christian, but had issues with the Church’s views on abortion, homosexuality, and other issues I felt that the Church was not acting in the best interest of who and what Jesus was while on Earth. As I explored other branches of Christianity, I found it wasn’t only the Catholic Church’s problem. And, since was taking place while I was during adolescence, when I was trying to pound out and experiment with identity, by the time I was eighteen I left Christianity and established religion entirely and called myself Unitarian Universalist. I realize that is an established religion, but it a religion on my terms. I believe that G-d has no gender and that G-d loves everybody no matter their human definition, and that to live in G-d’s image is to love everybody no matter their human definition. We are all equal in the eyes of G-d.
P.S. Love how Rumi influenced your spirituality. I love Rumi and he has influenced me profoundly.
I see this a lot – people interpreting and seeking a “religious outlet” that CONFORMS to THEIR way of thinking. This is not correct. Certainly, The Bible has been interpreted by man, but the most basic concepts of Christianity are without question quite clear. You live them and you reap the rewards. I cannot condone one searching until one finds something that fits into ones point of view. Christianity is its own point of view – live it, love it, or leave it.
William Paul Young’s book “The Shack” is a revelation for non-literalists – it has a fantastic depiction of the Trinity.
Thanks for your thoughtful post.
“The Shack” certainly reveals to all the prejudices that live in today’s society. I was told by one “I had to stop reading when God turned into a black woman.” Why, that is the very person who NEEDS to read this book. God can come in any form – male, female, child, old, young, black, white, yellow … whatever! It is the MESSAGE that is important. The author sure pulled one over on some people, people who live with blinders on.
I think that the reason religion exists in the first place is that the average person is horrified at the idea of her/his life being finite. People are willing to believe in the most fantastic and ridiculous stories if it gives them any hope of there being an afterlife for their spirit. I’m sorry but I find it pathetic.
One more thing… I think the reason for the great amount of fundamentalism that you found in religious institutions/gatherings is that religion tends to attract first and foremost the uneducated and/or people that do not think critically. This is logical considering again the absurdity of the premises.
Faith and logic don’t coincide. To claim that the uneducated seek comfort in anything is to deny not only my personal background prior to experiencing being “spirit filled” and the experiences of many historical figures who had similar experiences and most were more educated that present day evangelicals
What a beautiful, articulate expression of everything that faith should be! I totally agree with everything you have said, but I couldn’t say it as well. I wish you could find a church that felt right. I am Episcopalian, and our church is very much in alignment with your beliefs. However, there is a reason why we are called “God’s frozen people.” LOL Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!
Jane, thank you for sharing that with us. Over the last couple of years I’ve heard/read people alluding to your faith, but like you mentioned in the beginning of this post, they were misinformed about where you were coming from as a Christian (many of them, like you said, claimed you were Born-Again, which does give negative, fundamentalist connotations).
This was quite refreshing to read because you seem to talk a great deal about love, and you don’t buy into the whole “interpreting the bible literally” thing. I grew up in a Christian household and my father is an Episcopal priest. He always spoke of the teachings of Jesus in the same manner you do: that he was all about love and inclusion. Too often people of the Christian faith attempt to exclude those who don’t fit very specific criteria (i.e. taking the bible literally, anti-homosexuals, anti-abortion, anti anti anti). They seems angrier and like they are always on a witch-hunt for someone.
I’ve known for as long as I can remember that you are a liberal person and accepting of people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., but it was very interesting to read about about your spiritual journey. I especially am impressed with your views on feminism and religion. Women are too often not give enough credit and are thought to be second class. I truly appreciate your involvement with women’s rights.
All my best,
Thanks so much for sharing – some of us (me) are still searching for answers and dealing with fears. What you wrote gives me hope… Take care.
How many things are worth taking a bullet in the Chest over ? All we need is time and the guidance of the holy Spirit to develop our faith. To Thine own self be true. When we turn our life over to Jesus we enter the Kingdom of God. WE die to self. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives and teaches us all truth. Just remember “Time takes Time”. Jesus said we enter the kingdom by trusting the Father, like a little child. No EGO. “Easing God Out”. I must remain teachable. Be yea “Humble”. Jesus said beware of the leaven of the Religious Leaders. Leaven is the Pride of the religious leaders. Keep it Simple. Is it worth taking a bullet in the Chest over ?
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject. I have been down the road, around the bend and back again. I tried to fit into that traditional christian world, but the plan for my life didn’t include that as I am a transgender male. In the minds of the ‘main stream’, I am not welcome there. I guess they can’t get their minds around the idea that I know who Jesus is, an as fogiven as the next guy, and have as much of a spirit-filled life as anyone else. But let me say this much about my experience; I have more of a sense of connectedness being away from that ‘main stream’. I think God can come to us when the church can’t. I think it can be a gift, in fact similar to your description of that sense of being called.
Dear Ms. Fonda–Amen.
It’s so interesting to me that you can retain your feminist beliefs in Christianity because it is something that I am personally struggling with now. My pastor personally believes that women should not be ministers (he also believes they should not wear pants to church) and he uses various Bible verses to back up his thoughts so to hear that other women find feminism in the Bible makes me want to study it deeper. Your Blogs really get me thinking.
Thank You So Much Miss Fonda
Thank you, Jane. I have often struggled with the seeming oxymoron of being a ‘feminist Christian’ but you have articulated exactly what has been on my heart. There are many intelligent, educated and amazing women who don’t feel ‘whole’, or seek to develop a relationship with God, because of the fear that they would be negating the progress of feminism by following the leadings of their spirit. There’s no reason why we can’t fly both flags.
Beautifully written. You are a wonderful communicator. To all who struggle with the silly issues like wearing pants to church, I encourage them to pursue God as diligently and persistently as you have. God left/sent us His (yes, he’s male, according to Jesus) Spirit and His Word — the writings of his close followers — to inform us about who He is. We would do well to study, as you have, Jane, those words. We can abandon silly churchgoers’ expectations and “rules” and traditions in a full-on pursuit of God, who loved us enough to send His son to die in our place, offering forgiveness for our failures (sins). The Bible says, if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. All other bonds that well-meaning Christians put on us are irrelevant. Note, however, that if “Jesus is lord” that means He must be our master, our teacher, our “boss” and we must submit to His teaching.
Thanks, Jane, for sharing your journey.
Thank you so much for sharing your very well thought out and deeply felt Faith. You have articulated many of my thoughts and feelings and given me incredible validation.
Your Blog has been a touchstone for me as I begin my 65 year with more questions than answers.
Vanessa L Kaufman
Well said. And agreed. So hard sometimes to have the faith, when the people that claim they do are hateful and judgemental….none of the sentiment that Jesus represented. My beliefs reflect yours in many ways. I take a lot of good from the religion that I was brought up in, Christian Science. Although, I am not a Christian Scientist in practice now, there is a lot of positive stuff to take from it. This was a religion founded by a woman, so maybe that is why. Thanks again for blogging.
It took me 5 friggin’ years to read Sue Monk Kidd’s “Dance of the Dissedent Daughter” because of being raised in the Bible Belt. I also read “When God Was A Woman”. I also have a BS in Religion, studying church history can reveal many things AND make you crazy. So, now, I keep a low profile in my Episcopal church with a female priest as I don’t care to offend my fellow members but I pray to both god and goddess (I have an “Our Mother” pray I use instead of “the lords prayer) and I’m more content in my faith than I’ve been in many years. It’s been over 5 years I’ve been talking with the goddess and I’m a very happy 57,almost 58 year old women who hopes to attain “crone” status with wisdom someday.
Blessed be, Jane, blessed be.
What you have shared Jane is EXACTLY how I have felt through the years. A book that has helped me greatly is The Gospel of Inclusion by Carlton Pearson..
I too have found deep spiriutality and it was not in the organized church (which I have been in and out of through the years), but rather on my yoga mat, connecting breath, body, mind and spirit… At 50 something my eyes have opened and my heart is full of love for all.
I am especially grateful for your blog, I hope you feel led to continue it…
I look forward to talking with you about all of this, dear Jane.
I was fascinated by the comments. So many have been alienated from religion because of an insistence on creeds not deeds. I think the reason so many people end up in UU churches (for your readers, I’m an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister) is we are about helping people with their search, not giving them OUR answers.
I’ve just started writing a new Biblically based book, and I’m really excited about it. I hope it will help lead people back to the wisdom in the scriptures for what it can teach us TODAY. I’ll send you some sections when you’re back!
Travel well! Debra
Thank you for so eloquently expressing how I feel about faith and spirituality. I was raised as a Christian, but I took feminist theology in college and it turned my life upside down. Everything I thought was real was not. I’m happy to report that I belong to a progressive Lutheran-Catholic community in Beaverton, Oregon, with a woman pastor and liberal visiting priests. We use inclusive language as much as possible in our services, something that is very important to me. I continue to struggle with the bible as the basis for our Christian belief system. I, like you, believe that Jesus was a feminist–the bible hints at that in many places, but was written by men. Thank you sharing your spiritual journey with all of us…I found it very moving, and I wrote about your post in my own blog:
Marie in Portland, Oregon
Dear Jane ~ I have found it. My connection with you, why I was drawn to you, why I’m reading your book(not finished), why I’m interested in what you have to say.
I was a “pleaser” all my life & I strived for perfection in doing so. Now I’ve started reading your blog & began with your beliefs in your faith. You see, faith is a mainstay in my life & won’t live w/o it.
As we evlove I think we become recorders of our life’s meaning & purpose of our existance. Anyone else can write it but we own our own truths & are are the best recorders of it. You keep on recording. Your life has touched many & like me, we connect without ever having met. What you have to say matters, Jane. Thank you for saying it & please continue doing so. Heather
I come to speak the “truth in love”. I desire you, really all, to have COMPLETE freedom. You can only have that if you have complete truth. You know, the feeling of “I know that I know that I know” thats power.
Truth is the word. The word is truth. All of the word is truth. The word is God. All scripture is God breathed.
ALL SCRIPTURE IS TRUTH. Not in part but in whole.
(these are all Gods words found in the bible)
The bible was written by men THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
You can’t take part, only the whole if you want to be whole and be complete and truely free. And have your salvation.
How else can you explain the Holy Bible.
My challenge is for you to read all the old testament.
But knowing Jesus if your first best start.
God bless you and I pray you find, not your truth, but THE TRUTH.
Take a big breath. And realize this is YOUR truth.
Be careful with YOUR words.
I find my truths are inside myself.
I was made from the Oneness( God).
Which is perfection.
All I have to do is remember.
The answers are there.
Not always easy to do.
But I press onward inward.
As I’ve heard “the still silent voice within”.
As close as breathing out and breathing in.
PS I want to make sure that you know I’m responding to- Jeanie
June 13 6:10pm
Not to Janes Fondas words.
I’m there with Jane!
I’m sorry, Barbara, but your belief in yourself can only take you so far. You are not perfect, nor omnipotent, nor omnicscient — and neither am I. But I know the One who is. He (God, Yahweh, Jehovah) offers personal relationship, fulfillment and eternal security for those who submit themselves to Him and accept the forgiveness offered in Jesus. It matters little whether you’re comfortable with this truth; that doesn’t change its truthfulness. You can replace your need for God with a belief in yourself, your karma, your own “god-force” or “light” within, but in the end you’ll still have that need for something — Someone — bigger than you, who is perfect, and omnipotent and omniscient; someone with all the answers and more love for you than you now have for yourself; someone who promises never to leave you nor forsake you. You need Him, not more of you, and certainly nor more of me. I know I’m flawed and fragile, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
You are a very wise and beautiful spirit. The kind of Christian I love talking to because I’ll probably come away the wiser. Religion is the facet we each see of the spirit. You and I follow different paths, but only on the surface, it seems to me.
Thanks for sharing this.
The dialogue you have opened up on this topic is very valuable. Thanks very much for your candor and for sharing such an important, private part of yourself.
I’m as old probably older than you and still have problems with faith. It’s not that I disbelieve, I just don’t know, so at least I’m honest, which would seem to be a good start. I am not an athiest though, how could I be when I don’t know? It would in fact be a claim to knowing which would be dishonest. So, I suppose I could be called an agnostic, but also a humanitarian. If there is a god who or which I haven’t yet discovered, then I don’t think he will be so upset about that, do you?
I have nothing against people who can believe, as long as they live what they preach. Otherwise I consider them to be liars and cheats. I believe that the ten commandments are good sense, although the story of how moses came by them I find just that, a good story!
You yourself have always been a point of admiration for me, you always do what you think is right, and have the guts and energy to follow it through. Don’t change, you are just right.
I have neglected nourishing my faith…and I too, have been one of those who seek perfection rather than wholeness. Your inspiring wisdom and thoughtful words makes me think I should Begin Again…and start reading and thinking about God. Thanks for sharing your spiritual journey with others.
OK but that’s enough studying for now – get back to the dancing – especially when you have the new knee!
I’m a non-denominational Christian. God and I have a mutual unconditional love for each other – He feels like that for every human. Couple re-incarnation with your Christianity and you have the full picture. You’ve been here before Jane and will be again.
In my youth I was raised in the christian faith, now that I am grown, I just believe in God (spirit, being, whatever it is), that is what I believe in. I’ve now know that God is simple, just plain simple. Ms. Fonda, I would like to say thank you, for your bravery move on the (About My Faith) topic. In some way I do relate. Again, thank you.
In my youth I was raised in the christian faith, now that I am grown, I just believe in God (spirit, being, whatever it is), that is what I believe in. I now know that God is simple, just plain simple. Ms. Fonda, I would like to say thank you, for your bravery move on the (About My Faith) topic. In some way I do relate. Again, thank you.
Carol in Denver
A minister at a church I used to attend said that an accurate translation of the word “perfect” from the original Greek biblical texts could be the term “all-inclusive.” This is opposite from what “perfect” usually means, which is to discard much and keep a tiny bit (more or less).
Ms. Fonda. Would you trust in the Lord by sending me an email with the most pressing spiritual question you have not gotten a satisfactory answer to so far? I can not promise anything, in terms of a satisfactory response, but I know He will allow me to share the results of my experience, and provide an answer to whatever spiritual matter you state that finally satisfied me. We both are assured thanksgiving in His Name.
I just found your blog. I will be following your posts, so well-written and heart-felt. I had a similar personal struggle with a group that practiced what I found to be an aggressive, self-serving adaptation of Buddhism and left frustrated, it is interesting how the follies of man can transcend any creed.
Above and beyond your prodigious talents as an actor (just _Klute_ alone I could reflect on for days), When I have seen you interviewed over the decades, everytime I read or watch what you say, you never cease to impress me.
Praise be to intelligent, centered people in the public eye…I’m glad your thoughts are out there!
I hope you are recovering nicely from your surgery.
Regarding your faith;
I have struggled with believing at times since accepted Jesus as being the Messiah in 1966.
I know what I feel in my being and heart when there are things that happen that can have come only through the Holy Spirit etc, that God is real.
It doesn;’t matter about whether God is a Him/Her.
It matters that Jesus was/is his manifestation in the Flesh on Earth.
We can call Him the Offsoring of God if we must.
You must remember that the Israelites werand are a religiously paternal people, especially thousands of years ago.
The women rulled the house (see Sarah’s ordering Hagar out etc.) but the religious practices were instrumentalized by the men.
This was the case in the Middle East at that time.
Even if goddessess were worshipped the men contrilled the religions to the greatest degrees.
I was saved by a miraculous outcome of surgery when I was 5.
My mother and I almost drwned in a friend’s pool when I was 8.
There is more but that is enough for now.
Keepn believing in the God of the Old and New Testaments, and let His/Her Miracles lead you and guide you.
I thank your family for helping me in so many ways through movies when I was young (your father Henry)
and later on you and your brother Peter.
(i was sick quite often with bronchitis and bronchial asthma and the movie, comedies, histories, biographies
taught me things that made me more interested inlearning and keeping me mentally healthy while ai was phsyically ill etc.)
I hope to begin an online Believers Thank You Ministry of Appreciation to Hollywood Stars and those from Britain
who taught me History and gave me encouragement through their portryals of the screenwiter’s and authors’s works that were made into fim.
God Bless you and your family now and always, j
I am a Messianic Jew of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America type or the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations etc.
I believe (we elieve0 in the doctrine of the Trinity,’as per the teachings of the Anglican (Episcopal Church in U.S.) Church. We believe therefore that Jesus (Yeshua) is Divine and the Son Of God. (o.k. the ofspring for you) and is the MeSsiah that has come in the Flesh We believe in tje Holy Spirit and God the Father.
I know that God exists and I thank you for sharing your experience.
Hopefully I will begin my site/blog or group soon and when I do I will try to et you now thriugh this site etc.
God Bless You.
Sorry for my keying errors and my extra s’s.
(i.e. or e.g. portrayals and authors’ etc.)
My spelling and grammar isn’t really that bad.
i was trying to compose my reply in a rush.
Bob my husband had his knee replaced…I called him in to look at you….we both agree you are amazing….Jane please keep blogging and writing…you are such a heart person and a prophetic voice for so many and for such a time as this…I felt like God had validated me in my journey after reading your Faith blog…Ive been on this christian path for 25 plus yrs and am a pastoral counselor….you are on a fast track for a reason…I carry you in my heart.
Hello Ms Fonda, n Jan I returned 2 live n my hmtwn of Jacksonville FL after 17 recent yrs n Atl, and 7 n the 70s w/ college @ Emory. I was well aware of your religious conversion & thought it profound & joyous (using the Christian vernacular), & interesting that U were attending ITS [at the same time I was the only white person in my new neighborhood of 384 homes in SW Atl]. In Atl I learned the power & influence of environment. In Jax I drank, n Atl I didn’t. In Jax I wouldn’t go 2 church, n Atl I did. In Atl U r kind of a freak if U don’t go 2 church, might U agree? It’s not your imagination, bec n Jax U r still a freak if U do go. That is a dimension U might like corroborated, support or challenge to our faith. I like your outlook on the status of women n Christianity. I’m sure there are many practicing who feel the same way but w/o acting on it. I don’t call segregating oneself into women’s church circles & groups acting on it, and rarely segregate myself in such a manner. Truly a display & glory of God’s power & love, when someone like U can start in your 60s and join lifetime Christians on the same levels, if not even higher. I trust U r able 2 look back and c how God was n your life the whole time, even if w/o your knowledge b4 (I think we all have 2 look again on occasion). I think we all go 2 heaven but cleaned up 1st, so vary in what remains, and all that remains is faith hope & love, so no telling how we’ll vary in the afterlife. Only worry 2 me is Mr Turner once said when U were 1st becoming Christian it was “hell”. Many of us @ Emory loved Ted from back n the 70s, & there could b a problem if Christianity & the conversion 2 it continues 2 impress on someone’s mind & heart as hell. Your most memorable movie 2 me – “The Dollmaker”. Exquisitely acted. My dad grew up mostly n E KY, my mom n S WV, and I spent every summer up there. Most Hollywood attempts @ hillbilly only make the natives laugh. Not yours tho, not even close. Afterwards I used the book 2 get my Gmother 2 put aside her romance novels – she loved it. I went 2 G-CAPP premier yr of “Out of Towners” when I had the $$, & kept ties w/ Carter Ctr. Better go, love, Cyndy C
Thank you for echoing my Spirit through your experiences. For so long I have struggled in my faith, feeling that because I didn’t believe exactly what I was “supposed to” believe, that I wasn’t a good Christian. It’s so encouraging for me to know that other people believe it is possible to be a Christian and a feminist without having to reconcile differences.
Thank you for your wonderful essay. I am also reading your autobiography and have been fascinated by not only your life experiences, but also your beautiful way with words. It’s not often that someone with such a high profile is willing to be so open and honest, so thank you for that!
I, too, have begun my search for a form of spirituality that feels right. I grew up with my Mom in Southern Louisiana and have been to a number of different denominations of church when I was younger. I am now 35 and, as a lesbian, I feel that the premise that who I am is a sin just doesn’t make sense to me. I also have a hard time reconciling the seeming implausibility of the teachings of the Bible and it brings up so many questions and doubts when I’ve gone to church recently, only to leave feeling that I didn’t fit in and that what was being said did not truly resonate with me.
I’ve been going through a difficult time the past couple of years – relationship and financial struggles and a recurrence of an anxiety problem I had in my early 20s, and was devastated by the death of my Mother at the young age of 53 from smoking-related heart disease this past December. Now, more than ever, I feel the yearning for something to believe in, put my faith in, something to carry me through these difficult times.
When I returned home after 2 months of being in Louisiana to deal with my Mother’s affairs, I visited several local churches and still found no comfort or peace there. It was more like a pageant than a spiritual experience.
I will keep searching and I know I will find the path that’s right for me. Your thoughts on the matter will be part of my journey.
Carlane Passman Little
You have the courage of Attila and the articulation of Socrates. Thank you for sharing the experience of your search. It is very personal, never cut and dry. Now I have lots of new books to read!
Beautiful. You were truly spoken “through.” Elloquently addressing all my confusion over the contradictions offered by mainstream religion. Your essay left me feeling more comfortable about being a Gnostic, Pagan, Feminist 12-Stepper. There is no ONE way, just ONE Spirit.
“As I diligently slogged away in my weekly bible class, doing the homework and studying the charts, I began to notice that the dance was gone. Try to render it literal, concrete, and it dies. I had started my journey with a powerful sense of the divine presence, but the linear approach seemed too rigid to contain this and I began to get scared: What had I gotten myself into?”
OMG! Tis truly a familiar “echo” in that observation. This will help. http://www.nephos.com/Old%20Ways.htm
Pay close attention to the working model that the “called out assembly” is to be built upon.The foundational principals found within the 6th chapter of Hebrews. It is written specifically to both nations/houses of Israel.
“From time to time, there have been the awakened ones, conduits of perception, who, by fully embodying Spirit, have shown us the way—Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, Allah, and others. Their messages have invariably been bare-bone-simple, remarkably similar and often embedded in metaphor, stories, and poems—all forms of art. Why? Because the non-linear, non-cerebral forms that are Art speak on a different frequency, they by-pass thinking, penetrate our defenses and jolt us open to consciousness.”
This is the best definition of art that I have ever read. It gives me a new perspective on everything that being an artist embodies.
Thank you for the beautiful and honest essay.
Religion and spirituality are so very personal and can stir up so much controversy, even for those of us who are not media magnets. Yet spiritual grounding is essential to becoming a whole person and finding meaning in life. I love the expression that “all truth is God’s truth” and totally agree that, at the core, all religions – as well as life’s experiences – are important sources of truth.
You hint at misgivings for not finishing college, but I’m not sure what you missed. Your essay shows that you are wiser and more articulate than most of the college graduates I’ve encountered in life!
First of all, I’ve always been a fan of yours, ever since I watched Barbarella. Growing up, you were my role model, maybe because I am also a Sagitarrian, I found I have a lot of things in common with you as a woman. Nevertheless, I was always a believer of Christ and God, so when I started seeking for why I am here and my purposes and found God, I was transformed, a born again Christian. I could see why you rejected the term born again Christian, as you were not. You said you were an aitheist-a non believer of God, so you can never be called a born again Christian. You became and is now a Christian and that’s what you are. In regards to born again Christians, we are not all the same. I was born into a religion which I did not feel good about because it made me rely and depend on the church and man made doctrines. I did not have a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ, although I’ve always been a believer. I seldom gone to church, and when I became a born again, I still seldom go to church. I don’t buy into man made doctrines. I’ve only depended on what Jesus and God’s instructions in His Words. What I’ve learned from Jesus is my body is God’s temple, His temple. God created me to know Him and worship Him and love Him. Learning that His Holy Spirit resides in me, that totally changed my perceptions about God. As Jesus said, I can hear His small, still voice speaking to my heart and guiding me in life thru His Spirit. He guided me in learning God’s wisdom, true Nature and His unconditional love for all of us. Through the Holy Spirit, I’ve learned I will never be alone because He is always with me, so who can be against me? I self-studied the Bible through the help of the Holy Spirit, both Old Testament and New Testament and still studying it on my own. When I did, I started seeing the world in God’s eyes. As a born again Christian, I only rely on God’s Holy Spirit within me to teach me and guide me in my Christian life. It filled the hole in my heart and it made me “whole” and; I’ve never been the same. Like you, I am still a work in progress and I will always be until that exciting moment when I will meet my Creator. But for now, I am joyful that I can hear God and He speaks to me and Jesus gives me peace in my heart and mind. That’s all that really matter to me, my personal and intimate relationship with Him. It’s really between me and God and my utmost desire to always be after His own heart and what is pleasing to Him, which places the condition of my heart, that He can see, into perspective. Because of His Holy Spirit, it changed my outlook in life and my personal relationship with my husband and our family and our friends. Happiness really can be found in an intimate relationship with God.
Please don’t stop learning about God and Jesus, because in continued self learning, you will find the answer and fulfillment in your desired walk with Jesus and our Father God. Please seek more of His Holy Spirit. Be childlike in your beliefs, but never childish. I’ve learned this saying from Dolly Parton on one of her interviews, maybe you should reconnect with her. Her faith in God is amazing! 🙂 May God continue to show you His ways and nature and may His face shines upon you always.
As i continue my journey to being a walking Christian, the trust in people, church, fellowship have not changed for me. Seeing people in a Godly place, presenting themselves as Godly people, while acting otherwise had amost discouraged me from being apart of that.. But while pondering on it, I realize; God wants us to trust HIM and only HIM. What guarrantee does a human being that is vulnerable to sin give you? What kind of security, and ultimate loyalty are we expecting from them? Too much? For a minute , i allowed myself to forget that yes, we are Christians, but we aren’t perfect or above anyone else. We are bound to betray, lie , and lose focus. But isn’t that where the LORD promises to restore in us? Isn’t that where HE wants us to surrender? Isn’t forgivness the reason Jesus was crusified? We shouldn’t try to be wholseome within ourselves, but wholesome through Christ. We are not complete unless it is through Christ.In fact, we should be more busy than ever, representing Christ to the people around us. Giving love.Why allow discouragement to take over and pull you backwards, when straight ahead, is that love and fellowship that we could be giving to the world? Maybe that same love and fellowship that was once denied to us by ‘fellow Christians’, can be restored by who else other than the one who was denied when expecting it? That the love we create cannot be destroyed, distracted ,or useless, but mulitplied and given unlimited and unconditionally. And that the source of that LOVE may be Our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. The Lord who said, ‘let there be…and there was’..
Your right, thinking and experiencing aren’t the same thing. Many Christians are just thinking Christians. But what about the experiencing Christians. The spirit filled, led Christians? Have you been there? Have you felt the Holy Ghost connecting people around the world? Have you felt the hair on your arms go up while praying? If you have Jane, it wille never leave you. God’s spirit is always there, always guiding and leading us. I hope you one day decide to embrace it with a fully willing heart, letting go of the theories and what people have done for or to you. Hopefully one day you can contiinue ‘ experiencing ‘ what i have eperienced one day and allowing the Lord to continue doing His will with you. I’ll pray for that.
I’ll leave you with my favorite saying ” Its about the relationship with Jesus Christ, Not the religion of Jesus CHrist’ ..
(the word ‘ religion’ goes so deep in depth, people tend to just get lost in it, while losing the focus of that intimate, personal relationship with Christ. Just my opinion)
Thank you for sharing you story.
– big fan by the way 🙂
I’ve always liked (and respected) your boldness. I suppose I notice it because I possess the same thing. Boldly speaking, when you’re feeling better, check out a Kim Clement meeting (in Beverly Hills or Hollywood). I think you’ll like him. He’s a trip. And, he’s EXTREMELY BOLD and loves God with all of his heart like we do. http://www.kimclement.com Hoping you’ll as good as new soon!