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A New Age Of Reformation

Church historian Diana Butler Bass says a new reformation may be leaving religion behind.

A stained glass window glows, restored and then donated to the Museum of Divine Statues, is seen beyond a statue reclaimed from St. Propcop Church of Cleveland at the museum in Lakewood, Ohio on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. (AP)

A stained glass window glows, restored and then donated to the Museum of Divine Statues, is seen beyond a statue reclaimed from St. Propcop Church of Cleveland at the museum in Lakewood, Ohio on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. (AP)

“Spiritual but not religious,” is the box that an awful lot of Americans are checking these days.  Into God, as they define God.  Into soul.  Into spirituality.  But not, very often, in a house of worship.  In church.

Big church historian Diana Butler Bass as been watching the trend, along with a whole lot of worried church-goers, for many years.  Now she’s ready to call it, in her faith and beyond.  The end of the old.  The birth of something powerful and new.

This hour, On Point:  God after religion.  The end of church, she says, and the birth of a new spiritual awakening.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Diana Butler Bass, author of the new book Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening.

From Tom’s Reading List

Huffington Post “Something startling is happening in American religion: We are witnessing the end of church or, at the very least, the end of conventional church. The United States is fast-becoming a society where Christianity is being reorganized after religion. ”

Excerpt: Christianity After Religion

[Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.]
http://www.scribd.com/doc/83257357/Excerpt-From-Christianity-After-Religion

Video: Jeff Bethke

Check out this video of internet sensation Jeff Bethke, who talks about faith without religion.

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  • Scott

    As we gain more understanding and knowledge old superstitions fall away. Hopefully there will be no more inquisitions or church doctrine trumping the pursuit of truth. Thankful to live in such an enlightened time.

  • Anonymous

    As Protestantism began with the printable book (Bible), so now another reformation will begin with the internet age. What it will look like is the question. One warning: there can now be a class of false prophets video-ing their special relationship with God; pastors and priests may find their jobs obsolete. 

  • http://twitter.com/SallyStrange Sally Strange

    I wasn’t raised with religion, so observing it from the outside is all I’ve ever done.

    I used to observe religion and think, “Well, to each their own.” Now I observe religion and think, “The truth is the most important thing. There are secular ways of finding comfort, community, and charity. We can do better than this.”

    • Questioner

       Not all religious people think that religion is about comfort, community, and charity.  In fact, as a Christian, I’d say if that’s all a person wants is comfort, community, and charity they should not follow any religion.  Jesus himself talks about leaving parents and family and following Him and goes on to say that those who lose their life for His sake will find it, but those who love their lives will lose it.

  • http://twitter.com/SallyStrange Sally Strange

    “This transformation is what some hope will be a ‘Great Turning’ toward global community based in shared human connection, dedicated to the care of our planet, committed to justice and equality, and seeking to raise hundreds of millions from poverty and oppression.”

    In other words, it’s s shift towards values that are universal human values, rather than values that are particular to one faith or another. It’s not a spiritual revolution, it’s an ethical revolution. A humanist revolution of secular ethics. I don’t quite understand how Ms. Bass feels justified in claiming all this for “spirituality.”

    • Questioner

       I understand, though I disagree with her.  I don’t think religion is dying.  And based on my conversation with many different people, different people have different definitions of spirituality, so she could be correct in calling it spirituality (I call it spiritualism).  How do you define spirituality?

  • Al

    I agree with Sally’s observation.  I found Sam Harris to have some enlightening thoughts on this.      http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html

    How does the US movement to spiritualism compare to the European movement to secularism (currently or historically)? 

    I feel that in the US it is much more important to “believe in something” (read: anything, where atheists are seen as the least trusted minority in the country).

    Do the more social-democratic states of Europe reflect a different implementation of this need for a greater social good?

    • Four Elements

      Atheists are not nihilists; I am an atheist and an antitheist and I have a carefully developed spiritual belief system that I thought up all by myself, so I don’t need no stinkin’ “religion”. It is nihilists, not atheists, who believe in nothing.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Religion is an organized form of the human impulse to understand the universe through storytelling.  There’s nothing right or wrong about that.  It just is our nature.  As long as we know what we’re doing and as long as we choose good stories, our narrative way of interpreting reality will remain with us.

    • Hidan

       Your explanation is less true if not true at all if you follow world history. Religion is base on power structures that explain things to the benefit of the people in power.

      It’s wrong cause it’s base on lies and often rarely followed by the people telling others to do so. Religion has also justified some of the greatest abuses in World History and allows actual evil to be committed in the name of Church and State. often while thinking the person or organization is doing good in the process.

      Because Religion is an power structure if benefitis the created power structure inside such religion to cover-up, hide,dismiss, abuses it commits.

      Even what is called the enlightenment age just only applied to White europeans while excluding the browns and blacks of the world and some of the worst cases of slaverly were still being done by people with “good stories”

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Oh, dear, everything’s a conspiracy of the one percent–that’s what you believe?  You need better stories.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think there are economics behind the new turn, and the overweening impact of corporations on politics is part of it.  Here’s what I mean.  The original Reformation was about the money it cost to pay the Holy Roman Empire or the Holy Catholic Church to buy forgiveness and get into heaven, as I understand it, and Martin Luther had looked behind the posh ecclesiastical art and finery to see the crushed lower classes yearning to breathe free, and questioned the financial manipulation that was part of it.  What I see now is that if I want to invest in providence and thriving prosperity for all, do I want to put my money in the stockmarket, where by law corporations must maximize profit (not the general welfare)?  No.  No, I do not.  Do I think my church can do education, research and development, cyber warfare if need be, etc.?  No, they have their place, but they are not the government; we have split church and state.  Do I think government should have all my tithes?  Or Wall Street?  Who will be the best custodians of humanity and earth? See Paul Solman’s piece of  Benefit Corporations, which several states are legislating into place, which might fill this space for my investment and commitment.  I’ll put a link in a minute, and a snip from the interview.  (Yes, this is religion in many ways; how can we work together, in faith and love and all that, transcending all the differences that religion is supposed to be able to bridge.)

    • Christian

      I can assure you that I will never make the mistake of reading one of your blogs again.

    • Questioner

       Not, all religion is supposed to bridge differences.  Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but a sword.  Also the reformation was not “about money” as you put it, it was about theology and money was one of the issues but not the major issue such that you can simply say “the reformation was about the money it cost to pay the [un]Holy Roman Empire or the [un]Holy Catholic Church”.  And forgiveness in Christianity cannot be bought.  A bit of theology here: why buy something that’s already paid for?

      • Cerr

        What is {un}holy, is all the hate and vitriol that you are full of.

        • Prophesy

           It’s not hate.  It’s just not a Holy church.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Quote from the PBS News Hour interview at their site:
    “ANDREW KASSOY, co-founder, B Lab: Existing corporate law was built for maximization of shareholder value. And so the legal innovation here is that idea that the directors and the officers of the company are now protected to be able to consider a broader set of interests.”PAUL SOLMAN: The law protects firms that file as benefit corporations from shareholder lawsuits that could otherwise charge they didn’t maximize profits.”B Corps are legally mandated to maximize social benefits as well. Long before any laws were passed, Kassoy, along with his former Stanford University roommates, Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, concocted B Lab to certify B Corps, making sure that companies officially doing good actually were.”http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/jan-june12/bcorps_02-29.htm 

  • Gemli

    I’ve never thought spirituality was the exclusive province of religion.  To me, spirituality means recognizing the connection that we share with the earth that created us and all other living things.  We’ve evolved over millions of years, and we carry a trace of all the stages of that long journey.  Distilled within us are the gradually evolved experiences of millions of previous generations. It’s no wonder that we feel part of something larger than ourselves. Religion would have us look for this spiritual sense “out there” when in fact it is deeply buried inside us. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       There is no such thing as a genetic memory of past generations.

      • gemli

        No, there is no genetic memory, per se.  But we come into this world with an instictual understanding of the physics necessary to climb trees and avoid falling into pits.  We know how to suckle, how to acquire language, and in general how to behave like a human being.  We don’t enter the world as a blank slate and learn these things at birth. Evolution distilled these useful behaviors in us, and similar behaviors in all other species, over millions of years.  Each of us is a specific instance of a model that’s been around for a long time, and there are innumerable behaviors and imperitives that are part of our standard equipment that influence our ways of looking the world.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           The things that you name are much different from what your comment implied.

  • Michiganjf

    Thank “God!”

     I only hope Mrs. Bass is right with regard to the disappearance of “organized” religion in the West.

    Groupthink is the main thing that keeps religion alive and well in western society, and organized churches are the main environment for succumbing to a peer group, religion-wise.

    I’m all for anything that makes it easier for Westerners to shed the anachronistic superstition of christianity, and perhaps finally adopt a more wholesome and reasonable spirituality based simply on the health of minds and bodies atuned to the natural world.

    What a shining example and magnificent step forward that would be for the entire world!

  • David Angel

    The “great spiritual awakening”, isn’t.

    Rather, it is the culmination of confused fears of the disillusioned whom cannot relate their outdated faith to today’s world.  How can they?

    NYSE, Facebook/Twitter, CNN, unemployment percentages, globalization, healthcare, college tuition, carbon footprint – this is all very far removed from the world of Noah’s Ark, talking animals, and immaculately conceiving the son and prophet of God.

    Fables can be fun and are good for instilling morals, but they’re just fables – better left to children and simple minded adults.

    • Questioner

      So if I can relate  NYSE, Facebook/Twitter, CNN, unemployment percentages, globalization, healthcare, college tuition, carbon footprint to Noah’s Ark, talking animals, and immaculately conceiving the son of God and I’m a young adult, am I simple-minded?

  • JustSayin

    IMO There is a huge difference between faith and religion.

    Enlightenment is the understanding that faith is a simple one on one connection to God. Religion is the money making, overbearing, greedy self profiting individuals and institutions, that force themselves between man and God for power and profit, and is the antithesis of faith.

    Like any business with a product to sell, religion has the ability to package, adapt, and market whatever message that brings the greatest return.

    We all know the difference between meeting and interacting with people of faith, and people of religion. Indeed it is difficult to tell we have met people of faith, because we just don’t know, because they don’t evangelize, they live by the spirit of God, not the preachings of men.

    It takes some introspection to realize that all of the trappings of religion are not necessary, but actually seek to keep people from faith. Because once people embrace faith, they realize that it is hypocrisy to believe that men and buildings are necessary for a life of faith. To believe that simple minded men can know, and  speak the will of God is absurd, and counter to the concept of God Himself.

    To circumvent this glaring and obvious conundrum, religion invents holy men, each sanctified by the other and the institutions that they themselves have created. Like petty third world dictators they have to declare themselves judge, jury, and executioner, and operate on a basis of fear…. Why? Well because God Himself will not sanctify them….and why not?  Who knows. Perhaps its a test of Faith.

    • Hidan

       Religion is mostly about power and fear. One must do X or be fearful of Y happening. Though it does give comfort to many and has benefited many the bottom line is such benefit or help can be quickly revoked if the power in the organization deems it.

      Besides if such is true that would mean one would at best live under an benevolent dictator in heaven or an ruthless dictator in hell.

      I take the view the Spawn Universal Heaven and Hell makes equal if not more sense.

    • Questioner

       Where does your concept of God come from?

      • JustSayin

         God is omniscient and omnipotent… Intellectually, logically, and philosophically, all understanding begins and ends there. Hence the alpha and omega of God.

        • Questioner

           Yes I agree.  But how do you know that God is “omniscient and omnipotent… Intellectually, logically, and
          philosophically, all understanding begins and ends there. Hence the
          alpha and omega of God”?  Did He reveal it to you personally or did a holy man write this down somewhere and teach it to others?

          • JustSayin

            Why are you being so obtuse?

            It is the definition of ALL gods. It is the definition of all of the old dead Gods, as well as the ones in use today.

            No HOLY men are required for ANY belief. Faith is the belief in things that cannot be proven by men, even holy men.

            Why do you doubt the power of God to be His best teacher? Are you a interpreter for God?

          • Questioner

             I’m not being obtuse at all.  I know that that is the definition of God.  But who defined it?  You say that religion invents holy men (whom you seem to disdain).  I’m asking, if you don’t trust holy men, how do you define God and isn’t it convenient that your definition of God is the same as the definition of God that holy men have?  My agnostic friend thinks that there may be a God but he rejects this definition of God that you assume that all people have?

            I don’t doubt the power of God to be His best teacher.  As far as I know, I am not an interpreter for God.  I try to be whatever God wants me to be. 

          • JustSayin

             Why do you want me to define God for you?

            I make no assertions of  disdain, why do you apply them to me? Are you hoping for some big gotcha moment in a discussion about irrationality? That too is impossible.

            Men define the Gods. The definition is not convenient at all. It is the definition that men have created for gods.

            The definition is man made.

            The Gods are man made.

            When they are no longer needed, they are discarded and/or replaced by men.

            I merely point out this conundrum of doing things for God, and a simple way to avert it with faith alone.

          • Prophesy

             So you believe that people of faith live by a in a God whom they made up, and that’s better than living by a God that other people made up (which is what religious people do).  And the first is better than the second  because those people are doing their own thing whereas the second people are not doing their own thing.

          • JustSayin

            Ar you familiar with Milton?

            Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

            It is better to own your own beliefs, over the servitude to others.

        • Stephen Sprague

          Whatever We do effects everything.  We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

  • Hidan

    “Church historian Diana Butler Bass says a new reformation may be leaving religion behind.”

    Normally I take the view of “each his own” but we have people in the U.S. trying to push there religious dogma on others in the U.S. so if the above is true I welcome it.

    There’s nothing worst than Religion coming together with Nationalism.

    • sadsack

      Hiday is straight out of the Enver Hoxha school of religiosity.

  • Steve

    I’d definitely put myself in the post-organized-religion religious person camp. It’s a similar phenomenon to what’s happening in politics, with young people getting disenfranchised and looking outside the mainstream for answers. Incidentally, I believe this was actually the call of Jesus and the first Christians — to leave behind the legalism of religion and oppression of politics and follow a third way. As I look around at broken and failing religious and political institutions, I’m staking my life on Jesus being the alternative to oppression, legalism and greed — the first “occupier,” if you will.

  • Ed

    The Catholic view is quite different. The loving God has revealed Himself definitively in history. And He established a Church, which he leads and guides evermore into the truth. Many truths do not change with time, but our understanding grows with time.

    The Church is the ordinary means through which God brings man to Salvation, this religion, this organization. Its members are sinners and err at times, but it is in itself holy, catholic, apostolic; it is the Body of Christ. It is this body that will gain resurrection, and all those connected to it in a mytical way because they follow their conscience and are of good will.

    And this Church will remain until the end of time. Times change but the Church, while adapting to announce Salvation to the current generation, preaches the same truth, and will continue to do so.

    (I would suggest that the critics of religion read Pope Benedict to see what he really says.)

    • Anonymous

      “Many truths do not change with time, but our understanding grows with time.” — God is taking lessons from Mitt Romney to explain His flipflops.

      • Questioner

        J_o_h_n, that should be the Catholic Church is taking lessons from Mitt Romney to explain her flipflops.  Or maybe she taught Mitt Romney.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      So your ‘truth’ is that God tells the priests to molest boys and girls, while proclaiming that homosexuality is an ‘abomination’, and the children have to endure?

  • dirk in omaha

    does prof. Butler Bass see this as the coming together of a protestant sensibility of unmediated access to God and our post-community market driven consumerist culture?

  • http://twitter.com/RealEstateCafe Bill Wendel

    Q: @OnPointRadio Invite Prof. Peter Kreeft to call in? He’s talking tonite 7:30pm at #Harvard #Catholic Student Center re Unapologetic Apologetics, 29 Mt Auburn St.   His list of 67 books speaks for itself: http://www.peterkreeft.com/books.htm

    • Ayn Marx 666

       I’ve never considered apologetics to be intellectually honest:  such honesty includes the _obligation_ to point out where one’s own argument were weak, which apologetics specifically avoid.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been an atheist my whole life, so I’m no biblical scholar. But I do know that in at least one of the Gospels, Jesus says when we pray, we are to go into our homes and do so in private. My interpretation of this is that our relationship with God is personal, and not to be held up to public scrutiny or subject to public approval. Why then did Christianity, a movement which adopted “Christ” as the root of it’s very name, decide to ignore Christ’s admonition and turn into a giant circus of pomp and ceremony. Can anyone of the faithful really believe that Jesus, were he to return today, would approve of the garish excess of the Vatican, and it’s mountain of gold? Does anyone think he would be impressed by those fire and brimstone evangelicals, with their fifty thousand strong arena congregations, begging to be shown the way? It seems to me that even the simple act of going to church on Sunday runs contrary to what the man who’s words are the basis of these religions wanted us to do.   

    • A Born Again Believer

      Despite the fact that I am an evangelical Christian, I certainly agree that the Vatican’s mountain of gold and excess commercialism and materialism of many Christians is unbiblical.  However, Jesus’ teachings were in no way “everybody gets into heaven” kind of wishy washy preaching.  He claimed in John 14:6 to be “the way, the truth, and the life…no one comes to the Father but by Me”.  Hence He was claiming to be the only way to God, which therefore excludes Islam, Hinduism, and every other religion other than Biblical Christianity.  He also defined marriage as between one man and one woman when he said “to leave father and mother and cleave to your wife”.  No acceptance of gay marriage in that statement.  He also made many statements about Hell, so He certainly believed that it existed even if we consider it something relegated to the past.  If you believe the Bible are His words, then He made many other statements which leave no room for the “it doesn’t matter what you believe” kind of philosophy that exists today.  As we are reminded in Philippians 2, “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”.  Even those who refuse to acknowledge God’s existence in this life or believe that there are many ways to heaven will one day realize how foolish they were to believe such nonsense.  But at that point, it will be too late.

      • Anonymous

         The only thing wrong with everything you just wrote is the fact that you’re full of shit.

        • A Born Again Believer

          It is in the Bible, whether or not you want to accept it.  And one day YOUR knee will bow and YOUR tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Unfortunately, if you refuse to acknowledge that in this life, you will spend eternity separated from God and from everything good, regretting the fact that you disregarded the opportunity that I am giving you right now to repent of your sin and turn to Christ and humbly ask Him to be your Savior and Lord.  You will spend eternity regretting the fact that you willfully closed your eyes to the fact that “The heavens declare the glory of God” as stated in Psalm 19:1 and that “the fool says in his heart that there is no God” Psalm 14:1

          • Anonymous

            utter nonsense

          • Questioner

            I sincerely think you’re going about this the wrong way.

          • Ray in VT

            Maybe, maybe not.  Either we will, or there will be something else, or there will be nothing at all.  None of us really know.  We just believe.

          • Anonymous

             Why is it you lunatics love to cherry pick so much foolish Biblical nonsense, but you always seem to leave out all the really good stuff. You know, the stuff about stoning people to death and executing disloyal slaves, not to mention all the wonderful kingdoms God promises to his followers after they wipe out their enemies. Nice God you there.

          • Fredlinskip

             The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away.

          • Anonymous

             If the closed minded, self righteous, hateful crap this born again jackass is spewing is any indication of what the Lord has to offer, the Lord can keepeth.

          • Fredlinskip

             Somewhat agree with your views, but personally, for better worse I generally attempt to be tolerant of others views, being not “a perfect vessel” myself.
            Also I believe that if you’re purpose in a debate is to  influence another’s opinion to see the value of your views, insulting them  does the opposite.
            But that’s just me. I’ve been known to be wrong on  occasion.. I think… once.

          • Anonymous

            Very rarely have I ridiculed the belief system of others, unless my own were first dismissed by them. If you look further up at this fools first post of the day, you will see that he claims billions of people on this planet who don’t ascribe to his beliefs,  me included, are guilty of “foolish nonsense.” Maybe you didn’t see this little bit of pious fire and brimstone. But any fool who makes such blatantly bigoted remarks gets no tolerance from me. However, he CAN kiss my heathen ass. 

          • Fredlinskip

            See above

          • Anonymous

             Take your “opportunity” and shove it, you self-righteous gasbag. One of your pals earlier characterized your brain-dead beatings as a “rational discussion of religion.” If this is what passes for rational thinking among you folks, give me Hell any day.

          • Modavations

            Seek help.You’re out of control.Easily the most violent, out of control dude I’ve seen in ages

          • Anonymous

             Dude is a word eighteen year old’s use.aRe Yoo GaY?

          • Four Elements

            I think feet’s passion is refreshing and clears the air admirably!

        • Modavations

          Go seek some help before you hurt someone or yourself

          • Anonymous

             Good morning, Masturbations. Lovely to hear from you.

          • Modavations

            the worst offenders are the most insecure.You’re violent and need a shrink,or jail before you hurt someone

          • Anonymous

             Aww. I was trying to make nice. Oh well?

          • Four Elements

            That was sick, but I love it

        • Questioner

          ad hominem attack

          • Anonymous

             No. Contemptuous attack.

          • Questioner

            It is both.

          • Isaac, in Groton CT

            I don’t think it’s an hominem attack. “Full of [crap]” is simply another way of saying “wrong.” Effectively, what was written was “The only thing wrong with your comment is that it’s wrong.”

            Ad hominem would be trying to link the veracity of his claim to a personal defect. He’s not; he’s simply made an unsupported assertion that the claims made were incorrect. That’s not a fallacy, it’s just unpersuasive.

          • Fredlinskip

            Confucius say :

            He Who..

            Who He He Who WHO he he.
            (maybe I should have held off on that last beer)

        • Anonymous

          There’s nothing to bring out the knives like a rational discussion of religion.
          ad hominem, indeed. 

          • Anonymous

             Woe be to him, who believes anything the lunatic above has said in any way constitutes a “rational” discussion. Now you can address his “ad hominem” claim that those of us who don’t ascribe to his religious beliefs are “foolish.”

          • Anonymous

            Personal philosophies are just that. Your own rigidity seems as orthodox as those you denigrate.

            Manners and civility are another belief practice. Yours needs some work.

            You lack imagination–fecal? Why not: I think you’re a thin streak of inbred piss.

          • feettothefire

             Please reread the comment of the Genius above. Tell me if  his claim that the belief systems of billions of people who think in ways different than he are “foolish nonsense” is very “civil” His words, not mine. I await your condemnation of his less than civil characterization of his fellow humans.

          • Fredlinskip

             Forgive them,
            They know not what they do.

        • Four Elements

          Hey feet, tell us how you really feel!

        • Fredlinskip

           To small to answer below:
          You say: “he claims billions of people on this planet who don’t ascribe to his beliefs,  me included, are guilty of ‘foolish nonsense’.”

          I see what you’re saying but I still believe in tolerance.
          Born Again has a right to believe that there is only one path to heaven.
          We all have a right of freedom of religious belief.
          Perhaps he should be more tolerant of your views, but the reverse could also be said.
          IMO.

          When debating religion, politics, other stuff, you are coming up against core beliefs. If you’re goal is to influence someone to perhaps step back and think and question and “open their mind” to other possibilities, this isn’t going to happen through insult.

          But again- this is just my humble opinion/ approach.

           

          • Anonymous

            On this subject, I couldn’t disagree with you more, Fred. Tolerance of ideas is fine. I take no issue with his personal religious beliefs. But when he labels the beliefs of others “foolish nonsense,” he abdicates any right he may have had to tolerance. None of my vitriol was directed at his personal beliefs. It was directed at his sanctimonious dismissal of any ideas which don’t warrant his own approval. Had I used the same words to characterize his beliefs, all the God people would have accused me of typical atheistic hate. Sauce for the goose, my friend. Sauce for the goose. 

          • Fredlinskip

             Have other thoughts on subject but need to get my sanctimonious butt to work.
            Perhaps I’ ll pick it up this evening. Have a good day.

      • Isaac Bresnick

        Raised Jewish, I have more than a few qualms with Jesus’ preachings, but I really think the example you cite about gay marriage is kooky. No, seriously: even if I didn’t think you were probably taking “to leave father and mother and cleave to your wife” out of context, it says literally nothing about marriage, homosexual or otherwise. You’ve taken an obscure phrase – not even a full sentence – and attributed a public policy to it.

        See, you’re the reason why people are leaving “religion.”

        • A Born Again Believer

          God gives us the choice to believe whatever we want.  You are free to accept or reject the Bible.  You will be held accountable for your decision, however.  But homosexuality is called “contrary to sound teaching”, and “degrading, unnatural, and indecent” in Romans 1.  Again, you are free to believe whatever you want, even if it is clearly wrong.  And at the end of the day, people will have no excuse for rejecting the Biblical message when they see God in His glory and realize that His glory was clearly and undeniably demonstrated in His creation.  They just wanted to reject God so that they would not have to be accountable to Him.

          • Ray in VT

            I find that many people who reject religion, not just Christianity, do so not because they don’t want to be unaccountable, but because they are looking for evidence for the existence of a higher power, and they don’t see that.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Interesting.  I think when religion began, it related to human helplessness and ignorance.  And power was ascribed to kings real or imagined.  Now that we know more, it isn’t so clear where our helplessness lies.  I’m not so sure people require proof of a higher power; just proof of our own ultimate inadequacy in so many ways.

          • Fredlinskip

             It’s easier for a Camel in Heaven to Poke a Rich Man in the Eye with a Needle then for he to Enter a Kingdom  ….

            Wait that’s not right

          • Terry Tree Tree

            You twist Bible text, with the BEST of preachers!

          • Questioner

            Brother or Sister Born Again Believer, you should read Romans 2 as well.  You should read Ray in VT’s comment below as well.

          • Ray in VT

            Thanks for the promo.

          • Isaac, in Groton CT

            Tell you what: when you can demonstrate which messianic prophecies in the Jewish tradition Jesus was supposed to have fulfilled, I’ll go ahead and concede that rejecting Christ (whose divinity is based upon the notion that he was the Jewish messiah) is incorrect.

            I don’t usually like to challenge Christians on their beliefs; I’m pretty content to leave each person to their own religion, but that’s not the conversation you apparently want to have.

          • Christian

            ” You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

            “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.”

            In fact in the letters to the Romans, not judging others is mentioned many times more than your partial sentence about sex.  Why do you ignore that?

            As a matter of fact, these books spend a material amount of time talking about the righteousness of circumcision.  Do you rant about that in proportion to your rants about homosexuality?  Or at all?

          • Anonymous

            He doesn’t give you a choice when the alternative to the one he wants you to make results in eternal torture.  Fortunately, he is not real. 

          • Anonymous

             Isn’t it funny that the favorite method used by these Bible thumpers, when engaging in a debate over religion with a non-believer like me, is to throw a bunch of Biblical nonsense at me which they already know I don’t believe in. Are they stupid, as well as sanctimonious?

          • Fredlinskip

            Who Amongth You haven’t Sineth;
            Let Himmeth Throweth the First Stoneth

          • Four Elements

            Some choice. Is “God” that disingenuous?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            If homosexuality is unnatural, WHY do so MANY animals do it?  Can they secretly read the homosexual manuals?  Animals refuse to let us know they can read?

      • Christian

        “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

        “Judge not, that ye be not judged”

        Did you miss these and similar verses in your heated search for verses to support your hatred and intolerance?

        The word “wife” is NOT defined in the New Testament. 

        I believe in the inspired word of God, but did you know that a 16th century pope made the unilateral decision that Mary Magdalen was the same woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair?  Before that, this idea was never mentioned – in the Bible or elsewhere.

        By the way, ‘no one comes to the Father but by Me’ means we are saved only by grace, not that evangelicals are the only people to make it into heaven.  If your intolerant rant is what your church teaches, it may go a long way toward explaining the premise of this segment, e.g., that Christians are turning away from organized religion. 

    • Questioner

      “Can anyone of the faithful really believe that Jesus, were he to return
      today, would approve of the garish excess of the Vatican, and it’s
      mountain of gold?”

      Perhaps one reason why not all Christians are Catholic.

      “Does anyone think he would be impressed by those fire and brimstone
      evangelicals, with their fifty thousand strong arena congregations,
      begging to be shown the way?”

      Jesus is God, so how can anyone impress God? 

      “It seems to me that even the simple act of going to church on Sunday
      runs contrary to what the man who’s words are the basis of these
      religions wanted us to do.”

      Yes, it should seem that way because Jesus did not go to church on Sunday.  He went to the synagogue on Sabbath, Saturday.   

  • Questioner

    “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  — Matt. 18:20

    Need I say more?

    • HAL from East Boston

      Yes, you do need to say more, much more. Quoting the Bible does not qualify as either thoughtful reflection or competent exposition. If you have somethign worthwhile to say, please elucidate. A Bible quote and the smug “need I say more?” puts upon your brow the stamp of intellectual inferiority, and it’s about time somebody told you so.

      • Questioner

         All right then.  Let me spell it out for you HAL from East Boston.

        True Christians don’t care about proving to others that they can have “thoughtful reflection” or “competent exposition” or coming off as “intellectual[ly] inferior”.  In fact, people who worry about how others perceive them should not become Christians because the Bible says that Christians will basically be perceived as idiots.

        My original point is it does not matter that “religion”, as others perceive it, is going away on a mass scale because Jesus said that where two or three is gathered he will be there.

        • HAL from East Boston

          And MY original point was that a Bible quote, dropped naked and with the particular personal meaning you attach to it unexplained, was contributing exactly nothing to the discussion at hand. If you had posted instead your last paragraph, I would have not have made any comment at all, notwithstanding that the Being who will be there “in the midst of them” will unfortunately be, in addition to His other attributes, invisible. My admittedly unkind remark was made out of impatience with your method of discourse. Otherwise, sincere best wishes, and I close. 

      • a liberal (but not nuts)

        I understand Questioner perfectly, and find his point well taken and thoughtful.  Maybe it’s you HAL, who is a step behind intellectually. 

      • Anonymous

        Smug? Intellectual inferiority?
        Whom, exactly?
         

  • Anonymous

    We NW European’s with early colonial arrival’s to NJ & Pennsylvania, most of us now after 300 years, have a rich Quaker genealogy and history.
    They arose pacifists from the ashes of the English Civil War and practiced a form of religion without Baptism, Eucharist, and other rituals of magical-thinking–they had other superstitions. Quakers had women preachers and felt akin to the earliest Biblical Christians. Ethics and fairness of the well-lived life was greater than the display of piety.
    They established legal principles we hold dear today. The Flushing Remonstrance and the Remonstrance of Lord Cornbury are rich with precedents that you’d find in the Signers writings.
    There is no new thing under the sun.

  • HAL from East Boston

    There are two ideas basic to Western religion that it would be beneficial for our species to abandon—Revelation and Prophecy. It is the contending “revelations” of Jehovah and Allah that fuel religious madness in the world to this day. It is “the prophecies,” so-called that fuel the potentially dangerous nuttiness of the pathetic End-of-the-World crowd in our country. Both these species of nonsense belong in the dust-bin of history.

  • Isaac Bresnick

    The trend away from “religion” seems to run parallel to other shifts in our society. From the TEA Party’s distrust of centralized government to the Occupier’s distrust of centralized economic power, I can see a way for the “spiritualist” belief to be one centered around distrust of centralized religious power.

    Fundamentally, more Americans are becoming skeptical of folks who say, “Because I say so.” That’s a good thing, but only if it’s focused. If we rebel simply to rebel, it’s no different than mindlessly adhering to an authority. The “escape” from organized religion must be done, not out of a reactionary fear, but out of a desire to find something better.

  • Modavations

    Agnostics are level headed,atheism is a cult.Free men are agnostics,atheists are communist(mostly).The State is God

    • Isaac Bresnick

      Describing atheism as something that encompasses “The State is God” is nonsensical. Must you troll?

      • Ray in VT

        Oh, you know he must.

      • TFRX

        After all the religion-v-religion and religion-v-non-believer wars in history, I thought that stoking arguments between athiests and agnostics was something that only happened in sci-fi.

      • Modavations

        My job is to get you thinking.To knock sense into knuckleheads

        • Ray in VT

           You should try starting at home first.

        • Anonymous

           Try not to hit yourself too hard.

    • Jane

      What a ridiculous thing to say! There is nothing cultish about being an atheist, or communist either.

      • Modavations

        Stalin,Pol Pot,Hitler,Mao…..100 million dead

        • Ray in VT

          Hitler wasn’t really an atheist, and even if the other three all were, it wasn’t a non-belief in God that drove them or their policies that killed so many.

  • Modavations

    God is a defense mechanism that allows people to die without the absolute feakout

  • AC

    This show seems hopeful….

  • judgejudy

    With hateful, intolerant, judgmental little men like Rick Santorum running around calling themselves chuch-going Christians, it’s no wonder people stay away from church…

  • Brendan Hareshvara

    I grew up with a Baptist mother and grandmother, Methodist Aunt, uncle and cousins, and a Catholic Stepfather.  I went to the same Catholic school as my stepdad had.  Christianity never made real sense to me.  No teacher could explain to me why a non-Christian would suffer for all eternity because of his or her beliefs.  ‘Doesn’t a tribal person in the Amazon who’s never heard the story of Jesus but nevertheless has a good heart deserve to go to heaven?’ i would ask.  ‘Does a Hindu or Muslim deserve damnation simply because they hold fast to their family’s faith no matter how good a life they live?”

    During my teen years, i considered myself somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic, essentially writing off organized religion as a scam.  It wasn’t until i read the Upanishads in my early thirties that i found God.  My beliefs now most closely resemble the Advaita Vedanta school of thought in Hinduism; i am also attracted to Kashmiri Shaivism, which is very close to Vedanta.

    I don’t call myself a Hindu, because i do not follow all of the external rituals; but philosophically i am far more Hindu than Christian, even though i have a new respect for the message of Christ, thanks to such Hindu thinkers as Gandhi and Eknath Easwaran.  I have also read a couple of translations of the Holy Qur’an and loved it very much, but it did not speak to my heart and soul nearly as much as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.  Aum Shanti!!!

    • Questioner

      Brendan, in all sincerity, I think that you should try another church and study the Bible for yourself and not wait for a teacher to explain things to you.  Not all Christians believe that a non-Christian (or any person) would suffer for all eternity because of his or her beliefs.  The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, not eternal suffering in hell (which is eternal life of suffering and not death).  Also, the Bible says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33) and all will be judged according to the law of God which they have in their hearts (even if they never knew God) (Romans 2:14-15).  I do pray that you 9and all of us) will come to a fuller understanding of who God is.

  • Connie

    Wonderful topic! From a Catholic school education to a Unitarian, Congregational adulthood, at 62, I have come to realize that “institutions” cannot fill the spiritual need that refuses to be confined by dogma, doctine and the refusal to evolve.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I hope some Muslims will weigh in as to the relevance and energy as they find it in their religion.  It seems to me that in light of globalism, and cyberconnectedness, the spiritual revivalism that might make most sense to the younger generation would be less fixated on the limiting sense of identity that religion used to depend on, the exclusivity.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Churches may have trouble one by one, but people come together and form communities of conscience in ways that have not happened before.  Here, groups will gather at whichever church building (or public venue) that is available, but the objective will be felt as based on a moral and spiritual bond.

  • Glenn Koenig

    I’ve been saying this for a long time, by now.  Most churches work with a tired obsolete medium – the ‘sit in a pew quietly and listen to a sermon’ and ‘stand and sing hymns in unison’ format.
    This is based on an old fashioned hierarchical structure of the ‘man at the top’ with a bunch of followers.
    Now, the world is moving to a decentralized, diverse, networked culture.  The old format of church services does not fit the way we live now.

  • Soli

    So what about those involved in the non-dominant religious world? Is this just about people turning away from monotheism, specifically Christianity? What of those people turning to new religious movements or embracing indigenous religion/spirituality?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    See Martin Gardner’s book, “The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.”  He was talking about belief without organized religion back in the 80s.

    • Stephen Sprague

      NO MORE SECONDHAND GODBuckminster Fuller1963, Anchor Books edition, 1971.

    • Stephen Sprague

      Buckminster Fuller: NO MORE SECONDHAND GOD, 1963, Anchor Books edition, 1971.

  • Bgaidry

    The shift away from the hierarchical institutions of religion, parallels the shift away from the hierarchical institutions of government, finance, and commerce.

    Pyramids are tombs, built by the many for the benefit of the few on top. Hierarchical civilization is dead.

  • jon

    It’s teenage theology, like “I hate religion but love Jesus.” What does Jesus want you to do? Preach and change the world. The most effective way in history is to church together. This talked trend is more like schism of sects from old church and forming of new church. It’s a same old usual story of Christianity.

    • Stephen Sprague

      Whatever We do effects everything. We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach. We are Elements of God. I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God. When we speak, we are the Voice of God. When we act, we are the Hand of God. When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God. When we act in love, we are the Grace of God. We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” 

  • Jane

    This is great news to me.  I am an atheist, and I would be happy to see much less influence of organized religion on our society. It wouldn’t surprise me that the economy has contributed to the decline as people no longer want to pay the cost of supporting these churches.

  • Rogerq

    I understand that at the founding of our country Madison wanted a separation of church and state because he saw that as they became intertwined the average person became less “religious”.  I wonder if, with the rise of the Christian right and its public support of Republican policies and candidates is causing exactly the problem Madison was worried about.

  • Abbyklein49

    Your focus is on churches and Christianity.  There won’t be an end to religion in Judaism.  We have survived thousands of years of persecution and still manage to survive and thrive. Yes, many Jews do not get to authentically learn about their heritage, but thanks to outreach programs, traditional Judaism has been experiencing a revival.  This isn’t about how many people go to synagogue.  Judaism is a religion that is about action, not just faith.  It has something to say about all aspects of one’s life. The Torah itself has not been changed since it was first written (or received).  It’s ideas, interpretations, philosophy, mysticism, is compelling.  I can walk into any synagogue in the world and now what is going on and feel at home.  Judaism is a family.  We are responsible for each other.  Yes, we have problems to solve.  We need more spirituality infused with ritual and law.  We need to respect differences amongst denominations.  But from my extensive experience across the country and reading, I can tell you, that while we are losing Jews to secular culture, our religion has not and will not end.

    • Questioner

       Is it true that Rabbis teach that those who try to read and understand the prophecies of Daniel will be cursed?

    • Sofia

      Yes, this is exactly what Jesus was trying to say. It is not so much about laws and rules (though they are important), but about righteouse action, working for justice, and caring for one another with compassion. Too bad those who later claimed to follow him twisted it all into a pretzel.

      The message is found in many so-called religions. They are a philosophy of life. Religions serve the purpose of being stepping stones. They are there to use until people learn to think and act compassionately for themselves. Then they will focus on Truth and Justice, which are what God is (as the ancient prayers of most religions say). All other descriptions are metaphors, limited by cultural and historical language. Truth is transcendent. This is God. How to know Truth is the eternal question–and what wise people seek. With humility.

    • Stephen Sprague

      Whatever We do effects everything.  We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

  • nathan

    The growing minorty of non believers is the real story that not many are paying attention too.

  • Eric Groft

    I’m disappointed to to hear that the view stated is that the decline in participation with religion really only worries the executives of those religious organizations seeing declines.  As a Missouri Synod Lutheran member, I worry more about the dilution of the Gospel message its replacement with man made and directed “spirituality.”  It isn’t about the money so much as it is the number of souls.

  • Rex

    I’m not religious at all but I do appreciate the community aspect of church. 

  • John in Vermont

    The irony for “mainstream” churches is that while they have had declining memberships the evangelical and independent churches have been flourishing – often expanding into mega-churches that attract thousands each Sunday.

    It is no accident that these churches demand that you adhere to their principles.  As society breaks down boundaries and ignores traditional rules people flock to the churches and other institutions that offer rules, a way to make sense of the world and life, plus a community that shares those beliefs and values.

  • Coleman Mahler

    I too have been looking for avenues of spirituality outside of organized religion. Recently, I have become interested in the ideas of Spinoza, Einstein and Carl Sagan, who all saw spirituality within the physical laws of nature. Reading poets such as Mary Oliver, who sees the same spirituality, inspires me and makes me hope I can find some sort of the same thing.

  • Jack Acme

    Any “mystical experience of God” is going to be interpreted and contextualized, whether the person having the experience is a member of a traditional church or not. Comparative study of mystical experiences across cultures and religions would indicate certain commonalities but the experience is interpreted and understood differently depending on the social, religious, and cultural context. I assume self-consciously secular people also have mystical experiences and find some non-spiritual, non-religious explanation for what they’ve experienced. 

  • Brendan Hareshvara

    A similar transformation happened over two thousand years ago in Hinduism when Brahmanical Vedic traditionalists started to lose ground to Tantrics in Buddhism and Hinduism.  The reformation of Hinudism by Adi Shankara in the 7th century AD helped consolidate many of these more personal systems of mysticism and reformed the establishment Vedic system of Hinduism.  It is often seen as a response within Hinduism to Buddhism, and his opponents at the time called him a “crypto-Buddhist” for, as they saw it, for importing Buddhist ideas.

  • Ellen Dibble

    We need a new language of faith that is not quite as off-putting as, say, what Sanctorum (nope, you know who I mean…) puts forth.  It seems to me in churches, the members who keep the flowers fresh and so on are the ones who depend on the security of routine, in belief and in practice.  So there is a kind of wall that excludes honesty either on one side or the other.  There is a divide between the bulwark of the old establishment, who may not be aware of the way they crowd out some hard life experience and long prayer whose results could be useful if not straitjacketed into certain expectations.

  • Ryan

    Perhaps people have grown in an intellectual capacity to the point where they realize they don’t need a single entity (a particular organization of religion) to tell them how to believe in a higher spiritual power. Maybe people are taking it upon themselves to interpret their own feelings of spirituality without the sway of a community which just fosters an environment of “mob” mentality (that’s a bit harsh but you get the point).

    • JustSayin

       Yes. It makes one wonder how a libertarian like Ron Paul would accept the not so benevolent dictatorship of his god.  The very people who decry regulation by governments want to replace it with religious dogma.

      The lack of introspection to the obvious intellectual conflicts should make them crazy.

  • curious

    I wonder how much of this is due to the church sex abuse scandal?

    • Rogerq

       I doubt very much of it is related to the scandals in the Catholic Church.  I suspect those of other faiths think of that as a problem specific to Catholics with their clergy who can’t marry (unless, of course, they convert from the Anglican church and are already married).

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Yoga as the height of spiritual practice?  Myeh. . .

  • Dennis_in_Omaha

     
    Does Diane Butler Bass cover these topics in her book?

    The strongest justification for organized and group worship is when they prevent the abuse of religion.

    What does “spirituality” offer to protect the most vulnerable citizens in our society.

    and, she just mentioned overhead projectors…

    that is our abuse of religion in our time.

    Projectors are made by people in China who have their freedom of religion taken away from them.

    I want projectors in my church, they offer easy to read lyrics for elderly people.

    But in our time, if we use projectors, we are helping corporations steal freedom of worship from people in China.

    Let our sacred spaces stay sacred.

  • Ozharri

    This is easy.  People are leaving formal religion is hypocrisy.  Plain and simple. 

  • Eigen Answer

    It’s hard to believe that God would potentially send someone to hell when the argument for his existence is not ‘air tight’.  This is why so many people have a hard time subscribing to Christianity (particularly evangelicalism).  I want Authenticity, not more Authority.  I just don’t get that from church.  I was a Born Again for years and spent most of that time convincing myself the bible was true.  I left realizing that I was becoming a salesmen to myself and to others. 

  • Joe in Philly

    Isn’t the decline of organized (Christian) religions just a consequence of the broader erosion of faith in our institutions and the growing cynicism of our society? 

  • Anonymous

    Religions are poison to human mind,the biggest scam mankind ever invented. Religions are only used by one group of people to subjugate another group of people to financially profit and to over power the others.Just look back in history, how many wars were started by
    religion? How many people were killed? From Crusade to Jihad,
    Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Religion only promote HATE in the name of this made up character called God, we Americans had the first hand experience of this hate 10 years ago. 
    Even among different denominations in Christianity or different sects of Islam, it all ends up with wars and killings.
    Poor “God”, every group of these religion claims God is on their side. God must be so very confused who’s side he is on.  
     

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Actually, religious wars are mostly limited to monotheistic faiths.  Those who believe in many gods see little reason to fight someone who believes in a similar list of divinities.

      • Ray in VT

        That was certainly what my readings in ancient history seem to conclude.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           People back then were more honest about why they wanted to kill each other.  Hypocricy isn’t improvement.

          • Ray in VT

            Hypocrisy will always be with us.  The economic theory of history promotes the idea that all conflicts are fundamentally about money, trade, land and resources.  It makes a fairly convincing argument.

      • Brendan Hareshvara

        While i agree with you that the Abrahamic faiths tend to be more exclusivistic and thus more readily dehumanize the ‘other’ to the point of abrogating core teachings about avoiding killing and aggression, i have to confess that even non-monotheistic faiths do use religion as a pretext or pretense for war and violence.  In my opinion the underlying cause for ‘religious wars’ is usually something very worldly like greed for resources or revenge for past slights, religion is usually used as a pretense or justification.  The ancient Greeks would champion their god (for Athenians, of course Athena) and ask their god to lead them to victory over the others’ god.  Hindus have, unfortunately, succumbed to the war impulse (even on occasion against Hindus of another denomination) and used religion as a justification . . . but i agree that the Abrahamic faiths seem more prone to this.

      • Akfaka

        The ancient Greece had it it right. ehether it’s food, wine or music, there is a God for that. :}

  • MlGM

    Tom just asked is that you spiritual but not religious? Yes that’s me.
    I have deep faith in the Divine but have never been attracted to any religion. I see religions as dividing people. I am currently reading “God’s Jury, The Inquisition and the making of the modern world” by Cullen Murphy a stark reminder about the danger of organized religion

  • Sam

    I found a religion that fits my (agnostic) views – Unitarian Universalism.
    I also tried out a Quaker service, and that was very interesting.

    • Anonymous

      Good for you Sam.

  • Ericcomment

    How do the ‘spiritual,’ areligious compare to those ensconced within a religious community in reason, skepticism?

    Are the more vulnerable to a charismatic leader?

  • Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

    Are you familiar with Daniel Batson  (and others) – psychometric scales, measuring religiosity in the context of personality types. Quest type people are more comfortable with uncertainty/mystery, vs Fundamentalist and Right Wing Authoritarian, who need doctrinal certitude above all else. How do these personality types fit into your understanding of who stays and who is leaving churches? Are the people left in the pews the more RF/RWA’s? 
    Also – do political interest groups such as the Institute for Religion and Democracy inhibit denominations’ attempts to move their approach to a more Quest-comfortable orientation? I see this issue especially manifest in the fight over LGBT inclusion in the UMC.
    And – do you agree that community has inherent value in people trying to live out a spiritual/religious life, to gain accountability, support, and the uniqueness of group worship experiences?

    • Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

      Really, many, many people/leaders in mainline denominations do want their denominations to move to a more “future-oriented” (as Butler Bass calls it) approach. But right wing political (not religious!) groups pour enormous resources into preventing any move toward openness or more inclusive spirituality, as part of a right-wing political agenda. For example, see http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v20n1/clarkson_battle.html

  • Brendan Hareshvara

    Tell your speaker to forget the mats and yoga studios, the heart of Yoga can be found in the Yoga Sutras and the Upanishads.  It has very little to do with postures and ‘exercise’ it has everything to do with connecting the soul to the divine.  If you can sit still and meditate on the soul and God, that can help, but without the spiritual depth that is elucidated in the Upanishads, it’s just a fashionable form of exercise that will most likely make you physically/mentally healthier.  You need to study the philosophy to understand how to reach the GOAL of connecting your soul to the divine and becoming SPIRITUALLY healthier.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      How about developing myself as an individual?  I am not merely some piece of the collective consciousness.

      • Four Elements

        Amen brother … I do feel, however, that the ultimate purpose of becoming truly and solely yourself is to become literally no one and to be free of the burden of individuality.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          The burden of individuality?  What nonsense.  Individuality is the greatest gift.

          • Ray in VT

            But it can also be disconcerting for some when they feel that they have been cut loose from their moorings by a loss of cultural touchstones.

            We are social animals, and we have always sought to make connections to others through our communities and institutions.  

          • Four Elements

            Nonsense? Wow. Individuality is a gift, but only as a way, not as a destination. Is your ego so afraid of giving up control?

      • Brendan Hareshvara

        Absolutely you should develop yourself as an individual!!!  I agree that you are not just PART of the ‘collective consciousness’ (a term i did not use) and if you do not believe in God then obviously seeking a connection to the divine would be nonsensical for you.  Personally, and i am speaking for myself here and do not claim to have discovered some great secret that everyone must adhere to (far from it): i believe that the idea that we are all connected does not go far enough, i believe that we are all one.  This does NOT mean, however, that you cannot or should not develop yourself as an individual, i did not mean to imply that at all.  Striking a balance between unity and diversity REQUIRES us to develop our individuality.

          As to 4 Elements’ idea of becoming ‘no one’ i believe that he is referring to what Buddhists (and some Hindus) refer to as Shunyata or emptiness . . . a concept that i haven’t quite wrapped my head around, but would be happy to hear about its relevance here.

  • Jane

    I’m part of a New Thought faith tradition called “Centers for Spiritual Living.” and I believe there is a growing trend of “cultural creatives” who gather in community to celebrate the God within all of us.  Any comments on this growing trend?

  • Betsy

    Quakerism is a mystical religion.  George Fox, its 17th century British founder, had a mystical experience that led him to develop this religion.  Quaker silent meetings are times of worship in which those present quietly “center down” in order to hear what God might say to them.  They are invited to speak out of the silence as they feel spiritually led.  This is not individual meditation but rather a corporate, spiritual seeking in which everyone present engages together.  It can be spiritually powerful, based on the messages shared or even on the quality of the silence shared.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     I spent several years attending a Unitarian Universalist church.  What I saw was a lot of vague blather about spirituality without any definition, a lot of unfocused desire to do good without bothering to act, and a whole lot of talk without doing.

    • Martin Luther

      Concur! We really need only inner drive and commitment to act — and do — good. All of us have immense opportunities for both, each and every day. You can still belong to a Church if you want to, but mainly that is just to remind yourself once a week of what you have (or haven’t been) doing all week… Or am I confused??

  • Yar

    The institutional church and the institutional state is fearful of strong community.  Strong communities are not easily manipulated.  Diverse communities are much stronger because of their diversity.  Single issue communities may seem cohesive but outside of their issue they often share little in common.  Why is Sunday morning the most segregated hour of the week by race, education, and economic class?

  • Robart

    I once heard someone say disdainfully that going to church was “just about being social.” As someone who was at the time going to a church that provided a Saturday morning program for the mentally ill who had been released to the community and an overnight program during the winter to house homeless men, I thought about what “social” means quite differently.
       While lots of good people do good things for others based on their principles or “spirituality,” I worry that without the structured community provided by an institution–a church/synagogue/mosque–many “social services” will go by the board.
       Having done both, I would say that volunteering with a social service program–say, hospice–is not at all the same as doing work with a congregation of fellow worshippers. Related, but not the same.
       That said, I do see and feel a change in how people feel comfortable expressing their spirituality, propelled mostly by the doctrinaire and hierarchical in too many churches.
      

    • Martin Luther

      Not sure I agree — I concur with you that Church is definitely not “social” but nor does one need Church to be spiritual. SOME may need that structure to guide their thinking and actions, but I feel strongly one can create the spirit within their own mind/body. I choose to follow Christ’s teachings in my giving of time, talents and treasure to those who have very little. Church did teach me that, but Churches today are far less-practised and disciplined in teaching us. So I gave up on the institution (having been disappointed by 4-5 of ‘em), and think/act independently, living out what I believe is a Christian life.

      Why organized religions seem to be failing is prob. multi-faceted, my “complaint” being just one of many reasons people do not worship more regularly, let alone join. But neither do I understand the masses gathered at the larger “Evangelical” Temples of Worship — that seems more about show and pack-mentality than the small intimate conversations and relationships I enjoyed as a younger person. SO, I forge my own path, and hope God respects my choices.

  • Bgaidry

     “I distrust those people who
    know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always
    coincides with their own desires.” — Susan B. Anthony

  • Gc_williams

    the decline of mainline denominations is documented but is it harder to track the explosive growth of non-denominational churches such as Mars Hill, Willow Creek etc?

    • JustSayin

       There are approximately 38,000 Christian sects in the world. Designer religion, creates profligate institutions.

      • Ray in VT

        That’s one of the things that I find strange about some of the evangelical churches.  I’ve seen ones that will pick a few verses, mostly from the Old Testament, and obsess about them while ignoring much of the rest.

    • Martin Luther

      Does Diana address this? I just turned on radio…

  • Anonymous

    Kindler, gentler, spirituality is just as false as traditional religions.

  • Ryan

    Of course Christianity is new in both Africa and Asia. White missionaries brought it there, it took thousands of years for Christianity to reach the height it did in the European and American cultures. Give it the same period of time and they too will realize they do not need these organized religions.

  • Pingback: how are some more certain of everything than i am of anything?…. » Blog Archive » this used to be the 1st day of a new year.

  • Bgaidry

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi
     

    • Fredlinskip

       W was supposedly “born again”.
      If Jesus was to return and was elected Prez, I have a hard time imagining He would be a promoter of  unnecessry War.
      For some reason I would imagine him trying to unite the World and Country instead of driving everyone apart.

  • Roy Mac

    Organized religion exists for the benefit of the priests.

  • Christina

    Please address Charles Murray’s research on how religion/religious values have more or less bolstered the 1-percent.

    • Modavations

      pathetic

      • Anonymous

         Put down the mirror,

    • Erin in Iowa

      It hasn’t “bolstered” anything.  People have believed in religious Calvinism for centuries, but it’s not true.

      • Four Elements

        Yes it has, because it is all about obedience to authority.

  • Bgaidry

    As I recall, Jesus abandoned “organized” religion as well.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       The Gospels report him attending synagogues during his reported life.  Of course, Jewish practices at that period was different from modern forms of organized religion.

    • Theodore Hoppe

      …..and he did so because the temples of the day, not unlike today, were a business that were teaching fear.  Jesus told them his God was a loving and forgiving God and threw the money leaders out of the temple. 

  • BHA in Vermont

    Everybody does NOT need to go to church. Only those people who need the emotional support or structure of the church and it’s members need to sit in a structure.  

    • Ellen Dibble

      I think it has something to do with the sense of loneliness and a time and place for a community of any sort to sort of resonate together.  Maybe a Beatles concert served a parallel role to a certain era — all you need is love, etc. etc.

    • Steve

      The church can be avenue for worship

  • Dave

    We continue the debate that began here in the 1630s.  Is American Christianity the religion of the Puritans, who (contrary to popular belief) came here to form a government that could force the Puritan religion on others, or is it the religion of Roger Williams, who escaped from Massachusetts to found Rhode Island on the principle that religion is a personal matter.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    It is not hard to make a moral life on your own.  Do what you want, so long as you harm no one else.

    • Ray in VT

      I agree with your sentiment.  As someone who left religion early in life, I’ve often been confronted with people promoting the idea that if you don’t believe in God then you’re somehow totally immoral and without values.

      • Four Elements

        Those people are self-serving and terrified of ambiguity.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Tom is asking about isn’t it difficult to make up a spiritual life out of whole cloth.
        This points to the issue of religious education.  It seems to me most of humanity can be understood best through the lens of the religious heritage their culture has lived within for hundreds and hundreds of years.  I do refer to that as a lens, and I think children need to take that on board, the better to understand at least one religious tradition, in order to use it, whether officially or not so officially

  • Leiza

    The Christ of Christianity was an amazing teacher and I strive to live my life by his example every day.  Too many use the justification of Christianity as a sword to wound and hurt others especially those who ascribe to organized religion and I can not abide by it.  Like many of the great transcendentalists I find my God in my own church.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Tom, for giving Harry from Carolina the time to finish his thoughts.

  • Anonymous

    Spiritual and religious are totally apple and orange.
    One can be spiritual without believe in this so called “God”!!

  • Modavations

    All you caucasions that are Buddhist,etc., will be Jews and Christians again before you die.You’re just out of vogue.Buddhists are trendy,nothing more,nothing less.Like Pony tails and earrings for me,when I was a kid

    • Ray in VT

      Way to demean the legitimate beliefs of many people.  Is your theory the same for non-caucasians, or are they uniquely succeptible to “trendy” 2500 year old religions?

    • Brendan Hareshvara

      I am not a Buddhist and do find the vast quantity of Buddhist books at local bookstores compared to the dearth of books on Hinduism a bit disappointing, but to call a religion older than Christianity ‘trendy’ is beyond offensive, it’s just plain ignorant.  While i disagree with Buddhists on ‘spiritual’ or theological grounds, i greatly respect them and many of the teachings of the Buddha.

    • Four Elements

      When I discovered Buddhism it just blew away years of Christian sentimentality and guilt-pushing. I felt I had finally found a belief system that respected reason and didn’t try to make me stupid and infantile. I would have taken it up if I were the only one on earth who followed it. Who cares about trendy?

  • http://profiles.google.com/sphere1952 Jim Williams

    We are finding community on the social networks.  It’s still primitive, but a lot more supportive than any church has ever been.

  • Selenda

    personal spirituality is mostly about the self. I have found that organized religion is the best venue for me where I can help others. If we all went our separate ways with helping, we would not be half so effective. One’s connection with God is only part of Christianity. The major part of Christianity deals with helping others and as Jesus taught us, to be a neighbor to all those in need.

  • Brendan Hareshvara

    You ask where does someone get the guidance and support.  For me the answer is simple: the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.  They contain an ocean of wisdom and compassion.  There is something for everyone in them and they do not threaten damnation for nonbelievers.  I would go to a church that gives some time to scriptures from Hinduism (the oldest faith alive today), Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Baha’i.  Most churches are far too sectarian and exclusivistic.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Is that the harikrishna … some New Age believers pick up on that and travel great distances to worship with them.

      • Brendan Hareshvara

        No, not Hare Krishna.  The Krishna followers (you are referring to a modern movement, ISKCON, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness) do revere the Bhagavad Gita, and the Srimad Bhagavatam as their core scriptures.  There are many ‘denominations’ of Krishna worshipers, ISKCON is among the newest but has roots that go back thousands of years (their particular form of Krishna worship goes back at least 4 or 5 hundred years).  They believe that Krishna, an avatar or Vishnu (they would interpret Jesus as an avatar of Yahweh), is their personal lord and savior.  Hinduism is a vast conglomeration of different beliefs that share common scriptures and certain core values.  The four main branches are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism.  The first believe that Vishnu is the supreme deity, He incarnates in human or animal form to come to the aid of humanity, so different Vaishnavas worship different avatars or incarnations, e.g., Krishna or Rama.  Shaivas believe that Shiva is the supreme deity.  Shaktas believe that the supreme deity is a feminine force they call Shakti.  Smartas believe that there is one true God who manifests in many different guises and since no human mind can comprehend God in his/her ultimate form, they typically worship six traditional Vedic deities that they believe manifest different aspects of God, but the emphasis they place on these different gods is largely up to the individual (as long as those gods are traditional Vedic deities).  Vaishnavas are the most numerous and Smartas are the least numerous, nowadays.

  • Erin

    The answer to your guest’s question, “Where will people find spirituality AND religion(community, ritual, etc)” is Unitarian Universalism.  Every caller’s needs could be met in a UU congregation.  I encourage your listeners to check out UU.  I am not “religious”, but i get a lot out of belonging to this community: community service, connections, etc.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Not in my experience.  UUs that I’ve known like to talk and talk about how much better their way is, but ask them to do something, and a long list of what’s wrong with the proposal comes out.  If you like to feel good without any responsibilities, the UU Church may be for you.

      • Mark LaPointe

        My experience in Unitarian Universalism is far different from what you suggest, Greg. I’ve been a part of three different Unitarian Universalist congregations over the years and have found them to actively live their beliefs in ways that are amazing – leading the “Living on the Side of Love” work to recognize universal marriage and immigration issues, visiting prisons, working on specific community projects, and the like. Many of us believe that God is Love and that the best way to be spiritual is to take love out into the world through actions.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           And yet, what do they accomplish?  I don’t care about consciousness raising.  I care about getting something done.

          • Isaac, in Groton CT

            Greg, you appear to have disregarded much of Mark’s comment. It seems like “visiting prisons, working on specific community projects, and the like” would involve “getting something done,” no?

  • Ed

    There are a lot of younger people who are turning to the Catholic Church, who are very devout.

    • Anonymous

      It is easier to trick the young. 

    • Ray in VT

      One of my best friends certainly went back to the Church in his 20s, but I see more people who were brought with religion losing it during that age.

  • Sharon

     I left (my Presbyterian) religion in my 20′s (I’m 64 now), and eventually was drawn to explore other, more ‘spiritual’ (vs. dogmatic or literal) traditions, whether Buhhdist, or metaphysical.  I have been in spiritual ‘community’ since 1982, when I ‘woke up’ spiritually, but my associations are with New Thought communities, or with the bursting online ‘spiritual’ teleseminars that link hundreds of thousands of people all over the world now.  There is NO dearth of spiritual communitiy that is non-religious out there today, especially online, as well as locally. 
    I’m glad to hear this topic discussed on your radio show, but you must know that it is rather ‘old information’ for most of us who have been in the forefront of this ‘movement’ for years.  It is only one aspect of the old world paradigm shift from third dimension to fifth dimension.  Just look around you, especially this year!

  • Pourtaste

    Christianity is an interactive faith. God interacted with us from the beginning when he breathed his life into ours. He continued to interact with us through display and then actual touch, sweat and blood through Jesus. I encourage all denominations to encounter the god who sought to encounter us first. This isn’t mystical, this is the origin of relationship with creator. Great subject today!!!!

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       The god who sought to encounter us?  Odin, that?

  • Anonymous

    Spiritual but not religious is intellectually bankrupt.  While traditional religion starts from a faulty premise, brilliant theologians have put forward many interesting arguments over the centuries.  Crystals, candles, and alleged personal encounters with god are really boring.

  • Rob

    How can one be religious without being spiritual?  I think someone has missed something.

    • Bgaidry

      This seems to be the unintended definition of fundamentalism. And precisely what make it so dangerous.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sphere1952 Jim Williams

    Um….I’ve been Buddhist since 1969, and left Atheism (not Christianity) to become Buddhist.  I was never Christian and never will be.

    • Four Elements

      When I discovered Buddhism in 1972 it was like coming home at last …

  • Anonymous

    You’re absolutely correct, but it doesn’t end there: Dunkard, Baptist, Amish, Quaker, Mennonites, Lutherans, Anglican…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spence-Blakely/1251757037 Spence Blakely

    Many seem to be moving away from the notion of a shepherd and (acquiescing) sheep.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Just so.  There are religions in this world that don’t demand submission.

      • Steve

        If one acknowledges a God, what makes him/her worthy of being followed?

      • Four Elements

        And yet “religion” comes from “religio”, meaning to bind or bound. Maybe just semantics, but I would call a belief system that does not require submission something other than a religion.

  • Jerry

    According to Diarmad McCullough, author of the Reformation Era, the new reformation will split churces on the gay rights issue

  • http://profiles.google.com/sphere1952 Jim Williams

    Question:  Why should we care about Christianity post religion?  Seems to me spirituality implies not being a follower — of anyone.

    • Anonymous

      Why do you have to be the follower? You are a free human being, you follow your own free mind.

  • Anonymous

    oops, Was reply to Dave.

  • Gretchen

    My husband and I were both raised as haphazard church goers, but have found among our own family and friends, we have a strong desire to raise our children in a life if faith and church. We are members of a future-looking, liberal, affirming, service-focused and deeply spiritual UCC church in Needham, MA. This church and the ministers fulfill all we would want for our daughters to know and love about what a faith community can be.

    • Steve

      What does your God want, how would you discern it?

  • Drbuddylee

    The problem with the word “church” people who run the administration part of the physical building put alot of their personal rules in the organization then delivery that message to the people who attend and call it religion. The “Church” are the people where attend the service no the physical buidling. Alot of people are seeking knowledge.

  • Theodore Hoppe

     If the question is “Does God exist?” the answer which god?  Religious belief is taught to us, in most cases, at a very young age, in the same way language is.  What would happen if, as Dan Dennett suggests, we taught all of the world’s religions in the schools?  My guess is that students would reject them all as merely a matter of “faith”.  More and more, people are rejecting organized religion, and the dogma it seeks of oppose,  the are coming to define themselves as ‘spiritual.’  My thought is that this is because people are ignorant of science and revert back to the elements of the confused mix of views that are reenforced by society. For this problem I can recommend a great new book, “War of Worldviews: Science vs Spirituality.”     

    • Stolzy

      When people choose sides in an ideological battle which has been framed as X vs. Y, they are usually being duped by their own cognitive habits, which they erroneously imagine as ‘objective’.  We see this playing out in Conservative vs. Liberals in current politics. The truth lies in realizing that the framed polarity is what is wrong, and thus resisting choosing sides in a false dichotomy, rather remaining open enough to investigate the vast territory of reality between the two extreme ‘coasts’. This is exactly the same thing that is happening in your proposed ‘Science vs. Spirituality’ polarity. Not just your proposal, of course,  – many are duped by this shallow analysis of things. What is needed is exactly the same thing as what would remedy the U.S. political divide: pushing the extremists and their vantage points out of the center of the argument, and opening up the discussion and search in the real part of the spectrum. You personally think those who yearn for a spiritual worldview are off because you fashion yourself as a scientist (or sympathizer) and see the science vs. spirit opposition as a completely justified one. Time to question that, for those who have the will power. As we evolve our rationality and psychological depth, it becomes necessary to define a new pursuit, a scientific spirituality. Meaning a science which is not mindlessly material and reductionist and blind to everything else about human and natural reality. Meaning a spirituality which is not anchored around unquestioning submission to dogmatic authority, rather one which harnesses our natural introspectiveness to find the roots of our intuitions. This new science must marry this new spirituality! Those who cling to the extremes of the past will fall away eventually, probably not without much agony and tragedy. But I agree with the main guest author… that this is the beginning of something good.  It is telling that both avid athiests and fundamentalist ‘faithful’ subscribe, of necessity, to a lifeless unispired literal conception of sacred documents such as the Gospels in order to fuel their rhetoric. Wake up to the vast middle of the continental reality. Documents such as the Gospels are intuitive documents, and they must be approached individually, with patience, imagination, and cognitive humility in order to penetrate their gifts. Those who see this as anti-rational do not know what rationality means. Those who see this as deviating from true Faith do not see that their religion is just fear of true spiritual inner inquiry.

    • Questioner

      “More and more, people are rejecting organized religion, and the dogma it
      seeks of oppose,  the are coming to define themselves as ‘spiritual.’
       My thought is that this is because people are ignorant of science and
      revert back to the elements of the confused mix of views that are
      reenforced by society.”

      Science and religion do not answer the same questions so you can’t replace one with the other.  Moreover, many scientists consider themselves to be religious and spiritual, or spiritual only.

  • Megan

    I am a lifelong member and a 25-year employee of my church responsible for children’s education from birth through confirmation.  My church is my family — how could I abandon them?  Our church has no hierarchy and we are proud to have the distinction of ordaining the first black pastor, the first woman pastor, the first openly gay pastor, etc.   Our church is completely democratic — making our own decisions and rules — no one dictating who we accept and how we function except to be open, affirming, loving, giving, living a life of service.  I could not life without my church.

  • Joe in Philly

    What would organized (Christian) religions need to do to bring back these “spiritual” ex-parishioners? And, whatever happened to the “one church” that is expressed so beautifully in the Nicene Creed? 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Give up the assertion that there is one true church.

      • Joe in Philly

        If you believe in the New Testament, please read Matthew 16:18. 

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          That’s the point:  I don’t accept the New Testament or even the Bible as the sole book of religious value.  In fact, I am what Christians would call a pagan.

          • Four Elements

            Paganism is the only authentic “religion” because it grows out of the actual world around us. 

        • Theodore Hoppe

          Read the book, “The Unauthorized Version” by oxford scholar Robin Fox Lane.  There are many, many historical inaccuracies in the bible, too many to think that the stories are nothing more than a collection of oral history that was shaped to conform to the predictions of the prophets.  

  • Mel

    I don’t think organized religious institutuions get enough credit for the many good things they offer.  Our church has been the center of our life and our marriage.  We get some much out of it including support during hard times, friends and fellowship, an organized place to enter into missions in the larger world, in additon to spiritual sustanance.

    But it isn’t easy.  People do not get along, are offended, or misunderstood all the time.   But the spiritual practice of faithfulness allows us to work through these issues and come out the other end.   It is the definition of Grace to work these complex community issues and grow as a group.

  • CQ

    I hunger for community but I am neither spiritual or religious, so where do I go? I volunteer, I interact with my fellow humans everyday, with the intention to be genuine and present. And I do feel connection to my fellows. But my overall experience of society and culture is that it is fragmented and isolated. I have, in the past, attended church (UU) as a means to connect, but I have no belief in a supernatural being. I believe in the human spirit but I do not believe in it as an everlasting substance that lives beyond the human body. I suppose I need to live in a more densely packed locale, a city, as I now live
    in a suburb, a bedroom community where most people go away to work and
    have busy lives away from where they actually eat and sleep. It’s a wasteland out here.

  • Kate Robart

    Being in a church or other religious institution is wedding the ‘lonely’ self to the community/others. This is why going to church produces so much growth. It’s wonderful to go on a solitary spiritual quest, but that is not going to enrich the person in the same way, and the society by extension. Harry said it well. How does anyone have a “spiritual awakening” if they are alone in their quest?

    And on another question, What will our society lose if we lose religious institutions?

    Kate

    • Bgaidry

      Spirit, (capital S), often referred to within Christianity as the Holy Spirit, is the divine presence within ALL living things in this world. To experience it, you need only recognize the divine in all people and all of Nature. You do not need to be a member of a group to experience oneness with the Creator and all of Creation. In fact, one could argue that being a member of a group that defines and separates itself from the rest of the world, is an obstruction to that union with Spirit.

  • Annette7

    There are groups out there-non denominational,  connecting the dots for people who have had direct spiritual experiance and the shift in consciousness- we are expanding our awareness- People know something powerful is happening- as we move into 2012-2013. The old energies, rules, organizations no long serve the higher good so people are looking else where.
    http://www.theemergenceproject.net

  • Ed

    What about the traditional communities of nuns that are thriving?

  • Charlie Mc

           A very important topic but one inviting all kinds of uninformed points of view. If one image of Jesus sticks in my mind it would be of Jesus doodling in the sand and saying to his followers, “You just don’t get it!” The early Church was a history of just not getting it. Hence, heresies fought heresies and we’re still at it.
          In the earliest gospel, Jesus’ keynote address began with the words “Metanoiesete, i.e., change the way you think about reality, the present moment is the right time, the kingdom of God is WITHIN you, believe this good news!” Most earlier translations used the word “Repent”, thus directing the disciple to penance and sorrow for our sins, which reinforced in many a fear of the last things and our need for the Church for sacraments of reassurance.
          In the last decade, evidence from the Hubble Telescope indicates that there is no God “out there” and that everything out there began from a point of no dimensions. God is no “where” but within. 
          I would suggest that interior prayer is the answer. Perhaps the writings of Thomas Keating and the Contemplative Outreach movement holds some hope and answers (Ted Lectures).
          Church should help us to grow in that understanding and faith. 

    • Brendan Hareshvara

      Charlie, i enjoy your interpretation very much.  It strikes me as very similar to one of the core messages of the Upanishads, particularly from a Vedantic perspective.  If God is everywhere and everything and everyone, we need first to understand our own selves and how our Selves/Souls are connected to the divine.  I was at most an agnostic deist before i read the Upanishads and ‘found God’ . . . or at least found a path to follow that feels like it is leading me to a better understanding of God and the soul.  I guess now i would call myself a pantheistic monist, if you’re into labels.

      I also truly appreciate the reference to the original Koine Greek text of the Gospels.  My ‘Little Liddell’ Greek lexicon does indeed have ‘to change one’s mind or opinion’ as the second definition; the first one, ‘to think about or consider afterwards’ could also apply; the third definition is, actually, “to repent’ . . . but of course the authors of the lexicon (in the 19th century) were Christians who were very familiar with the King James Bible and Christian theology, so it could be a sort of circular logic.  The way to prove this, i suspect, would be to consult the “Large Liddell” and find citations of ‘metanoeo’ in texts earlier than and then contemporaneous with the New Testament.  I love digging down into the Classics, whether they’re in Greek or Sanskrit, and getting closer to the original meaning.  I think -if you’ll pardon the pun- it makes it easier to “dig” the Classics and opens up new insights.  Thanks for the lexical emphasis!!!

  • Julie

    One of the factors in the growing interest in spirituality is the internet.  Just google spirituality or awakening or enlightenment.  People are connecting and sharing information about the nature of God and a connection with others like wildfire.  It’s exciting.  There are different paths because different ways of going at it, are better for different individuals. It’s exciting!

  • Dr. Michael Ward

    Growing up in Canada, in a family very active in the Protestant and liberal-thinking United Church of Canada, I went to services every Sunday.  By the time I was 16, I was tired of the widespread hypocrisy and left organized religion for good.  However, I had been given a basic grounding in morality and religious concepts that springboarded me through life as I continued to read philosophical and spiritual writings and also think and act in a morally responsible manner.  I find organized religions out of touch with today’s society and its needs as well as mired in dogma.  However, there are two groups of individuals for whom church-going might be very valuable – children, needing a basic primer of religion and morals; and, those who I call non-leaders or followers who are incapable of deciding on their own the moral pathways and behaviors of life.

    Michael Ward, previously of Boston and now of Cambridge UK

  • tbh

    Interesting topic and discussion.  When spirituality is viewed through the lens of what “works for me” it will never satisfy the soul.  Spirituality is about a profound reverence for God that will translate in a life of service to God and others.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yusuf-Abdulkarim/100001954764241 Yusuf Abdulkarim

       Excellent point !

  • Suzanne Adams

    The “church” that welcomes humanists, Christians, Buddhists, atheists and other believers already exists and has for hundreds of years. It’s Unitarian Universalism. Parishioners are encouraged to bring all of their beliefs, opinions and questions to the community table to add to the congregational discussion. So without adhering to a set creed, a parishioner can join a caring faith community that practices kindness among themselves and in the greater community.

  • Martin Luther

    Coming in late but…

    Question: Why are “traditional” faiths and churches stagnant?

    With all the “alternative communities” out there (virtual, non-profits and social), I believe mainstream religions are “not necessary” to many. The people who want to find/give comfort, succor and love can do so in many non-religious ways society did not allow or provide for 40 years ago. That is why the only churches in high-growth mode are the Evangelical types.

    Discuss. 

  • Stephen Sprague

    I have found that We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of Our Deity.  I have been saying since 2007: 
    “When we think, we Commune with Our Deity.  “When we speak, we are the Voice of Our Deity.”When we act, we are the Hand of Our Deity.”When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of Our Deity.”When we act in love, we are the Grace of Our Deity.”We are not instruments of a church,”We are Elements of Our Deity.”

  • Sharon

     I haven’t heard the expression of “interfaith” spiritual communities, which essentially recognize the underlying, common, fundamental spiritual Truth in all religions.

  • Sofia

    It’s Christianity by a greater emphasis on the Holy Spirit, the third “peson” or facet of God. The Holy Spirit is what is moving people’s hearts in these directions. Focus is on the message, not the structure.

  • Jane

    Diana mentioned the word “awakening” and I wanted to point out that the vision of the Centers for Spiritual Living is “Awakening Humanity to It’s Spiritual Magnificence!”   I am curious to know if Diana has discovered the writings of Ernest Holmes, especially The Science of Mind.

  • Liz

    My parents are Roman Catholic. They live in Holyoke, Mass and they have been trying to keep their church (Mater Dolorosa) open since plans were made to close it last summer.  There are about 50 to 60 parishoners involved and they gather at the church to say prayers, sing and connect with one another.  The interesting thing is that my parents have gone to Church every Sunday their whole lives but have never felt as connected as they do now.  People talk about how just gathering at the Church has deepened their friendships and sense of community.  They have, in effect, created their own Church.

    Liz 

    • kokyjo

       liz

      sounds like they are in a process of grieving and mourning of what has been very valuable to them.  This is a wonderful and sad time in their process.  As they trust, nothing ever dies without something new and more wonderful than imaginable is reborn.  God is transforming us all these days.  Hold on!!!

  • Katya

    As an atheist (as well as a cultural Jew), I encounter many, many people who seem to pity me or tell me they hope that I “find what I’m looking for.” They see me as something of what you have been talking about, as someone “lost in a crowd.” I can honestly say that spiritually, I don’t ever feel like that. I believe in the goodness of people, in science, in music. Why must we label these things as “faith,” meaning the “belief without reason”?

    • Questioner

       Some people are bad.  In fact, all people do bad at times.  What do you mean by I believe in science?  Science is so broad, what does your statement mean?

    • Four Elements

      Amen! It is more evolved to dispense with the need for a Big Daddy and feel awe in the direct experience of an Idea, a Design (like the Hebrew language), a Plan, a Principle – all majestic and all existing without the participation of some mythical Creator with a long white beard. Deities are fun and romantic – like Santa Claus. They keep us young but also infantile.

  • Yoichi

    This man may interest the guest and listeners regarding this subject. http://goo.gl/yM0dW

  • Anonymous

    It always amuses me when people leave organized Christian religion because of hypocrisy. Christians/humans aren’t perfect. I don’t think there is one Christian denomination that calls you to put faith in religion or other humans. Faith in God/Jesus? Yes. No matter what the organization, if it has humans in it there will be fights, lies, egos etc. I believe Christ called us to work together to help one another, and I do that shoulder to shoulder with Christians and non-Christians. It’s when each of us tells the other how the other is to live that I believe Christ frowns.

  • Glenn Koenig

    It is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

    For the last 2000 years, we’ve lived in the Piscean Age.  Jesus Christ was the teacher cited at the start of that.  Now, we’re making the huge transition to the next 2000 years.  Instead of a single ‘teacher’ to cite, we’re entering a time with many teachers, more emphasis on the individual and multiple connections between us, rather than the hierarchical ‘pyramid’ arrangement of the institutions that are dying today.
    One more thing.  The old hierarchies were male dominated.  Now, we are experiencing a rebalancing of influence and power between the genders, yielding a greater balance between male and female.

  • Rich Thall

    Tom, 
    Here are two future program suggestions:  
    I am concerned about the growing lack of religious tolerance among many “Christian” groups and their lack of understanding how important the separation of religion and government is.  I am especially worried about the ongoing and persistent attempts to use the mechanisms of government to promote one or another religious agendas, e.g., the abortion rights vs choice ‘battle’.  The current injection of religious (aka social) issues and  discussion into the Republican primary campaign is very annoying.  Has everyone forgotten the “tyranny of the majority” and the establishment clause?  How so-called Christians talk about increasing freedom and reducing the interference of government in our lives when they want to eliminate reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, etc?  What they really want is not freedom, but the freedom to follow their particular beliefs and have the government sanction those who do not share the same views.  I propose 2, or more, programs that may help to highlight this.  a)  Look at all of the trouble spots and on-going violence in the world.  With the help of experts, construct a box score of the ones which are cause or sustained by some irreconcilable religious division.  b)  Look at the separation of church and state as practiced in the USA.  Should we ban religious discussion from campaigns and other areas of government?  Do people realize that religious differences, being irreconcilable, are poison to democratic and open government?  This is why religious tolerance and separation from government are vital for proper functioning of democracy.  It is a SIN to use the mechanisms of government to promote your religious agenda.  I hope you find these interesting and helpful.  My best regards, Rich Thall

    • Brendan Hareshvara

      Rich, i find your comments very insightful and thought-provoking.  One quibble i have (i may be misinterpreting your underlying intent) relates to your idea for the first program that you propose.  I believe that there are no religious wars per se.  Wars are not started or fought because of religious or theological differences per se, but those differences are used to dehumanize ‘the other’ and provide a pretense for violence.  Most wars, i would argue, are fought over worldly things, whether it’s wealth, water, resources, power, etc.  In most religious wars the instigator uses religion as a way of demonizing the other and allaying concerns humans naturally have about killing.  A soldier might ask, “If my religion preaches peace and non-aggression [or non-violence], why are you, my leaders, now ordering me to use violence?”  And the leader replies (either in the guise of a religious leader or with a religious leader by his [it's usually us guys doing the violent instigation] side), “It’s okay in this case, they are heathens/heretics/idolaters/etc!”  The REASON or CAUSE of the violence is rarely (if ever) theological difference or division, this is just used as pretense or justification.  The actual REASON or CAUSE is almost always greed for worldly gain or revenge.  That’s just my humble opinion.  It certainly does not exonerate organized religion or the clerics in the institutions from using those differences to justify actions that normally would be violations of most world religions which typically preach peace; in fact it indicts them even more for hypocrisy. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/77NK4E5KI3KGOOBETORRDZ335Y First Last

        Namaste, Brendan.

        In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 18, Verse 66) Lord Krishna says:

          “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

  • Eloiselynch

    Attendance of major Christian churches may be dropping, but it seems that small, independent churches are popping up all over the countryside here in Kentucky. What of them?

  • Annette7

    Humanity is the new religion. Earth is the new Church. We are one.
    http://www.theemergenceproject.net

  • Ed

    It’s doing it God’s way, or doing one’s own way. What’s wrong with dogma if it’s true? Again, as usual, Catholicism is left out of the discussion, the largest Christian group.

    • Anonymous

      And no discussion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as well.

      • Heaviest Cat

        Wow please share your faith with me J O H N : )

        • Kim

          I asked J_o_h_n that too after he replied to me! lol 

      • Four Elements

        Finally – a light touch!

      • Heaviest Cat

        JOHN, you’re making me hungry : )

    • Heaviest Cat

      How do you know “God’s way”?

  • Obrien Maryk

    Tuned in late but would like to mention the AA community as one based “spirituality” w/o dogma.  As a “post christian catholic” with 27 years of sobriety, I am amazed and grateful for the wide embrace of AA; “anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions.” To be anonymous meaning that no hierarchal or class status is sought.  “We are “self-supporting with our own contributions.”

    • Dick

       I thought I was listening to a description of my AA group too.

    • Theodore Hoppe

      AA was founded in the fervor of the religious base temperance movement, but rejected most of the rhetoric of the church.  AA is nothing more than a thinly veiled ‘faith-base’ organization that refuses to allow science to investigate its claims.  

  • Anonymous

    I started to think Jesus must be the biggest criminal in the world. Why is that every self-claimed ex con said he/she found Jesus in jail? 

    • Four Elements

      There does seem to be something suspect in Jesus’ teachings in that they are “pervertable” into justifying the very opposite of what they purport to advocate. I think it is the whole saved/damned dichotomy, which creates “us” and “them”. Also, love is NOT all you need – that idea is pure sentimentality. How about clarity and courage? Buddha’s teachings, in contrast, cannot be twisted because they were about real life in the real world as it really is and about how to break the grip of our cravings. No one is excluded, originally sinful or deficient – just unhappy.

  • Pam

    I, too, am someone who has left “organized” religion (brought up Protestant and very active for years when my family was young).  During Bible Study classes where we read much by biblical scholars/philosophers (such as Eckhart, Jos. Campbell, Spong, etc.) I feel that the “church” has lied to us to protect their own institution.  Many of the stories in the Bible were told in the spirit of Jewish midrash – using a story to illustrate a truth…they were never meant to be interpreted literally…but “The Church” has wanted to preserve their power, which goes all the way back to when they didn’t want the “peons” to be literate.  I consider myself a very spiritual person, without a spiritual community (perhaps some day I’ll joing a UU ‘church’…but for now I don’t want any pressure to be on any more committees!).  What I don’t understand is why the (especially Republican) presidential campaigns have religion as a KEY subject…whatever happened to the separation of church and state?  That said, I was glad to hear your speaker say that the most conservative mega-churches have seen a great loss in membership in the last decade…they scare the daylights out of me, and should our country decide to embrace an evangelical, fundamentalist GOVERNMENT, I would seriously consider leaving the country.

  • Terri Gilchrist

    Knowing Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection is my life and not a religion. Fellowship or community is necessary for growth and it is obvious many believers are tired of the legalism of religion as it stands in may denominations. That said many of us are connecting through Bible studies (sometimes outside our main church) that have led to positive changes in our inner person as Christ said would happen when we devote our lives to the truth found in the Bible.
    Taking those changes back to our churches might make a difference if we act but many can’t make a difference because they aren’t allowed to and then they leave. When the Holy Spirit indwells a believer power to live in this world of craziness can be done…I have found a church (Christian Fellowship Center, Potsdam, NY) to worship in, live life through and be of service to that community and beyond…it’s fantastic!

    • Ray in VT

      Good for you, Terri.  Religion, faith or belief isn’t for everyone, but it is very beneficial and satisfying for many.

  • Julie

    it’s interesting to me that Diana refers to the rules of exclusion that Christian (maybe she mentioned other traditions) traditions make about doing it ‘their way’ or ‘the highway’ … It just hasn’t been my experience (I’m roman catholic) in the church communities I’ve been in in the various places I’ve lived (Michigan, Indiana, Washington DC, Boston, South Dakota).  In each one, the teaching of God’s mercy far outweighed any dogmatic instruction about what I must do to be part of the community.  I suspect that often feelings of ‘exclusion’ have more to do with the human inability to forgive ourselves and ‘start again’ — as the church has had to do over and over again throughout history since it, too, is made up of humans.  To take just one example of a situation where some people feel ‘excluded’ and then leave the church, consider the “I can’t receive the Eucharist because…” question.  I find very deep spiritual realities in the stories of the people who continue to be part of their local communities even though particular aspects of their ‘communion’ are restricted.  In this case, it makes even more beautiful the teachings of the Church on how we are eucharist for one another, how we encourage one another to be in ‘right relationship’ with God (regardless of our state of life), how we can have both Eucharistic communion in the liturgy and communion through the EQUALLY valued communion in the word of God, etc.  The tendency to focus on the things we cannot have is something we hope that we can move past as we mature, just as in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, we hope we can continue to talk based on what we ‘share’ rather than ‘what makes us different.’   I look forward to watching the institution I happen to be part of (roman catholic church) continue to embody how we go forward ‘together’ as humans toward God — full of all our inadequacies and very thankful that we do not live the Christian life as  conglomeration of individuals pointed in the same directino but as people who live a genuine trinitarian life based in perichoresis, constant mutual love, and forgiveness.  If the Church hadn’t rooted itself in this fundamental means of putting Jesus’ words into practice AND continually failed and re-started (just like we all do), it wouldn’t still be here.  

    • Brendan Hareshvara

      Julie, i think that i can speak to the exclusivity of Christianity because ever since i went to Catholic school as a young boy it has bothered me.  If you can just answer this one question for me, i think the heart of the matter will be revealed.  Do you believe that a person who has NOT accepted Jesus Christ as his or her personal savior will be damned to eternal punishment?  If someone leads a good life (i.e., is compassionate, helps those who are less fortunate, is peaceful and non-violent) and despite hearing the message of Jesus decides to remain a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or even an atheist, will that person be punished?  I find much in the Gospels that i adore (particularly in the Beatitudes), but the idea that people are punished not for their actions but for their beliefs has always bothered me.  My main problem is with this conviction that you must accept that Jesus was the sole incarnation of God sent to die for our sins on the cross.  Any god who would punish humans for their beliefs, no matter how good a life they led, is not a god in whom i can believe.  The God in whom i believe is ALL-encompassing and comprises all matter and energy in the cosmos; for Him to punish people because of their beliefs would make no sense, it is the equivalent of totalitarian governments imprisoning people for their political beliefs.  Do you believe that Gandhi is suffering eternal torment because he did not accept Jesus as his personal savior?

      • Heaviest Cat

        As Alan Watts once said”jesus didn’t become who he was by making Christ his personal Saviour”.

        • Brendan Hareshvara

          Amen, Cat!

      • F1truck

        Wow Brendan, it would be interesting to know how you developed the idea that God is the “punisher”. The entire premise of Christianity, and what makes it different from religions is grace (getting something you don’t deserve) and mercy (not having to accept something you do deserve). There is nothing one can do to earn Gods gift; you don’t get it by living a good life. We are all equally condemned, but the gift is to all who believe. If you don’t want the real God, you get to live without Him eternally. It is not up to any one of us to decide the eternity of Gandhi or anyone else. I am so glad for that!

        • Brendan Hareshvara

          FTruck, you just made my point for me.  You said that living a good life gets you nowhere.  You get a ‘gift’ from God if you have the correct beliefs.  You apparently believe that all humans are born eternally damned and only get a pass if they subscribe to certain, i.e., your, beliefs.  That is, to me, the height of arrogance.  I am not trying to “decide” the eternity of Gandhi!  What does that mean?  My question to you is this: since Gandhi did not accept Jesus as his personal savior, does that mean that he is spending eternity ‘without God’ (by which you mean hell or damnation)?  You are saying that it doesn’t matter what you do, it only matters that you accept a certain creed.  You said that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s gift; but then you contradict yourself by saying that the “gift is to all who believe” -so in other words you DO earn this gift from God by doing something, by believing in your creed.  This is the definition of an exclusivistic tribal religion and is precisely what drive me away from Christianity.

          • Sofia

            Yes, you are a Christian, too. There are Christians who look to Jesus as our human brother on earth who encouraged us to live as if we were divine (as we are, being made of the same substances and never-ending energies of the entire cosmos), and they believe in this holy (as in greater-than-wholly-understandable-and-therefore-deserving-sincere contemplation/scientific study/meditation/philosophical conversations) Spirit of Truth. This Holy Spirit of Truth is the same as the Eternal Creator Energy that runs the whole cosmic shebang. This is the 3-in-one idea of the Trinity–it’s all one thing but you can get a handle on it better by thinking of its different aspects: energy, truth, and compassion. This is Christianity (and Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Dao, etc., etc., etc., at their best). All One. Hear O Israel, the Lord is ONE. As yoga = united body, mind, understanding. One.

          • Brendan Hareshvara

            While i appreciate your inclusive interpretation, one that i share, my point to FTruck was that i have no sympathy with a belief-system that only extends salvation to people who believe in a certain creed.  I do not understand his criticism of my comment when he intimates that God does not punish people for their beliefs.  His comments went on to say, ”
            If you don’t want the real God, you get to live without Him eternally.”  This is his polite way of saying that if you don’t accept a particular creed, namely the one to which he subscribes, you spend eternity without God, i.e., damned.  So i guess he would say that God is not punishing nonbelievers, they are punishing themselves; i think that is a bit of disingenuous sophistry.

            I agree with you that Jesus’ MESSAGE does not have to be interpreted in an exclusive fashion.  I believe whole-heartedly in the statement put forward 3000-4000 years ago in the Rig Veda [I.164.46] “Ekam sat vipra bahauda vadanti” ~’There is one truth, the wise call it by many names.’ 

          • Brendan Hareshvara

            The trinity idea appears in Kashmiri Shaivism in the delineation of the one underlying truth as manifesting in the cosmos as Consciousness, Energy, and Matter (or Shiva, Shakti and Nara, or God, nature and humanity).

          • Heaviest Cat

            I was a fundamentalist Christian for about 40years. These days,I find the whole doctrine of original sin” repulsive and not consistent with a loving God. It would be like telling someone, you love them very much and would do anything for them. But if they don’t marry you, you’ll kill them. Is that “love”?

          • Al Arclin

            Well said.

            I also find it bizarre that people who assert that religion makes them more “moral” assert belief in and devotion to an omnipotent being who is, if one believes their description of Him, an outrageously immoral entity.

          • Steve

            Does sin exist and if so how do you and your God deal with it?

  • Ericcomment

    The first and second hours go hand in glove.

    First, the food industry’s discovery that by copiusly adding sugar, salt anf fat to the menu yeilded an enormous increase in profits. Three ingredients that are scientifically validated and optimized to exploit the ability that sugar, salt and fat have control consumers’ behaviour on by stimulating neural pathways responsible feeling satiated and controlling cravings. the desire to consume more frequently prepared food availabe for sale. of the p

    • Anonymous

      Great point.  Stop subsidizing religion with tax breaks!

  • Mark

    This was a disappointing discussion. For Diane to place all the importance of spirituality on the individual’s taste is simply terrible reasoning. Surely if there is a god, he/she is the one that defines the religion/beliefs. Saying that I as the individual will define my religion as what I see fit or what I prefer is ultimately stating that there is no god, or worse – that I am god. It’s about the same as deciding that the sun will revolve around the earth from now on. If you believe in a god then your religion has to be to seek him out.

    • Heaviest Cat

      That isn’t true,MArk. Why should a church or a theology define my approach to adivinity any more than my own experience. Besides ,the established religions and their votaries do that anyway. I rememebr Alan Watts once saying that “every Sunday, we go to church and Tell God what he should do and what he should be like…”

      • Awurabena

        Because experience unless it depends on the word of God is fallible….if we had such a spirituality then whose it right?

        • Heaviest Cat

          maybe there is no absolute “right” when it comes to spirituality.

    • Awurabena

      I thought I was the only one to pick this out..thanks Mark! Wisdom will prove her children right!

  • Kenda Hanuman

    I have a comment for Tom  that I was unable to call in with so I hope this is the correct way to reach him.?:
    I enjoy your insights and thoughtful questions every day.
     I’m feeling uneasy about your statement today of “just another yoga class?” Are you implying that yoga is somehow not within spirituality?

    • Heaviest Cat

      good question ,Kenda. I was put off by that, too.

  • Keith

    A question I have never heard discussed is “Why religion?”
    Generally discussion assumes the existence of a higher power.
    It would be refreshing to hear discussion on man’s apparent need for religion in the sense of religion providing an “answer” to the meaning of life and allaying the fear of death, the core questions.
    Over the years answering these questions has led to the creation of many philosophical camps (religions) and, by extension, the establishment of moral codes as demanded by the development of more complex communities. 
    Protecting these moral standards is where the trouble begins………. 
        

  • Wendyohw

    At one point Tom made the comment that there is no “Christ” in yoga. I was raised as a prostestant in the Midwest and left the church on my 18th birthday, feeling I wasn’t getting what I needed. I’ve studied and participated in other spiritual paths since then and have studied Hindu philosophy since 1971. Yoga is a methodology for wholeness, growth and fulfillment in life.This ancient 7000 year old system is a living system, being amended, adjusted and added to over the years and is drawn upon, for example, by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Every Hindu with whom I’ve spoken has great reverence for Christ. They honor him as the avatar who brought the way of the heart to humanity. Raised as a Christian, I was always taught that “God is love” and that Jesus was the embodiment of that love. While Hinduism has given rise to many practices Westerners consider to to be “religious” practices, the truth is somewhat different. The belief that every individual is responsible for their own dedication, practices and beliefs that is their personal path to God is primary. The system of yoga provides guidelines to that pursuit through the 8 limbs of yoga based on The Yoga Sutras, and echoed through other ancient writings as well. All the tenets of an honorable, ethical, whole  life,  both personally and within community are addressed in the system of yoga. All life is believed to be derived from spirit, and that same spirit is within everything and every person. Christ is most definitely represented in the system of yoga.

  • Kim

    I love this topic!  My spiritual journey is the number one topic in my life.  I am one to the many folks who consider myself spiritual but not religious even though I grew up within the catholic church.  …and having grown up with turmoil in the family (alcoholism & abuse) I sought comfort in various places…church won out… but only for a while ….when I found the comfort really came from my own spiritual life I started reaching beyond….I ended up finding the church to be too judgmental…matter of fact I wasn’t really finding any of what I believed Jesus was about there in the church community…certainly not the deep love or attitude….couple this with having friends who’s families were of other religions I became certain that God & Jesus weren’t limited to the walls catholic church…I was certain God  Jesus were totally embracing of my friends as well…Didn’t God create this earth and all of it?  Then we were equal in my heart.  ….As I grew up I stopped going to church and looked to all things, people & religions for my guidance.  …At one time I dated a wonderful Jewish man…in a conversation about our birth religions I said: They are all a path to the same place.  …I still believe that now….but I also see the the closer one gets (to God) the less difference there is…all the Great Spirits on this earth embrace each other…they know the ultimate is Love/God….there is nothing more important than that.  …..I also have noted a few other things along my way….that Judaism, Catholicism, and the Muslim religion come from the same place so to speak. …and there are aspects of the life of Jesus that mirror the life of Buddha…to me these things are beautiful and affirming….  I am 46 now and this a very shortened version of many years of feelings & thoughts about this but here is my closing.. If I can see the reflections of one religion in another (include those messages in the more “new age” teachings) and feel the Love that we all desire then I am where I want to be.  I don’t care what that makes me if I am happy!

    • Anonymous

      The similarities just reflect a lack of creativity when the religions were dreamed up and are not evidence that they are all leading people to some same god.

      • Kim

        So….interesting J_o_h_n.  Please tell me what you feel.  What seems like the truth or way to you? Many gods and very diverse rituals to honor them? Or perhaps there is nothing other than the elements on this earth?

        • Anonymous

          I don’t think there are truths other than laws of physics, math, etc.  Everything else is man made and there is nothing wrong with developing our own morals and not receiving it from a supernatural being.  And when we are dead, that’s it. 

          • Kim

            It was high physics that got my thinking about the nature of things…in the end, we and everything else are nothing but a vibration…nothing but energy…the speed of the vibrating energy determines the density of the matter….but everything is energy, that can neither be created or destroyed…it just changes form…its high school physics….and if, for you, it is nothing beyond that then that is fine..

  • Marty

    As a Deist, I can picture an evolving Universe compatible with quantum physics. It is intelligent and willful and conscious.

    The Spirit is within. Every sentient creature provides input to the Universal Mind.

    We are like jellyfish in the ocean. We came from the ocean, we go back to the ocean and our temporary membrane that separates us is full of ocean.

    The Spirit is also outside. The Universe remembers. I can see stars that burned out millions of years ago.

    It is beyond comprehension. You can’t fit the ocean into your little bucket. Yet you can understand your connection to it.

    • Fredlinskip

       Some of the founders were Deists were they not?

      • Modavations

        bull

        • Ray in VT

          Bunk.  Jefferson was at times described as a deist, Franklin at times referred to himself as a polytheist.  Again, try reading something over a paragraph.  You might learn something.

      • Heaviest Cat

        yes Fred . they weren’t all “christians”

  • Sbt

    While certain churches can be rigid and hierarchal, many churches combine both “religion”and spirituality. I do not believe it needs to be an either/or. One other thought, despite many acts in church history that were certainly contrary to the Gospel of helping others, I wonder what would happen to all the charitable works/efforts that churches do if the church as a whole disappeared. I can think of education, medicine, the US civil rights movement and the hundreds of other community efforts that are spearheaded by local churches. Sarah

  • Heaviest Cat

    I’m reminded of Archie Bunker’s commernt to Mr. Jefferson(who’s black for those too young to rememebr the show) when he found put Mr. J believed in GOd. “ya know ,it’s amazin the way ,yous people have come from beads and trinkets to our God.”

    • Fredlinskip

       Sounds like Archie missed his calling as a missionary.

  • C’mon Now

    I am saddened and frustrated at the amount of energy we (humans) spend discussing religion and related topics.
    Look around – see the world? That’s it – that’s all we get and all we have to work with. Now, we have real problems… hunger, disease, injustice, etc. Could we spend our energy working on them instead of endlessly rehashing whose version of the imaginary world beyond is better?

    • Isernia

      You are absolutely right…except for two related ideas…(l) religion is not that much in modern media compared to the omnipresent trivia, celebrity nonsense and commercialism that bombards us through airwaves and cyberspace.
      (2) Sometimes the real problems you mention are only made aware to people through RELIGION. Folks who have volunteered to address world poverty on a one-to-one basis have been religious groups who don’t go to the under-developed world to peddle their religious faith as much as to help fellow human beings.

    • Cwmundy

      Perhaps you are familiar with the works Unitarian Universalist’s or Catholics or many other social active religious groups your comment strikes me adobe of apathy and a lack of faith in humanity.

      • Cwmundy

        Religion is a tool, nothing more and nothing less, for understanding our Selves, the universe we live in, that which we do not yet understand, and can be used for great good as well as great evil.

        We can not think in binary terms when talking about the oldest tool for understanding the human condition and what may be considered the divine.

        I think many people that identify as spiritual but not religious are either picking what works for them from various traditions and finding their own path that makes sense to them in the modern world. These budding compilations are tw food for new faith movements and the evolution of older religious systems into something new and wonderful. Thiest, diest, UUA, Jewish thinkers, and UCC (just to name a fraction of ideological frameworks) are the children of these kinds of thoughts … Tomorrow holds something new, but if we do not examine past religious systems and how they failed the human souls need for compassion/social justice/ and wonder at the mysteries… Then we may be doomed to repeat the past mistakes of our forefathers… Things change to something new that resemble the past more than may be realized…

      • Al Arclin

        “adobe of apathy”??

         I wouldn’t cite Catholicism as a shining example of “faith in humanity,” notwithstanding the splendid example of individual Catholics who have labored to undo some of the damage caused by that institution over the centuries.

      • Ashley Yoshida

         What is an adobe of apathy?  I’m picturing something made of mud…am I on the right path?

    • Ashley Yoshida

       Amen!

  • Logan

    Blaming spirituality or religion for the ills of the world is like blaming science for the atom bomb. Every human enterprise is what it is because of who are as a species.  Cruelty, greed, oppression, kindess, compassion, and community – these are what make us who we are.  Not what we call ourselves or claim to believe. 

    Getting rid of religion/spirituality is like trying to get rid of human need for communion & meaning.   Atheism is just too nihilistic for for the human psyche, which is why very few (happy) people identify themselves as one, and that’s why agnosticism is so attractive.  Whether its secular or spiritual, people will always reach out for a greater meaning and try to be part of something more eternal and bigger than themselves.  It’s a basic human algorithm that can’t be denied without large dividens of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

    • Zero

       Religion amasses armies…science arms them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charley-Wooley/741206578 Charley Wooley

    As people are being exposed to more and more information, they are becoming less and less likely to blindly place faith in fairy tales. I mean look critically at any of the stories in the bible and a reasonably intelligent person can spot some holes. However this is not to say that people are not still searching for a higher power, their just tired of being force fed stories from thousands of years ago.

  • Fredlinskip

    “Religion is the opiate of the masses”- Hemingway

    If ones spiritual beliefs bring one happiness, encourage positive involvement in one’s community, and are not ultimately in some way detrimental to the world a large- I’m all for it.

    On other hand, history has shown “masses” of like-minded folks are capable of fostering a mob mentality with eventual disastrous consequences to communities, nations, & the World.

    IMO

    • d clark

       At least get it right; it was Karl Marx. Imagine that the proponent of dialectic materialism was hostile to faith.

      • http://whilewestillhavetime.blogspot.com/ John Hamilton

        Marx would be awed at today’s opiates: pro football, March Madness, TV, video games, texting, cell phones, food, alcohol, opiates (yes, they still are a big draw), sex, gambling, running, guns, falsehood, the Internet, and, of course, hysterical religion. It could be argued that the “Republican” debates have become an addiction. One could rightly ask if any habitual practice is an addiction, or a religion. We have a materialist religion, commodity culture.

        We’ll have to wait and see how things go from here. Due to the melting Polar Ice Caps, in a mere ten years things are likely to be very different. We may go back to burning at the stake, or we may have a lot of spontaneous immolation. 

        • Zero

          …fast food and lotto tickets as well. 

      • Fredlinskip

         My mistake.
          
           In the short story “The gambler, The Nun, The Radio”, Hemingway writes:

        “… Mr. Frazer went on thinking. Usually he avoided thinking all he could…”
             
            “Religion is the opium of the people. He believed that, that dyspeptic little joint-keeper. Yes, and music is the opium of the people. …. And now economics is the opium of the people; along with patriotism the opium of the people in Italy and Germany. What about sexual intercourse; was that an opium of the people? Of some of the people. Of some of the best of the people. But drink was a sovereign opium of the people, oh, an excellent opium. Although some prefer the radio, another opium of the people, a cheap one he had just been using. Along with these went gambling, an opium of the people if there ever was one, one of the oldest. Ambition was another, an opium of the people, along with a belief in any new form”

        Religion, patriotism, economics, music, ambition,  sex, drink… and other stuff are all “opiates of the people”.
        I think this is thought-provoking concept and my favorite Hemingway quote.

        • Fredlinskip

           Fox “news” wasn’t around yet or I’m sure Hemingway would have listed.

  • Modavations

    Religion for the Left…..The State Is My Shepard I shall Not…..
    Famous Atheiss of the left….Hitler,Mao,Pol Pot,Stalin and 100million dead

    • Heaviest Cat

      sorry Moda but the bible is full of sanctioned slaughter and massacre. Not that I blame Jesus or and Divinity that may be out there for it. It’s just that “historically “believers’ hands aren’t clean either. It’s not fair for you to implicate all atheists because ofthe vile crappings of world dictators (I also question whether or not Hitler was an atheist)

    • Ray in VT

      Wrong again, Albert.  Try reading some real history before spouting off.  I know that you won’t, but you really should.  Also, wrong on both points regarding Hitler.  He was neither an atheist or on the left.  The Nazis were a conservative movement.

    • Al Arclin

       I’m sorry, but it’s just plain dumb to refer to Hitler as a man of the left. 

  • Al Arclin

    This “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” trope is a distinction without a difference.  Just because I roll my own cigarettes, that doesn’t mean I can claim not to be a smoker.  Whether you weave your own comfy carpet of magical thinking, or just buy someone else’s, you’re still indulging in that ol’ time religion — albeit in a more solipsistic form, perhaps.

    • LM

      your comparisons are not at all apt. I can engage in spiritual practices without being dogmatic about them. Religions tend toward dogmatism and are organized. Even if I choose practices that come from different religions, e.g., prayer to God, living by some of the Christian values, buddhist meditation, hindu yoga, etc. that doesn’t make me religious, but it may make me spiritual (depending on how I do them).  Actually, the guest on the show is saying the same thing right now. 

      • Al Arclin

         Some of the most dogmatic people I know are of the “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” persuasion.  And not all (honestly) religious people are “dogmatic,” nor are all religious traditions highly “organized.”  And there seems to be plenty of “organizing” activity, as well as “more spiritual than thou” sanctimoniousness evinced by the “spiritual” set.  Whether you call a wildflower a weed or a weed a wildflower you’re still simply playing with nomenclature. 

    • Ashley Yoshida

      I love the way you write. Great metaphors.

  • Matt

    As a young person, part of the problem I and many of my peers have with religion and Christianity in particular is that the God and ideas of the Bible no longer satisfies our understanding of our world and our universe. When one could argue that the last person to bring new ways of thinking about God was Decartes, it is hard to see how religion as we know it can survive the evolution of human knowledge and experience

  • Lark

    It makes perfect sense that Unitarian Universalist’s would be growing, since I believe they epitomize “spirituality but not religion”  I think of UU as having a foundation of “freedom of religion”  what I like about it is the non-dogmatism.  

  • http://whilewestillhavetime.blogspot.com/ John Hamilton

    I went to “Catholic” schools for 16 years, through my undergraduate years. On the day of my graduation I walked away from “Catholicism” for good. It was not with bitterness, but with “enough,” and a curiosity about meditation and Eastern practices. Among the major influences that guided my departure were the Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton, and the Beatles.

    After three years in the Army, then graduate school, I became a follower of an Indian guru, Swami 
    Müktananda , for eight years. The organization became increasingly dysfunctional, and there were scandals about Müktananda, and I left.

    Since then I have engaged in numerous spiritual practices, from Native American sweat lodge ceremonies (Rosebud, S.D.), a Medicine Wheel ceremony, a Native pipe ceremony, firewalking, shamanism, Pagan ceremonies, various forms of Buddhist practice (including Zen, Tibetan and Vipassana), Sufi dancing, hatha yoga, tai chi ch’uan, Kündalini Yoga, and some practices of my own.

    Predicting the future is tricky business. We are in a situation of the breakdown of our society. As a people we are in denial, continuing in our not-so-merry way to pollute the Earth, brutalize each other, reward the rich in hysterical fashion (“Not enough? Here! Take my house! Take my job! Take everything!”), and our culture is becoming increasingly frivolous. 

    In this context religion is failing. Orthodox, or traditional “Christianity” is becoming increasingly irrelevant because it is largely escapist and authoritarian. The “Catholic” church in particular is about the hierarchy. Its hope for centuries has been to instill enough fear among the faithful that they would not dare to challenge the hierarchy. When I left I felt no need to challenge the hierarchy.  #$*% ‘em. They can have their authority. Just not with me. Or, put another way, “Burn yo mama at the stake!”

    The important thing is practice, as Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes. I don’t have a steady formal practice, but I have a practice. I should do more, but it’s better than less.

    • Ashley Yoshida

       Well said.

    • Stillin

      lovvvvvvve Thich Nhat Hanh. Coling the flames of anger..such a great direction…

      • Ctwood2

        1) Try the Episcopal Catholic Church…hierarchy has little to do with the day-to-day religious community. Good choice on Thích Nhất Hạnh as a source of spiritual centering.

  • Mdoctor

    The yearning for spiritual experience free from the structural
    confines of organized religion is not new. Over a thousand years
    ago, the sufi movement arose in the middle east and has
    given rise to several flavors. The focus is on devotional
    practices – often in groups – to seek a direct experience of the
    divine. They have survived alongside organized religion until now. The basic idea is that the divine is within us, and we can
    get in contact with our immanent divinity. In the case of sufism,
    they drew inspiration from the life of the prophet of islam and
    his family, and retained a distinctly islamic identity.
    Similarly, the bhakti movement in India arise at roughly the same
    time and has survived and flourished to this day.
    Closer to home, the New England Transcendentalists (Emerson,
    Thoreau, et al) sought the divine through nature and to see
    the reflection of the soul and the divine in nature.
    Hopefully, this new age spirituality will be acceptable to the
    clergy and both will benefit from each other in the long run.

    • Ashley Yoshida

      Love this. Seeking direct experience with the divine just seems so much more practical and peaceful than the dogma of most organized religion. Seeing and connecting with the divine in nature is something I can identify with and have experienced. Thank-you for the sober post.

  • Another Voice

    Sounds like something Jesus would approve of.

  • Dool

    Sounds like Unitarian Universalism. http://www.AreYouUU.org

    • Anonymous

      UUs have plenty of theists.  They also have humanists. Spoken as a UU Humanist. 

  • Fredlinskip

    I think it was Carl Sagans contention: if one believes God was here forever, and He then created the Universe, why not just skip a step and believe the universe was here forever?

    Another mind bender for some is how if there is no God how pray tell, did life sprung from non-life?

    Actually this can be explained as well, but first one must believe in science.

    • Anonymous

      We attempt to perceive and understand it all in human concepts, which is like trying to find the end of a circle. 

      • Fredlinskip

         Perhaps so. but as far as origin of life and evolution are concerned, I believe the concept of Science offers adequate explanation.

        This was not the case at the time when our major religions were formed.

  • Bikewer

    As an atheist, I wanted to see this as positive…but it’s obvious there’s no lack of “belief’….
    Those “mystical experiences” can be duplicated in the laboratory; they are psychological phenomena, not spiritual.

    • Fredlinskip

       Are you referring to “psychedelics”?

    • Scientist

      what “mystical experiences” are you talking about that can be “duplicated” in a laboratory? Have you had a Duplicated Mystical Experience (DME’s). I myself have had a DME and, I have to tell you, I think that this defense mechanism against suffering and fear is the next big thing…thank God for scientists.

      • Anonymous

        read Dan Barker’s Godless. He was a fundamentalist preacher for years and grew out of it when he started to read and, heavens!, question.  Barker says he’s had mystical/religious experiences and can have them still.  They are wonder and awe and anyone even an atheist can have them.  It’s all brain chemistry and entering an altered state.  No god needed. fffr.org

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7ARXHIYGU5OFE4WNRMU5EU6P3A Missy

    one of the points made about the fact that a more liberal spirtual embrace begets a larger more solid congregation and will outlive that of more traditional appoaches is, in my opinion, due to the fact that faith is so subjective and personal. The more you constrict and regulate the more you push people to feel alienated and bare this craving for rebelion. From my experience with religion growing up, it always seemed an establishment created to manipulate and control by evoking taboos and fear to stamp out questioning or, god forbid (pun intended), rebelion. Something I noticed very early on was the complacency and hypocracy that shown through in so many of the deeply religious around me. but the thing that really detered me the most was the bullying that I witnessed in the name of religion, and i don’t mean schoolyard quarrels,but adults acting as moral authorities. From my studies of religion, i feel the current state of many chuches have lost any roots and taken on a life of their own filled with judgement and power hungry misguidance. I find myself one of the “nones” largely quenching my spiritual thirst through connection with nature and participation in the betterment of others lives through volunteering. I get my sense of community through the sharing of knowledge and arts, and i find this more fullfilling and find it connects me more to this “higher power” and is my way of feeding my soul. I believe in live in let live, this works for me it may not wokr for all so i encuorage others to find that puzzle peice, and keep in mind that  it wont be the same for another individual so instead of trying to jam your piece into their puzzle rather focus on your picture and i believe we will come to find that in completion of your own we will have aided in the solving of those around us as we are all connected

  • Anonymous

    Another up and coming “spiritual but not religious”  “church” (unfortunately that term is used) is the Unity church which began in the US in the late 1800′s and has spread worldwide. 
    Unity is based on Christian teachings but views Jesus’ teachings in a metaphysical way and looks at the universal spiritual teachings in other religions – it’s the commonalities that support the basic principles.  (It’s in the delivery to humans in concepts that were understandable to the human mind that the  distortions in religions and denominations has occurred.) 

    Unity believes there are definite metaphysical principles that determine the good of the universe (simple such as “what goes around, comes around – many people are beginning to get this in their own way, such as the law of attraction).   
    “God” is a supreme, metaphysical energy – that is in us, as the Bible says over and over (We are made in the image the God.)  This energy is bent on connecting with us and connecting us all with each other so that we live in Unity. 
    see http://www.unity.org  

  • Ashley Yoshida

     Organized religion is a huge turn off to me. I lived in Mexico and saw first-hand how corrupt and controlling the Catholic church is.  It is so obviously an institution that values power and money over people and their spiritual lives.  It is a morally bankrupt institution.  Sadly, it’s all most Mexicans have to cling to. As a child I attended a southern Baptist church in Virginia with my great-grandmother.  I was struck even as a six-year-old by the hypocrisy of a racist congregation.  What really troubles me now as a forty-two year old mother of two small children is that I can’t even consider myself spiritual anymore.  I still pray sometimes when I am desperate, but wonder what or who I think I am praying to.  I just can’t understand a God who would help me find my keys and allow children to starve to death in Africa.  I have experienced something that feels like a spiritual connection many times.  Especially in nature, becoming a mother, helping people, practicing yoga… It’s a “connected” feeling.  I am confused about what that is.  At the moment I  believe in nature as a beautiful, infinitely mysterious and magnificent force that is completely indifferent to suffering, and the positive effects of a positive attitude, and positive action.  I think  organized religion is something humans devised to keep people from spending their entire lives in despair ( there could be an evolutionary purpose there). It is also a way as many have discovered to control people and gain enormous wealth and power.  Instead of just saying “You need to be positive in spite of it all”,  organized religion says “Step in here…I can show you the way to peace, prosperity and happiness…all you have to do is BELIEVE everything we say no matter how ridiculous or counter-intuitive it seems, DO everything we say even if it’s hurtful or harmful to you and your family, or others, and give us ten percent of your earnings.  Oh, and when you die, something we know you are terrified of, we can guarantee you everlasting life in another world.  We can’t prove this of course, you just have to take our word for it”.   The last thing that has always bothered me is the idea of “A chosen people”.  It  makes me really angry.  It’s such a cruel, divisive, hate-mongering idea.  A family friend used to say “If God only favored one chosen people, why would he have bothered to create everyone else”?  I would love to believe in God.  I want there to be something like that, but my experience in witnessing so many tragedies and injustices in my life time, not only in human lives but all across nature, says “Is there a God”?  “No way Jose.”

    • Prophesy

       I understand the why does God allow bad things to happen to people question and the why are the churches racially segregated question (People’s fault, not God’s fault).  But just because he allows it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t exist, it just means that He’s not doing what you think He should be doing.  In addition, God also allows bad things to happen to Christians and others who believe in Him.  I can also tell you that the closer anyone gets to God, the more problems they will notice (Psalm 73) and face (Book of Job). I think  you should read the story of Job.  May God bless, guide, and protect you.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Do you NOT SEE the hypocricy of your comment?

        • Prophesy

           Honestly, I don’t see it so it would be very helpful if you pointed it out.

      • Ashley Yoshida

         Prophesy,

        With all due respect.  I don’t understand your reply.  It makes no sense. However I will try to reply to some of your points.  1) Corruption in churches goes way beyond racial segregation. The Catholic church alone is responsible for unspeakable horrors.  Catholic priests in Africa forbidding Catholics to use condoms during an AIDS epidemic is just one example.  2) A God that I would be interested in worshiping wouldn’t ALLOW people to do horrible things.  Why would he?  Why would you accept that from YOUR God? What’s the point of having a God if it’s just going to let things go to hell in a hand basket?
        3) You are right.  God isn’t doing what I think he should be doing.  Allowing war, famine, earth quakes, tsunamis, AIDS, rape, murder, discrimination, inequality, mental illness, global warming, terrible contamination of the environment, and all of the other calamities humans face.  What DO YOU THINK HE SHOULD BE DOING? 4)  I think this is what Terry Tree Tree is referring to…Why would a God who allows for such suffering bless, guide, or protect ME? Which brings me back to my original point.  And I hate to depress people, but God hasn’t really protected me.  I am still alive, but I have been through a lot.  I do feel blessed to be able to enjoy each day, my children feel like blessings, my creativity feels like a blessing, my husband feels like a blessing, living in Japan feels like a blessing (however the huge earth quake and tsunami and the still present fear about nuclear contamination sure don’t feel like blessings), the fact that I didn’t O.D. or die in a car crash in my wild youth feels like a blessing…But why would the same entity that “blessed” me with these things also allow me to be molested, terribly abused and neglected as a child?  It doesn’t make sense to thank God when things are going well and then not hold him accountable when terrible things happen.

        P.S.  Who says God is a He?  My lesbian friends say “Oh my Goddess”!

        P.P.S.  I appreciate your good intentions, and your request for God to bless, guide and protect me.  I really do.  I just wish you could offer some proof, or even a logical argument that your God existed. 

        • Prophesy

           Ok.  I am sorry that you did not understand my reply.  I was mainly responding to this;

          “What’s really troubling me now, as a forty-two year old mother of two
          small children is that I can’t even consider myself “spiritual”
          anymore.  I still pray sometimes when I am desperate, but wonder what or
          who I think I am praying to.  I just can’t believe in a God who would
          bring down MY child’s fever while allowing millions of children to
          starve to death in Africa.”

          I hope that you will find something useful in what I say below and that you will also understand why my first response was so short (My response is very long and I cannot see the end of what I type so please excuse anything at the end of this post that does not make grammatical sense): 

          I will try to briefly respond to all your points.

          I am not a Catholic.  I am very well aware of what the Catholic Church is and so are many other Christians, very well aware, and would agree with you on your point about the Catholic Church.  And so I chose not to respond to that because all I would be saying is “I agree”.

          Just because some people use organized religion to control others does not mean that one should not be a part of any organized religion.  One just needs to use his/her brain and know that the potential for bad exists in an organized religion (it exists in any organization and in any person).  A person who is aware of this can do great good while being a member of an organized religion.  I would venture to say that any person who serves God only alone, not sharing with others how God has helped him/her is selfish, especially when so many people have questions about God.  The Bible talks about the church being Christ’s bride, but it does not say that she’s a saint.  In fact, she is compared to a whore (because she serves other gods) yet Christ still loves her. One of the challenges of being a Christian in a church is learning to love other Christians.

          Your point of churches telling people to “keep their chin up …otherwise they are going to suffer more than they have to”.  Churches do that, that’s one of the lessons in Christianity.  However, the Bible and history makes it clear that suffering comes to all.  Even those who do great good to others end up suffering more than they ought to.  So if your point above was the only thing churches tell their members it would not be the complete truth.

          If your church told you

          “Step in here…I can show you the way to peace, prosperity and
          happiness…all you have to do is BELIEVE everything we say no matter
          how ridiculous or counter-intuitive it seems, DO everything we say even
          if it’s hurtful or harmful to you and your family, or others, and give
          us ten percent of your earnings. Oh, and when you die, something we
          know you are terrified of, we can guarantee you everlasting life in
          another world. We can’t prove this of course, you just have to take our
          word for it”.

          then I am sorry that you were taught that.

          This is what my church and elders taught me when I was a teenager,

          “Step in here…[we] can show you the way to [true] peace, prosperity and
          happiness [We are not offering you the peace that the world offers, know that if you decide to become a Christian you will suffer in this life]…all you have to do is BELIEVE in Jesus[, but you can't believe in Him if you don't know get to know him for yourself].  [If anything we say] sounds ridiculous or counter-intuitive, [it is your responsibility to study the Bible and try God for yourself and find out if it is true or false, even if it "sounds  ridiculous or counterintuitive".  And one Elder actually said this to me, 'If you find something better follow it'.]  Only do what we say if you understand why you’re doing it.  Give God 10% of what he gave to you, or more if you think that you should.  You own nothing, everything you own belongs to God.  But if you really don’t want to return tithe, that which always belonged to God, don’t do it.  God does not accept forced or untrue worship.   When you die you will die.  When you die, something we
          know you are terrified of [but which happens to everyone anyway,  moreover, many true Christians died a horrible death because they stood up for their faith (picture being burned at a stake)], you will rest.  God will grant you everlasting life [in the new earth] upon your resurrection. We can’t prove this of course, [if we could then what we practice wouldn't be called 'faith' "].  But we believe that Jesus and others have been resurrected based on a particular Bible, which others have validated.  

          “2) A God that I would be interested in worshiping wouldn’t ALLOW people
          to do horrible things.”

          Then you should not worship Him if you can’t worship Him honestly.

          “Why would he?”

          Because freedom of choice is one of His principles.  If we were forced to do only good we would be robots.  You couldn’t eat chocolate cake if you wanted it (believe me, it’s not good for you).  You would have to do good in every little thing as well as in every big thing, even if that was not your choice.  If you read the Bible, you would see Him asking Cain to obey Him (but not forcing Him to do so), and begging and pleading with the Israelites to turn from their wicked ways.  Elijah asked the Israelites to choose either the God some now call Yahweh/Jehovah/Jesus/Yashua or choose Baal, depending on whom they see as being the true God.

          “Why would you accept that from
          YOUR God?”

          At the points in my life when I felt that I couldn’t accept it, I simply did not serve God.  I also studied the Bible alone and with others (asking these very same questions that you now ask).  [I did not become a Christian until these things made sense to me.  My church does not baptize babies and very young children because we feel that each person must choose God for him/her self.  A very young child does not have the mental capacity to understand all the implications of being a Christian.]  Now, I accept it because I believe that God knows what He’s doing and He knows the beginning from the end.
           
          “What’s the point of having a God if it’s just going to let
          things go to hell in a hand basket?”

          Good question.  If things are going to hell in a hand basket, then don’t serve God.  But how do you know that things are going to hell in a hand basket?  I know for sure that it may seem as if things are going to hell in a hand basket.  But based on my studies of the Bible, all the horrible things that you mentioned have been prophesied, and as certain things happen then we can know that Jesus is soon to return. 

          What do I think God should be doing?  I can tell you but some of the things that I think that He should be doing are very personal.  But if God is God, He can do whatever He wants regardless of what we think.  The God I serve will only do what we want if it is according to His holy will and law.

          I have also been through a lot, and so have my friends, family members, and acquaintances.  Some have had it worse than me, and some have had it better than me.  Some who’ve had it worse praise God and some don’t.  Some who’ve had it better praise God and some don’t.  If you feel that God hasn’t protected you then, you should challenge Him and ask Him why (just like Job, whom God considered to be a righteous man, did).  Since you still pray at times, make sure that your prayers are honest.  Everything you post on this board and every response to me are things that you should mention in your prayers.  Don’t just pray to God at times when you feel desperate (we are all desperate, hence we would not even be having this conversation and this radio show topic would not have come up), pray to Him when you are angry at Him as well.  I read in the Bible that God knows our thoughts before we think them so I figured there’s no point in not being very honest when I pray.

          I went through what some would call emotional abuse, as a child.  My sister was both physically and emotionally abused.  All my siblings could be said to have been emotionally abused.  My best friend was molested and neglected by both her parents as a child.  She lived with her step-mother who barely loved her.  All this happened when we were both searching for God and giving our lives to God in different churches.  I didn’t find out about it until after we left high school.  And of course I was angry at God (and told Him so) when I found out that He had not protected her as He protected me.  But marvel of marvels, she still believed in God and I couldn’t understand why she should still believe in God.  She stopped going to church because everyone in church seemed happy and ok and she was not.  She felt that she could not relate to anyone in her church.  She is also in Japan right now and enjoying it.

          “We like to think of our minds and spirits as being separate, but I
          recently read that scientists have isolated the “God spot” in the human
          brain that produces feeling of spiritual connection when it is
          stimulated.

          Some years ago I read that the reason people can’t “get it” that
          cigarette smoking will kill them is because of a mechanism in our brain
          that keeps us from fully understanding how precarious our situation is
          and how many threats abound. Because if we did we would be so freaked
          out that we wouldn’t be able to function. Maybe the God spot serves a
          similar purpose and allows us to continue to procreate because we
          believe there is a higher power who is benevolent and kind and who will
          guide us and our offspring through until we’ve shuffled off this mortal
          coil.”

          Different religious people have different views about the mind and spirituality.  I believe that our spirit is simply our breath of life and as long as we breathe or have the breath of life (oxygen) going to our brains and allowing us to function, then we have a mind and we are souls.  But when we die we are no longer souls and we have no spirit (breath of life); then the only way for us to  get life again is for God to resurrect us.

          “I have also heard about this ‘God spot’ idea.  As a person who have studied Neuroscience, I can very well believe that such a spot exists though I would not call it a God spot, but rather the “good feeling spot”.  The thing is, if we feel spiritually connected does that mean we are spiritually connected and to what are we spiritually connected?  Should we assume that this connection is a connection to God?  I bet one could stimulate the God spot (and feel spiritually connected) with drugs, music, dancing, and exercise without ever thinking about God.  Also, would a person who is religious and spiritual but was taught not to trust or depend on feelings of spiritual connected feel spiritually connected if their ‘God spot’ was stimulated?”

          I also work with folks who study cigarette smoking and how it causes various cancers.
          I think that some folks appear not to appreciate the risks of cigarette smoking because cigarettes are a good thing in the moment (it reduces stress and anxiety temporarily), and it also causes addiction (which has a physical component in that certain neurons in the brain like to be stimulated by nicotine, although that and the other components of cigarettes are bad for the body).  So I think it is the cigarette that first creates and enhances the power of the mechanism that you speak of, rather than the mechanism first enhancing the power of the cigarette.  Also the way you describe the mechanism sounds like too close of a mix of Neuroscience and Psychology to me (most likely how it was described to you).  Surely there is no mind without the brain, but it is often not easy to ascribe a physical function, mechanism, or location to something that the mind does.  For the most part, they brain works as a whole to create the mind.  So to say a “mechanism in our brain” (where both the brain and the mechanism are physical) 
          “keeps us from fully understanding how precarious our situation is
          and how many threats abound” (which is psychological and metaphysical) seems to me, as one who majored in Neuroscience and took Psychology classes, to be erroneous.  Based on my understanding, most people are fully cognizant of or are fully capable of being fully cognizant of how many threats abound and of the precarious nature of our conditions.  However, understanding something does not mean that one will be constantly worried about that thing.  In addition, people’s experience will tell them that their individual risk of a certain thing (or even of a group of certain things) happening is low, hence why worry?  With cigarette smoking, people probably don’t freak out because to them, the risk is in the far future.  I cannot think of one physical mechanism in the brain that would have such a distinct and detailed psychological effect as you describe.

          “Who says God is a ‘He’ “. 
          I don’t think that this is an important point, though people like to argue it.  I am aware of the Goddess movement and what many lesbians think (having gone to a very liberal college).  My understanding, based on my reading of the Bible is that God is a spirit.  Physical beings tend to have genders and sexes.  I don’t know if spirits have genders and sexes.  As far as I know, based on my reading of the Bible, spirits don’t reproduce as we do.  Jesus, when He manifested Himself in the flesh came as a man.  My understanding, also from reading the Bible, is that this is because sin came through Adam, the man.  The Bible says that Eve, the woman, was deceived (tricked into doing what was wrong) and that sin entered the world by one man, Adam (who was not tricked into doing what was wrong).  And so God was manifested as a man, Jesus, to pay the price for the sin of man, Adam.  In addition, the Bible says that God said let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness, and the following verse then says so God created man in HIS image and in HIS likeness, and created MALE and FEMALE, THEM (Genesis 1, KJV).  And so we have God, described as being US and described as being He, creating man (humans) in His image and creating MALE and FEMALE.   Many people have studied God’s “nature” and His three-in-oneness.  It is a long story and if we were to understand it all God would not be God.  I think God is neither a he nor a she because God is a spirit (although God takes the form of a man when he is manifested in the flesh), just as a book is not a he nor a she because it is not a living thing (though in some cultures people assign sex/gender to almost everything).  But to me all this is minor and my opinion of God’s “nature” (for lack of a better word) does not matter.  What is important is learning more about God’s character, which I think, is what your original post is about. 

          I cannot offer you proof that God exists.  I wish I could and if I could I would.  My belief in God comes from my reading of the Bible as well as my experiences that cannot be explained by natural laws, and the witness of others who recount their experience with God as well as with other beings (good and bad) in the spirit world.  For a logical argument that God exists, I refer you to Dr. Subodh K Pandit’s books “Come Search with Me: Let’s Look for God” and “Cross Examination: The Case for Christ”.  Of course, you know that as a Christian I am going to refer you to Christian literature.  I will also tell you what my first my church Elder told me, “if you find something better, follow it”.  nd and   understanding thank you for  . rice    is that this is because Adam sinned 
          hjhjhjihgfhgd

           addition,

          • Ashley Yoshida

            Prophesy,

            I appreciate the time you took in trying to explain all of this to me.  I’m glad you have something that gives you strength, even if you have to believe things like Eve being created out of Adams rib (Voo Doo in  my book).  I just can’t buy all that
            Hoodoo which is why I’m not a Christian.  I can follow along for the brotherly love, but I object to language like “Whore” and I absolutely will not believe in some of the wild stories in the bible which I’m told I have to if I want to be a Christian.  I DO pray when I am angry.  After the march 11th earthquake and tsunami which killed tens of thousands of innocent people, I had just dropped my son off at kindergarten, and he said “I love you Mommy.  Have a great day!”  in the sweetest, most positive, loving optimistic voice.  I had just heard that radioactive “hot particles” (cancer causing radiation) had been dispersed and spread all over Japan in much greater quantities than were originally reported.  It broke my heart that my innocent four-year-old son had no idea that he was in the middle of a nuclear disaster and could possibly have been exposed to something that would kill him in ten years. And when I pulled into my garage I just sat in the car crying and saying “Fuck You!  to God and asking “Why? Why?” for about ten minutes.  The answer that came to me when my tears stopped was “Life’s a bitch and then you die”. God doesn’t care. Again I ask you this.  Why do we need a God who is at best a completely inept do-nothing and at worst an evil bastard? Why do we have to suspend logic and twist our brains in to knots to believe in this thing? Can’t we handle the fact that we are products of nature? That nature is
            imperfect and that if we are kind and honest life seems to be better for everyone?

          • Prophesy

             Your questions are ancient questions, and your points are ancient points.  I’ve heard them all before and I’ve asked them all before.  My understanding is that a Christian spends all his/her Christian life learning about God, and even upon death he/she still will not understand all (if Christians did they wouldn’t need faith).  Also, even after the resurrection we’ll still have much to learn about God and God is a mystery which will never be completely solved.  I don’t have to believe that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, but I do.  Based on my understanding of all the origin of man stories, including evolution, I would say that they all sound fantastic and it would take great faith to believe any of them.

            Whore simply means woman who has sexual relationships with many men at the same time.  Churches that serve different gods do the same.  If you don’t like the word you can say woman who has sexual relationships with multiple men at the same time or church that serves different gods at the same time (syncretism).

            About radiation, people exposed to radiation from medical x-rays are at greater risk of getting cancer than people exposed to radiation after the disaster in Japan.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Ask a Radiologist, or search this website: they did many articles on radiation after the tsunami.

            I don’t think God is a completely in-ept do-nothing or an evil bastard.  If I did, I would not serve Him.  We twist our brains into knots to understand many things (some of which are minor); if God is great and mysterious why should we be intellectually lazy about getting to know God?  For me, believing in God does not mean the suspension of logic.  If it did, I would not believe in God.  I don’t think “nature”, that has no intellectual capacity, could randomly produce us or even a simple blade of grass (which is actually not so simple). We also can’t prove that nature is all there is to life so there’s no reason why we should just accept that.  Hence, I think that we should question this notion, just as we question the existence of God. 

            God does care and so do I, even though I am inept at showing it.  One of my main questions from day to day is how do I become a better Christian, how do I serve God and my fellow man as they deserve to be served?  Nothing I can do or conceive of doing is enough for God and my fellow man, because God deserves much praise and all people should be loved and cared for beyond anything I can even imagine.  The same goes for all created things on this earth.    If you do read any of the books that I recommended, when you’re done with those I recommend that you read “The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan”.  If you read the Bible, I recommend that you read the KJV (not the NKJV).  Again, may God bless, guide, and protect you and your loved ones as well as all people and all created earthly things.   living things.

          • Ashley Yoshida

             I’m weary of this argument.  I just have to say you don’t know what you are talking about in reference to the radiation in Japan. There are many websites, pediatricians, scientists, doctors with many differing opinions about it.  I think I should know a little something about it as I LIVE HERE.  A very prestigious two-hundred-year old  tea company in my state just closed it’s doors because this year’s tea harvest as well as it’s bushes and soil are all contaminated indefinitely.  Mothers can’t let their children play in parks for more than an hour a day in places, children have radiation sickness,  thousands of animals have been slaughtered or abandoned, fisherman have lost their livelihoods, whole cities have had to be abandoned by government mandate…HOW DARE YOU DOWNPLAY THE SITUATION HERE?  You have really made me angry now.  You remind me of one of my adult students,  A very sweet (but deranged) Seventh Day Adventist.  About a week after the disaster we were talking about how scary the earthquake was in class, and she said “Oh, no.  It was wonderful!  It means Jesus is coming very soon!  Wonderful that thousands of innocent people suffered and died in a horrible way?  Wonderful that people lost their homes, their families, their jobs?  Everything?  Could she say that to a young mother crying in the rubble who had lost her children, her husband, her parents, her house?  Everything thing she owned?  Is that wonderful?  Is that in God’s plan?  And this woman thinks Jesus is going to come down and take her and other Seventh day Adventists up to Heaven on a fucking cloud for God’s sake! While everyone else is tortured for two years. Your stupid faith makes you indifferent to human suffering, and that makes you one of the most dangerous people on earth.  I suggest you get off your ass and go out and do something meaningful.. Do something that really makes someone’s life better and stop spreading around that hogwash you call a religion.

          • Prophesy

             hmm

          • Prophesy

             You are right.  I don’t know what I am talking about regarding the nuclear crisis in Japan.  I was wrong.  I am sorry. 

          • Ashley Yoshida

            Thank-
            you. There’s a lot about Fukushima in the media now since it’s almost the one year anniversary.  I hope you’ll  listen to and read more about it.  There’s also an interesting interview on Fresh Air today that has a Princeton religious professor who perfectly expressed my feelings about religion.  Your apology exemplifies the twin powers of love and humility.  I apologize for my hostility.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          MANY of the questions that I fought with, before I just decided that I love every child, woman, and man.  I may HATE what they do, but I love them. 
              I’ll have to remember to split my thanks between God and Goddess.  I’m FAR more attracted to women, anyway.

          • Ashley Yoshida

             Are you sure you’re Goddess material? :)  I try to love everyone, but this forum is making it difficult to tolerate some.

      • Doug

        You mean She, of course. Everybody knows God is a She. Only the men who run the religions don’t.

    • Reggie LaFond

      Ashley,

      Your post is very wonderfully put.  The sentiments you put forth are exactly what I’m wrestling with right now.  I really do believe in the power of positive enery. I don’t know whether or not that is “god” or simply the power of the human spirit.  I’ve also wondered recently about how the idea of a god(s) is an evolutionary tool of the very complex human brain.  I could go on and on, but I just wanted you to know that your words really spoke to me on a personal level.

      • Ashley Yoshida

        Reggie,

        Thank-you for taking the time to tell me that.  I’m so glad it spoke to you.  It’s comforting to know that it resonated with at least one other person.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!!
           Positive-energy God of the community of Man and Nature?

    • FROGGY

      Hi Ashley,  Your post so articulate and well-thought out, it is obvious that you put much thought and time into expressing these feelings.  I was there (age 42, three kids) 10 years ago.  Enjoy the journey, every moment.  I can tell that you are a light to many people.  That is what it’s all about.  We are all just helping each other home, back to that “what” that you pray to sometimes.  How can we hope to define it?  Your children are lucky to have you. FAMILY and RELATIONSHIPS give the meaning to life. 

      • Ashley Yoshida

         Thank-you FROGGY for your kind post. I’m going to keep it on my desk top for inspiration.  How can we define “it” indeed? But it is there, and love is it’s purest expression.  Thank-you for taking the time to connect with a stranger.  Keep spreading the love.

  • Zero

    So is the “New Spiritualism” a move from deism to theism?

    Because it sounds like a religion is transforming, which is nothing unheard of.  “Christianity without religion”…is a new way of legitimizing believing in crap that still creates hierarchies that erodes empathy for other human beings. 

    I think the more important question is do these new Christians believe in Hell, eternal Hell, and/or a heaven that excludes people?  

  • Judi

    This “new” description of Christianity sounds much to me like Reform Judaism: bound by community and heritage without prescription as to ones connection to god. Our belief system is anchored in humanity and our values are driven by justice. We don’t all agree that god is the core to our connection to Judaism but have a broad spectrum of beliefs. We are accepted no matter what our definition of “religion”.

  • Erika

    True, many churches get it wrong. But in its ideal form, the Bible gives us over 50 ways a church community is to care and support for “one another” and “each other”.  We are to “bear each other’s burdens”, “Love one another”, “be devoted to one another”, “live in harmony with one another” , “accept one another” “instruct one another”, “greet one another with a holy kiss”, “serve one another”, “be patient, bearing with one another in love”, “be kind and compassionate to one another” “bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances  you may have against one another”…

    That is the Biblical model of the Christian life.  Certainly we do not all make the mark, but it’s a really good standard to shoot for. I just don’t understand how you can do that outside a Christian community.  Yes, we can and should carry all these principals towards our secular counterparts, but the richness of the reciprocal relationship of Christians who love each other as a community is hard to describe to those who have not experienced it.

    In the age of Facebook and cyber networking (like this!!!!) church community offers something real and tangible.  You are thrown together with a bunch of people from all different walks of life, some of whom may be really cool, and some whom may be really annoying, and God says “you are are equals in my sight” and you try to live out the “one anothers”.

    I love my church community…

    • Terry Tree Tree

      I am a Volunteer Fire-Fighter, Volunteer Rescue Squad member, have donated over ten GALLONS of my blood to help my fellow man and woman, with NO church affiliation.
         HOW MANY of your church members can honestly say they have , and do more?
        Risking your life, giving up family time, and free time, to help your fellow man, does NOT require church!   MANY churches spend money and effort to make a fancy building, with money and resources that could be helping people?

      • Erika

        Hi Terry, I’m pretty sure the question we were discussing was whether one can live out the Christian life apart from a church community, not our volunteer work.  I say no.  (For the record, I am also a Big Sister and donate blood too :-)  Doing good makes us feel good.  But it is a different thing from the blessing of Christian community.    I understand your misunderstanding though…it was a mystery to me why anyone would bother until I experienced it for myself. 

        • Ashley Yoshida

           What is “the blessing of a Christian community”?  What did you experience?  Why do you have to be a Christian to experience it?  Can Jews experience it?  Muslims?  If not, why?

          • Erika

             Hi Ashley,  I don’t believe this was a question of comparative religions.  I’m sure Muslims and Jews can experience community through organized religion, and I would bet most Muslims would say it is hard to be a Muslim away from Muslim community.   The question of this show if you go back and listen was can Christians be Christians apart from a religious community, not “is my religion better than your religion”.

            Christianity is a community-based faith.  People who try to do as Lone Rangers don’t understand it. The concept of “church” did not even exist in the Old Testament, so trying to apply Exodus to a conversation about “church”, simply does not make sense.  Christian churches, the topic of the On-Point conversation, did not develop until the several hundred years following Jesus’ death. That is what much of Paul’s letters are about–what a church should be and how they should act towards “one another”–with grace, humility and love.  No swords and sticks in the eye, sorry…

            Peace,
            Erika

        • Modavations

          Terry is pyscho.He will tell you of his volunteerism daily.He repeats it so often that I call it Bleat #3..If he were at all interested in   the forum, he would give #’s to the repetittive screeds…..The Priests did it,Bush Dit It,the Greedy Rich did it……This won’t happen as NPR is a “therapy “program from a man posting from an asylum

          • Terry Tree Tree

            People just have to check, to prove you inaccurate!

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Moda WHINES about name-calling?

          • Stephen Sprague

            One cannot gain by pushing others away.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Erika, I do these things, because I love my fellow woman and man.  I get tired of people trying to tell me I’m going to Hell, because I don’t attend THEIR denomination church.  FEW of them, so far, can tell me they’ve done more for their fellow woman and man, but DON’T change.   Self-righteous HYPOCRICY bothers me a LOT.

        • Stephen Sprague

          I think that the issue was the question: “Why are there less people committing their lives to organized religions; while more people are committing their lives to a more results oriented spirituality. A Spirituality that recognizes that whatever We do effects everything, and that We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!”  Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

      • Modavations

        Terry has told us this 50 Billion times.He forgot to mention for the 50billionth time that the junkies stole his hoses.Terry,real men don’t point to their charities

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Moda counts one, two, 50 Billion? 
             Moda’s accuracy is as good as his math?

    • Ashley Yoshida

       AA provides that community, so do book clubs for that matter.  You don’t need the “Holy Kiss” to have community.

    • Ashley Yoshida

      The bible also gives us this: 

      Exodus 32: 27

      He
      said to them, “The Lord God of Israel has said: Arm yourselves each of
      you with his sword. Go through the camp from gate to gate and back
      again. Each of you kill brother, friend, neighbor.”

      and this…

      Exodus 21: 20-21

      When
      a man strikes his slave or slave girl with a stick and the slave dies
      on the spot, he must be punished. But he is not to be punished if the
      slave survives for one day or two, because the slave is his property.

      • Erika

        You are quoting Old Testament…the story of man’s struggle.  Christ didn’t come along till the New Testament and show us the Christian way. 

        • Ashley Yoshida

          I like the idea of Jesus too, but isn’t he supposed to be the son of God according to your religion?  Are you saying that Jesus is good but God is bad?  That there’s no connection? Is Jesus supposed to be controlling things?  I thought he was just a messenger.   And I’m still wondering how Christianity explains the starving children in Africa?

        • Ashley Yoshida

          Another point of view to consider…

      • Stephen Sprague

        Whatever We do effects everything.  

    • Stephen Sprague

      Whatever We do effects everything.  We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

  • Henry Chung

    It is like homeschooling. Sometimes it works great, sometimes it fails miserably.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Will the Roman Child-Molesting and Child-Abusing church EVER reform from Crucifying VICTIMS, and protecting CRIMINALS?

    • Modavations

      Thus speaks ad naseum,,the man from NAMBLA.I see you’re out of the clink.What was the latest offense,molestation or arson?

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Baseless accusations abound with you, don’t they?

        • Ctwood2

          Like the one you offered to attract such a reply, of yours against an entire group at 5:34 pm above. Careful with that rock glass house inhabitant.

  • alitheia

    This is just another “new” Christianity but without Christ = heresy. Nothing new under the sun. 

    • Stephen Sprague

      Whatever We do effects everything.  We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

  • Denis Robert

    Bethke is not trying to create a Christianity without Religion, but rather a cult of personality where his master, Mark Driscoll is seen as the incarnation of God himself. It’s nothing new, just another cult in the mould of the Branch Davidians or Heaven’s Gate.

  • Stillin

    Had missed this and wanted to comment…raised Catholic, in the 60′s, 70′s…I liked the ritual of incense and darkness, but really hated church. I like to read about many teachers. Buddha, Christ was a teacher in my opinon, and others. I do not like church to this day, but I read and like to read, much spiritual material. The difference between religious and spiritual people? I was told religious people are afraid of going to hell, and spiritual people have been there. I believe that.

    • Ashley Yoshida

       I love that!

  • Sy2502

    The problem with organized religion is that it’s inflexible. Lots of things have changed with time, science has explained many things, and morality is different, but organized religion can’t change with the times. The god of organized religion is a spoiled, petty child who gets angry at the most inane things (contraception anyone?). People now are more educated and have critical thinking, and realize the god of organized religion isn’t relevant any more. 
    Moreover it seems that the only thing organized religion is capable of doing these days is divide and cause hate and friction. How can a peaceful, reasonable individual identify with the bigots foaming at the mouth that we see in the media? 

    • Soulpath

      Agree very much

    • Ashley Yoshida

       Joseph Campbell has written about the problem of religions not being able to evolve to meet the needs of modern man.  But that reminds me of my question which is “If they are based on fantasy why do we need them”?  Do we, as rational human beings really need fairy tales to guide our lives?

      • Zero

        I don’t think religion ever guides people per se.  It fulfills basic human desires; namely, eternal life and justice.  Once people indulge themselves in the promises of religion, the political ideology that stands closest to the religion ends up guiding the herd.  And what happens is a religious ideology that is different from the moral principles laid out in the religious text. 

        The illusion begins when the desire for a certain abstract reality projects itself on physical reality–then, depending upon where one is borne, a religious text is there to promise a detailed reality that is along the lines of abstract reality one desires.  The desire is so strong that people jump to any rationale that appeases them. 

         

        • Stephen Sprague

          Whatever We do effects everything.  We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

          • Zero

            I didn’t say you are the instruments of a church, you are the instruments of an ideology (big difference).  And a big clue to understanding if you are indeed “religious” or an ideologue is if you have read the religious text cover-to-cover.

            Do you follow the central morality, or do you pick and chose from 613 Old Testament laws? 

            I don’t deny that there are sincere believers, but they are a thin minority within a majority of ideologues.

    • Prophesy

       Which major religious books teach about contraception, specifically against the use of contraception?

      • Ashley Yoshida

        Who knows?  But the Catholic church certainly makes a big stink about it. Ask them.

      • Zero

         I think the “be fruitful and multiply” is part of the Catholic doctrine.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Catholics want MORE VICTIMS for priests?

          • Ctwood2

            Your intellectually lazy statement is a tired slam against an entire group. Do you truly think that ALL Catholics want more victims for priests?  Do you think all priests are pedophiles? Or are you simply an anti-religious hysteric? BTW- I am not Catholic.

      • Sy2502

        The program is about organized religion, not the theology on which they are based. It doesn’t matter where in their holy book a certain doctrine is stated, it matters if an organized religion decides its members should all do or not do something. I think people are starting to question whether these blanket statements are wise or not.

  • Ashley Yoshida

    I’ve got a sunny 1,000 sq. foot condo and a used Wii for sale in Heaven.  Cash only. Serious offers reply to this post. :)

  • Ore

    Heard on your program certain religious
    groups are suffering a population decline and thus, this is the basis
    for objections to birth control. It was said that religion is a lot
    like politics. It was suggested that the most liberal
    communities are often the most vibrant ones.

    So are the most conservative
    communities the least vibrant ones? Is politics like religion? Is
    the GOP objection to birth control due to a population decline?

    What causes religious and political
    memberships to decline? Do communities become more conservative
    through birth control? Do conservative communities want to become
    more vibrant?

    How do the liberal become more
    conservative? How do the conservative become more liberal?

  • Modavations

    Leftist religion….
    “The State is my shepard I shall not……..

  • Belinda

    I find that many people join churches not for the religious aspect but purely for a social network.  A close friend joined the Lutheran church and didn’t know who Martin Luther was, what he did or why it was important to Protestantism.  Seriously.  I asked why that church then and her response was that it was due to some people that she already knew who were part of the congregation.
    For many it’s not about doctrine, it’s about people.

  • Alex

    It’s just the same old religion/spirituality without rules we see in this age. Nothing new here, nothing groundbreaking and certainly nothing spiritual. Cult of personality is closer to it or religion al a carte. True Christians cannot have spirituality without the congregation and any Jew or Muslim who is devout would likely agree.

    True Christians should not be worried about nonsense like this. It weeds out the fakes.

    • Ashley Yoshida

       Or maybe you’re the fakes…Maybe people who are looking for a connection that feels real to them instead of just buying someone else’s version are the real deal.

    • Zero

      The reality in front of the eyes is real.  The reality in the imagination is fake. 

  • Grant Norsworthy

    I listened with great interest to Diana Butler Bass on NPR and read the excerpt from her book. (Thank you for having her on the show). I get it. As a speaker and musician communicating and connecting primarily within the Christian church, I sense a great deal of what she is expressing. For the most part I agree, but perhaps she does not go far enough.

    In my opinion, a lot of the problem here is with terminology. For example: I consider myself a follow of Jesus Christ, but I do not choose to call myself Christian. (To many these terms should be synonymous, but unfortunately they are not. Please read on). I find myself unable to relate with so much of what calls itself Christian. Much of it seems to me to stand at odds with my understanding of Jesus the Christ.

    I am encouraged by this: The written record that we have of the teachings of Jesus (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in The Bible) never use the word Christian. You might be surprised to know that Jesus does not ask people to become Christian at all! Instead He asks people to follow Him. From the Biblical account, people hearing that call either chose to follow Jesus or they did not. The call is still being issued to this day. People are free to obey that call or not; to follow Him or not to follow. Thinking of myself as a Christian or not is, in my opinion, not a direct correlation and it is certainly not Biblical.

    The word Christian is only used in the Bible three times and never by Jesus. Many theologians believe it was originally a derogatory term used by outsiders and not the early followers of Jesus. The three uses of the word Christian in the Bible (two in the book of Acts and one in second Peter) can support that position, depending on your interpretation.

    I am concerned that the Christian religion is merely another cause, or a religion pretty much like any other. It was inspired by the story about Jesus. It has become loose adherence to some of the teachings of Jesus as a historical character where the Christian is able to pick and choose which teachings are adaptable to his lifestyle.

    In my more cynical moments, I agree with this stark quotation. Other times it makes me feel sad:

    “Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship;
    it moved to Greece and became a philosophy;
    it moved to Italy and became an institution;
    it moved to Europe and became a culture;
    it came to America and became a business.” – Sam Pascoe, (American scholar)

    From my understanding of  Jesus, Christianity – the Christian religion – was never what He intended for His followers, nor what He intends today. Yes, I am one of those weird people that actually believes that Jesus is who He claimed to be – God incarnate. I can’t explain it. It makes no logical sense. But I believe he died and rose from the dead. He is alive and I follow Him. We are in relationship with one another and He is showing me that the main problem with the world today is not the weakening of the Christian religion, nor the divide in American society along religious lines, nor that many people don’t think that He did rise from the grave and is God. The main problem in this world is my own selfishness – my desire to live life my way.  He shows me this and demonstrates the alternative.

    Still, I find community with other followers of Jesus primarily within the Christian Church. I have found many – not so much like-minded, or even like-living, but more like-being – people to connect with; people who are also in relationship with Him. In my experience, these sincere followers of Jesus seem most often, but not exclusively, to live as part of church community. But even if the institution of the Christian church – the Christian religion – dissolves completely,  these followers of Jesus the Christ will continue to follow.

    Butler Bass’s book and her discussion seemed to point to a throwing off of religion and a renewing of truly Christian values outside the four walls of church buildings and organized Christian practices. But deeper than that, I see the throwing off of the Christian religion and the revealing of Jesus the Christ in those who truly follow Him, evidenced by acts of costly, unconditional, self-less, self-sacrificing love.

    So, to each of us, the question is, “Who is Jesus to me?” Is He a historical character to be ignored? Or one who gave good moral teaching worth applying to my life? Is He a story that compels me to join the Christian religion? Or is He Jesus the Christ, to whom I will gladly surrender all as His follower.

  • Erika

    I thought I’d check back and see if there were any new and interesting posts on this topic.  I noticed there are a few people who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in this cyber “community” of detached people who have never met each other bashing one another.  My real life, intergenerational church community, where grace and civility and forgiveness towards one another, in person, is the standard we seek in the name of Jesus Christ is looking better and better…

    • Ashleyyoshida

      Good. Then you won’t be bothering us anymore?

    • Stephen Sprague

      Whatever We do effects everything.  We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

  • ohioguy

    I don’t get what people are talking about when they say they mountain of gold the Vatican sits on.  Sure the Vatican has a lot of nice stuff, but did you ever think why that is?  The Catholic Church has singularly preserved culture for the past 2000 years.  You know when all the other Christians were destroying artwork for whatever reason, the Church kept theirs and encouraged Catholic artists to create more.  You know who invented the university system?  The Catholic Church.  What is the single largest charitable organization in the world?  The Catholic Church.  What came first the biblical books or the Church?  The Catholic Church set the books to believed in Scripture.   God knows that no human being is made to be an individual, especially in religious matters, so he gives a united global Church.  Praise God for His Church!!

    • Stephen Sprague

      Let us not forget that it is also the Catholic church that conducted the Inquisition, indulges in pedophilia to this day, and has mutilated and tortured people in the name of God repeatedly throughout the ages.  Whatever We do effects everything.  We are not instruments of a church, as so many churches teach.  Instead, We are Elements of God.  I have been saying since 2007.12.01-19:20:38, “When we think, we Commune with God.  When we speak, we are the Voice of God.  When we act, we are the Hand of God.  When we act in anger, we are the Wrath of God.  When we act in love, we are the Grace of God.  We are not instruments of a church, We are Elements of God!” Thus, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  

    • Ashley Yoshida

      Being an art major, I know a little about the art work that the Vatican commissioned.  The popes that commissioned the most famous art works were evil.  many of them were bi-sexual (not that that makes you evil) alcoholics and drug addicts who frequented prostitutes of both sexes, were sadistic and paid the best artists of the time almost nothing.  Artists HATED to work on those commissions.  And they really hated those popes.  Read some of the history of Michael Angelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and other artists of that time if you care to know more.  Also, listen to Today’s Fresh Air interview.  NO HUMAN BEING IS MADE TO BE INDIVIDUAL???  Did you ever wonder why not only every person, but every flower, every animal, even every snowflake is different?  Human beings are individual.  That’s why we are called “individuals”.  Anyone can contact the divine, anywhere.  Church can actually really get in the way.  Especially if you have a corrupt or incompetent priest or pastor. 

  • Ashley Yoshida

    Here is an example of that connectedness, which I also call grace sometimes…Today’s Fresh Air has  a great interview with Elaine Pagels, a religious professor from Princeton who has a new book out,  Book Of Revelation: ‘Visions, Prophecy And Politics’.  She is a calm, reasonable voice that anyone who is still paying attention to this thread should hear. 

  • Ben Boer

    Every time I hear or talk about this new movement towards individual “spirituality” or the trend towards believing in God without buying into any particular faith I can not help but think of Taoism. I see it as a move towards the Taoistic idea of an inherent, eternal goodness that permeates not only humans, but the entire universe. One that is inversely related to the move away from dogma.
    As the world advances people are finding it harder and harder to believe in religious texts that seem no more realistic than Sci-Fi, but there is still a clear desire for some immutable goodness in the world. Our culture has a tendency to name that goodness God, Lao-Tzu called it the Tao, atheists consider it an innate human morality.

    As I see it the difference between Taoism and America’s newfound non-denominational spirituality is the after-life. America can not and will not be comfortable with the idea that this newfound “spirituality” does not necessitate God as long as they hold on to the notion of life after death.

  • Slipstream

    I blame the churches for their loss of members.  Stodgy and stuck in their ways, they fail to reach out to people and offer them reasons to attend services.  As Mrs. Butler points out, there are a lot of people who want to have a connection with God, but are turned off by coming to church, listening to a preacher, humming some hymns, etc.  I think churches need to embrace new techniques and approaches. 

  • Ed

    See ‘The Unintended Reformation’, 2012, Harvard Univ. Press. The author argues that in the Reformation the reformers didn’t prove Catholicism wrong or incorrect, they just rejected it. They made the claim that not only were many Christians not living proper lives, but that the very structure of the Catholic Church made it impossible for people to live moral lives (incorrect, of course, and look what happened).

    Now again people haven’t proven Church doctrines false, they’ve just rejecting them.

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Aug 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP)

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