Having No Religion or Faith..

Britain is becoming an increasingly faithless society, according to a new survey that has found 53% of Britons now describe themselves as having no religion.

The proportion is the highest ever, up from 48% in 2015 and 31% in 1983 when the British Social Attitudes survey was begun by the independent National Centre for Social Research.

The trend is evident across all age groups but is particularly marked among young people, with 71% of 18-to 24-year-olds surveyed in 2016 saying they had no religion, up from 62% percent the previous year.

The majority of older people still have some faith, with only four in ten of those aged 65 to 74 describing themselves as having no religion, and only 27% of those aged 75 and over.

Source: More than half of Britons have no religion – survey

From what I remember the US has similar  but lower numbers and also trends significantly downward but not yet to the extent of Britons. I wonder how much of this decline here is associated with politics? Evangelicals are now known more as an ultra right political group than a religious one.  That fact alone does serious, and maybe deadly, harm to religion.

On another thought, there are just so many things that educated people today see to enforce their belief that religion does more harm than good in our societies. They look at all the wars in the world today and see that religion is the source for almost all of them.

Too many versions of religions demand a blind faith.  That is, you are supposed to take whatever they say is true no matter was current day facts prove. That alone will eventually cause the demise of most forms of religion in the world. God gave us intellect and a questioning attitude for a reason.

When we as a world community finally come to see that we are all praying to the same God we may be able to eventually salvage what’s left of religion from the dust heaps of time.  These are pretty harsh words but I think they need to be said.

I proudly say I am a follower of Jesus Christ and his messages to us but I am currently not religious. This statement causes confusion in many but once I explain this dichotomy they understand what I am saying.

God’s Still On Holiday..

This is insane, and mainly because God patently hasn’t taken care of any of these things. Humans do these things and humans do stuff to mitigate or eradicate them. God’s still on holiday, where he has been for a few thousand years.

Source: Lazy and Incoherent Theology: God Will Take Care of It

I know that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are evangelical Christians who believe that everything that happens, and especially his election, is God’s will.  When things happen that they don’t like or can’t reconcile with their beliefs then they fall back on  “God works in mysterious ways.” I also know that since the enlightened age there has been no documented evidence that God has intervened in the world in any supernatural way as he supposedly did regularly in the pre-Christian era.

Has God taken a holiday for the last few millennia as the author of the quote above suggests or is it possible most of the miracles and such recorded in ancient text really just myth passed down from one generation to another? I know I will be called a heretic just for thinking about this possibility but that is not the purpose of coming out with this statement. I do believe in a supreme force holding the universe together but I don’t believe it is anything resembling Homo sapiens. It is not a white haired old man in the clouds.  If I had to tag it as anything it would probably be more like the “Force” in Star Wars. It is a presence that started it all and maybe monitors it even now.

Now, getting to the point of this post and that is that we humans need to take responsibility for our actions both personal and corporate. We can’t put it off on God as if we had nothing to do with it. If we cause a problem we need to fix it. Global warming seems to the the biggest topic presently at hand in this category.  It is utter foolishness to sit back and wait for God to fix it for us.

We must be accountable for the problems we bring upon this world. I think that is what God wants us to do…

Religion Does More Harm Than Good..

It is interesting to see another country where the majority thinks religion does more harm than good, especially since this one is our neighbor. I’m not sure what the statistics in Europe are but I suspect that they are similar to Canada’s.

More than half of Canadians believe religion causes more harm than good, a new poll has found. The survey by Ipsos found the proportion of people who held the belief had increased in recent years, from 44 per cent in 2011 to 51 per cent this year. Less than a quarter of people, or 24 per cent, believed that religious people made better citizens, down eight points from 2011, Global News reported.

Source: Majority of Canadians think religion does more harm than good | The Independent

canstockphoto17505783I have been brave enough to openly hold this position for about a dozen years now but was kind of surprised that so many believe as I do.  Before you start flaming I want to explain my feelings.  It is not that we shouldn’t be praising God for everything he created but instead about the versions of religion that have sprung up over the centuries trying to do that.

If you are a history enthusiast it is hard not to come to the conclusion that religion does more harm than good.  We see so many wars started around one person’s view of God vs another’s.  By far the majority of religions believe that their vision of God is the only true one. That belief is the foundation for the Sunni vs Shiite, Protestant vs Catholic, Lutherans vs Baptists (I could go on and on..) and even inside the splits within a particular belief.  Personally I know that WELS Lutherans think that ELSA Lutherans are just plain ungodly.

I have come to believe in what I call the Woody Guthrie view of religions and that is that we are ALL just part of one big soul. We are all searching for God and far too many of us just refuse to believe that it is that simple…

We are all in this together

 

Nauvoo IL – Mormon Settlement

ISOA Banner   Nauvoo Village was one of several settlements established and then all but abandoned by Mormons due to battles with their neighbors.  The first was in Ohio, the second in Missouri, and then came Nauvoo in Illinois. This was the site that it’s founder Joseph Smith was killed and Brigham Young took over the leadership.

Mauvoo has recently been been called the “Williamsburg of the Midwest” and to some degree they deserve that title but in others they fall short. Many of the building have been restored to the 1840s but many are still in private hands. Unlike Williamsburg there are obvious places that the 21st century invades including cars parked throughout the village.

I think most, if not all the employees are of the Mormon faith so some don’t take criticisms lightly.   All being said however, I found all the people in the village to be very friendly and more than willing to accommodate my deafness.

Before I close I want to get in my “having my say” mode and talk a little about religion and Mormons particularly.  During the 1800 years or so between the beginning of Christianity and  the settlement of Nauvoo there were thousands of different version of Christianity invented. Many happened after Luther started the Protestant Reformation.  And of course there have been about 20,000 or more different version since that time.   I kind of find it ironic that there was as much ambivalence toward Mormons that there has been.  Why were they driven out of so many settlement locations before they finally reached Salt Lake City? Are they that threatening to other Christians?

I have become a “live and let live” believer in Jesus Christ.  That is I just don’t believe that any of the 35,000 version of this religion have a lock on what to believe. They are all just one person’s view of religion starting with St. Paul who had never seen Jesus and spoke little of the lessons of Jesus during his lifelong ministry. One great thing about America it that we, at least figuratively, believe in freedom of religion. Believe what you want as long as you don’t try to force your beliefs on others.

Finally getting back to Nauvoo, this village is well worth it if you find yourself in the area.

Here are some pictures from my visit.  As usual click on any one to see a larger slideshow view.

 

 

We Have No Purpose Anymore..

Banner Having Y Say    I have to admit up front that for much of my life I just didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I “grew up”. Strangely, it wasn’t until several years into my retirement that I finally put that question to rest. So, I am NOT the poster child for gaining purpose in life, but maybe my shortcomings in this area might be a lesson for others.

canstockphoto2256888.jpgA fundamental problem with this country and many others around the world is that too many just don’t have any idea what the meaning of our country is supposed to be about? Without this foundation, every bad thing that happens causes ever-increasing cynicism and selfishness. There is no hope because there is no overall vision for what we want our country to be. Positive thinking seems to have almost vanished in the world today. Maybe even more tragically, there are those who have come to a conclusion about purpose and their answer is simply too self-centered to be of value.

You would think that a country where so many claim it to be a Christian nation they would use the words of Jesus to find their country’s purpose. But that just doesn’t seem to be a reality even in those who consider themselves to be religious. Too many seem to be able to lock the teachings of Jesus into a neat bundle that is brought out on Sunday and then locked back in a box on Monday. Too many others have turned their religion into a political agenda that excludes any concept of “brother’s keeper”and is about making enemies rather than brothers. But there is hope in this area as religious organizations, especially those of the Radical Right variety are shrinking due to lack of young people buying into their convoluted rhetoric. They label them as hypocrites, as they actually are.

When purpose is lost, especially for a country, hope is usually also lost in the process. I think that’s kind of where we are today.

The best God joke ever … Revisited

This is a revisit of a post I wrote here in 2012. It still applies today.

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Dont do it!” 

He said, “Nobody loves me.” 

2017-01-20_16-30-32.pngI said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?” 

He said, “Yes.” 

I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” 

He said, “A Christian.” 

I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” 

He said, “Protestant.” 

I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” 

He said, “Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” 

He said, “Northern Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?” 

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” 

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” 

I said, “Me, too!”Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” 

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” 

I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

Sometimes the funniest things are those that have the most tragic consequences. I think this is one of those. We Christians have divided ourselves so much that if being a “Christian” still has any meaning it soon won’t.  Between the hijacking of the term “Evangelical Christian” by those with radical right political agendas and our constant separations we have pretty much done in the term.

For those of us who simply try to follow the words of Jesus Christ and try to basically ignore where so many current Christian establishments stray from it, what should we call ourselves?

Cult Indoctrination…

This post might ruffle some feathers so if you are not in the mood I suggest you don’t read any further.

When you think of the phrase “cult indoctrination” I image some pretty dark things come across your mind. Cult leaders are usually people with an enormous egos and a corresponding quest for power.  Think of Jim Jones if you are old enough or maybe Branch Davidians.  These guys convinced hundreds of their followers to die for their cause when in fact their cause was really no cause at all.

But for this post I want to expand the cult/culture topic to also include our feelings toward wars and killing.  Generally speaking, except for a few forms of cultures like Quakers and Amish most people in the U.S. are taught at a very early age that killing is a necessary part of life and for many a fun part at least in concept. Just look at the top ten apps in any game genre and you will see they are dominated by a central theme of “killing the bad guys”. The games are becoming so real that it is scary to those of us who see them as almost making extinguishing life as a noble pursuit.  And then there is TV and movies, so many are centered around violence. Is it no wander that in the U.S. the number one employer is our military complex?

We are taught very early on that killing is fun especially if we can blow them to smithereens with super-advanced virtual weapons. Sadly many who rush to war given this indoctrination find the realities much different than what they thought.  Many then live the rest of this lives  totally harmed by their military experiences.

Now with our extensive use of military drones to do our killing actual war seems even more so like a video games and that is a bad thing as far as I am concerned.  One person’s cult is another person’s culture…

In my mind much of this aggression is the result of too much testosterone.  I know it was needed when we were dwelling in caves but it really serves no purpose in today’s world. If God made a mistake with us it was probably to give us too much testosterone, or maybe it is because of our lazy minds don’t really bother to think of the consequences …. 🙂

Teach theology, not religion

The quotes below come from input from Irish high school students when asked about having religious studies in their school system. The wisdom of these kids’ words are way beyond their years.

2016-08-29_17-39-25.pngBy giving all children the opportunity to learn about the beliefs and values of diverse groups in society, the government would be providing for their education in some of the liberal democratic values on which the State itself is based. They include openness to a range of views along with inclusive and respectful citizenship.

MANUS CHARLETON

Perhaps, as religion is one of the greatest causes of conflict in the world, rather than teach religion in schools we might study theology and get a greater understanding of our fellow man.

CIARAN McNAMARA (age 16)

Source: Teach theology, not religion

The Irish certainly know something about religious strife having lived through decades of Catholic/Protestant war in the north of their country.  They are basically proposing the teaching of theology instead of a particular religion. Theology has a very high brow look to many of us but it is really quite simple. It is the study of religion.

Given that there are currently about 39,000 different versions of Christianity alone we need to study and learn why so many have deemed it necessary to leave one version of their religion for another.  Then there is the Shia, Sunni, and other versions of Islam that need to be understood.

Everyone seems to be almost seeking their own private version of God. Maybe it is time to study that fact instead of insisting that “our” version be the only one to consider.

I imagine that there are many inside all the various religions who fear that if their kids learn that their parents religion is not the only one out there that they may lose their souls. But the reality is that whether they like it or not their children do not “inherit” their parents faith. They must come to God on their own terms. Seriously teaching them the entire religious spectrum may be better than trying to force them to join a particular version with no knowledge of other options. Everyone must come to God on their own, no one else can do it for them.

Just a thought for this Sunday morning…..

 

When Leaving Religion Costs You Everything…

When I read the words in the source article below they rang very true to me. Even though I was not a minister like he was I too felt the cost of being forced  out of a church community for having  different/unacceptable beliefs. I dared, among other things to say the earth was more than 6,000 years old.

After 36 years in the Evangelical Charismatic movement in Tennessee, Dave left his faith. “For me,” he says, “it all started with a critical examination of the Bible and how it came to be…when I quit making excuses for the inconsistencies and contradictions, it started to have some gaping holes in it.”….

After enough time in rigorous study, he says he saw the Bible as a collection of books written by very human individuals. Now he’s a stranger and pilgrim in a foreign land. “I feel like an alien here in the south. It’s all about where you go to church here,” he says.

Dave is not alone.

Source: When Leaving Religion Costs You Everything – The Daily Beast

No, Dave is not alone. There are probably millions of us who dared to critically examine their bible and came to the conclusion that it is very similar to Dave’s. When I quit letting the religious leaders tell me how homogeneous the bible was and discovered many places such as the paragraph that Lutherans base their religion on that works are irreverent, faith is all that matters an then read St James, the brother of Jesus, who said faith without works is worthless. Let’s face it when different men (and I do mean men, no women authors to be found) put out their opinions of religion/faith/morality there are bound to be conflicts. And they are relatively easy to discover if you really look at the Bible in the least bit critically.

I always found it strange that so many in the evangelical circles quote St. Paul much more than they do Jesus especially given the fact that Paul was the only apostle who never sat at Jesus’ feet to learn the lessons first hand. In fact the only direct encounter with Jesus was that  quick flash on the road to Damascus. If you read his words, and he has more words in the Bible than any other author, it becomes pretty obvious that he made up his own rules for what to believe in order to be called a Christian. I’m not sure he ever mentioned any of the words of Jesus in his epistles and that is probably because he had no first-hand knowledge of them.

No, Dave is not alone with his feelings and observations. While the Bible is made up of opinions of different author, that does not take away from its value to those who concentrate on the words of Jesus. It is a great history book and is, along with other writing not chosen to be included, the source of most of our information about Christ.

2016-07-09_17-58-37.pngBut there is also the shunning to goes on when one leaves a faith community. I always thought I made very good friends there but once I left only one couple even attempted to stay in contact. The two we considered ” best friends” never said a word to us after that day! Everyone just dropped us from their contact lists. That devastatingly changed everything in my wife’s social world and that is perhaps the biggest sorrow of all for me…

This Christmas Season…

2015-12-11_11-32-59.pngI want to spend some time this Christmas season talking about Jesus. After all, as the old saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season” at least for us Chrisitans. I have said more than once on this blog that I am  spiritual but not currently aligned with any particular religious organization.  At the same time I try to be a faithful follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  That might be a dichotomy to some but  not to me. I just believe that religious organizations today are too mired down in their dogma and theology that is simply not focused on the words and teachings of their founder.

Many seem to at best give Jesus’ word only a tepid acknowledgement and at worst readily admit that to them his words are no more important than any other words in their bible. Those folks treat the Bible as their god instead of Jesus. That saddens me greatly and drives me away from their version of Christianity.

One of my favorite Christian authors is Philip Gulley and one of my favorite books by him is “If God Is Love”. Here are some of my favorite quotes from that book:

For many, religion is a means of controlling human behavior. Dualistic religion, with the threat of hell and the offer of heaven, is especially susceptible to this temptation…


Jesus turns controlling religion, with its inflexible laws and requirements, on its head. The point isn’t obeying the rules (an act of the will), but in producing good fruit (an overflow of the heart). Our hearts are changed only when we realize God’s unconditional love for us and embrace our responsibility to love others unconditionally.


This is why many have left the church, synagogue, and mosque. They aren’t atheists. They’ve simply found the courage to reject religious fear and control. They seek a spirituality consistent with what they sense to be true—there must be more to life than escaping hell and keeping the rules. They yearn for a way of life that is gentle, humble, open, and compassionate.


SOURCE: Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-10-13). If God Is Love (Kindle Locations 1318-1320). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

When I read the words above several years ago I had an epiphany. I finally accepted that God is about love and not eternal punishment for failing to follow rules. God is not about condemning the vast majority of us to an eternity of unimaginable agony but instead is showing us how to love.

I like to include myself in the quote above about rejecting religious fear and control and instead seeking spirituality consistent with my senses. Yes, I’m sure some of you can rush to your Bible to find a verse or two, especially in the Old Testament, about a vengeful god. But if you concentrate on Jesus’ words it should become obvious to you that God is a god of love.

This holiday season I choose to celebrate life as Jesus taught me…

 

Taking Personal Responsibility…

2015-11-13_09-22-23In my mind taking personal responsibility is a big part of the bedrock of what makes the U.S. a success story among the nations of the world. We encourage, some would even demand, that each of us take personal responsibility for our well being and especially for our future needs. The graphic to the right pretty well sums up the benefits and obstacles associated with personal responsibility. It starts with self control and eventually peaks with wisdom. Self control means that we make the choices necessary to provide the desired outcomes. All of us need to take personal responsibility for our actions and lives and to suffer the consequences when we don’t.

The Republicans among us are very adamant, maybe even paranoid, about personal responsibility.  They just don’t 2015-11-13_09-24-42seem to want any of our citizens to get something that they haven’t earned through personal responsibility.

  • why do most from the GOP establishment seem to encourage other nations shirk their responsibilities when it comes to defending their lands and their way of life?
  • Why do we let them insist that we, the U.S., must do almost everything in this area for them?
  • Why aren’t we letting others beyond our shores take personal responsibility?
  • Why are so many in the GOP  so against giving aid to our poorest citizens but at the same time eager to run in and taking over all the responsibility for almost all regional conflicts in the world?

Whenever there is a problem in the world, particularly the kind involving aggression, we seem to rush in telling everyone else “don’t worry we will take care of it for you”.

When it comes down to it isn’t ISIS just a group of Muslims who radically differ with the majority of that religion on how Islam is to be practiced. If I understand it right ISIS wants their version of the faith to be everything in its believers’ lives. They want every aspect of life, including government, to be controlled by their religious dogma much like it is in Iran. Wouldn’t you think that this is something that others in that religious group should be taking personal responsibility for? Why should the U.S. send our young people and spend so much of our tax dollars to do it for them? Isn’t that allowing Muslims to shirk their responsibility of controlling those within their own group?

Even the Middle East in general seems to always be one religious group battling another. Look at Iraq, or at least what there is left of it after our invasion. It seems every bomb that goes off and every killing that occurs is one religious belief fighting another.  It is Sunnis against Shiites against Kurds.  I kind of suspect that if Israel were not in the middle of all this stuff and the target of much of the anger in that part of the world, we would not be so interested in spending American human and monetary capital on the other side of the world.

I don’t know the answer to all this stuff that we keep getting ourselves into but I do know that insisting that others take personal responsibility for their circumstances is a big part of the solution.

There Is Nothing Wrong With Myth….

2015-11-12_16-44-06There is nothing wrong with myth, as it is an ingrained part of a cultural and religious traditions. Here is a little about mythology from Wikipedia:

As a collection of such stories, mythology is a vital feature of every culture. Various origins for myths have been proposed, ranging from personification of nature, personification of natural phenomena to truthful or hyperbolic accounts of historical events, to explanations of existing ritual. …  A culture’s collective mythology helps convey belonging, shared and religious experience, behavioral models, and moral and practical lessons.

2015-11-12_16-44-51Lets look at a couple of ways that myth is created:

  • There is a  famous  psychology experiment of giving one person in a group a one or two sentence story and having them pass it to the next person in the group. By the time the story is through the entire group the it is significantly different from the original sentences. Each person re-interprets what he/she heard and then passes that message one.
  • Myth is created when a person tells a story to relay a message. Christ did just that himself on many occasions. They are called parables. They are made up stories to relay an important message he wanted to give us

2015-11-12_16-45-21I will say up front here that I believe that much of the Christian bible is made up of myth. That is just a natural thing when stories are passed down from generation to generation before being permanently recorded. But to say this to many of those who buy into the literal translation of the bible is tantamount to self-proclaiming you are a heretic! To them myth has no place in their religious beliefs.  I know they have their “slippery slope” where they rationalize that if anything in the Bible is not absolute truth then the whole bible needs to be thrown out as worthless. To me that is simply poppycock. For the above reasons I feel sorry for the literalists as they are denying themselves in understanding a very important part of their religious traditions.

There is nothing wrong with myth. It plays an important part of every culture and should be celebrated, not denied. While it may not be absolutely true it speaks truth to the topic at hand. Every society, culture, and religion has its my2015-11-12_16-46-21mythology stories that enrich our understanding.  Native American myth which is also called folklore has stories about the Rainbow Crow, the Maid of the Mist, and the King of Sharks, as well as First Nation. These stories help us understand native-Americans love of the earth over self.

Lets not be ashamed of our myth but instead celebrate it. It is an important part of who we are…

I Love Pragmatists

Banner PragmatistsIt has been a while since I brought up a new category here at RJ’sCorner.  After seeing so many people stuck in one mode of thinking I have come to passionately embrace the concept of pragmatism.  Let’s look at its definition:

2015-11-08_07-51-43

I like to think of myself as being a pragmatist.  All my life I have looked for solutions instead of alliances. I try to look beyond the labels.  A big part of pragmatism is logic instead of dogma.  With dogma you are told what you are to believe; with pragmatism you search out the most practical answer by questioning everything.  Dogma allows us to stay stuck in a rut with no practical way of getting out.

It will be interesting to start concentrating on pragmatism on some of my posts.  I don’t know exactly where this will go but that is also part of pragmatism. You don’t have a predefined path. After careful thought you go with what is practical and what works the best for any given situation…

I Love Pragmatists

 

God Is ….

God I really don’t know how it happened that God became this old guy with flowing white hair and beard laying on the clouds and watching everything we do and getting involved in every aspect of our lives. I don’t know if Michelangelo’s Sistene chapel was the first depiction of that persona or if he was just mirroring someone else. But it seemed to catch on and go from there.  For many God is now a father figure who looks out for our every need.

I was pretty deeply involved in theology for more than a decade devouring perhaps a hundred books on the subject. As a result I have come to some personal conclusions  about God (but who am I to even do that?).  Since this is the week that I start on my 7th decade on this earth it is about time I penned my feelings in this arena.  If not now when?

It is pretty clear that most  theologians who gave us the biblical text perceived God as not a person. To most of them he was a spirit. It is more like God is a presence that is all around us than an actual person somewhere above us.  The conceptual thing that makes the most sense to me is that he is life. In that vain he is not really a “he”or a she. Most of the messages attributed to God in the Christian Bible, and for that matter the Jewish Bible and the Koran, God’s messages are about getting along with one another and appreciating the life that God has given us. Don’t Kill, don’t be jealous, love God, don’t adore/love stuff, and the rest. They are all about setting the right priorities in your life and simply living in peace and love with everyone else in God’s creation.

God just seems to be all about life.

Personally I have come to see God as the keeper of life. In science we have progressed eons beyond where they were two-thousand years ago.  Almost everything that surrounds us today would have been considered a miracle in those times.  The past century alone has brought us out of the dark ages of medicine. We have now mapped DNA and that will probably bring even more knowledge beyond our current imagination in the coming years.

But one thing we have been unable to do is to create life where there was none before. To me, that is God’s domain. He is the keeper of life.  The Star Wars movies, of which I am a big fan called it the “force”. To me the force is the essence of life that comes only from God.

I don’t expect or even want any of you to agree with me on this.  I made this study and the resulting conclusions for my own benefit. I needed to more fully understand my perception and relationship with my creator. Did I get it right? I pretty much doubt it but I don’t think anyone else has it right to any degree either.  The concept of God is just too complex for our puny human minds.

Next Sunday I will delve into what I see being the keeper of life means…. and maybe more importantly what it doesn’t mean.

Listen Up….

2015-10-11_18-45-05Many organized faith groups are wringing their hands over the growing category of “nones” and wondering how to attract young people, especially, back to the fold. What words of wisdom would you give them?

Listen, listen, listen. Listen again. Don’t think that stuff like beer nights and church meeting in a coffee shop and pastors in flannel and skinny jeans is going to be enough: it’s not, and many people see right through it. Meet people where they arrive rather than drawing a line and expecting them to cross it. Be present to people’s doubts and questions in honest ways. People want to do good for the world even if they’re not part of your faith tradition. Trust in that.

Source: There’s A Revolution Going On In Religion. Faith Groups Better Listen Up.

These are some of the wisest words I have come across lately concerning the increasing number of “nones” when it comes to religious membership.  I see myself as a very spiritual person. I want to do good for the world and have, at least in the past, believed that religious establishments were some of those places to be able to do that. But I, like so many others, was driven out of a religious organization because I asked too many questions and therefore threatened the perceived peace of a congregation.

I see the statistics almost everyday of the declining numbers in churches in the U.S. Even the mega-churches are starting to shrink in numbers.  From personal experiences I know that the “you jump through the right hoops and we will let you join us” mentality is very prevalent in today’s churches especially for those churches that take the bible to be literal. For them you seem to have to check your intelligence at the door and accept things that you pretty well much know is wrong in order to join.

I think the beer nights and coffee shop references above were about the mega-churches who are also in decline now. Even that could not keep them coming. Most people are looking for spiritual support, not a clubhouse, or certainly not to be told that they are nothing but worthless pieces of snot who can’t do anything as some approach it. To me one of the biggest problems with so many of today’s chruches are that they just want to hunker down in the “big bad world” instead of going out and to  the Lord’s business.

I think the magic words  in the source above are Be present to people’s doubts and questions in honest ways.  If only more of them did that.  If Pope Francis is true to his word I think that if he lives long enough he just might turn the Catholic church more  in that direction and maybe some of the others will follow.  Wouldn’t that be something??

I think God is up to all the questions we might ask and no the answer can’t always be that it is a mystery that we simply have to accept….