Monday, April 27, 2009

This is going to get personal

Consider yourself fore-warned:

There are a few people out there who have signed up to follow my Twitter and my blog posts. You've seen occasional quotes, but not too much else.

I'm giving you fair warning that I'm going to start posting more frequently, and that some of my posts are going to have to do with religion and spirituality. If that is too woo-woo for you, now's your chance to disembark from my thought train.

However, let me try to persuade you that it might be worth staying subscribed.

As many friends of mine know, I have a long and somewhat tangled religious/spiritual history. Most notably, I was an enthusiastic "born again Christian" from age 10 to about 18, despite the fact that my family barely ever went to church. Strange, right? If you want to hear about that, stay subscribed.

Between the ages of 16 and 18, I experienced a genuine crisis of faith. I stayed up late at night crying about whether or not my family was going to Hell. I prayed that God would help me understand why innocent good people would go to Hell if they had not specifically asked Jesus Christ to be their Savior. This was before I started reading The Sacred Canopy and other philosophy texts in college, which dealt the final blows to my childhood faith. It was a dark time for me, and if you have ever had one yourself, stay subscribed.

Life went on, I lived in New York City, moved to California, and got married. My wedding was the first occasion I returned to the patterns of religion and spirituality on my own terms, which healed some things for me.

But soon after, I had a personal crisis, which landed me in therapy (no surprise since my mom is a therapist). If you're curious about therapy, what it's like, what it can do, and what its weaknesses are, stay subscribed, because I'll probably talk about that too.

As a preview, I'll just tell you, that I think good therapy is a kind of spiritual practice. This and other experiences have led me to circle back to my interest in faith and spiritual practice. And while spirituality does not, on the surface, appeal to everyone, there are core patterns which when you separate them out from woo-woo, mystical and fundamentalist belief systems, have real benefit for people who crave purpose and passion in their lives. Intrigued? stay subscribed.

I will be drawing on stories from real life experiences (mine and others), research in neuroscience, anthropology, sociology and new evidence in psychology to try to convince you that spiritual basics like saying prayers, following the "golden rule," selecting a "guru,"and finding a like-minded values-based community are endeavors that still matter and can be of benefit.

Oh, and, like all bloggers I reserve the right to chat about whatever happens to be on my mind, even if it doesn't fit exactly ;-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Share your stories

From The Shelter of Each other by Mary Pipher:

"Good stories have the power to save us. Reality is full of cautionary tales, heroes and difficult obstacles overcome through persistence. The best resource against the world's stupidity, meanness and despair is simply telling the truth with all its ambiguity and complexity. We can all make a difference by simply sharing our own stories with real people in real times and places."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who are the Future Priests?

From the Carol Cosman's introduction to Emile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religious Life:

"Durkheim believed--or hoped--that scientists in the future, especially the social scientists, would substantially ameliorate our social policies and institutional arrangements by leading them toward social justice and economic stability. Indeed, scientists and educators would be come something like our future priests: sacred figures leading us toward a genuine humanism--the religion of humanity. This development would entail, among other things, translating the moral treasures of religious traditions into a rational, secular language."