The good news story is about freedom. It is a freedom that is inherent, not a freedom that one man bestows upon the other by some magical ritual. A freedom individuals discover for themselves. Jim Morrison spells this out for us.
In my reinterpretation of the popular interpretation of the Bible theme, I provide the reader a way to hold their faith and yet use it in a positive, affirming, and all inclusive manner.The good news was never intended to bash others and do harm.
"MY UNDERSTANDING FAMILY LETS ME BE ME"
Every culture in the world has certain norms that govern everything from personal relationships to religious practices and political views. These norms shift depending on the times and places in which we live; however we are always expected to conform to them. Those who do not often find themselves subject to a painful, even paralyzing, stigma.
There are two of these nonconforming groups who I have found to be particularly stigmatized: those suffering from mental illness and those who consider themselves “Spiritual But Not Religious” (SBNR). I know about both of these by personal experience. I am a person who lives with depression and lives a spiritual life unattached from organized religion. Despite the fact that a growing number, nearly 20%, of Americans are identifying themselves as SBNR, they are consistently branded as heretics and “non-believers”.
How can this be? Religious texts and leaders proclaim that God/Source/the Creator loves us all unconditionally, yet it seems that this message is often followed up with—you guessed it—conditions! We either don’t believe enough or the right way, and that’s why we’re not getting what we want in this life and why we won’t end up in heaven in the next.
The real issue, I contend, is the continued practice of viewing those who differ from us as “other”. It’s an exclusivity game—we belong, you don’t. Christ’s mission on earth was to help us understand that we are all of the same Source energy. We are all loved just as we are, and all entitled to heaven, just as we are. Yet (and I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular), instead of embracing people across the spectrum of spiritual beliefs, we allow norms to divide us. On the largest scale, this leads to conflicts between the world’s three major religions; on a smaller scale, it leads to the stigmatization of people who do not follow the rules.
We must push back against stigmas—that is a given. In the meantime, however, we also must seek out and cultivate what I call the “understanding family”. This is a group of people who accept, love and support us no matter what. It can be the family we are born into or the one we make for ourselves, but they are critical to our mental, spiritual and even physical wellbeing.
Many of us take this support system for granted, especially when our lives are going well. It consists of our spouses, parents, friends or religious community. However, it is when we suddenly find ourselves on the fringes of society that we must sometimes seek out a new family built on common interests or struggles. They are the people who will let us know that we are not alone. They are often our only refuge from the world at large. Most importantly, they are the ones who will help us combat the most damaging stigma of all—the one we assign to ourselves.
My spiritual life brings me ineffable experiences of the Presence. In 1983, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a " heaven on earth experience" found me! My religious life did not afford me such spiritual experiences as that. Today, I talk to many folk about God. They want to experience something spiritual not simply believe something religious.
~ S.L. Brannon on DBSA Life Unlimited web site http://bit.ly/1kEBzlZ
It is no secret that the U.S. is becoming less religious. According to recent polls, twenty percent of Americans refer to themselves as “religiously unaffiliated”, a vastly greater number than the five percent in the 1930s and 40s, or the eight percent in the 1990s. This group is cleanly split along racial,
ethnic, gender, and political lines. Men are more likely to turn away from religion than women; African-Americans and Latinos are more likely than whites to be affiliated with a church. Forty percent of liberals consider themselves to be unaffiliated, while only nine-percent of conservatives do. Age also seems to be a factor, as one-third of Americans under the age of 30 do not belong to an organized religion.
But while these statistics tell us much about religious demographics, they do not explain why this acceleration has occurred over the past twenty years. There are many reasons, I suppose: shifts in our culture, in our politics, and in the family unit (churchgoing has historically begun in the home). Whatever the case, I certainly understand the sentiment behind it. As I wrote in The Two Agreements, “You’ve … realized that some of the doctrinal pieces (of religion) do not belong to the puzzle for your life. Perhaps the religion of your early childhood included a doctrine that pitted your spiritual self against your fleshly self in an internal battle of good and evil. You were taught that your fleshly body—ever present with desires, thoughts, and shortcomings condemned your soul to eternal torment in hell and made you an enemy of God.”
Whereas in the past people used to ignore these feelings (and probably even feel guilty for feeling them), today they are choosing a different way. I also note in The Two Agreements that about every 500 years the world civilization experiences a major shakeup. Given the statistics above, perhaps that time
is now. Rather than taking the negative view that religion is disintegrating, we should look at it as an opportunity to reach the next level of spiritual awareness. The fact that people are turning away from organized religion does not necessarily mean they are denying the Creator; in fact, quite the opposite. It indicates that they crave the freedom to experience the spiritual connection without rules, regulations and conditions.
the two agree fb pg
Having a relationship with the Divine is as natural as our breathing. In fact, it is a relationship that requires simply that we "keep breathing". That's all.
Certain ones want to complicate that fact. They insist that other humans must be placed between them and God, introducing them to God, as it were. We call that hierarchy, religion. And that type of relationship is called a religious life. Something simple is made complicated.
Mankind also likes to complicate everyday relationships as well. I say, let's keep it simple, human relations and relations with the Divine, . . . and find simple happiness in the process.
Below is a post by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Here is an article I came across and want to share. It includes comments by men I can appreciate for standing by their values. It is healthy for open discussions to happen surrounding religion and science. Of course, folk can enjoy religion without science, science without religion, and religion/science. The world is big enough for all belief systems.
Pat Robertson implores creationist Ken Ham to shut up: ‘Let’s not make a joke of ourselves’
By Scott Kaufman
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 12:19 EST
Pat Robertson responded to the recent debate between Young Earth creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye, a.k.a. “The Science Guy,” by reiterating his disagreement with Ham’s form of creationism.
“Let’s face it,” Robertson said, “there was a Bishop [Ussher] who added up the dates listed in Genesis and he came up with the world had been around for 6,000 years.”
“There ain’t no way that’s possible,” he continued. “To say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.”
“Let’s be real, let’s not make a joke of ourselves.”
“We’ve got to be realistic,” he concluded, and admit “that the dating of Bishop Ussher just doesn’t comport with anything that is found in science and you can’t just totally deny the geological formations that are out there.”
Last November, Robertson raised the ire of Young Earth Creationists when he made
similar statements. The hosts of “Creation Today,” Eric Hovind and Paul F. Taylor, attacked Robertson for claiming that dinosaurs could exist, because the world isn’t, in fact, only 6,000 years old.
“Pat Robertson is claiming, then, that 6,000 years comes from Ussher’s book and not the Bible,” Taylor said. “The point is, where did Ussher get his figure of 6,000 years?”
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me on facebook and linkedin.