March 2007

This is not really a response to Q’s last post (Is Religion the Answer?), but more of an attempt to further the conversation.

I hear people say, and I read, and I see on the television and the internet, that they are “Spiritual, but not religious.”

I’m sorry, but I have a few problems with that statement, which I don’t have time to really delve into here, so I’ll just enumerate them and revisit it when I have the chance:

1) What is “spirituality?”  Sorry, but a lot of times when I hear people saying this I picture some woman from a tampon commercial running through a field of flowers, a crown of daisies on her head or something, communing with Mother Earth.

2) Are “spirituality” and “religion” mutually exclusive?

3) What is their definition of “religion?”

A rant, I know, but this is just a jumping off point…


Something I’ve been thinking about over the course of the last few weeks is whether religion is the answer to our problems and to the question of God (some may say they are one and the same). In many ways I am sympathetic toward theologians who envision a religionless Christianity (be it through Bonhoeffer or Tillich’s concept of dynamics and form). In the spirit of genuine curiosity, what is your take on religion? Is it a necessary component or hindrance to the universal message of the gospel?

A while back we discussed a review of a recent book on the need for increased Biblical Literacy in the U.S. Today, the L.A. Times published an opinion piece by that book’s author, Stephen Prothero, “We live in the land of biblical idiots“.

Though we already discussed this, I thought I’d at least share this link. Perhaps a good discussion for this post is why two major nationally distributed newspapers would even give press to a book like this. I’m sure there have been plenty of books along this same lines published. I know people are saying all the time, we need to teach religion in our schools. What about Prothero’s book makes this “news” right now?

I’m sitting here at my desk, pondering my sermon for this week, and I’m wondering, is the concept of “conversion” a completely Christian concept? What has spawn this thought? I just read an article about a small, rural church that has blossomed into a thriving church. They have started several ministries to reach out to all kinds of people. As a result of these ministries, they say, over 80 people have been “converted”. I can’t help but wonder, converted from what? From another faith, from no-faith at all, or from their own selfish ways.

I guess my problem with the concept of “conversion” as we often understand it is that it seems to go against a process understanding of salvation. It suggests that salvation occurs in this big, one-time conversion experience. But, isn’t being saved more complicated than that. At least for me, there has not been a one time conversion experience, so much as many little conversions along the way. And really, I don’t feel like I’ve left anything behind, so much as God has carried me through some things, using some crappy mistakes to develop me into the person Christ has called me to be. When someone “converts” from being a Muslim to Christian, is this a conversion or simply another step on their faith journey (And I’m not suggesting people should convert from being a Muslim).

I don’t know if I’m making sense. For a while I’ve done my best to avoid the term “converted” because of all the baggage I see it carrying. Is there a better term we can use when someone makes that step of commitment to Christ. Or, is “converted” a fine term and I’m just speaking nonsense?


Courtesy of RLP.

During our class this morning, we discussed the famous passage relating to love that can be found in Paul’s initial letter to the folks in Corinth.

Our teacher for the day, as he is wont to do, came at the passage from a side angle, springing from the shadows as it were.

Without going in to too much detail, we basically came to the conclusion that love is the opposite of being an asshole.  There is a book out now that addresses the problem of assholes, and our esteemed teacher brought it to bear on the Corinthian church.  It was fascinating.

M shared this sad, sad article with me a moment ago. The article reminds me of the great, controversial, classic movie, “The Best Years of Our Lives“. How come we don’t hear stories like Stacy’s more often?

Broken by This War: Stacy Bannerman

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