Are We Being Honest? Are We Being Respectful?

    Recently I attended a Winter Solstice event held at a United Methodist Church.  On this evening, they did many of the things I have become familiar with from my three years researching alternative spiritualities and the ‘spiritual but not religious’ movement.  At this event they “called the directions”, had a guided meditation about finding spirit in nature, did some drumming, invited people to do a dance from Dances of Universal Peace, and had a hymn to the goddess Persephone.  Now, I realize that the mainline Protestant churches are more and more open to inter-faith dialogue and cooperation.  And I realize the white mainline Protestantism is rightfully concerned about its decline in…

  • Clark Pinnock,  The Spirit is tricky,  Uncategorized

    In memory of Clark Pinnock

    I just came back from the funeral of a dear friend and mentor of mine, Clark Pinnock, held this week in Hamilton, ON.  I met him when I was a student at Regent College, wondering how I — a journalist, feminist, and former atheist — ended up in a Christian graduate school. I wasn’t sure I’d last very long in that environment where there were no female professors and many still believed in ‘the subordination of women.’  But only when I heard that one of the professors had a wife who was a feminist, did I think there was a chance for me there. I figured I’d have to ask for Clark…

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    Do you call yourself “spiritual but not religious?” Are you involved in an addiction recovery group? Do you think there is any connection?

    The roots of the current “spiritual but not religious” movement (if one can call it a movement, since it isn’t organized as such) got a great boost from the addiction recovery movement of the 1990s.  The connections are both theological and sociological. Oddly enough, the roots of the addiction recovery ethos, particularly as advanced by Alcoholics Anonymous, comes from an evangelical Christian para-church group of the early 1900s known as The Oxford Group, led by Lutheran minister Frank Buchman. You can read more about this in my book *Victims & Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery.*   What do you see as potential connections or disconnections between the “SBNR” upsurge and addiction recovery movement?

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    How have your religious or spiritual beliefs changed recently?

    Many people say it does not matter what people believe, as long as their actions are good. Others insist that religious or spiritual beliefs are private, that they don’t need to be consistent with each other, or that spiritual things are too mysterious for anyone to come to any conclusions.  Yet when I have interviewed people who say these things, I find they do have beliefs and are grateful and relieved to be able to share them.  What about you?

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    What’s good about religion?

    So many people today say they are “spiritual but not religious.” I’ve spoken to hundreds of them and they give similar answers to what they don’t like about organized religion.  They say things like: “I don’t want anyone to tell me what to believe;” or “Religious services are just boring;” or “I get just as much from a walk in the woods,” or “All those people are hypocrites,” and other similar things.  But is there anything good about religion?  I’d like to know what you think.  Write me.  Dr. Linda