Tuesday, March 30, 2010


On Thursday, Rabbi Rami brought a guest speaker to our American Spirituality class to talk a bit about the Pre-Modern, Modern, and Post-Modern views on religion. Greg Bullard, senior pastor at Covenant of the Cross from Madison, Tennessee, began by stating he is a homosexual man, and as a gay man he had to not only wrestle with scripture but also with those who would use scripture to attack him. What I found incredibly fascinating is that he researched the original Greek words that referenced homosexuality to discover the meaning of the word and its use in the first and second centuries. Now I've heard many preachers do this to support their sermons or their cause but Greg went above and beyond researching homosexuality in Greek and Roman history, mythology, and literature.

ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs)
arsenokoitai: "arsen" means "man"; "koitai" means "beds."

Used in both 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 this word has been translated as referencing homosexuality or sodomy. It is actually a feminine word in the Greek, someone who assumes the position of a woman. It is a sexual behavior and not an orientation issue. It is used 73 times outside of scripture, 44 times used to describe the buying and selling of slaves used for temple prostitution.
malakoi literally means "soft."

Used in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 this word has been translated as the effeminate, or male prostitute.

Pastor Greg goes into detail in a sermon podcast on his church's site, The Covenant of the Cross, entitled "It's All Greek to Me".

Very enlightening information on a topic that has become fueled by so much blind rage. Not many of us have the time or the education to research the original Greek, but what if we did? What if we uncovered something other than what we've been taught by the church and centuries of tradition? Would we fight against it and brush it off holding on to what WE BELIEVE instead of considering that church and tradition (both maintained by fallible men) may be wrong? To quote Pastor Greg "we just like an easy comfortable explanation for what we don't understand." As human beings I believe it is our duty to understand each other especially if we as Christians consider love and compassion to be at the core of Christianity. I thoroughly enjoyed his talk even though there were a few who were uncomfortable with his presence. Sadly, soon after I left class I overheard two of my fellow "Christian" classmates (the two most opposed and outspoken against Greg's talk) snickering over the fact that they knew he was gay as soon as he walked in the door. Fear and hate spreads too easily when it should be a terrible burden.

Note: I'm currently in the process of moving back home to Chattanooga so it may be some time before my next post. Until then Peace and Blessings.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible

As a child of the 80's I grew up watching some of the greatest cartoons of all time (Ninja Turtles, Dragon Ball Z, Voltron, and Thundercats just to name a few). Growing up in a Christian home, violence driven cartoons were frowned upon so I also watched "safe" shows like The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible. If you're unfamiliar with this quaint little Hanna-Barbara gem just imagine Superbook but less anime like Captain Planet, throw in two American college archeologists and their scampy little "nomad" friend, an Egyptian time-traveling door (not to confuse this door with a Stargate, there is a difference) which apparently only traveled to Biblical events and you get The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible. And since it's Bunny season I thought it would be fitting to post the Easter episode. Enjoy.

Part 2 and 3 can be found here. What I found exceptionally curious about this show, watching it again as an adult, is that there are several oddities, I never would have caught as a child, which helped to shape my perception of the Bible until adulthood. For Example, did you notice...
  • The crowd, including Jesus, was mostly fair skinned.
  • Jesus has Blue eyes.
  • "The men of power" looked borderline supervillian evil (it's all in the eyebrows!).
  • Judas is rockin' a devilish goatee
  • The trial scene looked kind of thin, where was everyone else?
  • The voice of Caiaphas is done by Tony Jay who does a lot of villainous roles.
  • There is very little violence for such a barbaric execution (children don't really think of the violence of the crucifixion, or at least I never did).
  • The time-traveling trio defend Peter's denial of Jesus but make no attempt to defend Pilate or even Judas even though Mark, the narrator, states that nothing could have stopped the crucifixion since it was the Son of God's mission to die.
  • I wonder if Moki was the cause for the lost ending of the Gospel of Mark when he trips over Mark's scrolls? Whoops!
  • Mark, the narrator, mentions that Easter happened 35 years prior placing his writing right before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 c.e.
Of course this is a children show so I may be making a big whoopla out of nothing but the imagery portrayed in this cartoon is very common in Sunday School class. Growing up with the Scandinavian Jesus may not be completely damaging to kids who eventually learn that 1st century Jews may have looked more like this. In my opinion, the real damage is in the fear of asking "heretical" questions ("Learn and Burn!") while ignoring Christianity's room full of elephants (don't forget about the pink one in the closet). Most everyday Christians don't dig deeper into the text looking to ask tough questions because they themselves are yearning for solid answers. Why burden yourself with more questions when it's so much easier to get your answers from your local pastor or priest. I believe no solid or worthwhile answers can be given by the church or God, we're only given the chance to discover those answers for ourselves. Yet while mainstream Christians may bend over backwards to harmonize the gospels into one historical account to protect their theology (and probably their state of mind), others are questioning the traditional views and beliefs they inherited from their parents and grandparents. The greatest adventure stories from the Bible are not the stories where the heroes blindly obeyed God, but where the characters questioned divine justice, embraced compassion, and walked humbly and intimately with the Divine.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Human Sacrifice! Brilliant!

I got a curious search request hit yesterday that had me thinking about the topic of human sacrifice. The search phrase "abraham and isaac on mount moriah activity sheets" had me reminiscing about all the fun activities we used to do in Sabbath school. I'm afraid they probably didn't find what they were looking for when they landed on my post on Abraham's Test so I thought I'd lend them a hand (that's if they decide to return which I highly doubt). You can find Abraham coloring pages here and here, and the activity sheets on Isaac's sacrifice here. If you click on the activity sheet link and scroll down to page 6 you can read the key points of the story.
  1. Abraham’s heart was set to be obedient to whatever God had called him to do.
  2. Even to the point of sacrificing his own son.
  3. Abraham believed the promises of God, and his covenant would come true.
  4. He trusted God no matter what.
A couple things come to mind after looking over the activity sheet: 1) human sacrifice didn't bother me as a child and 2) it probably didn't bother me because I thought I was invulnerable (God would protect me) and I was too busy working on the crossword puzzle. I honestly have no memory of flinching or having any fearful thoughts throughout the countless retelling of Biblical stories. I didn't make the connection because to me (as a child) bad things only happen to bad people. The death, destruction, and horrendous genocide did not phase me one bit because it didn't feel real. Those events happened to really bad people a long time ago, so who cares let me finish coloring my picture.

But now it makes me sick to my stomach that I silently sat there week after week instead of screaming out against the injustices done to countless of people all in the name of God. If I knew then what I know now I would feel like an accomplice, or a yes man cheering God on.

"Human Sacrifice! Brilliant!"

(You've got to love British comedy.)

This is the mindless, uncaring, and unquestioning faith that no longer appeals to me. The Yes Man (or Yes God) Faith does not leave any room to question the Master Plan (or if you're cynical, the emotional ravings) of the Old Testament God. Because to question God's morality is to question any constant ground we may have in a constantly shifting, chaotic world. Yet how can we break the cycle of injustice committed in the world (this includes acts committed by Christians) if we are constantly being reminded what is right or wrong as if we were children? Yes, the Divine stopped Abraham in the end from sacrificing his son, and children, for the most part, understand the moral lesson: obey God faithfully and everything will be hunky dory. Yet Abraham fully intended to sacrifice his son, Period. We would fail as parents if we 1) continued to construct a false sense of Divine security and 2) did not instill a strong sense of independent thought and morality. We will not always be there, and nor will God, to stop the bad people from driving a knife into their chest or counsel them on the suffering caused by adultery. We are to prepare them for all of life's suffering and inspire them to discover all of life's joys.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Beginner's Guide to the Spiritual But Not Religious: Part 1- The Prophets

"I have searched high and low for fifteen years and I still cannot find one religion practiced by mankind today that has remained faithful to God's message of truth." -The Truth: About the Five Primary Religions by Laurel.
When times are tough and the chips are down many of us turn to religion. But the sobering fact is that even religion has demons to wrestle and skeletons to hide, so what then do we do? Where do we go? Meet Laurel, the author of The Truth and a spiritual seeker going on 16 years. She, like many others, turned towards religion in search of answers, in search of Truth. What is Truth? Is it found in religion, and if not, where?

Before I crack open any book on religion and spirituality, I like to know a bit about the author. I didn't have to look to far since Laurel spells out her life story in the first few pages. I've got to admit, retelling her life story seemed a bit too personal, but after giving it some thought not only do I find this necessary to connect with the reader but I do the exact same thing when I meet a stranger and attempt to spell out my beliefs. Regardless, she is a passionate seeker who began her quest after being hurt by life's injustices which cracked opened her heart, mind, and soul to God. True seekers approach inter-faith studies with an open and thirsty mind devouring not only scripture but histories, biographies, and commentaries of the early believers. In her 15 years of study, Laurel has come to the conclusion that the religions of the world has taken a perverse turn leading away from the Divine. Humanity has gone through four shifts in our collective consciousness, she calls Spiritual Paradigms, and we are on the verge of a fifth. Before mankind can move into the fifth we must understand where religion went wrong, which Laurel states in two major points:
  • Religion has failed in assisting us to develop a relationship with the Divine and lead us toward higher spiritual vistas
  • Religion was to be our model for demonstrating unconditional universal compassion and love for one another. (p.21)
I would like to point out for those deeply immersed in inter-faith studies a lot of her introductory chapters would be review. It is impossible to delve into a deep and worthwhile study of the world's religion in a mere 434 page book. You will either end up painting with broad brushes briefly mentioning the major points of each faith or you will inadequately balance the amount of time given to each faith. These are the pitfalls of writing a book on multiple religions. Yet, I see this book as a catalyst, a starting point for those who've begun questioning their faith and need a place to begin or a gentle nudge to continue their journey. The focus of this book is not to point out which religion is the most historically, ethically, or theologically correct but where the religions have strayed from the original revelation. One of the more useful aspects of the book is its intense focus on information. Key terms are in bold, and there is a 30+ page appendix with a brief history of major events in human evolution, politics, and religion, maps, and a bibliography of her 15 years of research. I personally like footnotes (although I rarely follow up on them) which Laurel leaves out because, I assume, it would be information overload.

Laurel devotes one third of the book to a brief understanding of the prophets and their message. This is where I felt a bit unsatisfied over the imbalance of material towards the Western religions, but the detailed issues brought up in the section on Christian and Muslim Prophets was incredibly enlightening. Without sounding like a broken record, a lot of the material covered in this section was review for me but there is A LOT of ground to cover and Laurel does a phenomenal job of introducing the reader to the basic teachings and tenets of the five faiths: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. I can relate to the author as she cautiously delves into the section of the Christians Prophets and spells out her fears in questioning the very roots of her beliefs. With over 80 pages dedicated to the Christian prophets it seems like she poured an enormous amount of time, energy, and spiritual growth into tackling the foundation of her faith. Yet as she delves into the revelations the prophets brought to mankind, Laurel weaves their foundational truths together into what she calls our Tower of Truth. Throughout history, each messenger built upon the tower of man's spiritual knowledge adding their message upon the preceding messengers. It was then I realized the similarities between her Tower of Truth and the teachings of
Bahá'í, the 19th century monotheistic religion which espouses a message of unity and universal acceptance of all religious faiths. Thus far she has not mentioned Bahá'í, yet I do not think she is attempting to convince the reader that any one faith contains the Truth, but only if we strive to seek the foundational truths at the core of our religious faiths we would then uncover a sense of spirituality which would lead us to The Truth.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Spirituality of an Atheist- Part 3

"Just because I'm an atheist and I lack belief in a god doesn't mean I deny spiritual experiences... "~Adam, (The Man of Earth)
Can an Atheist be spiritual? What does it mean to be spiritual? Most people connect spirituality with religion but this does not mean that the words are interchangeable. I believe the spirituality experienced by believers is the same as nonbelievers, there is only a difference in language and context. Some may also confuse the supernatural with the spiritual, which is understandable because of spirituality's close ties to religion. The spirituality described in the previous posts (part 1, part 2) by other Atheist share a common theme: a deeply moving and indescribable connection with the universe. Although they don't go as far as saying they Are the universe, as expressed in Pantheism and Panentheism, but since we are made of stardust we share a connection with the universe. They leave room for awe of the unknown but remain well grounded in reason and reality. Spirituality for Atheist like Adam is an embrace of the transcendent majesty of the universe and our unique position, as walking, talking stardust, which allows us to interact with it. You can see his part 1 video below and part 2, here.

There are many other Atheists on Youtube with various descriptions, experiences, and thoughts on Spirituality as Atheists. I encourage everyone interested in the topic to check out the videos or even strike up a conversation with an Atheist on the street (they won't bite, I promise). If you're an Atheist please feel free to leave a comment below on your personal experiences or thoughts on spirituality.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trembling before G-d

"How can you be queer and orthodox at the same time. I see a logical contradiction ...in order to maintain my sanity and my selfhood I had to leave, I had to rebel."
~Israel Fishman, a homosexual Jew living in Brooklyn.
I recently got a chance to watch Trembling Before G-d, a 2001 documentary on homosexual orthodox Jews. What? A homosexual orthodox Jew? I felt completely foolish for thinking that such a thing never existed because I've never really thought about it. But just because we don't think about it doesn't mean that people don't suffer through it daily. The film interviews several homosexuals living within orthodox Jewish communities around the world many remaining behind silhouettes for fear of being ostracized by their friends and family.

When it comes to Christianity, I'm assuming most homosexuals either leave the church or join a more liberal open-minded church to keep their sense of community. But this doesn't work the same within Judaism, which still has liberal communities, because Judaism is more about what you do than what you believe. The gays interviewed in the film want to retain both aspects of their identity: their Jewish orthodox roots and their homosexuality. They struggle to keep both without losing their sanity, and it's painful watch. I can't imagine people still think homosexuals are choosing to be who they are, choosing to "sin" and be apart from G-d while inflicting an enormous amount of pain on themselves. Homophobic Christians believe gays are living apart from G-d because "true Christians" would have faith to pull through their homosexuality, or as some would say, "pray the gay away". Celibacy is also encouraged as an alternative by a few of the orthodox Rabbis who genuinely want to help gays within their community, but struggle themselves to understand what G-d is telling them. The difference between conservative Christians and Orthodox Jews is that a homosexual Jew is still a Jew regardless of their beliefs because they are connected as a community through their actions. I can not identity with either Judaism or homosexuality but I can identify with pain and suffering. All these people want is to be accepted and remain loved. There was one scene where a 50 year old homosexual man, Israel Fishman, says that all he wanted was his daddy. That completely shattered my heart to pieces. I mean I began bawling big man tears. All they ask for is love, so why is it so hard to give? Because the community is affected by it and blaming the homosexual is an easier way out than wrestling with it. I highly recommend this film. If you have a Netflix account it is available as an online stream and can be viewed on your computer. It is also available in its entirety on Hulu with limited commercial interruptions. It's available on Amazon, for a small price, if you feel uncomfortable watching it on Hulu (which you shouldn't, Hulu's completely legit).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Try Jesus

During my free time if my nose is not buried in a book (currently reading The Truth by the Oracle Institute) then I'm busy scouring the net for religious documentaries. Yesterday I happen to stumble upon one from January 15,1998 (yeesh, I was 13) on Fundamentalist Christianity. Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends was a documentary series on BBC 2, which ran from 1998-2000, which presented the lives of groups and individuals the viewer wouldn't normally come in contact with on a daily basis. Fundamentalist Christianity may not be as prevalent in the U.K. (if existent) but if you live in the Bible Belt it's the norm. You can watch the entire program here.

There really isn't an easy way to interview a conservative or Fundamentalist Christian without either offending them or being put in an awkward situation. Louis, unlike other documentary filmmakers, not only respectfully tiptoed around potentially heated conversation but willingly put himself in dreadfully awkward situations for the experience. He interviewed Marcus and Joni Lamb of Daystar Television Network, witnessed with members of The Family (now known as Family International) in Deep Ellum entertainment district, and concluded by going to hear Marcus Lamb speak at a revival. All throughout the documentary you can tell Louis, who's a non-christian by the way, wanted to say more but held his tongue. His mission, in part, was to see if he could be converted, and not 4 minutes into the program and Louis was already asked if he wanted to be born again. He just didn't get IT, and you can see how badly the Christians wanted him to understand how easy it was to accept Christ.

Growing up as a Christian I never felt the anxiety Louis felt towards the end during the altar call because I had IT. Whatever IT was, I had IT. It came naturally and I didn't have to struggle to understand IT. I didn't have to make a choice to accept Jesus into my heart because he was already there. But as I came to learn more about the world, other religions, as well as the history of Christianity (which the version of Christian history I grew up with was extremely sugar coated) I had lost IT. Was I thinking too much? Did I choose not believe? Did I allow the evils of knowledge and science to overwhelm my faith in Christ? No, I never made any conscious effort to leave God nor do I believe that using the fullest potential of our minds is cause for loss of faith. I just didn't feel IT, and nor did Louis at the revival. He wanted to believe, to feel something, the intent was present but there was nothing. So what happens to Louis, or more importantly, what's going to happen to me? Did we fail because we chose not to believe, or did we fail because we didn't feel the Spirit? Does choosing to believe come before the entrance of the Spirit, and if our salvation is dependent on that initial choice what governs the process of making that initial choice? Our heart, our mind, or something else?

Reading through the comment section at Documentary Tube I came across an interesting comment. Here's a snippet.
"Yet, he had not the courage to even try an altar call…hmmm, must have scared him. Curious, if it has that power, then it has substance, no?"
I don't believe it was fear that kept Louis from "trying" the altar call but he wanted to be sincere about accepting Jesus. If he tried Jesus, tried the altar call, he would essentially be lying if he didn't feel anything. If you want to be cynical about it you could say his nervous appearance was merely theatrics, a show, and this is very possible. But for the everyday person seeking the Divine and struggling to find it within a particular belief system, this may be a dire realistic situation for the seeker. They may choose to seek and reach out but if they do not feel the connection the seeker is blamed.

It seems as if it all boils down to choice, but if given the choice to be with the Divine or become eternally separated from IT, who in their right mind would actually choose the latter? And if we do make the wrong choice, based on whatever reasoning, how can anyone label an eternity of suffering as divine justice for making a wrong choice as fallible creatures? This is why I can not accept that the Divine is accessible through only one avenue of revelation. What works for you may not work for me. This does not dilute the value of your connection because it STILL works for you as mine works for me. As long as the connection is there, it doesn't matter how you approach the Divine.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Spirituality of an Atheist- Part 2

"I don't believe in anything outside the natural world." ~Cristina Rad
Cristina is one of the more rational, engaging, and approachable Youtube Atheist I've come across. In this video Cristina talks about her thoughts on Spirituality as an Atheist. Both Cristina and A. Hughman, another Youtube Atheist, both agree and explain in recent videos that the spirit and spirituality may have more to do with Man's unique characteristics and experiences of imagination, consciousness, and beauty than anything supernatural. Yet they both leave room for wonder, awe, and mystery. Just because we understand the mechanics of a rainbow doesn't make it in any less beautiful or keeps us from, as Cristina puts it, "admiring it like a fool."

I like to call these moments of awe, love, and beauty we experience, God. I don't worship or pray to it, but wish to simply breathe it in and experience, simply BE. I believe it is when we try to capture this experience and, as A. Hughman puts it, "prostitute the awe" do we fail to grasp the sheer joy and excitement of simply living.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Why Pray?

I woke up yesterday with this question rattling around in my head: if God has a Plan for us then why do we pray for change?

This is a question for those who believe in the monotheistic, personal God (which I highly doubt they read this heretical trash anyway ). If prayer is meant to connect with God and align ourselves to his Ways, why pray for anything which might contradict His plan? For example, why pray for someone to get better since it may be in God's plan for said person to die? I'm not saying we should abandon the sick, we should do everything we can for the sick including prayer. Or on a more personal note, why should Christians I dialog with pray for my return to the fold when it's HIGHLY probable I'll remain a liberal Christian? If I remained with my current beliefs I'll surely end up in Hell, is this also a part of God's Plan? The "True Believers" would say no, and blame the victim for questioning God and the faith. If everyone on the planet converted to Christianity there would be no one left to convert. Is this really God's plan, to reduce the beautiful tapestry of religious diversity into a smoldering pile of ash?

I just can't get my head around this doublethink, paradoxical concept. Now I personally don't believe that God has our lives planned out for us nor do I pray for things to go my way (unless I'm in a pinch). I'm just having trouble grasping the mental gymnastics needed to understand the relationship of prayer and God's Plan. So if anyone knows of any great apologetic responses you've encountered personally or have come across by all means leave a detailed response. I'm almost tempted to convince my wife to go to church this morning just so I can pose this question but I'm not in the mood to get thrown out of a church today.

Friday, March 5, 2010

An Outsider's Perception of Christianity

Rabbi Rami canceled his classes on Thursday, I'd wish he sent out an email so I could have stayed at home. Although the day wasn't a total waste since I got a chance to dialog with some of my fellow students who showed up unaware of the cancellation. I sat down with two different classmates and as we shared our life stories I realized the importance of simply being an ear for our neighbor.

Without plummeting into the spiraling trap of stereotyping Christians, consider what we as Christians are doing wrong to give ourselves a bad wrap. We should be known as agents of unconditional love, extreme emphasis on the should. Yet we gather in churches every week to worship and praise God while the pastor rehashes the same sermon on turning away from sin. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, yet when we exit the sanctuary into the real world do we feel any different, and more importantly do we make a difference in the world? I know I'm painting with an extremely broad and negative brush yet it's more than just a couple sour apples fallen from the vast tree of Christianity which has soiled the faith. A new documentary by Dan Merchant entitled Lord, Save Us From Your Followers tackles the issues, impact, and perception outsiders have of Christians.

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers had a limited theatrical release last fall and is being released in DVD format on April 20. The film can be enjoyed by anyone but the target audience are Christians. The official website even encourages churches to hold public showings of the film in their church followed by discussion and dialog. The film covers a lot of ground but doesn't go into great detail because it is meant to primarily raise discussion on how Christians are viewed by outsiders. It's NOT a Christian bashing film since Merchant, the writer and director, states that he is a Christian.

Should we even care how non-Christians perceive us? What then should guide us to become better more loving people? Should we stick to our Bibles and beliefs disregarding how we may come across to those whom we seek to convert? (Again I'm speaking in generalities since I don't attend church nor do I wish to convert anyone.) One of the more challenging concepts Christians may have with this film is that Non-Christians are more open-minded and knowledgeable about the Christian worldview than Christians are of Non-Christians. Regardless of the statistical validity of the statement I believe the point is that we should transcend what we think we know of the Other and actually get to know them. What is the danger of sitting down and getting to know the Secularist, Atheist, Liberal-Progressive, and even believers of other faiths? Christians would say that the beliefs of the Other may cause us to question our faith poisoning our "pure" beliefs. I would argue that the actual fear Christians have in getting to know outsiders is that they might see them as human and might actually love them! An enemy is easy to demonize and condemn when they're kept separate and distant. But bring them close enough to touch and the stereotypes, criticism, and hatred begin to fade. When we sit down and actually get to know the person behind the beliefs they become increasingly harder to hate. Well, unless they're a jerk, then we have to work that much harder to love them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God's Identity Crisis?

I got a chance to catch up on Mr. Deity season 3 episodes today. My favorite one, and probably most theologically amusing thus far, is Mr. Deity and the Identity Crisis. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Deity he's a brief rundown. Mr. Deity is a series of short 2-7 minute comedy films by Brian Keith Dalton about the behind the scenes workings of the universe surveyed by Mr. Deity (God) and his assistant Larry (the Holy Spirit). in this clip Mr. Deity and Jesse (Jesus) are attempting to figure out the theological paradox that is the Trinity. Enjoy, and see if you can keep up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Security of Answers

My journey these last 4 years began as a search for answers to questions which rocked the foundation of my spirituality. Ironically, this quest began in part as a search to stabilize my beliefs soon after my wife and I found out she was carrying our first born. Life changing news spawned a life changing journey. I did not choose to "lose my faith" as some have claimed, no more than I enjoy the arguments and shattered hearts of friends and family caused by the fallout. All I sought was what billions of people seek everyday: security of answers to a chaotic life.

[Stumbled upon this site which allows you to create your own church sign via RNS.]

Many would claim that the journey is noble but the information obtained along the way is flawed. Believers are accepting of open-minded seekers as long as they're open-minded about their specific beliefs (while rejecting all others). Any unorthodox questions are seen as unnecessary and at times dangerous. Why? Because some questions may cause us to doubt the very foundation of truth we stand upon as Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. So apologetics buttress their religion with evidence which, with a pinch of reason and logic (not too much though), becomes their main pitching points to converting the curious spiritual traveler. Yet the traveler is not let off the hook that easily, it's not a matter of simply choosing one over the other based on evidence. Each religious vendor is secure that all the "Others" are selling you an inferior product. The vendor becomes bewildered, distraught, and at times explosive for brushing away their foundational truth.

People who claim to be spiritual but not religious, like myself, are not looking for a set of answers or a path to follow, but an experience. This experience can be found in religion but is not exclusive to religion, nor even one specific religion. Religious believers would argue otherwise, because, in my humble opinion, they are so rooted in their experience they can't imagine experiencing the Divine in any other language (i.e. religion) especially when spoken by the Other, the Enemy. Believers connect with each other through images, symbols, language which all point to That, the Unnameable. Yet many of us feel there is much more beyond our set of symbols which I believe is currently reflected in the recent PEW study on religion among the Millennials (us young kids born after 1980). Millennials crave connection, interaction, and experience which is greatly reflected in our culture, media, technology, and points of intersection (e.g. online social networks). This overwhelming desire to be connected with others break down all sorts of walls carefully constructed by mankind's darkest fears. There is no longer any need to fear the outsider because there is NO OUTSIDER, there is no They. There is no longer any need to fight over resources because we have enough to go around (although our fears keep us from sharing). This amazing embrace of the outsider, the Other, the "enemy" decimates our need to cling desperately to the answers we absorbed in our culture, society, and Sunday school.

Homosexuals aren't out to destroy marriage.
Muslims aren't out to conquer Christianity.
Atheists aren't out to kill God.

They're people too! They bleed, cry, breathe, walk, and talk like us. When we liberate ourselves from the need to feel secure by our bag of answers we are free to comfort one another. By admitting we don't have all the answers we can lean on one another through this chaotic life. I don't put my security in answers I put my security in questions, because when we wrestle with the questions our collective consciousness evolves. When we stop asking questions, we stop learning, we stop growing, we stop loving.