If you've checked out my About Me page, you will know that I am a pastor in addition to being a wanna-be author of fiction.
About a month ago, one of the blogs I read recommended this book, Grace Without God by Katherine Ozment
Wonderful book. Thought-provoking. Written by a woman who describes herself as a None, a person who does not belong to any particular faith community although she was raised in the Christian tradition.
A person can be spiritual without belonging to a religious community. But (remember, I'm a pastor and therefore biased) how does spirituality develop, mature, and become action if not through the relationships nurtured within a faith community--whether it be church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. How can the stories or tenets of our faith be fully understood if our interpretation is not challenged or confirmed.
Faith can be shallow if we only have yes people around us. Faith can be destructive if a narrow parameter of what is God is fenced around us.
I have not finished reading this book yet but my attention was particularly engaged through her chapter titled, Moral Authority.
My muddied thoughts or take-away from that chapter:
If we believe stories from ancient texts no longer have meaning for us today, what will pull at or draw a commitment from individuals or groups to be concerned for the other, to give of their time or money, to seek justice and love kindness. If we do not care to become steeped within a common story or narrative, are at danger of becoming narcissistic people?
We are a story people, whether the stories are autobiographical or historical or fictional. Stories shape us and form us, whether written as poetry or prose. What stories do you reread? Those stories, and their underlying themes and subtexts, shape you.
As a teen, I listened to John Denver songs over and over, and over and over and I'm sure my parents wished they had never introduced me to him! But through his songs (and our family camping and canoeing trips), I developed a deep abiding affection for earth. I try to live a life that is sustainable, green, simple, minimalist, a lifestyle which focuses my money and my time on relationships with people rather than necessitating overtime hours in order to pay or care for things that I've purchased.
Growing up, I heard many Bible stories and, especially the stories about Jesus, many were repeated. After being social worker for several years, I went to seminary and studied those same Bible stories. For 20 years I have preached from the Bible. Those stories tell us so much about the people of that time--what was important to them, how they perceived God, how their faith shaped their tribe, and how their understanding of God changed through the generations.
At any rate, I encourage you to check out this book if you're at all interested in spirituality and how religion affects the broader fabric of our nation.