Losing my religion: When the light is brighter outside the church
You’ve heard the old joke, I’m sure, about the man rescued from a desert island after being marooned for decades. When the rescuers discovered him, they found that he had built three huts on the island.
“Well, this one is my home,” he explained, “and that one is my church, where I go to pray.”
But what about the third hut, the rescuers asked.
Scornfully, he said, “That’s the church I used to go to.”
Joking aside, the numbers show that many of those who answer “none” when asked about their religious affiliation used to belong to a church.
No doubt there are many good reasons for thoughtful people to give up on traditional churches, including corrupt clergy and tedious services.
But many of those who call themselves “spiritual but not religious” have left traditional churches for more profound reasons, especially because they can’t reconcile their lives with notions of a punitive God expressed in many churches’ teachings.
“The notion of God as a critical parent packs a powerful emotional charge, the freedom from which is often a gradual, hard-won and lifelong process,” Tom Stella writes in his new book, Finding God Beyond Religion. “Achieving this freedom requires learning how... to embrace a faith that is based on the conviction that the true God may not be the God about whom many of us first learned.”
How about you?
Do you go to church at all anymore?
Is it the church you grew up in?
Do you still believe in the God about whom you first learned?
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