I heard it said lately that formal religion in this country (churches, synagogues, even mosques) are losing members in significant numbers and consistently. Why? What gives? People go to church looking for answers. Finding them is another matter.
I think I know why. I’m a trained ordained Episcopal priest of 35+ years I could go into quite a lengthy discourse on the historical and philosophical background. I might rant about a denomination that seems rife with hypocrisy because it causes ‘sins’ where it is supposed to be redeeming them. I can even offer you a good alternative that could replace or help you reinvent your spirituality or religion in a framework that has multiple uses.
But rather I’ll ask the question, “on a scale of 1-10 where is your commitment to your personal growth, or spiritual practice?” If it is below a 7, or if you have no motivation to move it up a notch from wherever it is, then my post’s Title Question above will have very little real relevance to you.
Or if by another way of looking at it, ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ are pretty much off your radar anyway, then there is little point to try to resurrect that interest in you. Right? We live in a secular age; everybody knows that. But even the distinction between ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’ may seem a throw-back to you, an old tired issue that has no meaning in the 21st century, now.
I asked someone recently in a round table conversation, rather pessimistically, “We barely survived the 20th century. How do you think we’ll do in the balance of the 21st, given our start (I.e., say perhaps since Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City)????
As a philosopher/priest/coach it’s my job to look at these questions, and to try to purvey different answers to people who give a darn at all. Thing is, we all do, with some regularity. But only if we can find or construct a safe context, rather than in a saloon, to address the issue, will real change in us occur, can one begin to reinvent oneself, or some part of our behavior.
Otherwise our talks usually devolve into something vague, maudlin or even innately defensive about our backgrounds. Or we quickly digress into subjects with no objects, that is, chit chat with no real progression or purpose. It takes a proper context for this question to be asked and addressed properly so that there can be a real outcome in thinking or behavior.
For example, at a small dinner party of eight, amid some very bright professionals the other night, I listened carefully for ten minutes or so to a discussion that had turned to the relationship of science to belief, faith to reason, a weighty matter indeed. At a long pause I asked everyone rhetorically, “How old is science?” Everyone looked at me and stopped talking to ponder.
Then answers started coming. To be honest, in responding I lost all but two or three who still wanted to engage the question with me, keep listening. I asked the question this way to reframe the context of our chat in a question that asks for the larger picture. I won’t bore you with my answer to the question I asked. I got just one to see that belief and reason are like peas in a pod in our own experience on any given day.
My point comes from my practice as a coach —-> that, for any change to happen in one’s personal life, any transformation worth pursuing, a careful context needs to be built for real change to occur. You do not plant a seedling in a can of rocks out in the dark garage and expect it to grow, right?.
Just for example, a number of questions need to be asked that reframe your picture, what you are looking at, or expand the size of the picture itself so you can better see its details, OR BOTH techniques at the same time. Whatever.
The next time you are engaged with an issue of real high value to you, potentially life-changing or affecting worldview changes, think biggest picture, think frame around it, think. “what am I really asking about?”, or “what is it I am really saying?”
Any question of yours really worth asking may deserve some professional assistance. If your help is in church, go to church. If I can help, give me a ring. That’s what I do.