First post

So, here, I start my journey through religion. My goal: to provide an informed answer to the question, “what’s going on in there?” of every place of worship I visited. What pieces of divine wisdom would I gather along the way? What, if anything, would I get from these experiences that I’m not getting by staying firmly planted in a secular world?

Before going forward, I would have to tell my family what I was doing. I couldn’t just wake up Sunday mornings and leave the house without my husnand, Phil, wondering where I was headed. When I told him that, at least for a while, I would be gone for a portion of every Sunday he furrowed his brow and muttered “that sucks.”

I told my grandmother, my dad’s mom and my only living grandparent, over the phone. She is the most religious of my remaining family, although her association with the Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas has become mostly cultural: christenings, weddings, funerals. I told her I was going to stay in a monastery for a week and she cried, “They’ll rape you!” Her hearing is not so good, though it turns out she heard me just fine. I eased her into the idea over the course of several conversations.

My parents were the ones I was most nervous about. We had a family friend who became a born-again Christian when I was growing up and it was with a mixture of pity and sorrow that we spoke of her. She may have been reborn on the other side but she had died on our side. They took the news of my project stoically, though with a bit of confusion at first. It helped that I couched it as a “scientific study,” and that I was going to many places of worship and exploring several religions. How would they feel if I settled on a religion, became a member at a single place of worship? I had a feeling that would be much harder news to break.

18 thoughts on “First post

  1. Corinna, Thank you for an honest look at your spiritual search and journey of discovery. I have been a pastor of one of those never-heard-of-before churches for more than 30 years. I look forward to reading more about you and your great heart openness. Be blessed and know that at least one person is praying for you to connect with the God that loves you.

  2. Corinna, I will be following your journey. Several years ago I did something similar and went to several churches I had never been to before plus a Buddhist temple and a Jewish synagogue. Everyone was very welcoming and I enjoyed the adventure.

  3. When I first attended Unitarian Church with my parents, we were encouraged to visit other churches! I think I was 10 at the time, and my favorite was the Christian Science Church in Santa Monica.

  4. I finished reading your article in our local paper and got on your blog. I will be praying for you as you go through your journey of faith. I wish you and your family a very blessed New Year. Always remember , God loves you very much.

  5. Corrina,
    I appreciated your article and wish you well in your journey. Be assured that many in the religious community “lean left” in their political views. See books by Jim Wallis, especially GOD’S POLITICS. Many Christians take liberal views on world peace, help for the poor, a clean environment, and yes, gay rights. The United Church of Christ is liberal on most issues, as is the Unitarian Church. I stay with the United Methodists, while not uniformly liberal they have good ideas through their Church and Society division.

    C. Emory Burton
    Dallas, Texas

  6. Glad to see a comment about UCC and Unitarian Universalists. Most UCC members support liberal politics and social causes, which we find consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Most of our churches are open and affirming, meaning people of all races, gender, ages, sexual orientation, etc are welcome. Perhaps most importantly for those of us from the “spiritual but not necessarily religious” ranks, each individual is supported in his/her personal search for and understanding of God. Many Methodist, Episcopalian, and American Baptist churches are moving in similar directions. Faith practice and worship in community can lend depth and comfort to our lives. Blessings!

  7. Hi there! I look forward to following your journey. I saw this article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and posted a response to it on my own silly little blog. I am a None too and, so far, I am okay with that. I like that being a None does not translate to being an atheist. I am so willing to consider anything – I just don’t want to be forced into anything.

    • Hi Graciewilde, Yes, I saw the mention of my article and I like the discussion you had there. I appreciate your perspective and the way you express youself. I tried to leave a comment but the computer ate my words. So, I just followed instead. Hope that’s okay!

  8. I enjoyed our article. You mention that you have a spiritual need. This is inborn in all of us. After all we are created in God’s image. We do have an inborn spiritual need. In fact Jesus said at (Luke 4:4) . . .‘Man must not live by bread alone.’” Jesus also said “happy are those conscious of their spiritual need. (Matthew 5:3) Yet in a survey to Americans it was asked which institutions had the most influence on their lives? Religion was 18th on the list. A Gallup poll in America revealed that three out of four of the population do not consciously connect religion with their judgments of right and wrong. But shouldn’t religion influence a person’s life. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people read the Bible and applied it in their life? I noticed you went to the local “Worship Directory” from the local paper. But perhaps it would be good to look up Jehovah’s Witnesses. You won’t find them listed in the “Worship Directory of the local paper. But it is truly a religion that influences it’s members. It is worldwide with congregations in 236 different lands around the world. Most religions cannot get their members to go from door to door to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. But Jehovah’s Witnesses take Jesus’ command at Matthew 28:19, 20 to go make disciples. And this is one of the signs Jesus gave of the last days at Matthew 24:14 that this good news of the kingdom would be preached to all the nations.

  9. This morning while reading our local newspaper I read your article “Spiritual but not religious.” Since I have been a follower of Jesus since age 11 I was immediately interested in your personal journey. I have taken time to also read some of the comments on your blog. I will be very interested in your discoveries as you make this life changing journey.

  10. The Sunday paper article caught my imagination as well. “Coincidentally” I had been thinking about doing something similar. Thanks for the vicarious experiences, though I might still do another version. Personally, I might rephrase your question along the lines of “What if anything would I get from these experiences that I’m not getting from Bible study and personal private prayer?” and “What harm might come from experiences with these churches?” The potential from harm from religious experiences scares me. As a psychologist concerned with how therapy/cousneling has the potential to hurt as well as help, I see a parellel with religious practices having potential to hurt as well as help. Perhaps some have become Nones or parents of Nones after having been harmed by religious affiliation or seen harm it has done to others. One such pattern is eliciting trust in the beginning but later exploiting and betraying that trust (the passive-aggressive wolf in sheep’s clothing). There’s also potnetial for harm to significant others or influences toward excluding or denigrating “outgroups”.

    What I’m hoping for is low risk of harm and potential for benefit beyond my current practices, but also consdiering the idea that religous study, prayer, etc. may be more important than affiliating with a given group or that “church” is not a building or organization but people of faith.

    So, you go girl! Help us answer some important questions!!!


    p.s. a note on psychology and religion. I’ve been often pained by how many religious leaders seem to make a straw man/woman of psychology/psychologists. WHen I’ve been with various groups and disclosed my profession there is often obvoius discomfort or even fear of me being there*. It seems they want to make psychology out to be in competition with religion when there would seem to be good mutual reward between psychology and religion. Psychology makes for a fairly good behavioral/social science but would be pitiful as a religion. Conversely, religion makes for a pitiful behavioral science but would seem to have potential for being good religion. William James, father of American Psychology wrote well about the value of religious experiences. Many since have found how meaningful spiritual/religious experiences can be important to adaptive coping and development. Of course there is the problem of psycholgists practicing psychology poorly, but that’s true of physicians, accoutnants, etc etc and they don’t seem to get picked on.

    * as a clergy said to a psychologist, “i know everything you know, I can do everything you can do, we studied Frued, Jung, etc.”

    Our studies have actually documented unintended harm from religious counseling often with the clergy “overdriving their headlights” getting in over their heads before thy know it….

  11. I found your blog from the article on NPR about the religious “unknowns.” You are well written and researched and very respectful and I look forward to continuing to read about your journey.

  12. As a pastor, I’m very excited for you and have a deep appreciation for the fact that you are a ‘none’, but you seem to be honestly inquiring. That is, in fact, what God asks of us: honest inquiry. I hope you learn everything you want and more.

    Nicodemus in John 3, the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, Cornelius the centurion in Acts 10 and the brothers from Ephesus in Acts 19, were inquirers all! The most spectacular (if I can say that) were in Acts 2, when devout (inquiring!) people gathered in Jerusalem for a religious festival saw the disciples of Jesus filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in other tongues.

    They were accusing the disciples of being drunk, but Peter stood and told them they were endowed with power from on high and was the result of a promise delivered to the prophet Joel that when the messiah would come and people would call on Him, signs of His habitations would accompany Him. He then went on to describe Jesus as fulfilling that office of messiah based on the scriptures and that they (and by extension us, too!) killed that same messiah.

    In Acts 2:37, the hearers were described as being cut to the heart and they inquired, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter answered with the salvation plan of God that included repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus and the promise of being filled with that same Holy Ghost. In that salvation plan is freedom, both in this world and the one to come.

    All of that beginning from a little inquiry.

    I hope you don’t mind my sharing the above, but I really am excited for your journey and hope you enjoy your inquiry.

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