The good news

Dearest readers,

I have some exciting news. A version of the journey I’ve been sharing on this blog will be coming out in book form! I’ve just recently signed a contract with Columbia University Press. I could not be more humbled and grateful that the publisher is willing to take a chance on a first-time book author like me.

I don’t know the timing of publication, but I will post updates here. In the meantime, I would like to express my deepest, most deep heartfelt thanks to everyone who has read and participated in this strange and beautiful experience. To all those who have shared, nudged, and been present as this blog unfolded: I am indebted beyond words.

If you are inclined, I would love to learn more about you. Even if you’ve been commenting along the way, it would be nice to have your responses to some or all of the questions below. If you prefer sharing your thoughts privately, please send them to me via email at Nicolaouc@gmail.com.

Questions for you:

If you were to fill out a religious affiliation survey today, what affiliation would you choose and why? Has this affiliation changed?

Do you attend any type of religious services? If so, what and how regularly?

Do you have any thoughts about the future of religious affiliation that you’d like to share? What do you think the religious landscape of our cities and communities will look like in 50 years?

 

A giant, heartfelt thank you to all!

Corinna

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32 thoughts on “The good news

  1. 1. Religious Affiliation: Centers For Spiritual Living. Why? It is inclusive of all people and allows me to explore the oneness of all life. Previously, Jehovah’s Witnesses for 27 years and before that raised in Roman Catholicism for 18 years.

    2. I attend the Center for Spiritual Living services every Sunday as well as workshops.

    3. I would like to see more and more religious folks open up to the fact that most of what we do has many commonalities and instead of seeing ourselves as different or the only ones who have “the truth” we find ways to bond in the realization that there is only One Power and we are all a part of the One. Stop wars fought on the basis of religious ideololgy.
    Fifty years ago I thought I would live to see a much more peaceful religious landscape. Instead I observed what I considered to be a peaceful landscape of Catholics, Protestants and Jews become a place of infighting and rejection into small cultic groups defending positions that become judgmental. Unfortunately I don’t see the religious landscape changing over the next 50 years although I will do my best while I’m alive to assist people to appreciate the Oneness instead of the walls of separation that exist.

    • Frank, Do you consider Center for Spiritual living it’s own religious affiliation or is it a mixture of affiliations like Christian mixed with Buddhism, etc.? Do you feel affiliated with a particular religion?

      • Centers for Spiritual Living is its own religious affiliation. Headquarters are in Golden, Colorado near Denver. It was originally known as Church of Religious Science. When that name kept getting confused with Scientology they voted to change the name to Centers for Spiritual Living. Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science started as a small group in Los Angeles. It is considered part of the group known as New Thought with Unity. It doesn’t mix affiliation but it gives inclusive recognition to Buddhist thought and Kabbalah Jewish thought and welcomes all. Some Centers will actually have the symbols for several religions. It involves itself at the local level with any interfaith groups. Some Centers consider themselves Christian but see most of Jesus’ teachings in metaphor rather than literal. I feel affiliated with Centers for Spiritual Living. I’m looking forward to your book.

  2. Awesome to mention the book! And great to maintain contact with your readers too. We should try to reach out when the book is close to publication, maybe set up a pace to meet and exchange ideas on the website.

    Wendy

  3. I think I pretty much gave you this info last time (Episcopalian but not particularly dogmatic about it), but I want to say CONGRATULATIONS! I look forward to your book.

  4. Congratulations. Will look forward to it.

    Perhaps you saw Frank Bruni”s NYT op-ed article “Between Godliness and Godlessness”? Another sign that the times they are a-changin, and you are not alone.

  5. I’ve been following, but not commenting for a while now and have greatly enjoyed reading about your journey! Congratulations on the book deal. 🙂

    As for your questions:

    1) Atheist/Agnostic. Previously Christian Science for 25 years.

    2) No.

    3) In the case of Christian Science, I would like to see it simply disappear because the 19th century pseudo science they spout is dangerous at best. As for the others, I wish they would recognize that not everyone shares their views and that they should stop attempting to legislate morality and get exemptions from providing adequate health care (the Catholics & birth control, the Christian Scientists & religious medical exemptions, etc).

  6. Hi Corinna

    CONGRATULATONS!! That is such great news for you personally, but also because it’ll open up your experience to a much wider audience. More people need to see that people of different faiths (and no faith) can exchange ideas, argue, disagree, and still respect and love each other. This tired world needs that kind of message these days!

    P.S. If you sell the movie rights, tell them Liam Neeson can play me. We’re practically twins!

    I’ll shoot an email response to your questions.

    • Tim….Tim….Tim! Did you hear me fall off of my chair with hilarious guffaws? I think I would like Meryl Streep myself….for me….not for YOU. I could live with that!

      Good for you, Corinna!! I will look forward to seeing all of this in print! A plethora of religious ideas, for sure! Congratulations.

      Response to your questions:
      1. Atheist…..started out as a Methodist as a child from a way-back Methodist family. Found the Unitarian Universalists in about 1966…..and have been there ever since. I started my journey with you as an agnostic. What can I say…..all of this dialogue, along with a great deal of personal searching, pushed me to realize that I was really an atheist…..wishing I could be an agnostic…..knowing I wasn’t any of the rest of the above!

      2. Although for years I was a lapsed UU in terms of attendance, now I attend “church” every Sunday with the local Unitarian Universalists. I am very active with this organization…on the Board of Trustees, etc. I highly value community, especially with a group of people who share similar values about social justice and the importance of respect for all individuals. I particularly enjoy the spiritual conversations which I am able to have there, allowing me to share some of my own personal spiritual experiences with others. It is a good place for me.

      3. I share Frank’s dismay about all of the divisiveness which is present in the religious communities today. It seems especially hypocritical to me, and it really pushes me away. I am not sure why some people seem to want/need “religious dogma and traditions;” There certainly seems to be a large group of those people in the non-denominational sector. But I also see many people. like yourself (apparently) and myself, who do not feel a necessity for that. I am encouraged to find out that many people who consider themselves to be “nones” are really good ethical, moral individuals. People who seek to do what is right because it IS the right thing to do. If religious organizations can help raise the standards of behavior and humanity, yes! Let’s hope they continue. If not, I hope they will fade out with some other entity/entities taking their place….do you understand what I mean? I just don’t thing religion should be self-serving.

      In peace and love, Merrill

      • Interesting, Merrill. Thank you for sharing. I too hope we can find ways to heal our divisiveness–however each of us finds to do so. I think for some it is just a simple shift in perspective from wherever they stand.

        • Corinna,
          Are you familiar with “The Blind Men and the Elephant” which is a fable from India? It has a lot to say about perspectives, and why people hang on so tightly to them…..and about why it is not always easy for people to shift their viewpoints. I have been been re-visiting this tale recently in relationship to my own personal life, and I have found it to be a very useful metaphor. It has helped me to understand the stories of other people in my life who see things differently than I do. However, I am not sure that for most of us any shift is simple…..especially as we grow older and seek security for those “golden years” you were writing about earlier. Even when one seeks change, it can be gut-wrenching!

          “For after all, each (of the blind men) had felt the elephant for himself, and knew that he was right. And so indeed, he was. For depending on how the elephant is seen, each blind man was partly right, though all were in the wrong.”

          Or another Moral for the same story: ” Knowing in part may make a fine tale, But wisdom comes from seeing the whole.”

          Just some ruminations…..in peace. Merrill

          • Hi Merrill, I have heard this fable before. Thank you for bringing it up here because now I want to think on it some more. I suppose it’s meant to teach us that the more willing we are to explore and keep an open mind, the more of this great beast we can feel. But, regardless, we’ll never see the entire thing because we can’t see–we’re human and our perceptions are limited. I’m gonna mull that one over.

            • Really….and no person can see with their eyes and heart and mind closed. Your journey has been an effort to see and feel and experience as much of the elephant as possible. This is the easy piece from my point of view! Albeit not always so comfortable! The difficult thing is dealing with other people who have only experienced the trunk, or the tail or the “great mud wall baked hard in the sun.” When all of these people begin “disputing long and loud” about who is right. It is hard to envision a time when this doesn’t happen. Do you think it is possible? MET

              • I think we (humans) will probably always debate about what the “truth” is because we crave certainty. I hope little by little more of us will cling to “our” version less tightly and be open to the possibility that it might be another way or someone else might understand it a different way, etc. Maybe we can get more comfortable with not owning the one truth.

  7. Hello again Corinna, I haven’t commented in a long time but have been reading. Congratulations on your book deal!!! This book will surely be read by many, because your story is both fascinating and a shared, common human experience, that of “who am I and what do I believe”. I predict a best-seller.

    Thank you, Corinna, for the experiences and discoveries you have shared here over the many months. I was taken from the start with your subtitle, “mining religion for essential wisdom to live better”. And it seems to me that you are a very good miner, to have gleaned so many golden nuggets from so many religious systems. You shared your digging and panning with us, so we didn’t have to do all the work, haha! and I thank you for that.

    Hello also, Frank, Merrill, Tim, Walt, Patti, Ginger et al. I’ve learned a lot from you too. This is the first time I’ve been able to have discussions with folks holding beliefs different from mine without rancor and oneupmanship, but instead with a sincere desire to understand and give grace to each other. Sad to say this is rare in the world today.

    My responses to your questions:

    1. “What affiliation would you choose and why?” Where I am right now in my journey is that I choose not to affiliate. It seems to me that when a set of beliefs gets organized into a system, something always goes wrong. Rules start accumulating, and people get excluded, and it evolves into an entity that is more about self-perpetuation than providing a home or shelter. I believe in God and I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe in the religious systems that put them in boxes. I grew up Lutheran, then was Mennonite for about 10 years, then went to a Vineyard church, then left organized church. When I think of a name for “what I am”, it’s usually a free believer.

    2. “Do you attend any type of religious services?” No. Nothing organized. I see the value in belonging to a group of like-minded folks who engage in service and love to others, because more gets done when folks join together. I can see myself becoming part of something again someday, when and if I’m ready.

    3. “The future of religious affiliation…the religious landscape of our cities and communities in 50 years.” I think everything in society will be greatly changed in 50 years, because the extreme changes happening to our planet will force changes to economies, governments, and just about everything we’ve taken for granted for so long. I wish I could say that I think people will become more generous of spirit, as we’ve seen on this blog. But I think the effects of global climate change and peak oil will increase fear, and I think there will be more polarization into religious sects because of this fear. People will run to structure when they’re afraid, even if that structure is repressive. I’m usually a positive person, but I’m not optimistic about the future of the planet or of the human race which is destroying it. I think those of us who believe in justice and love and peace and kindness will have lots to do in the coming years, holding true to what we know is right, and doing it.

    Thanks for giving us this forum. It is quite wonderful to be challenged to state what you believe, and thereby discover what it really is.
    Love to all,
    Shelley (homewithin)

    • I have missed you, Shelley! It was nice to hear you voice again. Hope all is well. Peace. Merrill

      PS I’ll bet that I am not the only one who has missed your point of view and your warmth. MET

    • Hi Shelley, Thank you for the beautiful and kind words. I forgot you were a Mennonite for 10 years…wow! That’s fascinating. I’m really inspired by your evolution–it shows me that you have been grappling with these issues for many years and always reaching for what feels most honest to you and that you aren’t done yet. I feel like that takes lots of courage and it inspires me to keep examining what feels most authentic to me. Thank you.

  8. I would choose Covenant Presbyterian, which is new and has changed from Presbyterian Church USA, because of disagreement with interpretation of Scripture. Yes, I attend Sunday morning services at my Church. I also attend a weekly Bible Study there. I have no idea what the religious landscape will be in 50 years, but I will expect it to be very different. If the devaluing of Christian religion by the media, it may go underground as it has in China. Blessings & Joy, Betty Southard http://www.bettysouthard.com

    >

    • Hi Betty, Thank you for reading and sharing. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where the Christian religion would be forced underground in the U.S. since the country is founded on principles of freedom of religion with a decidedly Christian bent. However, I guess I can see a time when certain Christian groups may choose to practice or meet in secret for fear of being judged or treated differently because of their beliefs, especially if those beliefs run counter to what the majority in the country find palatable. That would have to be a unique strain of Christianity, though. Interesting!

  9. I hope that something can happen that helps eliminate/soften the polarization that we have made for ourselves in this life……I just don’t see anyway to long term peace without this shift. When people are so polarized, it is hard enough to get along civilly with friends and family, let alone on a much greater playing field of nations/cultures/religious beliefs
    .
    But peace to you, Corinna. Thank you for your part in helping us not cling to ‘our’ versions of the truth so tightly. Merrill

  10. I’ll give you an idea of just how difficult it can be. After 27 years with the Jehovah’s Witnesses where in almost every study situation or service or general discussion one hears over and over and over again that JW’s and only JW’s have the truth and YOU are IN the truth with seemingly a million biblical texts to back it up my mind was so indoctrinated that when I finally decided to see a psychiatrist to get help I started every session by telling him: “I don’t care what you tell me. I’ll always be a Jehovah’s Witness. They have the truth.” He was very gentle with me and gave no rebukes. He listened and I talked and when he did talk I felt nothing but support. This went on for two years once a week. Always I opened with the same statement. When he finally felt that I could go on alone he asked me on our final day together, “How do you feel now.” I said, “Well I still think Jehovah’s Witnesses have the truth.” I could see his frowning face although he said nothing. Then I said, “Well…..maybe a truth if not THE truth.” His face lit up and he smiled. I didn’t realize how much I had learned from him. In his gentleness he opened my mind to a greater way of thinking and three weeks later I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was an important life lesson for me.

    • Wow, Frank. What a powerful story. It’s so hard for me to imagine that Frank you describe because I think of you as one of the most open, flexible thinkers I know. But now I see better the work and struggle you’ve put in to arrive at that place. In a strange way it gives me hope because I think if the Frank I know can come from that Frank, then so much evolution is possible for each of us.

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