If you have ten minutes to spare between your trips to the mall to pick up your last minute gifts, read this essay from last Sunday's NYtimes. I've never heard of Eric Weiner, but I will read his new book Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine sometime soon and get back to you with a reflection. The essay is clairvoyant and reflects many of the conversations I've had with people in developing this new church. It says something many of us have been feeling about religion and spirituality. We've felt it but lacked the lucidity to say it. Here is an excerpt:
Precious few of our religious leaders laugh. They shout. God is not an exclamation point, though. He is, at his best, a semicolon, connecting people, and generating what Aldous Huxley called “human grace.” Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost sight of this.
Religion and politics, though often spoken about in the same breath, are, of course, fundamentally different. Politics is, by definition, a public activity. Though religion contains large public components, it is at core a personal affair. It is the relationship we have with ourselves or, as the British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said, “What the individual does with his solitariness.” There lies the problem: how to talk about the private nature of religion publicly.
What is the solution? The answer, I think, lies in the sort of entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined America, including religious America.
We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.
The "Nones" are the fastest growing religious demographic in the county. Nones, 12% and growing with an even higher rate among young people, don't claim any religious affiliation at all. As Weiner puts it:
For a nation of talkers and self-confessors, we are terrible when it comes to talking about God. The discourse has been co-opted by the True Believers, on one hand, and Angry Atheists on the other. What about the rest of us?
Read the essay and let's talk. Post your comments and I'll respond.