Nones and Dones
There is another group of people for whom this book might be very helpful. They are called the Dones — those who are disillusioned with Church. The Nones have no religious inclinations or memberships. The dones who once have been deeply involved with religion and church are dissatisfied with the structure, message, and/or the politics of the church. They say, been there, done that, doesn’t work for me anymore. They have deep affection for Jesus and may live exemplary lives, but when asked about their church affiliation and attendance, they say they are done with church, but not necessarily with Jesus.
As spiritual writer Diana Butler Bass points out, “people believe, but they believe differently than they once did.” In her view, “God-in-heaven is giving way to Spirit-with-us,” a view confirmed by a spiritual experiences index developed by Public Religion Institute.
According to that index, “65 percent of Americans score in the moderate to very high range of spiritual connection, sense of wonder, inner peace and harmony and oneness with nature.”
I confess that at the current stage of evolution of my faith, I am mostly done with church and organized religion. I believe that true faith expands and deepens as it is exposed to new realities amidst a messy, and mysterious world. Such faith welcomes and incorporates doubt, questions, uncertainty, and curiosity. As geneticist Lindon Eaves says, “the great creeds of the church are working hypotheses — the best we’ve been able to come up with, but surely in a cosmic sense not the last word.”
It is a progressive evolution for a person who was a priest, a minister, and a chaplain — roles that I embraced, lived, and celebrated to the fullest at the time. I look back on those times with immense debt and gratitude, and in no way denigrate the value and impact of those experiences in my life at the time.
However, the more I experience the benefits and blessings of living in harmony with the ethos and rhythms of nature, seeing myself as intimately connected to the cosmic web of life, my life takes a new meaning and depth. I am not leaving the church or abandoning my faith, but rather outgrowing the need for formal religion. It has nothing to do with rejecting traditional modes of being and living but just outgrowing their relevance and appeal. It is like choosing a smartphone over a flip phone.
Pastor and author John Pavlovitz expresses my feelings better: “I ‘m not losing my mind, I ‘m not losing my faith, I ‘m not failing or falling or backsliding. I have simply outgrown much of American Christianity.”
A Christianity that is embedded in the gun culture is especially abhorrent to my spirit. Majority of evangelical Christians embrace guns. You cannot defend the 2nd amendment and pretend to obey the 2nd commandment — love your neighbor! You cannot possess an instrument of death and profess to be a proponent of life. You cannot keep a symbol of fear hidden under your jacket and follow the one who told his disciples not to fear! I am done with pompous preaching from phony pulpits. I am done with organized religion, which is largely ornamental, and focusing on organic spirituality.
Continuing with the smartphone analogy, the other day, the settings icon on my iPhone recommended a software update. However, when I tapped on it, the message read: This update requires at least 50% battery or to be connected to a power source.
With a 23% battery at the time, my phone did not have the strength to receive and process the data and information needed for the update.
Refusing to update our views while readily updating our devices, is antithetical to life. In this age of big data, artificial intelligence, and abundant algorithms, you need a mental processor and spiritual software that are strong and expansive enough to meet the challenges of modern life. Plugging your soul into the Universe while grounding yourself on Earth is the way to go.
The main argument for attending church is to get away from the craziness of the world and set aside time for God. The purpose of worship is to create a God-experience in a controlled and choreographed environment with hymns, readings, prayers and preaching. But research has shown, and real life has revealed that most worshipers don’t become witnesses beyond the walls of the church. Church services usually cajole and comfort Christians, but rarely trigger transformation or create contemplatives.
(from Cosmic Kindergarten: Earthly Lessons for a Heavenly Life)