How Do I Find God?: The Path of Independence

There are as many paths to God as there are individuals. This series on Huffington Post looks at six of the most well-traveled paths for contemporary believers. Part 1, 'The Path of Belief', can be found here.  The Path of Independence is one of the most commonly traveled paths today for seekers (and believers).

Those on the path of independence have made a conscious decision to separate themselves from organized religion, but still believe in God. Maybe they find church services meaningless, offensive, dull, or all three. Maybe they've been hurt by a church. Maybe they've been insulted (or abused) by a priest, pastor, rabbi, minister or imam. Or they feel offended by certain dogmas of organized religion. Or they find religious leaders hypocritical.

Advertisement

Or maybe they're just bored. Believe me, I've heard plenty of homilies that have put me to sleep, sometimes literally. As the Catholic priest and sociologist Andrew Greeley wrote, sometimes the question is not why so many Catholics leave the church -- it's why they stay.
Catholics may be turned off by the church's teachings on a particular moral question, or its stance on a political question, or by the history of clergy sex abuse. Consequently, while they still believe in God, they no longer consider themselves part of the church. They are sometimes called "lapsed," "fallen away" or "recovering" Catholics. But, as one friend said after the sex abuse crisis, "I didn't fall away from the church. It fell away from me." Many feel this way.

Though they keep their distance from churches, synagogues or mosques, many people in this group are still firm believers. Often they find solace in the religious practices they learned as children. And often they long for a more formal way to worship God in their lives.

One strength of this group is a healthy independence that enables them to see things in a fresh way, something that their own religious community often desperately needs. Those on the "outside," not bound by the usual restrictions on what is "appropriate" and "not appropriate" to say within the community can often speak more honestly. 

The main danger for this group is a perfectionism that sets up any organized religion for failure.

Read the rest here.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
7 years ago
A neat post and perhaps should be combined with the editor in chief's new piece as well.
Many are searching today - in fact, I guess, we're all on a continual search and need to (continue to) experience the love of God in the actions of those around us.
7 years ago
I guess the bottom line is: can't we  just accept our humanity: broken and imperfect?! That we are all in  the same boat.  So we might as well inject some humor into our lives. 

A quote from C.S.Lewis:   "Let's pray that the human race never escapes Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere."
7 years ago
"As the Catholic priest and sociologist Andrew Greeley wrote, sometimes the question is not why so many Catholics leave the church - it's why they stay".

Father: Is this how we win hearts for Christ?

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

 Pope Francis and Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski stand outside the presidential palace in Lima, Peru, Jan.19.(CNS photo//Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
“The degradation of the environment...cannot be separated from the moral degradation of our communities.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018
The U.S. bishops had an unusually busy year issuing positive and negative statements about the new president, but some hoped for more decisive action against his policies.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 19, 2018
Transgender patients “need to know they are welcome and they will not be looked down upon” if they come to Catholic institutions seeking treatment, says Sister Carol Keehan.
Kevin ClarkeJanuary 19, 2018
Francis is the first pope to come to the Amazon region, and he insisted that his first event and major speech of his visit to Peru should be to this place.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 19, 2018