Our nation’s greatest contribution to religious thought is Alcoholics Anonymous

In the age of Big Data, I am beginning to believe we’ve discovered our own version of Sacred Scripture. It’s not written by “sages” in the traditional sense but by expert social scientists, whose polling and demographic research uncover the attitudes and trends that shape us. In this most bizarre election year, who among us hasn’t been riveted to oracular pollsters with new insights about whether we will be “Stronger Together” or we will “Make America Great Again” on Election Day?

For America readers, this fixation most likely applies to research on religious affiliation and practice. A recent Public Religion Research Institute study, “Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back,” contains grim statistics about the ever-growing religiously unaffiliated population. These so-called nones constitute the single largest “religious group” in the country (25 percent); among those 18 to 29, they number nearly 40 percent.

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The study included interviews about why respondents left their childhood religion. The top three reasons were: no longer believing in their religion’s teachings (60 percent), lack of family religious practice as children (32 percent) and negative religious teachings about gays and lesbians (29 percent).

This data can be disheartening, and some may even wonder, “How can we reverse this trend?” While those are understandable reactions, perhaps we are asking the wrong questions.

The truth is that institutional affiliation has been in decline across the board for decades. This affects not simply religion; people are also not affiliating with political parties, civic organizations and societal institutions like marriage.  

Are these institutions doomed? Is our communal life irrevocably dead? Has postmodern man/woman transcended the needs once met by these institutions in favor of an atomized existence? I would argue that the relationship to these communities is not dead but changed and that there is insight to be found here by looking at what I believe is our nation’s greatest contribution to religious thought: the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Skeptical readers—not to mention A.A. members—will counter that A.A. is expressly not a religion, and they would be correct. The genius of A.A. is that it is a proto-religious fellowship in which people in desperate need somehow rediscover the fire of a foundational miracle.

 A.A.’s meeting rooms are where postmodern men/women gather regularly, not because they are “supposed to” but because it is a matter of survival. The miracle they rediscover there is that by telling their own story of brokenness and listening to others’ stories they are somehow moved toward healing. It is a communion of people who recognize that in moving beyond themselves and serving others they find greater peace and wholeness. Sounds a lot like church to me.

Core to that experience is the fundamental insight underpinning the 12 steps that I believe is best summed up by the realization, “I am not God.” This is the urtext of any authentic adult religious journey because it compels us to ask the questions: Who is God? Where is God? What is God? Is there a God?

One of the co-founders of A.A., Bill Wilson, put it starkly: “We must find some spiritual basis for living, else we die.” His co-founding partner, Dr. Bob, framed it in terms of mutual sharing. “The spiritual approach was as useless as any other if you soaked it up like a sponge and kept it to yourself.”

In other words, you don’t do God alone. The program these two self-described “drunks” founded began with their meeting in Akron, Ohio, one day in May 1935. Since then their fellowship has grown from two active members to 2.1 million today in 181 countries around the world.

In the A.A.-inspired The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning, Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum frame it this way: “Those wrestling with spiritual dilemmas do not need answers but presence—permission to confront the dilemma and struggle with it aloud.”

Sounds a lot like Pope Francis’ vision of “the church as a field hospital after battle.”

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Bruce Snowden
1 year 2 months ago
I think to appeal to people, especially young people these days, religious practice has got to be presented and practiced as something tangible, something edible, smellable, touchable, like the Incarnation, God made tangible and our Catholic Church through its Sacramental tangibility can do so. Also through its Corporal Works of Mercy. Just explain well, how all the Sacraments and the Corporal Works make use of the here-and-now using the materiality of presence, water, oil, bread, wine, the Gift of Ears to hear the message of sins forgiven, the Gift of Tongues to speak about the fabulous reality that God has spoken to us and speaks individually to all. People like to be "in touch" as does God and the Catholic Church has the ability to make that need a lively reality, through I suggest, the New Evangelism. As the writer says, "You don't do God alone." Not even God does God alone! He's been showing this eternally without beginning, without end in Trinity, showing THREE TIMES that not even God can do God alone. Young people (all people) need to know that like God in Whose image they are made, they can't do God alone. They need each other, companionship of each other, seated comfortably in the "arm chair" of the Church "reclining" as the Gospels say all did at the First Eucharist in the Upper Room. There one finds the "whole enchilada" in wheat and grapes, Jesus. And isn't that what its all about? Can AA be helpful? Well, it does deal constructively with the here-and-now, with humanity as is towards a more perfect outcome.
Bill McGarvey
1 year 2 months ago

Thanks for your thoughtful comments Bruce. While I agree that the Catholic faith is "tangible, something edible, smellable, touchable, like the Incarnation" that unfortunately doesn't speak to the huge number of people who aren't even searching for faith...which these recent studies have indicated. Huge numbers of people who don't practice, aren't angry at religion...they just don't care. My point is that meeting people where they are suffering is the powerful attraction of an approach like AA.

In AA's Big Book there is a powerful line: "Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps" It resonates to me with the way the early Christians discussed "The Way" they were living. The Catholic faith only makes sense to those outside it by how it speaks to their broken-ness. Of course, people first need to understand that they are in fact broken before they can take that next step.

Bruce Snowden
1 year 2 months ago
Hi Bill, This time no mistake, remember? Thanks for taking time to respond to my post, offering additional explanation. I have no disagreement with all you’ve said, offering my thoughts simply as a kind of angular re-enforsement, leading me to offer the following thoughts along with the first. I know especially today, young people don’t want to be bothered with religion, not mad at religion as you pointed out, just not interested. Why? Probably because it calls for long term commitment and young folks just don’t like being tied down too long to anything. See what has happened to the marital commitment! Church scandals are also a part of the equation especially for older folks, but let’s face it, from the very beginning scandals existed in the Church. See the Church of the OT embryonic and fetal to the Church of the NT, really shocking! Young people especially are idealistic and often get handcuffed by the gravitational pull of reality and find it easier to simply walk away from such unwanted stress and with them go Faith. Simplistic? To me it’s simply true, foundational. As I understand it Faith in God is a long term given, a Gift from God and not only “from” but importantly also “of” God, meaning its an offered opportunity to believe in God as truly as God believes in Himself. Yes, Faith makes it possible to believe in God as truly as God believes in Himself, a focal point to remember I think. The ideas offered in my first post are meant to be “tillers of the soil” removing things contrary to the growth “acceptance” of the Gift of Faith. I tried to loosen the soil in tangible ways a prerequisite, allowing the oxygen and nitrogen of God’s love, two elements needed to enter the soul, greening it. This I suggest deletes fear, especially fear of long term commitment. If that's flawed, then, as Coolidge said of the Vice Presidency of his day, what I’m saying is “not worth a bucket of spit!” Respectfully, coarsely put for emphasis. Your point that AA offers a good model of long term fidelity is understood and maybe promoters of the Faith should subscribe. To be aware of the suffering of sisters and brothers around us is Christlike, especially leading to empathy, making me feel for example, your pain in my heart. This is so important. Hope this addendum has helped and not further complicated (confused?) my view. Again, Bill, thanks for commenting.
Bill McGarvey
1 year 2 months ago

Hey Bruce...I really like your idea of “tillers of the soil”. A very helpful image for the points you raise. Thank you again for your thoughtful reflections here. They are definitely much appreciated.

Bill

Bruce Snowden
1 year 2 months ago
You are a kind and insightful man, Mr. Bill! Thanks! Bruce
ed gleason
1 year 1 month ago
We concur with all the above and would like to add our thoughts,We have extensive experience with AA and Retrouvaille [a program for troubled marriages founded by AA couples and an AA priest] When people find themselves in addiction and or family dissolution they are open to spiritual renewal.But why must people wait for a crisis before getting into a healing gathering/community? Our experience in a small Christian community,[SCC] examining how next Sunday's scripture can give the strength, hope and direction to many in a parish setting. { never call it Bible study OK?] SCC is the easiest place to start to make the Good News available to the distressed in cities and towns. We belonged to one SCC for twenty years and very few ever dropped out [we buried more people than those dropping out] The parishes have the buildings for the sacraments but we need to use the rooms for a community of spiritual seekers looking for healing. And boy, are there a lot of prospects out there? and all we need is more marketers who used to be called disciples. Ed & Peg. . .
Anne Chapman
1 year 1 month ago
Bruce - " young people don’t want to be bothered with religion.... just not interested. Why? Probably because it calls for long term commitment and young folks just don’t like being tied down too long to anything. " While it may be true that young adults of a certain demographic are postponing some long-term commitments (such as marriage), it is often because of a competing long-term commitment - such as completing higher education and getting started on one's life work, or even by taking the opportunity that may not return to simply explore the world and oneself before making long-term commitment.. Those who do not choose higher education are often in long-term relationships with a partner, often having children together, which is a commitment, but are choosing not to marry for a range of reasons. According to the many studies about the widespread decisions of many young adults to stay unaffiliated with organized religion, the reasons have little or nothing to do with commitment, but with lack of belief in God, or lack of belief in the teachings of various churches, and, for those who do believe, the hypocrisy they see as endemic in organized religion which they do not wish to participate in. Faith in God is a long term given, a Gift from God ... I am not clear on your meaning. "Faith is a long term given - ????? Then you add, [faith is] a Gift from God. It it is a gift, it seems that no individual, no group can "make" someone have faith if God has not chosen to "gift" the person with faith. As the article notes, 60% of those who leave organized religion leave because they do not believe any longer in what their church or religion teaches. Just as AA provides one very successful model of community that may bring people to some kind of faith in a Higher Power, many who are choosing not to belong to organized religion, to a church or temple, are finding other kinds of community, including spiritual communities. These are often informal, small groups who meet to read and discuss, or pray, or to seek moral support or guidance. Many Centering Prayer groups, usually ecumenical small groups, provide spiritual community and members of these groups often eschew the formal rituals and participation in Sunday worship services. Many churches are seen as cold, distant and impersonal, especially the very large evangelical churches and the very large Catholic churches found in most suburban areas of America as well, with thousands of strangers in the parish.
Bruce Snowden
1 year 1 month ago
Hi Anne, I've posted as best I know. Faith in God is a Gift from Him, or better, the Gift OF God enabling us to believe in Him as truly as He BELIEVES in Himself. For me that's enough, but maybe I should have gone after that STD so as to better assist you. God bless you!
Anne Chapman
1 year 1 month ago
Bruce, What is an STD? I doubt that you are using that acronym the way it is commonly used in current parlance. It seems then that efforts to bring people into the pews, whether young or not, are a bit pointless. God gives some people the gift of faith, but not all. No program can do what God has declined to do for those who do not believe.
Bruce Snowden
1 year 1 month ago
Hi Anne, I thought I was done, but must admit it is always a pleasure to talk with you. STD means "Doctor of Sacred Theology" not the "other thing" if you know what I mean! About your words, "God gives the Gift of Faith but not to all." It's a matter of "Choice" , Anne, sometimes called "Free Will" whether or not we accept God's invitations no matter what. God does not force Himself on anyone.. Also your said, "I agree, no program can do what God has declined to do for those who believe." Again, God never "declines" to do anything beneficial for a person, as God knows beneficial to be. It's the person who says to God, "No thanks!" You see, God has revealed in Scripture called "His Word," invitations to all that He has to offer and it's up to us to become beneficiary or not. This of course includes the Gift of Faith, which becomes a "door" allowing entrance into a realm of information not possible to be to know except through Faith. Inside that "door" we come to understand the need to study and pray the prayer of the Centurion, "Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief!" Faith grows and deepens through prayer and study, strengthens like a muscle through exercise. If not exercised the muscle of Faith becomes flabby and weak. In a nutshell, God "Offers" , we "Accept", or Reject", no skin off of God's nose, so to speak. We lose because of what we freely choose. For me it's as simple as that. May God continue to bless you.
Anne Chapman
1 year 1 month ago
There are a lot of presuppositions and assumptions in this. I doubt many people tell God "No, thanks" if they have ever had any kind of experience at all with God. If God is all Good and God is all Love and people know this from first-hand experience, they are not likely to decline the "invitation". So one may assume that relatively few people have such an experience and so having had it, "accept" the "invitation". Why do so few have this experience? It is not simply a matter of choice, of free will, and rejecting it. It's a matter of not ever experiencing it, never being aware of such an invitation. God made all of us. Most human beings today are not born into christian homes and know little about christianity. The vast majority of people who have ever lived were not only not christian, they may never have even heard of Christ or Jesus. Most lived before Jesus was born, which is only 2000 years ago. Few christians have read the Hindu holy books such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas, and few Hindus have read judeo/christian scripture. Does God not care about those who have never read western scriptures, whether the Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament? They may have read other sacred texts - those from Buddhism, or Hinduism or Islam or many other religions and have a strong faith. But it is not our western faith.. How do you understand their faith? Is it also a gift from God? So what is "faith" anyway? What is the faith people are leaving? Or are they leaving faith at all? It seems most are leaving institutionalized religion while continuing a spiritual journey. Many distinguish faith in God from "faith" in religious institutions.
Bruce Snowden
1 year 1 month ago
Hi Anne, Everytime we sin we are saying to God, "No thanks, my way, not Your way!" Jesus says man sins seven time a day, meaning an unknown number of times On and on. but maybe I've said all I can say.
Anne Chapman
1 year 1 month ago
Sinning is a form of saying "no" .to God, or at least to God's hopes as to how we will live as human beings, but obviously God knows that we will all sin. Sinning is not the same as rejecting God. And sinning really has nothing to do with people who are leaving organized religion, or to do with those who have stopped believing what they were taught to believe. It's a different topic that avoids the hard questions related to faith - what it is, what it means, and how do people come to faith.
William Rydberg
1 year 2 months ago
The author of Sacred Scripture is God. It was not written by "Sages". I suggest you search Catholic Answers website... Just my opinion... in Christ,
Bruce Snowden
1 year 1 month ago
Hi Anne, You win! I feel like an artist commissioned to paint a picture I call, “Sunrise of Faith” but you see only indistinct shadows, unacceptable tones, the yellows not yellow enough or maybe too yellow, the rising sun misplaced on the canvas, indeed the canvas too large, or perhaps too small and topping it off it’s the wrong type of canvas. Nothing just right. Voltaire once said even if he saw a miracle happen, he would not believe! You are no atheist like Voltaire, but I believe you are a person of some Belief I would said, given to the following prayer, “O my God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!” And that’s O.K. To say any more on the posting subject would make me redundant and I don’t want to be what my wife calls me, “longwinded!” Yes, that's me! It's said, if a husband want's to know his "sins" ask his wife! So, I feel maxed-out, a good time to shut up, proudly admitting in truth that I’m just an ordinary man who knows a little about many things, but not very much about anything, a good personal snapshot! So, for now “bye” hopefully to have the pleasure of converse in posting on another topic, at another time.
Anne Chapman
1 year 1 month ago
I have never said that I don't believe. I do believe, but my understanding of faith is different from yours. It is far more expansive and, as you note, far more gray. No black and white. You have not been able to address the questions I have raised. I raise them for a reason in discussions such as this one. There is a great deal of angst and handwringing going on among religious people, especially among christians, because of the increasing losses of members. What I have observed after studying the issue in some depth, and reading countless articles proposing ways to bring the "lost' or the "lapsed" or the "nones" or the "sbnr"s back to the pews is that those who are concerned about this issue never address the hard questions. Christians never seem to reflect on what kind of God would create hundreds of millions of people who will never read a word of the western bible, which you believe would lead people to faith. Yet tens of millions of christians who were raised with the western scriptures, educated in the teachings of scripture, and in the various interpretations their particular denomination has made based on the scriptures (often totally black and white interpretations that are 100% different from the black and white interpretations of a different christian denomination), have chosen to leave their particular denominations - not because they don't recognize that they are on a spiritual journey, not that they don't believe in God, but because they don't believe how these matters of "faith" are taught. According to the studies, 60% of those who leave no longer believe - not believe in God? No, most do believe in God or in a higher power that most call God. Many pray regularly. What about belief in the doctrines of their religion? Much closer - but few christians are willing to address the questions raised about the statements in the creed. Few Catholics are willing to address Catholic teachings such as transubstantiation, the Marian dogmas, purgatory, etc, not to mention the "hot button" issues of the day. Some simply say that the Catholic church speaks for God, it perfectly channels God's mind and will. And for them that belief is enough. For most, it is not, especially when they have studied the problematic teachings, studied the history of the development of the teachings, studies the history of the christian church and its main expressions (Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Protestantism in all of its amazing diversity). The comments threads go silent when "nones" ask about these things. This discussion has been between the two of us. Nobody else jumped in, not even some of the reliable, self-proclaimed "orthodox Catholic" regulars. The priests do not offer comments, nor do the authors. The questions remain unaddressed. They won't listen to the hard questions, perhaps because they have no answers. Yet there continue to be article after article about the loss of faith among christians in general, among cradle Catholics in particular,, and converts who leave the church a few years after joining. The handwringing continues. But those who are overwrought about the situation, still refuse to listen to the questions. When they do, they offer simplistic responses at best. A new Catholics Come Home program, a new set of small groups (probably the most effective approach since many seek real community, not megachurchs and stilted rituals),, different music at mass, a coffee hour, greeters, Lots and lots and lots of programs. Very few results. Thank you for engaging, Bruce, even if you did not address the questions. At least you were willing to engage. Most are not. p.s. You can show this to your wife and reassure her that you are not the only one here who is long-winded!
Bruce Snowden
1 year 1 month ago
Anne, this is not a "restart" just a thank you for your conversations and sorry you feel I did not answer your concerns. My wife smiled when I gave her your "reassurance" about being longwinded! Thanks for your good humor and may God continue to bless you in ways seen and unseen.
Bill McGarvey
1 year 1 month ago

Bruce & Anne, I want to thank both of you for such a civil--not to mention thoughtful--discourse. It has generated so much food for thought that I confess that I have not yet digested your comments completely.

Anne, you have referenced some very big and important issues here and I won't pretend to have adequate answers but I would like to comment on a few lines...

"Christians never seem to reflect on what kind of God would create hundreds of millions of people who will never read a word of the western bible, which you believe would lead people to faith."

I can't speak for ALL Catholics, much less all Christians, but I certainly have contemplated this very question. What's more, I will go one better...God has created billions (not just hundreds of millions) of people who not only will never read a word of the "western Bible" they won't even know the name 'Jesus.' I've even had the opportunity to briefly visit a some of these places in the world and, while I'll admit that it is overwhelming at times to experience and attempt to contemplate the enormity and diversity of humanity, I don't find it confounding my faith in the way that you describe. Instead, I find it strangely deepening. Through those experiences, my belief in the fierceness and uniquely personal nature of God's love ('I have carved your name into the palm of my hand' 'counted the hairs on your head' etc) isn't strained; quite the opposite, it pushes me to comtemplate the ultimate mystery of God. I am shaken out of any false, parochial, subconscious fantasies that God is somehow a Catholic.

"Yet tens of millions of Christians ... have chosen to leave their particular denominations - not because they don't recognize that they are on a spiritual journey, not that they don't believe in God, but because they don't believe how these matters of "faith" are taught."

I don't necessarily disagree...though I might argue that people leave for reasons far less complex than not believing "how these matters of 'faith' are taught." I think people often "leave" for reasons as simple as they have busy lives--kids have Sunday soccer games, work has them exhausted, I don't 'get anything out of it' etc. The point I was trying to make was that so many of the people I've met who have been in AA are often people with a wisdom borne out of intense suffering. They are cracked open in ways that has allowed something beyond their own wills take root. Some sense of faith is allowed to grow.

Not all of us suffer from addiction...but, make no mistake, all of us suffer--even if we don't yet recognize it as such. This is where Francis' image of a field hospital after battle is so profound...the question for us then is, how well do our faith communities address the wounded (ie: all of us).

Many thanks again for the great conversation you've helped create here.

Bill

 

 

 

Bruce Snowden
1 year 1 month ago
Hi Folks, Anne and Bill, Here I go again, amazing myself wanting to address one question that both of you raised – what about the Gift of Faith relative to the hundreds of millions, billions of people who have never heard of Christ, or have gone another way, Jesus having made Baptism the only way to Salvation? It doesn’t bother me at all and here’s why. Through the Christian Church, primarily the Catholic Church, we learn there are THREE types of Baptism - Water, Desire, Blood. All humanity comes to Christ, to Salvation, through one of these types of Baptism, contingent on the Goodness of the Will, which says “God whomever You are, I would if I could,” without which it is impossible to please God as Badness of Will shuts down the soul’s ability for mutual relationships. Faith (Salvation) is all about relationship with the Transcendent in the person of Jesus Christ. I root this belief in what the Great “I Am” has said, namely God wills that all be saved. If true He must provide a way. I do not “seek to find” using the complexities of scholarship although admittedly scholarship is admirable, even necessary and I do at times rely on that assistance. I choose rather, mostly the imponderables of simplicity!
Bill McGarvey
1 year 1 month ago

Hey Bruce and Anne. Posted a comment in response but somehow it's gotten lost...sorry I will try to rewrite and repost asap. Bill

Anne Chapman
1 year 1 month ago
Thank you, Bill. One of my favorite spiritual writers agrees with you about AA - Richard Rohr, OFM has often said that he believes that AA is the best program in America for leading people to spiritual breakthroughs. http://www.mbird.com/2015/11/hopelessly-devoted-richard-rohr-goes-to-an-aa-meeting-in-albuquerque/ I've even had the opportunity to briefly visit a some of these places in the world and, while I'll admit that it is overwhelming at times to experience and attempt to contemplate the enormity and diversity of humanity, I don't find it confounding my faith in the way that you describe. Instead, I find it strangely deepening. Through those experiences, my belief in the fierceness and uniquely personal nature of God's love ('I have carved your name into the palm of my hand' 'counted the hairs on your head' etc) isn't strained; quite the opposite, it pushes me to comtemplate the ultimate mystery of God. I am shaken out of any false, parochial, subconscious fantasies that God is somehow a Catholic. This is a good summary of what I have tried to say, but with less clarity. When I have said that my understanding of faith is more "expansive" than some, this is what I mean. Seeing the amazing diversity of faith in the world does not weaken my faith in God, it supports it. But I can no longer simply view God exclusively through the prism of christianity alone, much less through the prism of Roman Catholicism alone. I am still christian, because this is where I was planted, where faith took root. It is the prism I know the best and I am too old to change. But I don't limit my understanding of God and faith to Roman Catholic christianity. I do not believe that God made billions of human beings (in God's image) in order to condemn them to hell if they don't embrace christianity or Jesus. I believe that God has gifted all with glimpses of God's mystery and truth. No single religion, including Christianity, possesses a full understanding or knowledge of who God is, God's nature, or God's "will". God, by definition, is a mystery, far beyond something that can be defined by human minds in spite of the best attempts of theologians. But God gives us glimpses, and people who have an extraordinary ability to grasp glimpses, sometimes different perspectives, different glimpses, and if we open ourselves to these glimpses - whether Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist or Sufi or Muslim etc - we can see a little more of the picture, a bit more light comes in. If we confine ourselves to only one, we miss a lot of what God is revealing. We are all born into specific families in specific cultures at specific times in history. We are formed in the beliefs of these families/cultures/eras from the minute we are born. We internalize them as infants and young children. So if we were born, as I was, in the mid-20th century to Irish and German Catholic parents in the United States, I internalized christianity. Even if my parents had not been active in church (which my mother was, and we went to parochial schools when available), I would have effortlessly absorbed the christian understanding of God and spirituality. But if I had been born in India, to devout Hindu parents, it is very likely that I would see God and God's revelation through a somewhat different prism, perhaps incomplete, but all religions, including christianity, only gave glimpses of the light. I think of it as a circular stain glass window. God is in the center, and the various understandings of God are represented by the different colors of the glass surrounding the center. Each hue reveals something different, but put them together, and we have an amazing window through which to glimpse God, as the light and colors are refracted in different ways.. I do not believe that "faith" in a particular religious creed is the same thing as faith in its true sense. Thus my comment about what the survey shows about the 'nones" - that 60% of those who leave organized religion do so because they no longer "believe". Further questioning shows that the loss of belief is in particular denominational and religious doctrines and dogmas, not in the existence of a "higher power" that most call God. The "nones" very often seek God, seek a spirituality. Increasingly, more and more people of all ages, do not find this in organized religion. Not all experience the depths of pain that drives people to AA, where they often find a spiritual understanding that they had not found before. The question is - how can this experience be brought to more people, those who do not experience the pain of substance addiction? We are all addicted to something, some kind of harmful behaviour. For example, I spend way too much time on sites such as this one! ;) I have found that meditation, christian meditation in the manner of Centering Prayer, to be my personal "best" way to hearing God. As individuals, we all have our own path. For someone like Bruce, traditional church and sacraments and devotions are the path. For others, it might be charismatic prayer. There are countless paths for countless people. Perhaps denominations, including the RCC, need to figure out how to open up a bit, listen more to those who have left, discover whether or not there is a need to drop the rigidities, to lead people to an adult spirituality that might mean "breaking the table", as Richard Rohr has put it. Many nones reject the way religion is "done" by the organized institutions. AA provides one successful model of spiritual development. Others exist - prayer groups, volunteer justice and charity groups, intentional communities that meet in private homes, etc. There are a lot of interesting people have thought about this and have written some intersting books. Among my favorites are Diane Butler Bass, Harvey Cox, Brian McClaren, and Richard Rohr, but there are many others. It is a fascinating subject.
Bill McGarvey
1 year 1 month ago

Thanks Anne. That is well put.

Bruce Snowden
1 year 1 month ago
Thanks Bill for your input to Anne's insights and mine, buttressing ours, certainly mine. On another day, at another time, on a different topic, I'll again converse, hopefully with Anne too. As the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen liked to say, "Bye now! And God love you!"

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