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Religion is the way that the mind negotiates with the Reality that the heart ALREADY knows.

How Do You Imagine God?
God in America and USA WEEKEND Magazine are partnering to explore Americans' images of God.

How do you imagine God? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I try not to imagine God at all - I try not to classify or restrict God. It is very difficult - as a child I thought of God as the judge in the sky and I have spent most of my life trying to get that image out of my head!!! I think everyone has an image of God that is false. For God is unknowable - vastly different than anything that we know from experience. I call God Father because Jesus called God that - but I don’t want to think of God as a man, or even as a person. God is love - and I don’t really know what that is either. God is.... that’s about it. 2 people liked this

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I believe in the Nicene Creed: "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son.) With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen." - but also beyond that. I like the way we say the Creed in the Catholic Church “We believe...,” because sometimes I don’t believe, and when I feel that way I can rest in the belief of the Church and let it carry me for awhile - until I experience belief again. 1 person liked this
My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Sitting in the gardens of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois (Chicago) - hearing a voice within me assure me that everything was going to be alright and that I could trust God for everything.
My greatest moment of doubt was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I don’t think I’ve had it yet. I’m always doubting - and always finding God again. Each time in an unexpected place and through surprising means. God is not restricted by time, space, or human understanding. He is also more patient than history itself. He has shown me time and time again that His grace is greater than any of my doubts or fears.
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator ...not being different people based on circumstances or situation. Unless and until I can be a consistent person in all situations and not be tempted by my own weakness or fears to compromise myself to situations or peer pressure, I am not really living a spiritual life. Spiritual life is ALL of life lived with purpose and not a segment of my life.
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator That all Catholics believe the same thing. The Catholic Church IS the original Christian church – an honest review of the history of Christianity will reveal this. But God has never been restricted or confined by the institutions, or common understandings of mankind. In the past, God has communicated with humanity through the crackling flames of burning shrubbery, and through the loud brays of a Donkey. Therefore, there are no “limits” to God’s means, and willingness to share his love and grace with the Universe. The Church is a vehicle for God’s grace, but not a limiting force of it. 1 person liked this
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator St. Ignatius Loyola - founder of the Religious Society of Jesus - the Jesuits. His method of spiritual formation based on finding God everywhere and using the imagination to experience God here and now inspire me, and encourage me to live in the now and to not put God or faith in a box.
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The Eucharist and the Mass - the significance and meaning of participating in a supernatural encounter with God that is at the same time both historic and timeless renews me and connects me with God in a very special way that I can’t really explain. 1 person liked this

My Faith History

As a child I believed ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator That God was “up there” and I was “down here.” I was naive, but at the same time very trusting. I remember praying about very ordinary things and believing that God was intimately involved with all aspects of my life. I miss that simple trust or faith. I make things much more complicated now.
My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Long and arduous - and a cause of periods of deep depression, when I felt very alone in the universe and doubted the meaning of life. I began my spiritual search in the Baha’i Faith, because I felt drawn to the message of the “Oneness of God and Humanity.” - I left the Baha’is - became a follower of various Eastern Gurus - chiefly Avatar Meher Baba. I became an Evangelical Christian in 1984 - and rejected Christianity for Buddhism about 15 years later. After being drawn to the traditions and liturgy of Buddhism, someone told me about Liturgical Christianity as practiced in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition - I became Orthodox in 2006 - converted to Catholicism in 2008 - and have been a “Practical” Catholic ever since. 1 person liked this
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator A “doubting” Agnostic....God was real but not discussed.
Are your beliefs or practices different from your parents? If so, how and why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My parents were Agnostic most of my childhood years but became Jehovah’s Witnesses during my teenage years - which caused us to drift apart and rarely speak. Because of this, my view of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not a good one. I sometimes think I began my spiritual search because of how mean and nasty my parents became as a result of their conversion. I had to find out if God was behind this - if He was, I wanted nothing to do with Him. Fortunately, I found a different view of God.
If you have children, did becoming a parent change your relationship to faith? If so, how? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Having children made me very aware of the concept of grace, and how it is possible to love unconditionally. I had not experienced that kind of love growing up, and having children made me see life in a totally different way.

How I Practice My Faith

Where and when do you practice your faith? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Daily - in private prayer and meditation. I have practiced meditation for years and it centers me and help me cope. I’m nowhere near as calm and peaceful as I’d like to be - but I can’t imagine how much worse I’d be without prayer and meditation to bring me back to what’s important. I attend Mass every Sunday and as often as I can other times. The Daily Mass is a true blessing from the Catholic Church. 1 person liked this
Does your family practice more than one religion or faith? If so, how do you blend the traditions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I’m the only religious person in my close family. It makes life difficult sometimes because I feel a lot of unnecessary guilt about trying to convert them - even though I don’t think that conversion is up to me - no one really converted me - it just happened as a gift of grace. I trust God for the same thing in my family’s life.
How easy or difficult is it to live your faith? Why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator It is very difficult to live my faith. There is so much mis-understanding that comes from the media and other people’s bad impressions or mis-information about Christianity in general, and specifically ignorance of Catholicism. I find myself living a conflicted life sometimes, and it bothers me; I put on one face for the world while inside I’m wrestling with moral and spiritual issues that the world seems to ignore.
In my house, the thing that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My prayer or meditation room. It is full of Icons, statues and religious art from almost every religion. I burn incense in the room and light candles - it turns into a timeless retreat house when I go there. It’s not that I believe that God is ONLY in that space - but I sense that I am more aware of the Presence in that room.
The song/book/film that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Book: “For the Life of the World” by Fr. Alexander Schmemann. A book about Sacramental living - my all time favorite book on Christian Spirituality.

Religion & the Public Square

What should be the role of religion in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Religion and Politics are unfortunately linked because they have become matters of personal preference - people shop religions and politics these days. But I agree with Jesus: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” We need both, but they should not be mixed.
Should courses about religion be taught in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Absolutely - not as a matter of trying to convert people to a particular faith, but as a matter of debate and historical influence. Without educating people on the historical influence and impact of religion, there is a great risk of increasing prejudice and ignorance about the world. Religion is quickly descending into the realms of superstition because students are not being exposed to some of the greatest thinkers of all time who became that way because of their defense of religion, or denial of it.
Should the Bible, Torah, Quran or other religious texts be taught as works of literature in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes, they should be, and are in some cases. They are not only religious texts, but foundational documents to the history of very ancient and powerful cultures that have influenced the world for all time.
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Interfaith dialogue is vital, it may be the only way to peace between ancient civilizations that need to navigate alternate views of their realities.
Do you feel comfortable discussing your faith with others? Why/why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes, I’m very comfortable having intelligent discussions with people about my faith. Unfortunately, there is so much mis-information and negative stereotyping going on that it is hard to begin a serious conversation with anyone about faith and/or religion.
Do you feel that you have a duty, because of your faith, to put your beliefs into action? What are some of those actions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Helping the poor - speaking out against prejudice and injustice. Being more mindful about consumption and less concerned with comfort at the expense of someone else, i.e. buying cheaper products made by “slave" or underpaid laborers.
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes they are, but I think that it’s a matter of integrity rather than compromise of beliefs. If a politician has integrity - people will support them, even if they don’t agree with their religious beliefs.
Has 9/11 had any impact on your thoughts about religion? Are you more/less interested in learning about other religions? Do you feel more/less comfortable expressing your religious beliefs? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes, since 9/11 I’ve had a lot more compassion for persecuted Muslims, and have increased awareness of the mindless stereo-typing that is going on in the media and conservative news sources.

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Published October 11, 2010

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