God in America
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In the human mind, body, & heart the cosmos converge in the manner of blessing: blessing from God; blessing of God; blessing before, beyond & within.

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 imagine God loving (and liking) creation, bringing it into being moment by moment; with a freely chosen desire to enjoy the surprise of potential turning into actual. Words that suggest themselves in this vein of imagining are: infinite in all directions; deeper than deep, broader than broad. I imagine we dwell within God, and God within us, at every level, to include our particular, peculiar, individual consciousness. I imagine our mutuality with God to be fundamentally dense. Truth to tell, it approximates unity more than anything else in our peak moments.

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator In me an awareness dwells whose ebb & flow I trust to be in relationship with God as wave to ocean. Belief, then, for me, comes from the ground of my being. This I trust in, seeking the courage to live outwardly as inwardly...
My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My most powerful moment of belief was a near death experience. I was 12 years old, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean while a hurricane passed off shore. I went into the surf to the second line of waves breaking. In short order I realized I had made a big error in swimming when it was posted to STAY OUT OF THE SURF. A wave crashed onto me with a power like an explosion. I struggled to get to the surface for what seemed like an eternity, but failed. I was surprised to find myself giving up, going limp. Next thing I knew consciously, I bobbed up through the turmoil to the surface of the water, and my lungs virtually exploded. Ten years after this experience, as I recalled it to celebrate a friend's wedding, a series of flashbacks brought back the dimensions that my awareness opened into while I was under water. The words that welled up from the flashbacks as I revisited them included benevolent, light-filled, curved time/space, magnanimous, peace, bliss, unendingness...
My greatest moment of doubt was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My greatest moment of doubt: the experience of my vast limitations & the hurt I had caused others. This occurred during a dark night of the soul that was at first dramatic, and then simply extended through agonies that continue in a diminished form to this day.
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My spiritual life means everything. The quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin says it all: 'We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.'
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is that God is somebody else (quote from Thomas Merton). Said differently, the apparent separation between God & the universe is a misconception of our consciousness. The universe is God growing a Body...
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I have several role models: my love Margaret Mary; my dear friend Ed; my son & daughter, Justin & Sasha. My role model in thinking/feeling about God is James Alison; with Tony Bartlett hot on his heels. My Mount Saviour Monastery Group is right up there, too.
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The teaching I appreciate most about my faith is: to live gratefully and with courageous trust.

My Faith History

As a child I believed ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As I child I believed as my two grandmother's modeled belief: a Methodist's sense of daily life combined with an Irish Roman Catholic's sense of mystery.
My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My spiritual journey has been surprising.
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I was raised as a beloved son of a mother whose wildness and a father whose remoteness sometimes overwhelmed me. What converged in me regarding faith and hope for the future was a lot.
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 beliefs are more developed than my parents, but not much different. My religious practice is also more developed, but not categorically different from my parents'.
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 The advent of having children drew me back into the life of the Christian Church. In that return there was the cultivation of a rich religious appreciation for life's challenges.

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 Everywhere, all the time. There is not a razor's edge to be fit between my life & my faith. When one is off, so is the other off. When one is on, the other is fully on. I aim for on.
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 We are currently in a transition time in the family practice of religion. My children are grown. I live in a great love I share with my Margaret.
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 both easy & difficult to live my faith. Why? Because life is blessed in ways both hallowing & harrowing. I am regularly astonished at the ease with which I become lost. And found.
In my house, the thing that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My love of Margaret, and life itself.

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 should be the personal, intimate resource of those whose treasure it is. Otherwise, it should remain marginal in conversations & deliberations.
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 Courses ABOUT religion should be taught in school. Religion itself should NOT be taught in school. It should be available to all who desire it within the communities espousing 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 These texts, along with other religious texts, should be read as literature in school. This would include contextual resourcing such that the art of this literature could be appreciated for the full-blown phenomenon it is.
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Interfaith dialogue is very important. It is the way of the sword becoming plough...
Do you feel comfortable discussing your faith with others? Why/why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I am comfortable in discussing my faith to the extent that is desired by others. Otherwise, not.
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator No, it is not the engagement in politics that nets a religious compromise. Rather, it is hopefully an engagement in a personal religious interiority that nets political compromise. Love thy neighbor...
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 My old friend religion has shown itself for many thousands of years the capacity for terrors of which it is capable. 9/11 simply increased the urgency with which we are challenged to recognize ourselves as religious terrorists. I am deeply interested in learning about the wonders of our universe, religions included. I am not less comfortable myself in expressing my religious beliefs. I am passionate about exercising the hospitality to invite & shelter the expression of all religious beliefs. In this, I neither condone nor collaborate with violence. I aim simply to be less & less toxic myself to others...

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Major funding for God in America provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John E. Fetzer Institute, Inc.  Additional funding provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. God in America is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.
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Published October 11, 2010

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