God in America
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Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. --from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927)

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 think the biggest mistake people make is to imagine god. God is. Anything after that is putting god in a box. Some people use one big box, others use lots of little ones, and some think that because they don't believe in the box that there is no god. Either way, the box isn't god--its our preconcieved notion of what we think God *should* be, or what we *need* God to be for our own gratification. I don't worship a box by any name, instead I rejoice in the experience of the many ways that the Divine reveals itself, for better or for worse, each day throughout the universe. 1 person liked this

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I believe that the universe, and all within it is the body of the Divine. I believe that religion is the consequence of history and culture as man tries to make sense of his place in the universe. I believe that deity manifests itself in the manner of which we are most prepared to meet it. I believe that our best act, as a reflection of the Divine, is to one another with respect and grace--and sometimes that means respecting oneself first. I believe in rejoicing in the beauty of this one life, for as long as it lasts. I believe that we can connect to the greater world around us to create change from within and without.
My greatest moment of doubt was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I have never had a greatest moment of doubt. All of life should be about testing what we believe, testing what we think is true, testing what truth really even means. I doubt everything, because to be so certain of something that there is no room to question it means that I cease to grow...and if I cease to grow, I have not lived.
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator learning, growing, experiencing, doing...continually.
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator that I worship Satan...or that I worship trees...or that I'm just some flake that has watched too much Charmed...or that I must be some hippie vegetarian liberal...or that I hate Christians...or that Harry Potter is representative of my beliefs...or that I shouldn't have been allowed to serve in the military of the United States of America...or that the family members of veterans of the same religious belief as myself should have to spend 10 years to have the same rights afforded to them as members of other belief systems...or that my religious beliefs aren't a religion at all. To all of which I can say poppycock! (it is after all, a fun word to say...if you don't believe me, you should try it a time or ten)
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My grandparents. We might not have the same views, but I have to praise them for being individuals striving to be Christ-like, rather than Christian. 1 person liked this
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator experiential gnosis.

My Faith History

As a child I believed ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator that the God of the Bible was't worth worshiping and the story of Jesus was about as believable as the Tooth Fairy.
My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator meaningfully meandering.
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator a member of the United Church of Christ.
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 I went to a UCC church with the family growing up, but I've always been under the impression that my father considers his religious beliefs to be private since he neither has much to say on the subject nor has he gone to church since I was confirmed. My mother has since become Catholic, since my stepfather and his family is Catholic, but I'm pretty sure its just a surface thing because she disagrees with much of the dogma. Needless to say, neither has particularly strong feelings about which brand of God one needs to believe in, and as a consequence I have never been pressured to follow any particular belief. I find it interesting that my experience with religion as a child is quite different from many other Pagans, who felt quite smothered with conservative Christianity as children.
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 It made me more critical of what I believe in and why, and which of those beliefs should be passed on to my children.

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 I have an inscription in my journal that says "let every action of our bodies be a prayer of our soul"...I'm not sure where exactly I may have found it, but as I consider the very act of breathing to be Divine, I can surely sat that I constantly strive to practice my beliefs.
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 While both my husband and myself happen to be Pagan and are raising our children as Pagans, with a healthy dose of exposure to world religions, most of our extended family are various denominations of Christianity. We practice our religion at home, or at public gathers and rituals, but respect the traditions and beliefs of our families when we are in their homes.
In my house, the thing that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My family.
The song/book/film that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator "When true simplicity is gained, To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed. To turn, turn will be our delight, 'Til by turning, turning we come round right" (Simple Gifts)

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 completely and utterly left out of politics. The religion, or lack thereof should never be mentioned in any campaign. Churches should not endorse political candidates. People should leave their theological OPINIONS out of the poll booth. I would never dream of legislating another individual to live according to my religious whimsy, I don't think that it is too much to ask for the same courtesy.
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 As long as they are INFORMATIVE and cover ALL RELIGIONS in an UNBIASED and HONEST manner that emphasizes separation between church and state and teaches critical thinking, I would support a religion class, or as part of a class like civics, in public schools.
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 Absolutely. The Big 3's religious texts are just as much a work of literature as the Vedas, Greek Mythology, the Eddas, the mythology of the ancient Egyptians, etc.
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Interfaith dialog is of critical importance in a pluralistic society. No one lives in a bubble. Without engaging those that believe differently than we do, we can never hope see over the wall of misunderstanding that we create when we refuse to honor the validity of opinions that differ from our own. Without being educated about the beliefs of others and our own and being able to look critically at both, we can never hope to progress as a people. "True tolerance means looking differences squarely in the eye and admitting the appalling fact that when other people seem to differ from us, this is because they actually believe their view of the world to be true. It is an occupational hazard of pluralism that we must live alongside people who differ from us. This gives rise to discomfort, displeasure, fear, and even anger. Civilization asks that, at such times, we refrain from drawing swords. It requires that we continue to draw distinctions." From the article, "Voices of the New Generation," by Elizabeth Kristol, The New York Times, Sept. 25, 1989.
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. What other people think of my beliefs does not offend me. I'm not going to try to convert anyone to my way of thinking, but I'll be darned if I am going to stand idly by while someone spreads lies either about my beliefs of the beliefs of others either out of malice or ignorance.
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Mine aren't. I am more likely to say that civil rights are compromised when people involve their religion in politics...
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 9/11 has had absolutely no impact on my religious beliefs. I don't judge Muslims by their extremists any more that I judge Christians as a whole by theirs. Unfortunately, the voice of Christians that have been heard the most in the years since, has been that of its ugly side. I believe very strongly in the First Amendment--but there have been times where I have been ashamed of what some of the American people have done with those rights.

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Published October 11, 2010

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