As my Christian friends know, we are currently less than one week away from Easter Sunday, the day on which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While many believe that Christmas is the focal point of the Christian faith, in actuality it is Easter. For me to act as though this is just an ordinary week would be disingenuous. Before I begin, let me give you a brief overview of my religious background. I was raised a Southern Baptist, attended The Episcopal Church during college, returned to the Baptist Church and then spent two years in seminary thinking God was calling me to be a minister.
After realizing that was not the direction for my life, I not only left seminary but also my Baptist roots. In , after a long period of reflection, my family and I entered The Roman Catholic Church, where we have remained. Interspersed with the different stops on my spiritual journey have been times of agnosticism and deism.
There were times when I really wanted to embrace atheism, but I was never able to completely give up on belief in the existence of God. I find myself in the middle, with views that fall on either side. My purpose in sharing this is not to present a theological argument or to serve as an apologist for my religious views. Rather, I felt it important to share this background so that you will understand my perspective on faith, which I view as an integral part of my life.
One final thought before I talk more about the role of faith in my life. The older I get the more I realize that there are many good people seeking to live meaningful lives. While some agree with me on many issues, others have a different point of view. Although I have strong opinions on some issues, I try to be open and accepting of people who have different views on religion in general and faith in particular. That being said, I have found that people who have developed an ability to persevere through the challenges of life have a strong faith. Their faith may not be based on my understanding of God.
However, they do believe that there is something greater than themselves that has an impact on their lives. The purpose of this post is not to dissect the differences between us, but rather to focus on ways that our faith can help us deal with the struggles we all face.
To a casual observer, my life would appear to be nothing more than a series of random, unfortunate events. If I had ever accepted this perspective as valid, I doubt I would be here today.
This belief often did not comfort me. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see how many of the challenges in my life have provided some unexpected blessings. Practicing Reconciliation A Reflection. Putting Dreams into Action. Quillen Shinn Grasshopper or St Paul. Rachel Carson Shapes Tomorrow. Reason, Science, and the Question of God. Recovery, Rebuilding, and Rebirth of New Orleans. Reflections by Forrest Church. Religious Identity in a Diverse World.
Remarkable Passages Excerpt. Righteous Among the Nations. Rosa Parks Moment. Ruby Bridges, Surrounded by Love. Ruth and Naomi.
Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham. Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom. Session Bad Guys, Good Guys. She'd Had Enough. Siddhartha's Awakening. Sita's Reputation. Sitting on the Answer.
Sleepless in Syracuse. Snail Girl, a Navajo Story. Songwriting as a Prayer. Spirit of Life. Francis and the Wolf. Story 1 Mussa and Nagib. Story 1 Parachuting Cats to the Rescue. Story 1 The Answer is in Your Hands. Story 1 The Better Offer. Story 1 The Curse of Babel. Story 1 The Good Samaritan. Story 1 The Sword Of Wood. Story 1 The Wise Teachers Test. Story 1 We Are All One.
Story 1: Giraffe Hero Stories. Story 1: It's Not My Problem. Story 1: The Bundle of Sticks. Story 1: The Dog and the Heartless King. Story 2 The Day of Pentecost. Story 2: The Brave Little Parrot. Story: A Path Diverted. Story: Crossing a Bridge. Story: Siding With Love. Story: The Lion on the Path. Sun Mother Walks the Earth. Sunny Side Mary. Supriya's Bowl.
Crossing streets, however, was different. In 73 letters, non-literalists invoke the nonequivalence frame by claiming that God works through evolution. What steps can you take to begin to overcome this fear? Therefore, contradictions between science and scripture are not an impediment to acceptance of evolutionary theory. The goal of youth and young adult ministry is not to form clubs or groups that gather.
Susan Stantons Story. Swimming Home. Taking the Heat Teaching A Thief. Thandeka's Change of Heart. The Agreement. The Ant and the Grasshopper. The Audre Lorde Project. The Baltimore Sermon. The Banyan Deer. The Battle of Jericho. The Best Meal. The Big Bang Theory. The Big Question. The Binding of Isaac. The Birth of Krishna. The Black Humanist Fellowship. The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The Brementown Musicians. The Brothers.
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The Caican Water Project. The Cambridge Platform. The Cat. The Cellist Of Sarajevo. The Chair Men. The Change the World Kids. The Childrens Crusade. The Christmas Truce. The Church and the Draft Resisters. The Clearwater. The Colombian Childrens Peace Movement. The Debate Among the Parts of the Brain. The Dedham Case. The Dervish in the Ditch. The Dog at the Well. The Dream. The Empty Pot. The Everything Seed. The Farmer on the Hill.
The Farmer's Legacy. The Fellowship Movement. The First Supporter. The Flower Festival. The Founding of the Dedham Church. The Four Creations. The Fowler and the Quail. The Fox and the Lion. The Gates of the Forest. The Gift of a Gemstone. The Gift Of Giving.
The Goddess and the God. The Good Samaritan. The Green Man. The Grumpy Gecko. The Hopedale Community. The Iowa Sisterhood. The Jellyfish. The Journey of the Birds. The Life of Jesus of Nazareth. The Life of Muhammad. The Life of the Buddha. The Lost Son. The Love Feast. The Magic Vase.
The Man and the Tiger. The March at Selma. The Memory Table. The Messiah Is Among You. The Migration Series Panel Number 3. The Mish-Mash Heart. The Mormon Trail. The Most Beautiful Bower in the World. The Most Generous Gift. The Mystic and the Scientist. The Other Half.
The Perfect Peace Harvest. The Power of Half. The Power of Water. The Presence of Angels. The Pride Rainbow Project. The Prince And The Rhinoceros. The Prodigal Son. The Real Gift. The Rebirth of the Sun. The Scratched Diamond. A man in a white SUV yells at me from his window. He tells me I cannot observe prayer today and that I have to come back at a less busy time.
I ask him why, and he fumbles over an answer. I ignore him and walk inside wondering how common encounters like that are. She smiles and says of course , leads me upstairs and asks me to remove my gold sandals. I enter the prayer room, which has a window allowing the women to see the men below, but not for the men to see us. I relax once I see 10 or so young children laughing and running around. I sit in the back of the room, and immediately a something woman in a teal sari comes up, shoots me a wide smile and grabs my hand.
A few minutes later, another woman approaches me with her young son. We both miss the entire sermon being broadcast on the TVs in our room. I record the sermon, though, so I can listen to it later. She says that after the sermon, everyone will pray. She laughs, saying the poses are kind of like doing yoga.
I sit cross-legged in the back of the room as everyone prays. Afterward, Uzma hands me an emerald-green book imprinted with gold text—a copy of the Quran—and shares her phone number with me in case I have any questions. Back in my car, I take off my jacket and leggings, which made my outfit modest. Lost in thought about how pleasant my conversation with Uzma was, I pull my Prius forward to leave, unaware of the long wooden parking block in front of me. The middle of my car is stuck on the wooden plank.
I floor the engine. I attempt to reverse. Two young men who had attended the service get out of their car and try to help.
I blush at my now somewhat immodest outfit. A third man approaches the scene, also looking to help me solve the problem. They finally come up with a solution—one of them will reverse my car while two of them push and I stand atop the wooden plank to keep it steady. Their plan works. I thank them over and over, get into my car and smile to myself. A lot of people stereotype Islam as vitriolic and hateful, but I experienced nothing but warmth, kindness and generosity from its followers. I decide to get a taste of something completely different next: a Unitarian Universalist church.
With around 1, congregations in the world, Unitarian Universalism is a liberal, forward-thinking, truth-seeking, humanist church. The male minister then follows with his sermon, which places more of an emphasis on personal growth than religion. The minister discusses how Jesus—who Unitarians generally believe was an ordinary man and nothing more—entered Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a chariot.
We should admit, before we continue on this sermon, that none of us will end up riding into Jerusalem on a donkey or a chariot. We probably will not be hailed as victors or expected to do great things. The Easter story teaches us about humility, the minister says. Imagine if our political leaders were humble. My eyes scan the room throughout the service and I see countless interracial and gay couples seated together, hands intertwined. This feels like such an incredible contrast to the separation and modesty at the mosque. I realize that these people seem to share values—equality and tolerance—and it excites something inside of me.
One of those massive congregations, with live adult baptisms on camera and a preacher who gets on TV by making controversial comments. But having a security guard with a headset on standing a few feet away, staring at us on and off, made us pretty uncomfortable. So did the messages in the sermon, frankly. The red-brick edifice, built in , looks out of place amid the metal and glass of a modern city. I show up for noon Mass during Lent. I walk in and see nearly 60 people have attended the service. I leave my sopping umbrella at the door, sit on a wooden pew and look upward.