Un-branded Spirituality

For a while I believed that my reluctance to want to belong to any particular religion (or non-religion even – never liked the term atheist…..) was the result of late-onset teenage rebellion. It’s not like I’ve never made an effort to understand any of these rule-laden, guided and spelled-out clans it’s just that they all, without fail wind me up and leave me with more questions along the lines of “what’s the point’, ‘and how is that better/ different to what I’m saying” or ‘but why would YOUR God not like people because of X, Y or Z”.

To me the detail just seems too un-natural, too formulated and too out-sourced.

After thinking, reading, researching, talking and listening to anyone and anything that looked like it might have an answer over the last couple of years I think I’ve at least come to accept and understand what makes me tick spiritually. I’m not saying it’s right and I’m definitely not saying that anyone else is wrong but what I am saying is that this works for me and as such I am convinced that with this understanding in mind I will go on to grow and love and share more than I would have been otherwise able.

So, my thing is ‘un-branded (or umbrella if it is particularly wet) spirituality and by the way, I don’t actually call it that either but I can’t call this post ‘_______’ as that isn’t practical. This probably isn’t any different to many other people (I never set out to be unique) but in my case the underlying philosophy is a dislike for name tags.

I have always felt that in some cases giving something a […]

God is not one?

For me the best thing about having to fly is getting the time to read and this trip was no exception.  The book that caught my eye at the departure gate this week was ‘God Is Not One’ by Boston University professor and bestselling author Stephen Prothero.  I am a sucker for anything philosophical and thought-provoking and this book didn’t disappoint.  In just over 350 pages Stephen manages to sum up the  key differences between nine of the worlds most influential religions starting with Islam – the way of submission before moving to Christianity – the way of salvation, Confucianism – the way of prosperity, Hinduism- the way of devotion and beyond.
Although the topic of this  intellectually stimulating books hardly classifies it as a light read  I found myself swept up in the analysis and whisked away into my own private world of reflection.
Some highlights for me were the reminders about the ‘no man is an island’ concept and the way that various religions tackle (or ignore) the personal, the community and finally the state.  It was also interesting to read about the different perspectives and teachings available to help us on our journey to oneness with some religions focusing on the mind while others emphasise the body and the human experience.
Finally the analysis of atheism as an alternative religion was quite entertaining especially as the  conclusion of the chapter saw atheists sorted  into two groups – ‘friendly’ Vs ‘Angry’!  Given the amount of violence and the pain suffered in the name of religion it’s a wonder that there are any friendly atheists at all but there are and I thank Stephen for pointing them out.

Whatever your  religious views this book is a must-read for anyone seeking to broaden their religious literacy.  After all, there is no denying the impact that ones religious […]

Not Without My Sister – The Power of Fear

The good thing about travel is the chance to read again and upon seeing this book on the shelf at Sydney airport I knew that those hours in transit would not be wasted!   Not Without My Sister is at times a challenging and confronting read written by three sisters who were brought up as second generation members of the notorious ‘Children of God’  religious cult. The cult operated under the strict and insanely perverted control of leader David (Mo Short for Moses) Berg and at its height consisted of hundreds of thousands of members spanning all four corners of the world.  The intensely personal and graphic accounts of events portrayed by these three young women is so sickening, bazaar and outlandish that it is hard to believe it possible that so many people adopted and supported the twisted logic of this one delusional man and that is what I find interesting…….
FEAR = An emotional response to a perceived threat.
The book left me feeling intensely saddened and disappointed at how easily innocence can be lost, I don’t want to give too much away about the personal experiences of Celeste, Kristina and Juliana as they manage this beautifully throughout the book.  However, I do want to stop for a moment and reflect upon the key theme behind cult dynamics, the doctrine of fear.

Fear isn’t the unique selling point of a cult, it is not presented first up or even ever, it reaps up slowly but surely and before long you realize that you are lost, alone and needy.  As most of us are never going to even encounter a cult let alone belong to one I think it is useful to look at this controlling mentality in ‘everyday’ life. Through […]

This Christmas, Give Hope

Confession: As far as Church goes I am a strictly Christmas, weddings, baptisms and funerals kind of girl, that’s just how it is. The reason for me going tonight was to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to pass on the traditions of my childhood to my children. 
“Hope = Life”
All so often at Christmas we become fixated on getting the right gift for everyone, buying every variety of cheese, wine and fruit known to man and frantically trying to fit in our hair cut, manicure and fake tan before the big man arrives. But is that enough?

Whatever your religious belief, your ‘life’ circumstances or your personal happiness score Christmas is a great time to put all that aside and think of others.  With another year neatly ticked off and (hopefully) a few days taken at a slower pace, there may finally be time for us to ask ourself  “What can I do to help someone?” 

As I said in the opening, I don’t go to Church regularly but tonight I was struck by the “take-home” message – Give Hope this Christmas.   I invite you to consider this over the coming days as we all have special gifts, talents and energies that when shared can enrich the lives of many. So, whether you choose to donate to charity, volunteer for a few hours, make something or just lend a  friend an ear or shoulder to lean on, enjoy the experience of giving hope, because to give hope is to give life.