Spiritual Courage

Spiritual courage – the personal honesty and inquisitiveness to ask the hard questions about our existence here on earth and about where we are going next. This does not mean accepting answers from scripture or some outer authority. It means actively dispensing with the need for the certainties and the existential comforts provided by traditional religion and seeking the truth on one’s own. No matter how discomforting the process, the authentic belief system cannot be accessed as a hand-me-down from outer authorities.

IS there an afterlife?

Today this question came through to me from AllExperts.com. I put a lot of thought into my response, so I thought I'd share it here.QUESTION: Dear Margaret, 5 years ago my wife passed away. Christian mythology, which has lasted 2000 years and been supported by some very wise people, promises if I only believe Jesus was God and rose from the grave I will be able to join my beloved in the afterlife and be with her forever. What does atheism have to offer that is even close to that? … [Read more...]

Were the New Atheists Right?

Were the New Atheists Right? In the last decade, many people were impressed with the work of the New Atheist writers. These three authors each wrote a highly reasoned treatise against religion or God that hit the best-seller list around the middle of the last decade.  A few words about them from my book, Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind:[1] In God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens claimed that…religion has mi … [Read more...]

The Problem of Knowing God

There is a big problem in our society and it is God. No, God is not inherently a bad thing—but people’s interpretation of God causes a lot of trouble. When people insist that their own particular view of God is the only correct one, the only real one, they alienate everyone else. Huge amounts of controversy exist over this—and for no good reason.People who have studied faith development have claimed that the less developed believers hold more literally to the God description put forth by thei … [Read more...]

What? “Teach” Spirituality in Schools?

I was so happy to see this article on the Greater Good website: “The Case for Discussing Spirituality in Schools.”  A baby boomer myself, I thought back to my school days when the good nuns at Saint Frances de Sales and later Blessed Sacrament schools were very bent on teaching us the facts and rules about Catholicism. I am quite sure the word spirituality never once crossed their minds. No element of the curriculum was devoted to helping us develop, or even acknowledge, that part of ourselves th … [Read more...]

This Above All: to Thine Own Self Be True…

In keeping with the idea of posting more real life stories sent in by readers, I invited former pastor Tim Hoehn to write up his own story (seeing it was more involved than I could adequately express) I believe it shows movement from the Faithful stage, through a period of questioning, and to a Mystic stance. Read on and see if you agree. Springtime, 1974. All the festivities that accompany a college graduation unfolded around me — a full auditorium, proud parents, classmates weary f … [Read more...]

Religious Certainty versus Certitude

Candle Flame

Some of the biggest problems today are caused by religious certainty. People who are very certain that their religion is better than all the others tend to want to impose the rules laid out in their Holy Book on everyone. They have little respect for the fact that some people are guided by other Holy Books, and other equally valid types of ideals based on values instead of beliefs. Unfortunately this concept has spread into the political arena where religious literalists often try … [Read more...]

Are You Ready for Faith Beyond Belief? Take the Challenge!

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Are you ready to consider what a faith that is not grounded in religious belief might consist of? I am taking this opportunity to announce that my book, Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, was published by Quest Books in October, 2012, and is now available.Despite its title, Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind is not a book against religion. Instead it challenges readers to consider a broader, more sophisticated … [Read more...]

Beyond the Corrupt Parts of Religion

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French philosopher Paul Ricoeur pointed out how many people are attracted to traditional religion out of a need for the rules it imposes and the comforts it can provide.  He called these two elements, (taboo and refuge) the “corrupt” parts of religion, and opined that in mature faith we must grow beyond these “baser needs.”Many of us are attracted to religion (probably at the subconscious level) because we need its rules to keep our behavior in line, or because we find such harsh realities in … [Read more...]

Oneness—Not Just for Buddhists

Most people are probably somewhat aware of the oneness principle of Buddhism.  For Buddhists, oneness means there is no separation between one person and another, no separation between people and the substance of the universe, and no separation between the physical and the spiritual parts of one’s being. But it turns out even non-Buddhists can benefit from incorporating some oneness wisdom into their lives.Let's start by considering the opposite of oneness—divisiveness. Unfortunately, there i … [Read more...]

Beyond Religious Certainty – Spiritual Growth

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”                                                                                              Voltaire. Like many of the traits of spiritual maturity, the idea that doubt could be more desirable than certainty is not something most people readily understand. Of course in some aspects of life, certainty is preferable to doubt. We want to have certainty that we filed our taxes on time, for example. We want to be certain that the surgeon … [Read more...]


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