Among his many statements, he said:
That attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that "feeling" something somehow is more pure and, perhaps, more "true” than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us.I object to that idea: that we must fit in to a doctrine, follow certain practices and rules, bend our spiritual being to fit someone else's ideal. All religions originated in someone's head. So did all practices. So why are religious people today so disparaging of people who feel comfortable going their own route?
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Still, I say that the major inaccuracy that leapt out at me was the idea that the institutions of America, the essence of what made it great, was founded on the principles of church-going Christianity.
True enough: Christianity was, and still is, the dominant religion of the United States. But at the time of its founding, there were few churches with preachers, and many of the founding fathers were, whether by lack of regular church-going or by personal choice, individual deists who often adopted an independent "spiritual but not religious" approach to their own lives and to the founding of the government.
Separation of church and state arose because they saw no great necessity for church going to be spiritual (though they admitted to the value of the community). Likely, and more importantly, they advocated a separation of church and state because they had recently seen England torn apart over the last few centuries through several civil wars over the nature of religion (all Christian, but kings dethroned, and burnings of heretics ad nauseum).
The ill-considered put downs by people like Alan Miller of "feel good" spirituality is merely once again a church-going narcissist ranking his own principles (principles that still cause enormous pain and suffering) above the more rational and individual approach adopted by many people who take a great deal of time and energy to develop their own beliefs.
It is true that some people are not spiritual at all, and a yoga class does them well, to create a sense of peace. Others get that same sense of peace by playing sports. Still others do study and consider spiritual beliefs. I've studied Buddhism, Confucius, Judaism, a little Islam and read enormous parts of the New and Old Testament. I've meditated (in both traditional Christian prayer, but also through several other paths of meditation and inward seeking).
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I've been to several different Christian churches over my life including United Church of Canada, Roman and Orthodox Catholic, Baptist, evangelist, and to Temple. I've stood in churches that I know are touched by something powerful in the universe, yet my three most spiritual experiences are swimming in a Muskoka Lake at sunset, a nap with the dog, and having a baby fall asleep on me. Those three things connect me to the most powerful things in the universe, calm my soul and fill me with hope, and help me meet my fellow man in peace and understanding.
I wish your church could have done as much for you, Mr. Miller, but I can see by your comments that it has failed you miserably.