Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘church’ Category

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  165                         Cumulative Days Blogging: 150

Today’s Mileage: 5                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1112

As I rode the bike this evening my thoughts drifted to yesterday’s visit to a Christian Easter Day service.  The service was joyful with the reading of scripture and singing, directed by my partner Susan.  The service brought back memories of my childhood and significant church holidays.  The one thing I missed was the sight of children running around the lawn collecting colored eggs!

While I enjoyed the service I also made it a point to take a walk around the church campus before and after the service.  It was a particularly beautiful day and as always nature bombarded me with distractions.  I have decided to share with my readers several poems and musings I wrote before and after the service.

Across the Street

Church lawn:

   Pristine green

   Parallel mower marks

   Edged pathway

   Leads to a

   Tall white building

   Stark wooden cross

   Bares white cloth drapery

   Easter Lilies

   In plastic pails

   Circle the base

       Signs of a Church’s belief in resurrection!

 Across the Street

 Empty house:

   Unkempt lawn

   Mats of dark green clover

   Points of purple and yellow

   Dandelions and wild violets

   Scattered about

   Flowering dogwood

   Twisted wooden fingers

   Bearing pink jewels

   Majestic white irises

   Circle the base

       Signs of Nature’s promise of renewal!

****

Tree Mysticism!

In the Shadow of Giants

 Ancient oaks

Tower overhead

Midriff bulge

Extends its base

Onto the sidewalk

Like a living

Volcanic flow

What was two

Had become one

An extra

Roll of bark

Marks their seam

They are not alone

A vine

With a girth

Similar to my own

Sends tentacles

Like heavily laden

Fire hoses skyward

Braiding with branches

And twin trunks

A small flowering dogwood

At their base

Cannot compete

For size and age

It counters

With its beauty

Living in the shadow of giants

 ****

Natures Gifts!

Holiday Treats

 Forty steps

Along the sidewalk

From the back

Of the church

Before the Easter  

Sunday service

I found green grass

Colorful blossom gifts

On the lawn

All that was missing

Was a basket

And a chocolate bunny

 ****

Gaia!

What was…

 My favorite part

Of the Easter

Church experience

Standing at the base

Of a majestic

Magnolia tree

In the sun

Surrounded by

Spring bird calls

I admired the

Tree’s shade and

Structure

It must have been

Wondrous being a child

Around these trees

They were designed

For climbing and

Hiding in the branches

 ****

Patterns, cycles, beauty!

I hope that you enjoyed my words and caught glimpses of the beauty I find in nature!  My experience yesterday reminded me of the fact that “one size does not fit all.”  While the church was filled with people finding meaning in their sacred scripture and the story of a risen savior, there are others, myself included, who find meaning and guidance in the “voices of nature.”  I do not believe that one path/approach has more “truth or validity” than the other, they represent preferences based on our experiences and history.

After a recent posting concerning the Catholic Church one reader made the comment: “Sorry to hear that you are a former Catholic. Only Catholics that don’t know their faith leave because if you truly knew the faith of your birth you would see that there is no other faith to move to. The Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus founded upon Peter and it has lasted the last 2,000 years. Come home!”

Nature Saints?

I respect this reader’s right to his opinion and recognize his exclusionary beliefs about the Catholic Church.  However, I have found my path and like many others “my home” is within the realm of nature, its symbolism, its cycles, and its beauty!

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  163                         Cumulative Days Blogging: 148

Today’s Mileage: 5                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1103

A Rotten and Evil Egg!

Tomorrow is Easter, the holiest of Christian holidays so tomorrow we will visit two beautiful churches in the Jacksonville area. As I ride the bike this afternoon, I have pondered why I have been unable to motivate myself to write the blog for the past three days.

 I have been busy with tests and with the arrival of warm spring weather it is a challenge for me to stay focused. Yesterday I posted the following on my Facebook page: A beautiful day is unfolding outside my door! I can’t resist it any longer!  Pink flower petals fall like fragrant snow and bees dart about in the sunlight like a shifting haze surrounding the flowering trees… I shall walk, breathe deeply and ‘go with the flow’… riding the Tao past mid-day and into the afternoon… on for the rest of life!” 

How could anyone?

This morning I read more news stories on the internet about the deepening crisis within the Catholic Church.  This is a crisis surrounding accusations of child abuse against priests and bishops across Europe.  It is similar to the crisis that occurred in the USA several years ago.  I now realize that this crisis, with its troubling meaning for the church and its members had in part contributed to my silence.

I was baptized and raised a Catholic and while I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I owe the church for eight years of my education and still hold some of the priests and nuns who educated me as significant models and mentors.  I have made it a point in my blog and my teaching to not single out specific churches or faiths for harsh criticism.  I have seen on numerous occasions that a church or faith might be problematic for a particular individual (e.g. its attitude toward women or gays may not promote growth for individuals in those groups) while at the same time proving to be a healthy fit for another individual.  I also have close friends and family members who are devout Christians (Catholic and Protestant) and it is not my intention to criticize their “path to the divine.”

A Priest's Ring Seal!

I have recently blogged about the “evil actions” that can be undertaken by religious practitioners as well as the uplifting, caring and compassionate actions which religious beliefs can generate.  I continue to have visitors to my blog site who disagree with my statement that “I would never support the abolition of the institution of religion.”  Religion as an institution is a primary source of “life meaning” for many people. They help individuals and communities deal with disasters and loss and can provide a primary source of “moral guidance” to society.  Most of the important “rights movements” of the last 100 years have been lead by clergy walking arm-in-arm against reactionary forces. Many of the loving and selfless volunteers serving our society’s “safety net” do so out of deeply held spiritual and religious beliefs.

Taking all of this into account, it is also quite clear that Religion, and any of the churches that make up the mosaic of a culture’s religious fabric, can and do become dysfunctional!  I believe this tends to happen when the institution loses sight of its primary functions: to care for it’s flocks immediate needs for safety and guidance; and to help counter forces within every culture (e.g., political power, material wealth, hedonistic pleasure, group biases that demonize others) that draw people away from the transformation power offered by a healthy spirituality and loving/compassionate faith. 

When Silence is a Sin!

I believe that what is unfolding in the Catholic Church shines a spotlight on a terrible secret and deeply damaging breach of trust in the “faith” people place in the clergy.  In my profession it has long been recognized that two things represent egregious breaches of moral and ethical principles.  These are: a breach of the client’s confidentiality, the promise of privacy toward their disclosures and no exploitation in any sexual or financial way.  Children and adults in distress are in need of trusted guidance and protection.  Anyone who meets their own selfish needs (e.g., power, wealth, sexual gratification, dominance) at the expense of another has committed one of the most deplorable acts imaginable, whether that person is a priest, a parent, a teacher, or a therapist.  They have punished and added to the burden and suffering of someone in need. 

The Catholic Church has taken a position that this is a problem with a few “bad apples” and that the institution’s response was appropriate.  They removed priests and sent them for treatment!  However, the evidence is mounting that they often returned offending priest to service without warning their new parishioners or insuring that the treatment had worked.  There is evidence of some priests perpetrating abuse for decades and the church turned a blind eye to the abuse!

Real Dangers!

It has been an accepted fact within the field of sexual abuse research that perpetrators seek job positions that place them in contact with potential victims.  All churches have had more than enough time to recognize this fact and take extreme and immediate steps to purge their ranks of any such individuals.  Two additional facts from this field of study are relevant here: the best predictor of future behaviors is past behavior; and the perpetrators of sexual abuse of children are extremely resistant to therapy and change.  Most professionals in this field suggest a permanent removal of the offender from any contact with potential victims!  It is my belief that the Catholic Church has been grossly neglectful of its responsibilities towards “parishioners” and those dedicated clergy who follow the loving and compassionate examples of Christ in their sacred scriptures.

Peggy Noonan wrote an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal in which she noted that there were three groups of victims in this ongoing Catholic Church crisis.  The first are of course the children who were abused and carry the scars and suffering of that abuse.  The second group is comprised of all the dedicated clergy and nuns who have been truthful to their sacred vows.  The third, and largest group, are all of the parishioners “in the pews” who are left to question the authority and relevance of a church organization that knowingly placed their weakest members in “harm’s way” against preverbal “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Is it about faith or power?

I believe that Catholic Church needs to stop trying to blame external forces (e.g. the secular media or reform minded critics) and open its institutional structure and rules (i.e., Yes maybe even the question of marriage for priests) to honest and painful scrutiny.  The Church’s past sins have come home to roost! How it responds to this crisis will establish whether it continues to be a positive force into the future or just an old fossilized institution that lumbers on by sheer momentum of its size.  History has shown repeatedly that institutions that do not grow and transcend their old rules and “ways” are destined to litter the ditches of the roadway into the future!

One final point, just in case anyone reading this posting feels that this crisis relates only to the Catholic Church, my local paper contains on a monthly basis, reports of Protestant ministers abusing children in their care. My understanding is that the Southern Baptists do not even have a system for tracking reports of such abuse or of notifying their member churches to “black list” a minister.  I have a good friend who as a child and young adult suffered through an abusive family life.  Twice as a child and once as a young adult she turned to fundamentalist Christian ministers for help and guidance.  What she received in all three cases were unwanted sexual advances!

 

Protect the Innocent!

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!

Read Full Post »

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  162                         Cumulative Days Blogging: 147

Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1098

We are almost to Jacksonville Florida and tomorrow we will visit the first of three pilgrimage sites in the area, including two historical architectural churches and a nature site highlighting the beauty and diversity of the flora in Northern Florida.

Wired to love?

I’m sure that some of my friends and students found themselves saying “Oh my gosh, Dr. Edwards has gone over to the dark side!”  I want to assure everyone I am still my optimistic and upbeat self.  The title of today’s blog came from a statement made by Andrew Breitbart in a Time magazine article.  Mr. Breitbart is a highly outspoken mouth piece for right wing political thought on the web who the Time article described as a “Tea party Tycoon.” As I read the article I found myself shaking my head, not in disbelief, I’m a Clinical Psychologist I am seldom surprised by human behavior anymore, I shook my head out of sadness and concern. 

I have recently blogged on the characteristics that can lead religions to produce “evil” outcomes.  We have seen some of the sad results of this process in the tit-for-tat historical massacre of Christians by Christians and in the recent news reports of the arrest of a small group of “Christian militia” who intended to attack police officers and hasten a second revolution.

All hate all the time?

In recent news cycles a lot of attention has been given to “hate speech” or what you might call “alarmist speech.”  Terms like “lock and load,” “on the firing line,” and “reload” maybe seen as a colorful call to arms by the people using them, but it concerns others with the imagery of armed rebellion and violence.  Often the people making these statements will defend their “freedom of speech” and will attack those who raise concerns as being the source of the problem (e.g., the Obama health care bill caused the anger and threats of violence) and not the potential victims.

As a therapist I know from experience that words matter!  Among yesterday’s news announcements was the sad story of the teenage girl who after months of verbal and physical bullying by nine fellow students committed suicide. Their words mattered… they drove a desperate young girl to take her life! 

Matching hate speech!

I have spoken personally with members of a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville Tennessee, that lived through the terror of a gun wielding assailant who blasted away randomly during a children’s Sunday service.  A handful of innocent adults died in the pews, luckily no children were injured!  On the seat of the assailant’s vehicle in the parking lot lay a hateful letter targeting “liberals” filled with references to the “inspiring words” of a list of popular conservative talk show hosts.  These talk show hosts words mattered… they cost innocent people their lives!

In my last blog we talked about the triple filter test.  I have had a lot of comments about this post.  Many of them agree with my statement that we would all be better off if we followed this test before we spoke, before we made public statements, before we stepped in front of a microphone, before we painted a placard with hateful statements.  I noted that the three filters were truth, goodness and usefulness.  I would like to highlight the usefulness question because I believe it comes in two variations.  Is it useful for the person receiving the information (e.g., a compliment, feedback) or not (e.g., gossip, lies)?  Is it somehow useful to the person providing it (e.g., advancing an agenda, raising alarm and/or money, undermining someone else’s efforts)? 

As I noted in the last posting if Senator Scott Brown continues to repeat a lie (e.g., that Rachel Maddow is running against him) because it generates campaign fund then it is certainly useful to him given an “ends justify the means” approach to politics.  I guess some people would see it as an effective tactic or a screwed move.  I see it as nothing more than a useful lie, an example of false propaganda from a politician who will no doubt speak out of the other side of his mouth when he asks the people of his state to “believe in me” when they cast their reelection votes.  

Brought to you by Westboro Baptist Church!

Mr. Breitbart’s statement, which I used as a header for this posting saddens and concerns me.  He has a right to his belief, and he like all of us chooses the “process” he is going to follow in making his decisions.  That process might be the Golden or Platinum Rule, Might makes Right, the Ends Justify the Means, it’s all a Game, or The Triple Filter, to name just a few.  However, whatever process we use we must live with and accept the outcomes we sow and reap. 

I believe that when someone chooses to place themselves into a public position of authority, like a politician or clergy member, or are elevated by the popularity and marketing of their opinions, like a talk show host, news caster or leader of a movement, they have a responsibility to choose their words wisely!  Their proclamations should do more than serve their narrow needs, they should think about the greater good!  We would hold someone in contempt if they shouted “Fire” in a crowded theater just to secure a better seat, and then shrugged their shoulders at the trampled people’s suffering.  Then why do we turn away in silence when someone espouses hateful attitudes just to create distress in others or advance their personal agenda?

I believe that all of us have a responsibility to make sure that those who lead us, (whether Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat) or act as our mouth pieces, (talk show hosts, favorite bloggers, or letter to the editor writers) or act as our cheerleaders  (family and friends) or offer us guidance (religious leaders) do it in a way so that the answer to the “usefulness”  question is not just that it is useful for them (e.g., makes money, sells books, strokes their egos), or even that it is just useful for our movement or side (e.g., we win the election, we save our school at the cost of som other school, or our church grows larger) but that it be useful for all members of the community, nation and world community.

Lets make it so!!!!

I know I am a dreamer!  I know what I ask is almost impossible to imagine in our present overly charged and highly emotion political and religious landscape.  However, if we who represent the “moderate core” the loving, compassionate, caring individuals, and yes dreamers in every faith and political movement stand up and make ourselves heard we can drown out these voices of hate and divisiveness.  I believe we can!  Join me… stand up… speak up… be heard!  After all we only have a world and a future to lose!

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!

Read Full Post »

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  159                         Cumulative Days Blogging: 144

Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1080

Today we will be visiting a major Catholic Historical site and Shrine in the St. Augustine area.  Just north of the Castillo de San Marcos and the old city we find The Mission of Nombre de Dios and Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche

Fr. Lopez giving thanks!

This site traces its origins to the founding of the City of St. Augustine.  On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed at this site and proclaimed it for Spain and Church.  It was here that Menendez knelt to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition.  It was here that Fr. Lopez would celebrate the first parish Mass and begin America’s first Mission name Nombre de Dios (Name of God) and the Spanish settlers would begin the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche (Our Lady of the Milk).

Prince of Peace Church

The mission and shrine site has numerous structures and includes a “walking tour” that allows pilgrims to circle the grounds and visit various significant locations.  At the entrance of the grounds the Prince of Peace Church, built out of the “native stone” Coquina, greets visitors.  It frames a large circular fountain and houses an imposing stained glass window depicting “the Holy Spirit.”

The Great Cross

Continuing on the tour we see the imposing Great Cross built in 1966, along with the Prince of Peace church to commemorate the Four Hundredth anniversary of the Mission and the City.  The cross is 208 feet tall and has been labeled a “Beacon of Faith” on the shores of the Matanzas River.

The Chapel

Next on our path we come across The Chapel of Our Lady of Le Leche.  This area has been referred to as “America’s Most Sacred Acre.”  Like many of the other structures the Chapel was also build from Coquina and reflects the Spanish mission style of the sixteen century.  The Chapel houses the statue of Our Lady of La Leche and is described as a “special place of quiet prayer for those seeking Our Lady’s intercession.”

Shrine of Perpetual Help

Just up the path we find a unique site called Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine.  A beautiful mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is housed in a Byzantine style cupola.  This gold-laden icon was a gift of the Byzantine Rite Catholics who make a bi-annual pilgrimage to the mission.  The icon includes the image of Mary, the baby Jesus along with Archangels Michael and Gabriel.

Perpetual Help Icon

The final two sites we visit on our tour are the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a gift from friends of a distinguished modern day missionary in Brazil.  The shrine commemorates the 1531 visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego in Guadalupe, Mexico.  Lastly, we see the Rustic Altar an outdoor altar commemorating the first parish mass celebrated in 1565.

Guadalupe Icon

We have during our virtual pilgrimage across Florida visited some two dozen separate Pilgrimage sites ranging from National Parks, Hindu and Buddhist temples, Monastery and Convents, Beach side parks and Art Galleries, to a Holocaust Memorial.  Today’s site has significant historical religious importance for Christians and Catholics in particular.  Clearly this site continues to add to its importance with a growing number of shrines, set in a peaceful and tranquil setting. It will be interesting to discover sites around the country that represent similar “firsts” for other Christian denominations (e.g., first Methodist church, first Quaker service, etc.).

Holy Spirit Window

 I hope you have enjoyed the beautiful pictures of the mission’s grounds.  Tomorrow we will be leaving St. Augustine and heading toward Jacksonville.

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!

Read Full Post »

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  158                          Consecutive Days Blogging: 142

 Today’s Mileage: 3                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1072

A frontier Greek!

As I ride the bike this morning I am thinking about the pilgrimage site we will visit today: St. Photios National Greek Shrine and Orthodox Chapel.  I’m assuming that many of my readers had the same reaction that I did when I first came across this site on the sunny shores of eastern Florida: How did a Greek Orthodox Shrine find its way to Florida?  I had become familiar with the Spanish history of this area, something we will explore more fully tomorrow.  The Greek presence was a surprise.  Studying the history of the St. Augustine area I found my answers and I discovered a story the likes of which have long inspired people with the message of hope, persistence and tenacity of the human spiritual.  St. Augustine represents the longest continuously occupied city in North America with the oldest port.  There were other settlements up and down the Florida coast, both French and Spanish, however this was the one that “stuck it out.”  The site has gone through numerous changes of flags and ownership.  I have alluded in an earlier posting to a sad example of religious strife and killing, I will reserve that discussion for the days to come for it portrays what some people would call the “ugly” side of religious thought and dogma. Back to the question of the Greeks!

It is clear that by the 1700s North America had stoked the fire and dreams of freedom and land ownership in many poor, impoverished and subjugated peoples around the world, particularly in Europe. Not only were the major European powers sprinkling the continent with their settlements but entrepreneurs were exploiting the wilderness for their potential riches. 

Andrew Turnbull

One such individual was Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician who in 1766 undertook to create a settlement called New Smyrna 75 miles on the coast south of St. Augustine.  By this time the city had changed hands was now under a British flag. He collected some 1400 people from Greece, Italy and the island of Minorca who agreed to sign on as indentured servants.  They would raise sugarcane, indigo and cotton for 7-8 years to earn a plot of acreage of their own.  However, the settlement was greeted from its inception with hardship including disease and starvation.  According to several reports matters were made worse by Dr. Turnbull harsh leadership.  After 10 years little success had been achieve and the settlers felt more like slaves than servants. 

Avero House

The settlement was eventually abandoned with the residents walking the shoreline all the way to St. Augustine.  At the city gates the 300 survivors of the settlement asked the British governor for protection.  The governor repealed their indentured status and granted them sanctuary within the city. They inhabited the Avero House a location that the Greek community has come to call their “Plymouth Rock.”  These new citizens prospered as shop owners and citizens.  Their offspring became the founders of some of the most venerated families of present day St. Augustine.  Significant among that groups were the first “colony” of Greeks in the New World.  Their presence in the history of the city answers our question about the existence of the Greek Orthodox shrine.

The shrine and chapel of Saint Photios are a testament the importance, although often overlooked, role that Greeks played in the developing drama of North America as laborers and business owners in city large and small.  The chapel is filled with icons (religious paintings) created in the traditional Byzantine style which expresses visually the theology of the Greek Orthodox Church.  One of the ceiling domes is adorned with a painting “the Hospitality of Abraham.”  The central dome hold the image of “Christ the Pantocrator (the all-embracing), and the third dome depicts the Archangel Michael. 

Central Dome

One of the wall frescos depicts St. Photios (the Patriarch of Constantinople) teaching his young nephews, later known as St. Cyril and St. Methodios, before he sent them off as missionaries who are  credited with spreading Christianity to the Slavic peoples.

This story of the colony of New Smyrna is one that is repeated innumerable times across North America as waves of people followed the promises of the new world and struggled to establish a foothold in America.  I came to recognize this as a youth on the windswept plains of the Dakotas.  There was Tabor, with its quaint Czechoslovakian homes, Ukrainian Orthodox churches standing alone on the prairie servicing far flung farmhouses and any number of small farming communities with German Catholics and Norwegian Lutherans clustered about their church.

A Guardian Angel

Some foots holds worked out and survived harsh climates, native attacks, cycles of starvation and poor planning.  Others like New Smyrna failed, but the people moved on to established settlements.  Some expeditions (like Jamestown) not only failed but disappeared leaving an abandoned site and no trace of the inhabitants.  Stories of these immigrants fill our history books with their tragedy, mysteries and success at overcoming adversity in the pursuit of prosperity, freedom, and the promise of land.

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!

Read Full Post »

Pilgrimage Statistics

Days Riding: 143                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 127

Today’s Mileage: 6                                        Total Trip Mileage: 1002

It’s good to be back on the bike after a couple days in the mountains with my church youth.  Today we’re going to visit a pilgrimage site in Daytona Beach Florida and then start to head north up the coast towards as St. Augustine and Jacksonville. 

On the surface today’s site may not seem all that special or significant.  It is a Christian church built in 1928 which was uniquely named: “The Tourist Church.”  This choice spoke to the fact that it served many of the tourists who visited the pristine beaches of East Central Florida.  It was built just as the speculative land booms boom of the 1920s ended and the great depression started.

 The church itself is unique and I will speak to the design and designer in a moment.  But I wanted to note that the process of in investigating these pilgrimage sites can lead to the discovery of intriguing aspect of the local history.  This process can also gives us insights into the social, political and religious forces that shaped these areas.  

In 1892 Col. C.C. Post and his wife Helen purchased a stretch of the barrier island east of the small settlement of Daytona.  Helen Post was a proponent of the new “Mental Science” movement; she proposed founding a settlement called: “City Beautiful.”  She spread her message of positive thinking and self improvement through several books and a paper called “Freedom”

 Her paper was such a success that after several years the post office moved to a larger facility up the beach in an area that was to later become the settlement of Daytona Beach.  After several years the people of Sea Breeze petitioned for a new post office and in 1898 a new one was built and named after Senator Ernest Goodall of Maine. In 1925 the three small settlements of Daytona, Daytona Beach and Sea Breeze combined to become Daytona Beach. 

A decision was also made to build a church to serve the needs of the tourist population.  The tourist church, while affiliated with the Congregational Society, was built in 1929 to cater to the diverse religious backgrounds of tourists. A well-known Midwestern architect Harry Griffin had moved to the Daytona area.  The church was designing in the Mission/ Spanish Colonial Revival styles of architecture.  It was constructed with “bog rock” a type of stone that was unique to the coast and quarried in the ridge west of Daytona Beach.  The church went through a denominational change and became known as the Sea Breeze United Church of Christ. The church was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1995.

As I look through the photos of the church I was struck by the large stained glass windows, featuring Christ’s birth, at the rear of the building.  The front of the church contains a beautiful wooden pipe organ.

I find this process of discovering pilgrimages sites to be enjoyable and informative.  Sometimes more of a story lurks below the surface!  I noted earlier that the Sea Breeze post office was named for a Senator from Maine.  I wondered if he was a frequent visitor to the area, but thought little more of it.  I wondered about the “popular” paper of Mrs. Post, so I searched the internet for references and uncovered a story of spiritual movements, dreams of a utopian settlement, political intrigue (including a US Senator), postal fraud, and disgraced lives.  Tomorrow I will spin the intriguing tale of Mrs.Post, the New Thought movement, distant healing and a case that made its way to the Supreme Court.

It was a dynamic process that brought the community of Sea Breeze to the edge of a pristine and beautiful beach.  It was a dynamic process that brought me to learn of this site and its story.  It is a dynamic process that brought me to share it with you.  It will be a similar dynamic and unfolding process that will help us connect with each other, connect with our shared history and connect with the world.

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!

Read Full Post »

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  129                                              Days Blogged: 111

New Mileage: 4                                                                 Total Trip Mileage: 908

This morning as enjoyed my coffee and prepared for the day I came across an article in USA Today entitled “Young adults today are a ‘less religious’ bunch,” the subheading stated: “But not necessarily more secular!”  I mentioned this article in my Psychology of Religion class and it led to an energetic discussion.  The article compares 18 to 29-year-olds of the current generation to the four prior generations at the same age.  What you see is that the number of individuals reporting that they have no religious affiliation has consistently increased with each generation.  Only 5% of individuals born before 1928, reported being without religious affiliation when they were 18 to 29, whereas for the current group, born after 1980, that percentage jumps to 26% reporting no religious affiliation.  The article goes on to note that while they may not be as involved with church as earlier generations members of this generation are just as likely to pray and to believe in God.

I noted to my students that these results appear to fit with the growing number of individuals, who described themselves as “spiritual but not religious”.  My class discussed how to understand these results using a popular framework for analyzing religious beliefs.  This framework involves looking first at the level of generality: either a Personal Level of beliefs (e.g., individual’s belief in God, heaven and hell, sin, and the causes of our suffering, etc.) or the Social Level of beliefs (e.g., church dogma, agreed upon forms of prayer and religious rituals, etc.). The framework then involves the depth of analysis: either an analysis of Substance/Form (e.g., different names used for God, different Sacred Scriptures, different forms of prayer, etc.) or an analysis of Function (e.g., the purpose for prayer, the benefits of belonging to a church, provides guidance, creates a sense of safety and purpose).

 

Analysis of Religious and Spiritual Beliefs and Behaviors:

                                      Personal                            Social

Substance             Spiritual Beliefs                  Religious Beliefs 

Function            Intrapersonal Needs           Interpersonal Needs

Viewing the above table, we can see that the study results address only the Substance/Form level of analysis.  In addition, we can see that the results point to a weakening of the Social (Religious-church) dimension while the Personal (Spiritual) dimension remains intact. How can we explain these results?  I believe that if we consider the importance of the functional level of analysis we can form several hypothesis: 1) That churches are no longer meeting the Interpersonal Needs of Individuals (e.g., forming a sense of community, providing common/shared beliefs, providing moral leadership, creating a sense of renewal), so they drift away but retain their Personal Spiritual Beliefs which help to meet their Intrapersonal Needs (e.g., need for safety and security, need for guidance); 2) That individuals are no longer interested in the Interpersonal Needs and instead are overly focused on their Intrapersonal Needs.

With respect to the first hypothesis, we certainly see churches in many denominations struggling to maintain membership levels especially among young people. Some people argue that churches are losing their relevance as the quality of moral leadership displayed by church leaders implodes (e.g., sexual abuse of children, focus on hot button political or social issues that are not relevant to most people’s lives, focus on church financial needs).  Clergy that in past generations were marching at the front of rights movements now are often pitted against current minority groups and their demands. Young people who have grown accustom to homosexuality, inter-racial dating, and a “one world view” see churches taking stands on these issues that create division in their communities. Such churches work against a unified community and world!

Interesting, we see more and more churches adopting the “mega-church” model.  The idea is that people now expect that the church experience (music, sermons, and the building) should be engaging and entertaining. The church should “draw people in” with offerings like a good store sale!  We see growth in these mega-churches that offer a smorgasbord of services and experiences, one size does not fits all or “sell well” anymore!  Many churches are frantically trying to retool to better meet these needs, even to the point of announcing that “God wants you to be rich!”  I wonder how many long dead ministers and priests are turning over in their grave because of that one?   Dr. Keith Campbell, co-author of the book: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, recently told a story about visiting his sister’s California mega-church.  She noted that they could either go into the main sanctuary and listen to the sermon, or go next door to the contemporary service with more modern music, or they could go to the church coffee shop and bookstore where they could sit and have a coffee while they watch the service on a widescreen TV.  However, these churches maybe fighting a losing battle!

How so you ask?  The second hypothesis points to the importance of the individual church member’s balance between Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Needs.  Dr. Campbell notes that on a wide variety of different indicators the current generation of individuals shows strong self-center narcissistic traits.  He notes that our social institutions (of which religion is one) are being forced to change to meet the individual demands of these young people.  Education is another social institution that is frantically trying to figure out how to advance societies needs when faced with youth who are use to multidimensional entertainment.

I recently came across a statement in the most unlikely of places, a scrap booking shows on cable!  A sales person, in talking about their product, noted: People want to be underwhelming by the requirements, and they want to be overwhelmed by the product. I suspect that many churches are embracing a marketing philosophy that holds: the less you can ask them to do and the more you can give them, the more likely they will return and stay. That thinking may continue to fuel church member’s spiritual beliefs but not necessarily their religious beliefs.

If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »