534: Readers say pets are leading them spiritually & Nones are leading us all

Two horses
WELCOME!

Once again, thanks to readers like you,
we’ve got your feedback to share …

Seeing a Spiritual Link To Our Pets …
Is Moving Millions to Care for Our Larger World

Cat gets a drink from faucet Millions of Americans love their pets, so there’s perhaps no surprise in this headline—except that a whole host of creative people—right now this autumn—are celebrating these spiritual links.
    Thursday, we published Cindy LaFerle’s moving story, “Eulogy for a Very Fine Cat.” That immediately moved reader Christine to send this note: “My neighbor called me this moring to say her kitty died this morning at
the ripe old age of 19. She is heartbroken. I’ll be sharing this story
with her. Thank you!

    These are powerful, widespread links among people and animals.
    IF YOU LIVE NEAR Augusta, Georgia, for example: The Rev. Rodger Murchison invites you to come with your pet (in carriers and on leashes to preserve some peace in the crowd) to a big animal blessing this Sunday, October 11, at 4 p.m. on the front lawn of the First Baptist Church of Augusta, Georgia.
    Here’s What’s So Creative about this Augusta church’s approach to the blessing: They’re connecting that event to a second event—a “social justice” forum in their region that will open up larger issues about caring for creation and the entire community. Now, that’s impressive planning! The ministry group at the church is beginning with families’ concern for their pets—and moving outward to open up fresh concern for the wider world.
    If you live in that area and want to attend the second event, it’s at 7 p.m. on October 15. Here’s a small excerpt from an open letter Rodger sent to his congregation: “Should a community be concerned about the issues of liberty and justice? I don’t live in Harrisburg, so why should I care about their crime problems? My company provides health insurance, so why should I care about the health-care debate? Phinez Swamp is for snakes and alligators, so why should I care about that boggy environmental issue?”
    “The issues of liberty and justice must not be seen as just generic community concerns that have no face, no name, or belong to someone else. … We are all neighbors. When one of our fellow citizens suffers, we all suffer. When one … is joyful, we all celebrate together.

    Bravo to the people of Augusta! And, thanks Rodger for sending us the news!
    CARE TO READ MORE? Here’s a link to our Resource Page on pets (including some terrific new Humane Society links). And, here’s a link to read about the popular, “Guardians of Being,” the new book by Eckhart Tolle and “Mutts” cartoonist Patrick McDonnell. Finally, here’s a link to our Bible Here And Now lesson plan for youth groups.

The March of the Nones … 
Is a Vivid Snapshot of Faith in Motion

Communities in motion “NONES”—they represent one of the hottest topics in American religion today. Who are they? They’re the 30 to 40 million Americans who answer “none,” when asked for their religious affiliation by a pollster.
     This week in ReadTheSpirit, we published an interview with Harvard’s venerable scholar Dr. Harvey Cox—on his new book, “The Future of Faith.” In effect, that book says that “nones” are a wave of what’s to come that shouldn’t scare people of faith. If you missed it, check out the interview—among other things, Harvey’s book is guaranteed to spark spirited discussion in your small group.
    Then—all week long—Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues.org explored the latest data on “nones”—who they are, what they believe … and lots more. Click here to jump to the final part of the week-long OurValues.org series (then scroll down that page to read all the parts).
    Lots of readers chimed in with comments—including “nones” themselves.
    Here’s a “none” note that doesn’t appear in the OurValues.org series this week—from reader Patricia Arnold:
    “What’s my religious background?
I was raised Baptist, converted to Catholicism when I was in college, and converted to New Thought Christianity in my 30s.

    “New Thought most closely mirrored my belief in a loving God who is
Love—not judgmental, vindictive, gendered, and didn’t solve problems
by killing people. During the past decade, however, I was becoming
increasingly annoyed by the focus on the idea that we can make God do
our will if we visualize, emote and expect our physical desires to
materialize. As a result, I stopped going to church and used my Sundays
to write books and blog posts on spirituality. Earlier this year, I
decided to involve other members in the church alumni association, as
Bishop John Shelby Spong calls it, to gather virtually each week for
what I call “Homilies for the Home-Churched—Spirituality for
Thinkers.” The homilies are posted on my blog.

    “I won’t say that the current categories don’t fit anymore. I don’t
fit the current categories. … Church is a place were like-minded people gather. I’m sure
that the current categories are just fine, but they are for those who
share those beliefs. I have not found the place where my mind fits.”

    Thanks, Patricia for a thought-provoking note! And, we are still welcoming comments on Nones either by Email directly to ReadTheSpirit—or post your thoughts directly into the OurValues.org conversation on “nones.”

PLEASE TELL US WHAT YOU THINK:

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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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