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August 31, 2013

Choosing your faith community

(Continued)

But now is the time to interject a word of caution. The above “types” are admittedly too simplistically portrayed. Choosing, or being chosen by, a faith community is not like shopping for a car or for the best cut of steak to grill. If you desire a tailor-made religious experience and you insist on being your own tailor, your religious experience may not end up being very useful over time. If you prefer a highly liturgical worship format, if only for its impressive style and drama, chances are your commitment to it may risk being little more than a superficial pretense at a life of real faith. If you like a highly emotional worship format, perhaps for its excitement and its personal activities and interaction that goes with it, and you also like to “revel” in what may be described as nostalgia for “old-time religion,” you may find your religious experience and spiritual sensitivity beginning to wane after a while, or it may actually fall apart when a personal crisis comes along. If you prefer the intellectual worship format, chances are your religious experience might take the form of a kind of philosophy of life rather than a living faith.

Of course, the catch here is that, first of all, authentic religious experiences are neither ONLY just liturgical or emotional or intellectual. An authentic faith-experience in a worship setting involves most of these expressional needs, and perhaps many more. I am suggesting that authentic religion with its vital faith impulses finds its source, its motivation and its spiritual appetite not exclusively in any one of the above “types” of settings, but rather in a certain few commonly recognizable principles of a God-given life, whatever worship setting you may choose. These are principles that seem to flow from the divine well-spring — basic principles that allow and encourage us to build upon our own understanding of human nature and our relationship to fellow-humans, and to enable our own understanding of God and His will for us, as well as to enhance our own sensing of the universe that surrounds and envelops us and our relationship to it.

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