Recently a newspaper that publishes my column invited discussion on its Web site at
Responding to my July 5 column which originally ran with the headline “Does the ‘Blame Game’ have cosmic consequences?” one post asks, “Where is the biblical application or praise to God . . .? What is the reason for this article being in the religious section?”
The comments continued down this unflattering path. (This in my hometown newspaper, no less.)
Another writer argued: “If an article is in the religious section . . . it should have some religious content of the individual, not just gibberish!”
Ouch! That one had some zing on it. Where are those ladies who write me each week saying they read my column to their Sunday school class?
As the discussion continued, it was obvious the readers didn’t agree with the editorial decision to place my spiritual column on the religion page. What may surprise some of these newer readers is I somewhat agree with them. I write a spiritual column, not a religious one.
What’s the difference, you ask?
Spirituality is that sense of awe and wonder we all have about creation, about who we are, how we hope, how we pray and how love works. Spirituality is that piece of ourselves attracted to something outside ourselves. It is that basic appetite or search engine that seeks our creator.
Spirituality does not equal Christianity. Spirituality is something that may attract one to Christianity, but it also may attract one to Buddhism.
My spiritual search led me to Christ. Jesus and the God he came to reveal is something I recommend to everyone when they ask about the hope I carry within me.
In that regard, Christianity is my chosen religion. And on Sundays I dialogue in Evangelical worship with those who believe as I do. But in the newspaper, I seek a more ambitious dialogue — one that takes me beyond the Christian community and into a conversation with all those made in the image of God.
It is the same kind of cross-
cultural dialogue I challenge my readers to explore and think about.
Now, if I may, consider how the reaction of the Web site writers can easily translate into a metaphor about how we seek to share our own faith with others.
There are many folks who seek to share their faith and spirituality on the religion page of life — sharing only with people like themselves. The soft expression for this strategy is “preaching to the choir.” The less kind expression is “Becoming so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.”
The problem with that strategy is if we only look for a god that looks like us, we are going to miss God in a lot of places. The truth is if you really believe your religion has relevance to life, then you’ll want to leave the discussion of like-minded people and test it out where all people live.
So, in the end, I’d rather write in the same way I live — not as some kind of apostle or Elmer Gantry evangelist, but hopefully a signpost or headline in life, gently nudging, not judging, people toward a relationship with a benevolent creator.