The God Beyond Organized Religion
Following the death of her best friend since high school, a religion professor re-examines her own personal beliefs about god. She realizes she doesn't want to be consoled by a 'transactional' god who exchanges 'right' belief and 'good' behavior for...
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Following the death of her best friend since high school, a religion professor re-examines her own personal beliefs about god. She realizes she doesn't want to be consoled by a 'transactional' god who exchanges 'right' belief and 'good' behavior for services upon request. She explores the concept of a 'transformative' god, one not aligned with any particular religion, who equips people to adapt to challenges and to spiritually grow from crises and traumas. Out of our experiences, something positive can emerge which helps us to be more empathic toward the suffering of others. Her story demonstrates how grief can be an opportunity to ponder the great mysteries of life and make meaning of our existence. She describes this process as a journey up the side of a mountain to explore how a concept of god both reflects and impacts the way a society approaches its contemporary social problems, such as global warming, poverty, and inequality. In doing so, she encounters a god beyond organized religion.
Laurene Beth Bowers is conference associate minister for congregational life and vitality in the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ, and she regularly leads workshops and congregational consultations on the Invitational Ministry process. She earned her D.Min. from Andover Newton School of Theology, and holds degrees in social work, psychology, the Hebrew bible, and alternative conflict resolution. Her writings include Becoming a Multicultural Church and Designing Contemporary Congregations: Strategies to Attract Those Under Fifty.