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What About the Children?

Posted by Roberta Grimes • November 23, 2019 • 43 Comments
Book News, Human Nature, The Teachings of Jesus, Understanding Reality

Nearly all the people who ask me questions are past the age of fifty. They are trying to deepen their spiritual life, and they aren’t finding ways to do that in their lifelong Christian beliefs and practices. Often they have been seeking for years, trying out different spiritual options like meditation, yoga, New Age, and various Eastern religions, but never feeling satisfied. By the time they reach out to me, many of these people are frustrated and even angry. Some have come to think that good answers to their spiritual questions will never be found.

Fortunately, I think the spiritual questions that are being asked by cradle Christians have satisfying answers, but that is primarily because they have a grounding in traditional Christianity. As is true of a bush that has become overgrown, if we can prune away the misshapen branches that are based in fear and negativity, we often can help them get back to their childhood Gospel roots. But this sort of fix will not be possible for the so-called Millennials, close to half of whom claim to have no religious affiliation. And for Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2015, present trends suggest that when they are adults few of them will have any spiritual roots at all.

Western Europe is at least a generation ahead of the United States in losing its Christian grounding. The ultimate result of this spiritual falling-away in Europe cannot yet be assessed, but even in the United States we are seeing some pretty appalling results as the religiously affiliated percentage of this nation continues to decline toward 50%. Since Christianity is based in fear, this result seems to be counterintuitive; but fear and negativity are rising here exponentially! Whether it is political warfare, violent entertainments, or panic that every weather event will soon make this planet uninhabitable: the fact is that the United States has become dramatically more fearful and angry. It is time to step back a bit from the fray and try to understand what has gone so wrong and how we might begin to repair it.

We talked here a couple of weeks ago about the reasons that most lapsed Christians give for outright leaving the faith:

  • They can no longer believe many of Christianity’s core teachings.
  • They love the Jesus they first met as children, but they don’t find Him in the pews as adults.
  • They find many of the Christian faithful to be cliquish, judgmental, and “un-Christian.”
  • They find in modern Christianity only rules and dogmas, not spiritual food.

As was said above, we can address these issues for people who grew up in Christianity. But in a couple of decades the number of American adults who are not cradle Christians easily will pass fifty percent! And there is probably nothing we can do at this point to change that result. What we can do, though, is to think about how we might best replace the highly problematic Christianity of Constantine, Calvin, and Torquemada with the gentle Christian Way based in universal Gospel truths that Jesus came to earth to begin.

Recent surveys suggest that for younger Millennials, the first and fourth of the reasons for leaving Christianity that their elders give are the primary reasons why so many young American adults are not religious. They find many Christian teachings to be intolerable, both unloving and hard to believe, which indeed they are! But understandably, most Christian leaders are not prepared to consider the fact that the religion’s decline is a direct result of the unpleasant and antiquated ideas at its core. The Wall Street Journal has just run an article by Timothy Beal, a professor of religion at Case Western University, who reports that in the youngest Millennial cohort (those who are 18 to 29 years old), 44% are so-called “Nones,” those who choose to declare no religious affiliation. He speculates that “Maybe it’s because their idea of faith is too narrow.”

Dr. Beal believes the young are leaving Christianity because of secular social pressures, because many of their parents are in mixed marriages or are otherwise less religious, and because more traditionally religious functions are being performed by “alt-religious” communities, many of which are online. But he admits that the answers that young people themselves give for having abandoned Christianity suggest that, just like their elders, they are turned off by the religion itself. According to a 2018 Pew poll, young Millennials “question a lot of religious teachings” (60%) and “don’t like the positions churches take on political/social issues” (49%).

Dr. Beal’s proposal for addressing the fact that almost half of the youngest Millennials reject the very idea of religion is to engage them in discussions. He says, “I find that when my students, including the majority Nones, are given access to religion not as a set of teachings and positions but as a space for active engagement with enduring questions, they lean in. Indeed, they find this way of thinking about religion a refreshing change from their generally polarized political interactions and personalized newsfeeds.” He adds, “What we need is sustained conversation in a context that allows and even welcomes different experiences and points of view. What do you mean when you self-define as religiously None? What is the story behind that box you checked? What are the teachings and positions that you question? Did you always question them, or did something in your life lead you to think differently?…When it comes to religion, Nones are almost never nothing at all.”

A thoughtful Catholic layperson wrote a lengthy article on the religious website Patheos.com in which she refuted every Catholic talking-point given by the auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, who is considered to be “one of the hip bishops that has a better understanding of the plight of young people.” Her article is full of zingers, my favorite of which is this: Our teaching is hard. But don’t you see the irony in insisting that married lay couples never use a condom and that homosexually oriented lay men and women remain celibate for life, when priests and bishops acted like libertines, predators and pimps?” And not to be outdone in the sinning department, Evangelical churches nationwide are being roiled by sex scandals of their own. To quote an excellent Patheos article about sexual abuse in the fundamentalist Evangelical community, Billy Graham’s grandson Boz Tchividjian … has been ringing a similar alarm. … He’s been telling Christians for at least five years that they need to quit being so ‘very arrogant when pointing to Catholics’ because what they’re facing is ‘worse’.” An appalling number of Christian leaders have used their positions of power to sexually abuse the very people they claim they have been called by God to serve. To the unpalatable nature of Christian dogmas and the cruelty of some Christian social teachings, we might add as a reason why many of the young are leaving Christianity the moral hypocrisy of so many Christian leaders.

This rapid falling-away from spiritual pursuits by the very young might be seen to be a crisis. It is happening more slowly in some places than in others, but fear-based religions are losing their hold worldwide; and while getting rid of the fear is a good thing, for young people to be abandoning the very idea of spirituality is not. I don’t have a pat answer to this problem, although it preoccupies me more and more: the thought that in a century or less most children may be growing up without a glimmer of a spiritual grounding seems tragic! But it also gives us some wonderful opportunities, if we can take advantage of them. As the great French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin  so brilliantly said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” The urge to be a spiritual seeker is at the very core of each newborn child, and the fact that for more and more such children that urge will not be filled by Christian dogmas gives us the wonderful opportunity to fill their needs with the Lord’s true words and the urge to follow His genuine Way.

I have been thinking through how we might begin to offer the Lord’s Way to everyone, with an emphasis on the very young. If we focus on the young, their elders will follow! We should welcome everyone’s ideas, but for now it seems to me that the Lord’s true movement should be:

  • Without dogmas. Our only scripture will be the genuine words of Jesus in the Gospels, and there can never be any core idea that anyone is required to believe.
  • Unstructured and organic. Jesus stressed that He and His disciples were servants. And so also must we be servants! No Pope, no bishops, no priests. Just equals helping one another.
  • Grounded in social justice. Not the angry, shouting kind, but instead a gentle and love-based outreach that honors and supports each person as the eternal beings that we are.

And above all, we must forever grant to God the right to give us new revelation!

As we prepare to share the teachings of Jesus with the young in entirely spiritual ways, my second children’s picture book (about the death of a pet) will be out next year. Meanwhile, I am hearing from parents who tell me how much their little ones are enjoying The Fun of Meeting Jesus. I bless the lovely artist who created these books’ beautiful illustrations!

Having taken Christianity’s current pulse, let’s check in now with another dogma-based belief-system as it tries to come to terms with the idea of human immortality….

 

Little girl photo credit: Kevin Celedón <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/81465146@N05/14645990944″></a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Baby photo credit: FrankGuido <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/70973526@N00/9234165795″>Newest Addition</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Baby eyes photo credit: Neticola <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29413803@N00/172696141″>Alejandro</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Adigrat boy photo credit: Rod Waddington <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/64607715@N05/47978257952″>Adigrat Boy</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Roberta Grimes

Roberta Grimes is an internationally recognized expert on death and the afterlife. Learn More

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43 thoughts on “What About the Children?

  1. Thank you for focusing on this phenomenon, Roberta. It’s important to note that this entry isn’t really about the children. It is about all living beings, here on earth and elsewhere in all of reality. It is just that big.

    There is a saying that when we educate one generation, we are sending a message seven generations hence. We assume that having children, raising a family, is not a phenomenon but an activity we choose to engage in or not. Considered existentially, though, the birth and growth of a generation is all that we are, at any given moment. First there is no baby, then there is, then there is this grown adult staring back at you, making decisions. Where’s the child?

    All else that we do is in support of this existential moment — whether we are the “parents” or choose other roles of experience in the “village.” All is the same activity.

    We are messengers. What is the message we are sending the seventh generation about the moment, the planet and the rest of life.

    1. Very powerfully said, dear Mike (and Arrow)! And no, you’re right, this isn’t just about the children. It is about our society as a whole, its morality and its ideals, and the priority it places (or does not place) on the spiritual development of each individual. But of course, for me personally it is mostly about the children! They are born with a hunger that must be fed, not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually. Above all else in my life, I want to feed the children!

      1. Hi Roberta, You know she always starts with the sublime, and then urges me to bring it down to our every day lives. I agree with you. With this existential awareness in mind about the importance of how we feed the children, let’s do it! Seven generations from now, they’ll see us as their ancestors. What are we telling them.? Then again, in THIS generation, what seeds must we plant with them?

  2. I honestly have to say that I have big issues with Christianity and some cults for that matter, The leaders have poisoned the flock with heard poisoning, and they kill their wounded.
    I have been poisoned (brain washed, radicalized ..) and all but destroyed due to the poor leaders in our spiritual store houses, there are many belief systems in this country(world) Montana.
    I have been in trouble and helped those in trouble through Faith based programs an example of that it: Team Mentoring T.E.A.M. Teach, Encourage,Assist, Model. There main purpose is to help Those that are in and coming out of our prison systems, and the youth that are left behind when a parent is taken away and locked up.
    This looks like it would be a great program gets everyone evolved with the intent to help. All they did is lead the broken to slaughter, each church has set up a few men and women to mentor, and help these get back into society.
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
    The way I see it Christ called me, “Just As I Am”. That tells me, He wants me, not some imitation of another. I believe I am to confess my sins to those I have harmed, Not To Everyone.
    Here is the biggest problem I have seen throughout this whole mess. It is the Covert Sociopath. This is your masquerading angle of light, and false servants of righteousness.
    As far as I am concerned this is the spirit of the anti – Christ, because it goes against every teaching the LORD JESUS CHRIST has given us in His gospel teachings.
    When I go to church I really do feel like I am alone in a crowd, and I have been to many, and it is the same everywhere.
    Jesus warned of this kind of behavior, Now What.

    1. Oh dear Rocky, this is so powerful! Thank you for sharing it. Personally, I have a strong felt need to help the children (and especially the boys) whose parents (especially fathers) are imprisoned; and I want to help the work toward prison reform, and begin to create a society where those who commit nonviolent and white-collar crimes will never spend one day behind bars so we can minimize the toll that imprisonment would otherwise take upon their innocent children. The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, but almost 25% of its prison population! It is a big business in this country, it does nothing to limit crime, and it destroys for no reason far too many lives.

      That said (and thank you for giving me the chance to say it!), I am sorry that traditional Christianity has failed you, but you are right in saying that Jesus and His Way won’t fail you. So let’s all start to work on building it together?

      1. Thanks for your reply, I really don’t see the Church as failing me, I see it more as it is failing itself, manly because there is no commitment to the causes they create. (money is always an issue)
        I thought that sociopath described it pretty good, unlike the narcissist who is all about themselves, and the psychopath who don’t even know that they do wrong. The Sociopath is more cunning and they have plenty of iniquity, in other words a lot to hide. I personally believe God has blessed me with empathy. As a kid my Mother told me that some people don’t like me because I can see through them, they feel exposed around me.
        I was also told by a counselor that because I spent a lot of time a lone as a kid, I had to learn who I could trust and couldn’t trust just for survival. So, I can tell fairly quickly if a person is the real deal or not.
        I personally believe that this is an epidemic in the whole of society. It is destroying families and creating all kinds of personality disorders. The God I know is all about family from yours to His, and as a Christian I am His and He knows the truth.Maybe that’s why Jesus said many are called but few are chosen? We are dealing with bad fruit, that is the bottom line, the Bible states clearly what that is. Families are crumbling, jails are full so full that people have to sleep on the floor, prisons are bursting at the seems. As the saying goes it takes a village…

  3. The good news, Roberta, is that nowadays there are many wonderful books available with good information about spirituality, life after death etc. This wasn’t true until fairly recently. There is even a well respected neurosurgeon (Eben Alexander) going around lecturing people on his experience of “dying” and wrote an excellent book about it. This would have never happened years ago. These relatively recent books, together with the internet, are a wealth of information readily available to everyone. Mostly all of the authors are credible people and were never considered to be hippies, weirdos, or liars. On the contrary, many are serious researchers. Therefore, children and young adults have an advantage today that didn’t exist in the past.

    1. Ah, dear Lola, Dr. Eben Alexander is making a wonderful career for himself, and he is giving people evidence that our minds easily exist apart from our bodies, but he knows nothing about the afterlife. The most recent time I was interviewed by George Noory on Gaia TV, they showed me some clips of what Dr. Alexander had said about the “afterlife” and asked me if he was right. I hadn’t read his books, and I was surprised to find that he was 100% wrong, sad to say!

      But, yes, there is much more good information available now than there ever has been before. However, being exposed to the fact that we happily survive our deaths is really just the first, essential step toward our developing a genuine spiritual life that will enable us to grow! We are talking now about what the steps should be in trying to educate people, and of course afterlife education comes first. It’s a grounding. Then we can build from there!

      1. In what way was Eben Alexander wrong? I never heard what he said about the afterlife, so I’m just curious. In the book, he only recounted his own experience and was amazed, as he realized that his brain was literally shut down, and it was impossible for him to have had a vivid dream or hallucination. Also, there isn’t as much criticism toward people who choose to grow spiritually as there was in the past. This is so much more acceptable now than it was in the relatively recent past.

        1. My dear, it has been nearly a year since we did the interview. All I recall is that they played him saying a few things, and he was clearly describing NDE experiences. Something about flying over a field, I think, with odd other creatures; I’m sorry, but I really don’t remember. What is striking to those who are dead in all the hundreds of their experiences that I have read is the fact that it is so normal there, at least when people first arrive!

          It wouldn’t matter a fig to me whether NDE-ers go to the actual afterlife or not, but (a) the dead consistently tell us they don’t, and (b) their experiences are so variable, and they often include religious aspects, judgment, God in person, and other things that simply don’t exist in the genuine afterlife. My job is to teach the truth, insofar as I am given it, and I am trying to do that job!

          And yes, thanks perhaps to the New Age period, I think people are more open to the notion of spiritual growth. Fortunately!

          1. Well, Dr. Alexander had an NDE and of course never got to see the actual afterlife. However, he was, and still is, convinced that there is survival of the soul, and that’s a lot for a doctor/scientist to admit. He was flying over a field with countless butterflies, though, and he said it was more real to him than earth life ever was. Again, that’s a lot for a neurosurgeon to admit in public and shows that things are finally beginning to change.

  4. Hi Roberta,
    I like your example about the overgrown bush. Although organized religion has its share of flaws, it appears the younger generation is making a bigger mistake by substituting it for political correctness. The likely result is more fear and anger.

    1. Dear Tom, I’m glad I said something of which you approve ;-). I know that some of what I say here about Christianity seems harsh to you. I was there, too: I majored in early Christian history, for heaven’s sake; I loved the religion with everything in me, and even now I look for ways to correct it rather than losing the good parts altogether. Like you, I think what may take its place for the young will be even more fear-based and anger-based, which helps no one! So we are feeling our way forward together, now. And I’m grateful for your careful insights.

  5. Dear Lola, of course you are perfectly right about Dr. Alexander’s experience, about his courage in talking about it, and about the fact that is indeed evidence that the mind can work normally when away from the body. He was in the astral, which is beyond this material universe, and that fact is truly amazing!

    Again, my problem is that a near-death experience is not actual death, and it tells us very little about actual death. NDEs are so individual and aberrant that the distinction has to be preserved.

  6. I have read the Bible a lot – and I do read the URANTIA Book (free on the internet). It substantially adds the right loving correction to the Christianity, that is too literal or judgemental.

    1. Dear Jon, I have heard of but never read the URANTIA book, but it is my sense that there are a number of ways that the teachings of Jesus can be augmented or customized for each of us. I’m glad that you have found what brings you peace!!

  7. Very fine article and I identified with much of what you brought out. In the 1980s I began to become very disillusioned with the Methodist church of which I had been a lifelong member. In fact, I was appointed to the church’s version of the Board of Director- The Laity Board of one of the largest Conferences in the U.S. After one meeting of it’s 23 members, I decided that I must go somewhere else because the focus of the meeting was to have an eleborate banquet for the retiring bishop and little focus was given to the inner city youth that desperately needed help and guidance.
    For almost fifteen years, I floundered not having an answer to where I might go for my spiritual needs. One day, I met a man who would become one of my closest friends and spiritual guide. He provided a book that has changed the spiritual life of many thousands of people over the last 100 years- The Autobiography of A Yogi. The life of Master Yogananda inspired me to the point that I associated with the organization he founded, The Self Realization Fellowship. One of the teachings of Yogananda is the “You will never find god inside a church or a mosque. He is only found within”. I thus encourage anyone seeking more direction in their spiritual path to read this book. It may change the direction of their spiritual life.

    1. Oh my! Dear Rick, it frustrates me, too, when those who should be caring for the neediest among us will instead do things like throwing banquets for bishops!

      The Autobiography of a Yogi is another spiritual book that I haven’t read myself (my guide, Thomas, keeps me on a tight leash), but from what I know of it, I think it is genuinely helpful to those with whom it resonates. I’m so glad it has worked for you!

  8. Dear Roberta. For many years now I have considered myself a None, like many of the younger folks you are discussing here, but I was still a seeker, as well as coming back to an appreciation of the teachings of Jesus after ranging far and wide. How many of the younger ones, like myself, consider themselves “spiritual but not religious?” I suspect more than we realize. However, there is so much out there to weed out, and it seems to multiply exponentially on the internet, that it must be getting harder and harder to separate the signal from the noise. I’ve been working at that for 40 plus years – mostly pre-internet which was confusing enough, but even though the new generations are much better at navigating the digital database than myself, it must still be quite daunting.
    Also, amen regarding prison reform. This country has one of the highest incarceration rates, if not THE highest, in the world. What has it accomplished? We have more crime, violence, and drug addiction than ever – so many ruined lives. The so-called war on drugs has been more like a genocide. This country needs to get beck to common sense and compassion, focusing our attention on the violent criminals, and even they need to be treated with more understanding. How many kids say they want to grow up to be criminals? Something went wrong, and there is usually plenty of room for repentance, reeducation, and reintegration into society, if our society could become a bit more compassionate and forgiving.

    1. Dear Scott, my main concern when it comes to prison reform right now is the very young black men. One in nine of them grows up without his father because the dad is incarcerated, often for a nonviolent crime, and without a father these kids often are disruptive in school and become caught up in what is called “the school-to-prison pipeline.” Putting as many incarcerated fathers as possible back into the home – and especially the black fathers! – has become my obsession.

      Also, Thomas feels that the way to reach young people with good spiritual food is to teach them to understand and follow the teachings of Jesus. I have come to agree with him!

  9. Dear Roberta,
    I too have been looking to deepen my spiritual growth and have been just disappointed along the path of my life in various religions. I was born into the Jewish faith and then tried Catholicism. But the negative aspects of the latter religion turned me off and made me question religion at all. How can a God conceive of both a Heaven and Hell and then use it to control us. I could never believe in a Loving God that would put forth such concepts. Heaven and Hell can certainly exist on this Earth at once though. And what else has been revised out of the Bible that would let people know what powerful beings they really are, made in the image of God.
    The overburden of information being released today is almost too much to assimilate, but has been useful to me to realize that the Spirit in each of us is so precious and that we are all energetic beings, universally tied together, separate in order to do our part of helping to create a better world, for All of Us Together. Now science is beginning to show this to be true. Recently, when viewing an incredibly beautiful picture taken of space by the Chandra telescope, which is not an optical telescope, but pictures the energy ‘fields’ pronounced by stars and shows the delicate neural energetic pathways between stars, a purple field (in this picture) of pure loving energy. That is the so-called dark energy that we have been looking for, the field of universal information and loving energy that ties us all together. Meditation has also brought me closer to finding deeper spiritual meaning and a greater, more loving connection to my fellow man and the spirit of God within me. I no longer have to look ‘out there’ to find love and peace, it is already within me, waiting to be shared with others.
    So a renewed interest in any religion that allows for differing opinions and views, based upon the Gospels, is needed. I’m not sure where our society is headed, but the dissolving of religion in not the answer. We must continually strive to seek the deepening of our Spirit and in all of those beautiful souls around us.
    Thank you so much Roberta for what you do for us all. Love you!
    Scott

    1. Dear Scott, you are very sweet! And what you say here is lovely.

      Actually, I hesitate even to talk about yet another version of a Christian religion, since religions themselves are dogma-based by definition. They become like flies in amber, stuck in the time, place, and ideas of their founders, which is the last thing we would want! I had hoped that the Unity movement (“New thought, ancient wisdom”) would be the ticket, but in the past few years it has elevated its founders to the role of sages and their beliefs to dogmas, which is the last thing the Filmores and other of the Unity greats would have wanted!

      I think the solution may be to create what Jesus created, a completely secular movement (they called it “the Way”). We can then encourage different views of the teachings of Jesus, strongly discourage people’s feeling the need to always agree, and also do what Jesus did, and say basically that so long as things are done from love, everything is permissible. I don’t know. But we are about to figure it out together!

  10. Dearest Roberta,
    What a great blog this week; Thomas and your good self have ‘nailed it’ in a loving, visionary and deeply concerned way.

    I really like the four points (3+1) that the Lord’s new movement should be. (IE: Sans dogmas; unstructured & organic; grounded in social justice and making space for further revelation.) These points correct the errors that have plagued religions for millennia. 👍

    Please may I offer some of my own understanding on relating to kids and especially teenagers, gleaned from years of high school and college teaching.

    I’ve learned that listening to teens, really listening, and then ‘meeting them where they are at’ produces tremendous results in terms of youth engagement. Often busy parents haven’t got the time or energy to hear their kids’ ideas. So the kids need a forum of expression. If teens use Internet forums and group meetings, then this is how the Lord’s Way can engage them. Teen chat rooms re: things spiritual have great potential. Also balanced, non aggressive social justice platforms where teens can achieve actual goals could be part of this. (Of course, on line courses could also be the way to go.)

    Roberta, I’ve seen that once you give teens the opportunity of creative input, they see that they can make a real difference in the world. Teens then feel engaged, worthy and valued; their sense of loyalty and enthusiastic action soon follows and increases exponentially.

    This brings me to something else that I have learned. Once you give sincere teens a responsibility, they step up and achieve goals that they may never have achieved before. For example, I’ve seen this with apathetic high school students who have been given the job of mentoring younger, newer kids. The mentors found a sense of purpose, and even troublesome teens became trustable, enthusiastic helpers. They awakened their older brother/sister qualities and grew their empathy and engagement to new levels.

    Something else I’ve found very, very important in teenage education may be of value here: If you spoon feed all the necessary knowledge and information to teens they may not engage from the heart at all. Often, teens take the spoon feeding for granted and put little input of their own into something. They engage superficially, if at all. But if you give them just some knowledge and the techniques to find the answers for themselves, then they will hunt down the answers relentlessly! This results in pure enjoyment. Teens take their hard won knowledge to heart, and if the subject is deeply spiritual it will change them forever.

    Lead them to discover the effectiveness of the Way for themselves and these teens in need of spiritual food and growth, will awaken Jesus within. It’s the act of finding for themselves that makes the difference.
    To me this feels like the ending of a well crafted film that leaves you to figure out the plot twist and/or the deeper meaning. Nothing is more enjoyable or makes a bigger imprint on you, than your own dawning realization once the movie is over. And you’ll remember the film for years.

    Lastly my dear, concerning (CD) COGNITIVE DISSONANCE:
    CD may prove one of the hardest, most emotionally stressful experiences of life. As you know, this is where two or more deeply held, opposing ideas or beliefs are at war inside a person. CD has makes people quite depressed and leeches confidence (esp spiritual confidence). In short, it is very disempowering.

    For example, someone may believe in a meditation yoga system that is supposedly based on compassion. Yet this person sees homophobia practiced there. This idea conflicts with the understanding that sexuality is biochemically based and is not a choice. The individual feels pain that gays/lesbians are blamed and shunned for ‘choosing’ homosexuality, while concurrently believing in the veracity of this yoga system. These two opposing ideas create inner disharmony that may last for years. To clear away CD is a must in order to be truly at peace. This individual must choose between the two conflicting beliefs. He/she needs to believe that being gay is okay, or believe that spiritual homophobia is right. Not to make a choice here is to let the pain of cognitive dissonance spoil inner growth. (Though as to that, I feel homophobia itself spoils growth because it is a form of non forgiveness.)

    So, please may I suggest that the young ones need to be taught to resolve any CD that they might have, so that they can grow. I really feel that this is very important.

    If religion holds dogmas that conflict with their beliefs (like going to Hell for having sex outside of marriage) then they need to resolve this impasse. One might need to ditch Christian dogma and eradicate CD to truly find Jesus. Once resolved, vibrational growth can take place and teens will soon see the results for themselves. Its part of clearing the living room of our mind, right?

    Roberta, I’d love to hear any thoughts on all this, if you so choose to touch on such subjects. Please know that I think this week’s blog is pivotal. It offers a real plan for future generations. (As opposed to religions bemoaning the fate of the world, judging people, doing precious little and just sitting around waiting for the last judgment.)

    With regards to kids, teens and the rest of us one amazing Catholic nun named Margaret, who set up the Sydney hospice for people living with AIDS, told me one thing that ever rings true.
    She said, “All people really want is to be loved and accepted for who they are. ❣️🙏🏼🌹

    1. Thank you for this, Efrem. If I may, I’d like to add to your point about how to engage teens that “adults” — especially those of us who are “parents” — may overplay our role in an attempt either to “protect” the “children” or else protect a certain “tradition.” I am putting many words in quotes because these roles are not fixed. We prepare the next generation the way many cultures prepare their military — to fight the last war. When in fact, the objective is to give the up and coming generation the seeds to plant to grow the next, which we must encourage them to do well, but not decide how to do it for them.

      I hope this makes sense. See my comment above for more.

      1. Hey Mike, not only does your comment make sense it clarifies something that I feel is very important. By protecting and preparing our kids as many cultures prepare their military for war, we don’t hand over the seeds to them so that they can plant the next generation – at least not mindfully as a priority.
        Always the way of nature is best; to grow each generation to maturity so that they can work out how to plant the following generation is wise. This is a much richer way to parent them. We let them decide how to sow the next batch of saplings. Protecting the kids is one thing, but I guess there is much more to generational life than just security and tradition. (Spirit for one thing.)
        Thanks for your point and also for your original insight that we actually send messages to seven generations down the line. 👍👍

        1. PS – As a parent and not a social psychologist or anthropologist, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit I have not been as effective at avoiding the trap of bringing up my children to sow the next batch of saplings rather than tend the old orchard. But I have tried.

          1. Mike,
            I can’t imagine that you and your lovely wife would be anything but wonderful parents, giving your children a grounding both deep and wise.
            The self reflection that you have just shown here is an example of something quite valuable to kids’ growth of character for a start. 👍🙂

      2. Dear Mike and everyone, I read your conversation here about parenthood, and I smile. The plain fact is that all of us are brought up by amateurs! They put babies into the arms of beginners, and we don’t get to practice on that batch and then throw them out and get our real babies once we have learned how to do it right. And I figured this out (to my annoyance) long ago. I recall when I had young children that I would make mistakes, then crank to my husband that this wasn’t just our learner batch!

    2. Thank you Efrem for your input on this topic. I myself have dealt with CD for many years, and have only recently come completely to terms with it. That said, it has left me still today with thoughts of unworthiness and inadequateness. But, I have resolved my core beliefs and am at peace. I am optimistic about our youth and am still disappointed in the many ways our society badgers them. I am tired about hearing about the dysfunctions of the Millennials. We should expect them to find their own way to take on the challenges of tomorrow.

    3. Dear Efrem, as always, your thoughts are a wonderful contribution – thank you!

      I do think that Christianity as it now is practiced is going to have to be taken out, root and branch, before the teachings of Jesus can truly begin to work in the world. And your talk of homophobia is a great example of why! Christians revere the entire Bible. Despite its many obvious flaws, they place all of it at the center of their religion and consider the whole thing to be the Inspired Word of God, just because the bishops at Nicaea and the other Roman Councils self-importantly announced that in putting the Bible together they were being “inspired by God.” The first books of the Old Testament are mostly Jewish religious rules that are perhaps three millennia old and likely rooted in even older superstitions, and they are often barbaric! Full of cruelty and stoning our own children to death. Christian tradition ignores most of this as “outmoded” (despite its all being “the inspired Word of God”), but it chooses out “if a man lies with a man as with a woman, they shall both be put to death,” and uses that one phrase to anathematize same-sex attraction. And this is supposed to be a loving Christian approach to the world?

      To be frank, although the evidence strongly suggests that Jesus was married and a father – every observant Jew of His day would have been married in his teens – there is also evidence in the Gospels that He may have been same-sex attracted. Or else what is all this about John, “the disciple that Jesus loved,” who reclined beside Him at table and leaned back casually against His chest to talk to Him? The one He asked from the cross to look after His mother? But surely He must have loved all His disciples! So why then was John alone “the disciple that Jesus loved”? Why did His other disciples have John ask Him things and tell Him things, knowing that Jesus was especially close to John in particular?

      I don’t say this because it matters. It doesn’t! And that is my point. Pious Christians can judge and condemn and refuse to make cakes (all against the Lord’s command), but there in the Gospels is the Lord’s own life as a forever-living rebuke to them.

      1. Dearest Roberta,
        Everything is right there in those four Gospels, isn’t it? The Lord Himself, His deeds and His teachings.
        Everything else, all the human nonsense, pales in comparison.
        Thank you for a simply wonderful comment ! 🙏🏼❣️🌅

        1. Dear Efrem, it really is all in the Gospels. All that is sufficient for our lives. And it is all so beautiful! I am astonished that so few Christians seem ever to actually read the Gospels, which is one reason why so much that is wonderful still remains there: if they ever had read the Gospels closely at any time before the Bible was translated into modern English and widely distributed, I fear that they would have done considerable quick editing!

      2. I think that man’s hatred was projected onto Christianity. Once we start putting human traits into a divine being, nothing but trouble can come from it. That is why the “loving” parts of the Gospel have been so ignored.

  11. Efrem: I wanted to make a comment about what you mentioned above concerning homophobia. For 11 years, I worked in a cancer clinic and as a result came into contact with many AIDS patients. This was because many of them came down with Kaposi’s sarcoma, a form of cancer that attacks severely compromised immune systems (such as found in AIDS patients). The receptionist at the clinic actually believed that God was somehow penalizing these men for being gay (the patients were mostly males). Not surprisingly, she had been educated only in Catholic schools. This is a classic example of how instilling the wrong beliefs in children can carry over for long periods of time, since she was at the time in her late 30’s! She was obviously taught that God is selective with his “love” for others. It is extremely important that we teach children at an early age to be accepting of others who may have different lifestyles than our own and that we all can learn from one another. Incidentally, the nun (Margaret) who set up a Hospice program in Australia for AIDS patients is, in my opinion, a saint

  12. Lola: Thanks for your reply and your insights into how people often really think if they are taught about a punishing God. In all such religions, this idea creates ‘aspects of cruelty or indifference’ in people who are otherwise good. Yeah, it’s sad.

    Please understand my dear, that I can only write from my own experience to remain authentic. Hence, I mentioned homophobia within spiritual groups as an example of cognitive dissonance. I’ve endured an experience of this and I guess that’s why it came to mind.

    I do think however, that gay issues are only one part of the human tapestry of experience; important in themselves, but only a small part of the manyfold things humans have to deal with in this life.
    A different, widespread example of cognitive dissonance would be that many young people (who are mostly heterosexual) accept that chastity leading to monogamy is Biblically approved behavior, but feel guilty for sexual experiences that are programmed biologically to occur in young adulthood. (EG: ‘Sex happens. I need to accept that, but how can I do so when the Bible is against sex outside marriage?’) How do young adults of faith resolve this tension? The undue prominence of ‘sin’ in their thinking is very sad.

    And yes Lola, I’d say that Sister Margaret is a saint. I have the privilege to call her my friend. She is getting on now and is taking things a bit slower. Margaret (as she prefers to be called) is a very interesting person. She is quietly spoken but moves mountains, patiently and with a great deal of faith. She doesn’t invest belief in hell, but rather thinks that people of different faiths or none, will be held gently and lovingly by God after they die. Her heart tells her so. And she sees each person as a valuable child of God who is worthy of love.
    👍🕊

    1. I was a “buddy” to a man living with AIDS around 1990 in Indianapolis. Occasionally I accompanied him to the “nursing home” where those living with AIDs with no one to care for them were placed. At that time, AIDS patients were still separated for end of life care (out of fear, probably as much from visitors as from attending staff). My buddy, a hair dresser, went there when he felt up to it it to cut hair for the patients. It made him happy and them as well. It was very sobering to visit a place where many felt like outcasts to society and facing death. As Efrem quoted the devoted Nun, “All people really want is to be loved and accepted for who they are. ” Just a smile and a hug meant so much to them .

      1. Hey Timothy, I’m sorry that you experienced cognitive dissonance for a significant time. It is not a little uncomfortable, as the English say. I bet your CD lead to feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy. How could it be any other way?

        If one can somehow feel good enough, after the dissonance is resolved, that would be a wonderful freedom. I try to tell myself with conviction that I am loved; infinitely by the Infinite. And I must be good enough if God can love me.

        I think Lola’s work with people diagnosed with cancer, and your own buddying up with a guy living with AIDS are wonderful acts of caring and love. When people face a dire illness, an act of caring and a friendship means so very much. Doesn’t it make a huge difference in their lives !?
        As you said: ‘Just a smile and a hug meant so much to them.’ 🙏🏼🌅

  13. Efrem: I just used the receptionist as an example of my own experience to illustrate how beliefs and ideas that are taught to children can stay with them for many years. They in turn pass these on to their own children, and this has happened for centuries. This is coming to an end, however, as you probably noticed during your years as a teacher, especially in the case of teenagers who for the most part are now more independent free thinkers than they were in the past.

    How nice you have a friend like Sister Margaret. At the risk of sounding juvenile, she reminds me of some kind of “earth angel.”

    This is totally off topic, but I wondered how the situation in Australia is now. I hear nothing about it on the news any more and hope that this is a good sign.

    1. Lola: I like the term ‘earth angel’ and I kind of believe that some people come here to be just that to fellow human beings. I wish more people would decide to be angels to each other.

      And thanks for your concern about us down here in Australia:
      Well, it is quite a dangerous time for many Aussies. You see over the last few decades, many people have had a ‘sea change’ or a ‘tree change’. This means that people have moved from the big cities into the country. So they’ve ended up by the sea or surrounded by forest (bush as we call it). Now due to severe drought, these idyllic communities face the threat of sudden and speeding fires from all sides.

      Many towns and settlements have faced widespread and fast moving bushfires already. Some of the big ones have since been contained but are still burning. Other fires have been extinguished since those recent, terrible days. Though I have just heard of new fires and more homes lost today.

      In short, this thing isn’t over. We are about to start summer and there has been only modest rains in places. On days of high temperatures and severe winds the worst may be yet to come. We will see.

      The good thing is that people have been helping each other everywhere and in every way. They’ve been donating generously to those affected by this crisis. The fire services, which contain a high percentage of volunteers, have been well organized and simply heroic.
      🙏🏼❣️

  14. Oh no. I’m disappointed to hear that. I thought things were dwindling down, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It’s nice to know that people are helping each other, especially the volunteer fire fighters. They truly are heros.

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