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Presentation at The Canterbury Forum at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Cedar Falls, IA. 2/24/13.

Presentation at The Canterbury Forum at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Cedar Falls, IA. 2/24/13.

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  • The first time the term SBNR was used was in Alcoholics Anonymous in the early 20th century.
  • Pastor Daniels and Dr. Bass offer rather different strategies to addressing the Spiritual but not Religious phenomenon.http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2011-08/you-can-t-makehttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/dianabutlerbass/2011/09/spiritual-but-not-religious-listening-to-their-absence/Which one do you resonate with?
  • My own approach has been deeply shaped by something I read in Brian McLaren’s book “A New Kind of Christian”. The book is written in a narrative format in which Dan (McLaren’s alter ego) pursues a new way of thinking about Christianity. In this particular scene Dan is on a panel with a conservative Christian who is complaining about seeing a cross and native American dream catcher hanging from the rear view mirror of a car. The man reacts with disdain because he regards it as syncretism. Dan counters by saying that his own reaction is to ask what these paired symbols communicate about what the person is longing for spiritually. I look at the SBNR phenomenon not so much as something to be feared, but rather an opportunity for us to ask what is missing in contemporary Christianity? I believe that the these two talisman’s indicate that the person may be yearning for a deeper sense of spirituality that they find missing in their lives and in the message of contemporary Christianity. The thing is that we have an incredible tradition of Christian spirituality that has often been deemphasized in the Church during the period of dominance by enlightenment rationalism.
  • -As we will see the majority of Americans aren’t actually SBNR, they describe themselves as Spiritual & Religious. But they are increasingly disaffiliating with organized Churches. -If McLaren is right…They’re doing this not because they are rejecting Christianity for their own religion but rather because they are yearning for something that the Christian tradition has a long history of…spirituality…-We will see that an interest in spirituality has always been present within religious consciousness in the US…it tends to come to the surface when the dominant form of American Christianity has portrayed God as either distant or wrathful…In our own time this is a result of the public triumph of evangelicalism…
  • Both positive and negative aspects to each, usually depending on perspective.What do you think of when you hear the word “Spiritual”?
  • DBB: Worked with groups in Texas, Toronto, New Jersey,, Newport Beach, Colorado, Columbus, Sydney, Seattle…Almost all came up with same lists.
  • Both positive and negative aspects to each, usually depending on perspective.What do you think of when you hear the word “Religious”?
  • DBB: Worked with groups in Texas, Toronto, New Jersey,, Newport Beach, Colorado, Columbus, Sydney, Seattle…Almost all came up with same lists.
  • So, what’s the difference? This viral video tries to set us straight.
  • As others have noted it’s not as easy to separate being “spiritual” from being “religious”.
  • Here are some helpful insights into what people actually seem to mean when they talk about being spiritual vs. being religious…
  • Here’s my stab at trying to define these words, at least for this presentation.
  • Here’s my stab at trying to define these words, at least for this presentation.
  • -This is a grossly simplified overview of the historical factors that have created the recent upsurge in “spiritual” interest in the United States. -Many factors…American tendencies toward individualism…anti institutionalism…role of civil religion…lots of good resources on these areas…
  • -I’m going to focus on something that is often overlooked…back to McLaren’s question…what is missing in American Christianity?-Argument: When dominant concept of God becomes too distant/authoritarian…interest in spirituality bubbles up…
  • Misperceptions: Today’s interest in the “spiritual” is not a new fad…there has long been an undercurrent within American religion…Contrary to popular belief the US was not always a particularly religious country.
  • Actually four different dominant concepts of God in the US…Authoritarian God: Wrathful, sin hating.Bevevolent: forgiving, healer, peacemaker.Critical: Bringer of justice, make things right.Distant God: Cosmic creative force behind Universe.-My contention: When dominant theological concepts become too distant or authoritarian, Americans react by turning to spirituality.
  • -Much of the early interest in spirituality in the US was a reaction to the dominant images of God which were overly “authoritarian”…Puritanism, or overly “distant” as is the case with the rationalized deity of the enlightenment…
  • -Those who left or never joined the mainstream Church found alternative spiritualities.
  • -Within the Church dominant images of God remained either distant or authoritarian.-Evangelicalism had been the dominant form of 18th century American Christianity. Fundamentalist/modernist split: modernists became mainline, fundamentalists retreated from public life.- Modernists became mainline: biblical criticism, social gospel…personal piety or spirituality took a back seat.- Fundamentalists emphasized piety/spirituality but also conservative worldview which distanced them from surrounding culture.
  • -Evangelicalism deserves more attention.-1940’s conservative Christian emerged from cultural exile.-Golden age 1970’s-1980’s. Led some to suggest that Conservative Churches were growing b/c of their conservatism…
  • -Rise of evangelicalism led to backlash…particularly the public political involvement of the Religious Right.-Numbers of Evangelicals declining since the 1990’s, particularly with young adults. -My belief that much of the contemporary interest in spirituality, particularly among young adults, is a reaction to modern evangelicalism.
  • -We’ve also seen that evangelicalism’s rise/mainline decline has been fueled by other factors like birth rates.-Mark Chaves, from Duke University, says, “The evidence for a decades-long decline in American religiosity is now incontrovertible—like the evidence for global warming, it comes from multiple sources, shows up in several dimensions, and paints a consistent factual picture—the burden of proof has shifted to those who want to claim that American religiosity is not declining.”
  • Discussion.
  • Some time now poll’s asking…SBNR,S&R,R&S.
  • -More recently evangelicals have begun pushing back against the assertion that Americans are becoming more spiritual and less religious.-One evangelical blog that I read proudly trumpeted the fact that the percentage of the population that are none’s only increased .3% They write “The percentage of American adults who have no explicit religious identification averaged 17.8% in 2012, up from 14.6% in 2008—but only slightly higher than the 17.5% in 2011. The 2011 to 2012 uptick in religious "nones" is the smallest such year-to-year increase over the past five years of Gallup Daily tracking of religion in America.”-Data in article drawn from Gallup editor in Chief Frank Newport’s new book “”God is Alive and Well”…btw is an evangelical…author profile on Amazon mentions that he is a neutral researcher…
  • -Can’t help but feel that evangelicals celebrating that the % of unaffiliated only rose by.3% is a sign of how challenging times are…are we simply rearranging chairs on the titanic or is this an actual change? Time will tell.
  • There are now more unaffiliated people in the US than Mainline Protestants
  • These trends are even more pronounced among young adults…As Putnam& Campbell argue in “American Grace” it takes time for generational differences to change mainstream views. But clearly this is what is coming down the pike.
  • -Danger: Deepening divide between “religious” and “spiritual”…-Opportunity: Mainline Protestantism is better positioned theologically to reach out to sbnr and spiritual and religious.
  • -Go back to McLaren…what’s missing in American Christianity?Personal Connection: People are yearning for a personal/daily connection to God.Experience: People want to experience their faith.Graciousness: People are tired of faith being divisive/harsh.
  • -How have the questions changed?-Faith was once about what one believed…in a post christian age that is shifting…-People now are asking “how” do I believe…how do I practice faith? How does one practice christianity? Also asking why do I believe? Why do Christians do the things we do?
  • How
  • Answering How and why…Essentially teaching people how to be Christians.
  • A great text for thinking about how to engage spiritual seekers…
  • Transcript

    • 1. How to engage?Pastor Lillian Daniels Dr. Diana Butler Bass
    • 2. Where the Cross Meets theDream catcher Brian McLaren “A New Kind of Christian” (1992)
    • 3. Where are We? 2009 Princeton Research Associates Poll http://www.psrai.com/filesave/0904%20ftop%20w%20methodology.pdf (Accessed 5/8/12)6050403020 % of US Population100 Spiritual Spiritual Religious Neither but not and but not Religious or Religious Religious Spiritual Spiritual
    • 4. Word Association Exercise What do you think of when you hear the word “Spiritual”?
    • 5. Word Association: “Spiritual”Source: Diana Butler Bass, “Christianity after Religion”
    • 6. Word Association Exercise What do you think of when you hear the word “Religious”?
    • 7. Word Association: “Religious”Source: Diana Butler Bass, “Christianity after Religion”
    • 8. Spiritual vs. Religious: What’s the Difference?http://benaiah.mischenko.com/pinacoladahappyhour/archive/i-love-jesus-but-hate-religion/
    • 9. Spiritual vs. Religious: What’s the Difference?“They (the public) haveessentially substituted the word“religion” for institutionalreligion and “spirituality” forlively faith.”-Bass, Pg. 71“this newly defined construct(institutional Religion) iscontrasted with thespiritual, which refers to thepersonal, the affective, theexperiential, and the thoughtful.”- Kenneth Pargament “The psychology ofReligion and Spirituality. International Journalfor the Psychology of Religion Vol. 9, No. 1.
    • 10. Defining Terms:Spiritual“Personal (but notnecessarily private) beliefsand experiences thatprovide a sense ofmeaning and connectionto the divine.”
    • 11. Defining TermsReligious“Public beliefs andpractices expressedcommunally within anorganized religioussetting.”
    • 12. Where the Cross Meets the Dream catcher
    • 13. A False Dichotomy “Intellect on Ice” vs. “Ignorance on Fire” Yeats: The Second Coming. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."
    • 14. A “Christian” Nation? Perception: Americans have always been peculiarly “religious”. Reality.  1600’s: only 1/3 belonged to a Church.  Revolutionary War: > 15% Sources: Robert Fuller “Spiritual but not Religious: Understanding Un-churched America. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark “The Churching of America”.
    • 15. American Concepts of God The Authoritarian God (31%) The Benevolent God (23%) The Critical God (16%) The Distant God (24%)Source: Paul Froese & Christopher Bader, “America’sFour Gods” (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010)
    • 16. The Distant American God Puritanism: An “Authoritarian God” Enlightenment rationalism: a “Distant God”  Deism: God the “watch maker”. Left Americans craving a more “spiritual” connection to God.
    • 17. Alternative Spiritualities Historical Examples.  Astrology.  Divination.  Occult.  Mesmerism.  Swedenborgianism  Transcendentalism
    • 18. Christian Alternatives Fundamentalist/Modernist Split (late 18th/Early 19th Century)  Modernists: Biblical Criticism, Social Gospel. (Distant God)  Fundamentalism (Authoritarian God)
    • 19. Evangelicalism The re-emergence of Evangelicalism: A more public form of conservative Christianity. (circa 1940- 1950) Golden Age for Evangelicals: 1970’s-1980’s.  Moral Majority.  Religious Right.
    • 20. The Rise & Fall of Modern Evangelicalism Backlash against Evangelicalism. Numbers declining since 1990’s, particularly with young adults.  1986: 26%  Now: 15%
    • 21. The Rise & Fall of Modern Evangelicalism Evangelical growth/Mainline decline  Birth rates. Reality: American Christianity is in decline across the theological spectrum.
    • 22. The Mega Church Anomaly Nondenominational (Evangelical) Megachurches still growing. Overall percentage of Christians in US continues to decline. Where are they coming from?
    • 23. Where are We? 2009 Princeton Research Associates Poll http://www.psrai.com/filesave/0904%20ftop%20w%20methodology.pdf (Accessed 5/8/12)6050403020 % of US Population100 Spiritual Spiritual Religious Neither but not and but not Religious or Religious Religious Spiritual Spiritual
    • 24. American ReligiousTrends:1990-2009The Rise of the None’s• The fastest growing religious affiliation in the US is “None”. • 1990: 8% • 2009: 16%Source: Newsweek Article, “The End ofChristian America” April 3, 2009
    • 25. Are the None’s Still Rising? Source: Out of Ur Blog “Are the none’s still rising”? Jan. 13, 2013 http://www.outofur.com % Nones in the US1918 17.8 17.5171615 14.6141312 2008 2011 2012
    • 26. Are the None’s Still Rising?
    • 27. American Religious Trends The Rise of the None’s (Source: Diana Butler Bass “Christianity after Religion” )30252015 Percentage of US10 Population (2011)50 Nones Mainline Roman Evangelical Protestants Catholics Protestant
    • 28. A Sign of things to Come 25-30% of young adults are “none’s”. Only 25% attend worship weekly. 40% never pray.Source: “2012 Millenial Values Survey”, PublicResearch Institutehttp://publicreligion.org/research/2012/04/millennial-values-survey-2012/ Accessed: 5/8/12.
    • 29. Two America’s?
    • 30. What’s missing in American Christianity?Faith has become impersonal & isolating.  Personal experience  Participation  Graciousness
    • 31. Reaching Out The Missional Church Resources:  Craig Van Gelder: “The Ministry of the Missional Church”.  Alan Roxburgh “Introducing the Missional Church”  ARE (Kelly Fryer).
    • 32. Changing Questions Source: Bass, “Christianity after Religion” Modern question:  What do I believe? Contemporary questions:  How do I believe?  Why do I believe? Discipleship & Spiritual Formation.
    • 33. Best Practices Spiritual Practices  Personal: Prayer, Reflection, Study, M editation.  Communal: Service, Friendship, Worshi p, Hospitality, Lectio Divina. Resources:  Brian McLaren “Finding our way again”.  Richard Foster: “Celebration of Discipline.”  Diana Butler Bass: “Christianity for the rest of us”.
    • 34. Best Practices Catechumenate. Resource:  Paul Hoffman: “Faith forming Faith”.
    • 35. Best Practices Participatory worship Resources:  Dan Kimball: “Emerging Worship”.  Robert Webber: “Ancient- Future Worship”.  Mark Pierson: “The Art of Curating Worship”.
    • 36. “Progressive” Christianity
    • 37. Primary Sources Robert C. Fuller, “Spiritual but not Religious: Understanding Un-churched America”. Oxford Press, 2001. Diana Butler Bass, “Christianity after Religion”. Harper One: 2012. Robert D. Putnam & David E. Campbell, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us”. Simon & Schuster, 2010.
    • 38. Dwelling in the Word Acts 8:26-39

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