Your spiritual journey in 6 words or less
October 13th, 2010
09:33 AM ET

Your spiritual journey in 6 words or less

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Spiritual autobiography is one of the classic genres in both western civilization (think Augustine’s “Confessions”) and American life (think “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”).

But once given the license to record for posterity their sins and salvations these tales of woe and wonder seem to go on and on. (Swami Yogananda’s “The Autobiography of a Yogi” runs to 520 pages, and that’s without the bonus CD.)

“God in America,” the PBS mini-series that debuted Monday night (with me on screen, now and again), focuses on religion in public life but includes a series of personal spiritual journeys - from Anne Hutchinson’s rebel Puritanism to Abraham Lincoln’s Providence-soaked vexations to Martin Luther King’s neo-Orthodoxy on the march.

Its web site includes a feature called “Faithbook,” in which “viewers like you” are encouraged to share their “personal spiritual journeys” by answering a series of prompts, such as “How do you imagine God?” and “I believe . . .”

Now come my friends at killingthebuddha.com, a web site “for people made anxious by churches” and, presumably, by overwrought autobiographies as well.

Responding to PBS’s “Faithbook” initiative (which should not be confused, by the way, with the college students’ section of the “On Faith” web site, also called “Faithbook”), KTB’s editors have put out a call for even more abbreviated spiritual autobiographies.

Eschewing “even those monstrous 140-character tweets,” "Six-Word Journey" challenges the religious and the irreligious alike to distill their spiritual journeys into six words or less. And the submissions are already pouring in.

In keeping with the irreverent spirit of the site, whose tag lines read (among other things), “god with a grain of salt” and “paved with good intentions,” some of the six-word stories are exit tales:

From “Chris Wonders” : “Was Catholic, asked questions, now free.”

Others, however, are stories of unexpected conversions:

From “Scott”: "Wanted free pizza; got Jesus instead.”

Or stories of settling in and making do:

From “Gordon Haber”: “My Judaism: Chinese food and guilt.”

Or tales of wandering and return:

From “Michelle T”:  “Meandered off path. Now UCC minister.”

I am loving this new genre, so I hope the submissions continue to roll in, and not just from the living. I am already imagining, for example, how the Buddha might handle this assignment. How about . . .

Left palace, kids, family. Sat. Ahh!

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Buddhism • Christianity • Faith • News media • TV • United States

soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. AGuest9

    We live, we die. Live life!

    December 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  2. WestCat

    "Glorify God and enjoy Him forever"

    -Westminster Catechism

    December 30, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  3. chris

    LIFE OR DEATH ETERNAL CHOUSE clock is ticking.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  4. Earthman

    Silly mammals,,, there is no established path for all to walk to your innerself. Jesus exposed the motives of those who questioned him. Exposed their motives. Allow yours to be exposed to yourself and become the compass to navigate this great uncharted sea called life. Be brave... learn to "STAND NAKED BEFORE YOUR MIND'S MIRROR" Truth will become obvious.

    October 25, 2010 at 9:10 am |
  5. Iqbal khan


    October 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  6. Chris

    I participate and focus within God

    October 18, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  7. Joe citizen abroad

    Church. Bible study. Enlightenment. No church.

    October 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  8. Laura

    LOl Raison, I was talking about God, not Mason..hehe! Thanks for the laugh. 🙂

    October 16, 2010 at 11:32 am |
    • Frank

      Or the Freemasons. 😛

      October 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  9. Q

    Agnostic, but I could be wrong...

    October 16, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  10. Todd

    Love Mercy, Do Kindness, Walk Humbly.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
    • Peter F

      I love it.

      October 16, 2010 at 12:54 am |
  11. dtbaggins

    Kundalini it is called, Individuation, Awakening, Dark night of the Soul [More like Bonfire of the Farking Vanities imo!], Gnosis, many names have been given to this and it is on the increase worldwide, crossing all denominations...
    I suppose you could say you wake and begin to get a glimmer of understanding of your spiritual nature... but in doing some research on people's journeys, they are all as unique and diverse as we are in character and personality... Something truly profound is going on...
    mine own journey came unexpected, a series of the most powerful and vivid lucid dreams I have ever encountered... and it changed my life...

    October 15, 2010 at 6:45 am |
    • Frank

      Been ingesting too much psilocybin and DMT, I take it? Mmm hmm.

      October 16, 2010 at 12:53 am |
    • dtbaggins

      Cynic... lol... Frank you are truly a cynic!

      October 20, 2010 at 7:07 am |
  12. Laura

    Amen! Mason! Our God Reigns!!

    October 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  13. mason

    i am that, i am

    October 14, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
    • Raison

      you are "God"? or Popeye? No yams? How about a potato? Laura seems to think you are God, but I have my doubts....

      October 14, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  14. Awakening

    Mayby you all should read this http://www.thewatcherfiles.com/bluebeam.html Project Blue Beam

    What is important to understand in the first step is that those earthquakes will hit at different parts of the world where scientific and archeological teachings have indicated that arcane mysteries have been buried. By those types of earthquakes, it will possible for scientists to re-discover those arcane mysteries which will be used to discredit all fundamental religious doctrines. This is the first preparation for the plan for humanity because what they want to do is destroy the beliefs of all Christians and Muslims on the planet. To do that, they need some false "proof" from the far past that will prove to all nations that their religions have all been misinterpreted and misunderstoodhe first step concerns the breakdown of all archeological
    knowledge. It deals with the setup with artificially created earthquakes at certain precise locations on the planet where, supposedly, new discoveries will finally explain to all people the error of all fundamental religious doctrines. The falsification of this information will be used to make all nations believe that their religious doctrines have been misunderstood for centuries and misinterpreted. Psychological preparations for that first step have already been implemented with the film, "2001: A Space Oddessy;" the StarTrek series, and "Star Wars;" all of which deal with invasions from space and the coming together of all nations to repel the invaders. The last films, "Jurrassic Park," deals with the theories of evolution, and claim God's words are lies.

    Now figure out when we hear that voice from the new world messiah who would be speaking from space to all of the sane people of the earth who might give instructions to zealots and religious fanatics, we would see hysteria and social mayhem on a scale never witnessed before on this planet. No police forces in the world, even as a combined front, could deal with the disorder that will follow!

    October 14, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  15. Dave

    We're alone, show everyone it's ok.

    October 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  16. Denise

    God created, Jesus saved, I believe.

    October 14, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  17. nOT Trash

    I like it in the a$$

    October 14, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Raison

      LOL you can say ass, it's okay, really. CNN likes ass well enough, I guess...
      ....or do those dollar signs mean something special???

      October 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
    • Frank

      Have you experienced viso v@go shock yet, or whatever it's called?

      October 16, 2010 at 12:56 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.