Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession
A priest and author says religious leaders aren't paying attention to older people hit by recession.
September 17th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Sooner or later, it happens to each of us, Richard Rohr says.

“There always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand,” the Franciscan priest said.

Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce. Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: You suddenly realized that you’ll never have the life you dreamed of living.

Any life-changing moment can knock a person down. But it can also open doors if, as Rohr puts it, a person learns how to “fall upward.”

Rohr, a 68-year-old Roman Catholic author and internationally known speaker, says older Americans face a problem: Religious leaders aren’t paying much attention to them.

Much of contemporary religion is geared toward teaching people how to navigate the first half of their lives, when they’re building careers and families. Rohr calls it a “goal-oriented” spirituality.

Yet there’s less help for people dealing with the challenges of aging: the loss of health, the death of friends, and coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone, he says.

Rohr’s new book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,” is his attempt to fill that void. It also functions as a spiritual survival guide for hard times as millions of Americans young and old struggle to cope with “falling”: losing their homes, careers and status.

Rohr says he coined the phrase “falling upward” to describe a paradox. Nearly everyone will fall in life because they'll confront some type of loss, he says. Yet failure can lead to growth if a person makes the right decisions.

“I’ve met people who because of the loss of things and security have been able to find grace, freedom and new horizons,” he said.

If you’re falling in any area of your life, Rohr says, one of the first skills to learn is accepting surprises.

He says it’s easy for people to turn bitter when things don’t go as planned. He sees such people all the time, whether throwing tantrums at the airport because of long lines or flocking to angry rallies in opposition to some form of social change.

“You start attacking anybody else who is not like you,” Rohr said. “If you don’t know how to deal with exceptions, surprise and spontaneity by the time you’re my age, you become a predictable series of responses of paranoia, blame and defensiveness.”

Why suffering is necessary

Rohr’s book may address contemporary issues, but the wisdom is old. He extracts insights from sources as varied as Greek mythology, Catholic mysticism and fairy tales like Cinderella.

Such stories often teach similar lessons about hard times: Suffering is necessary, the “false self” must be abandoned, and “everything belongs, even the sad, absurd and futile parts.” Rohr, who has also written “Quest for the Grail,” a book on mythology, says people have learned these hard lessons for centuries through myth.

The heroes in mythological stories follow the same pattern. They must first experience humiliation, loss and suffering before finding enlightenment. They are often forced on their journey by a crisis.

No contemporary American is going to be asked to fight a monster, but an event like the evaporation of a retirement fund or the death of a spouse can force you to summon strength you didn’t know you had, Rohr says.

The key is not resisting the crisis.

“You have to allow the circumstances of God and life to break you out of your egocentric responses to everything,” he said. “If you allow ‘the other’ - other people, other events, other religions - to influence you, you just keep growing.”

That growth, though, is accompanied by death - the death of the “false self,” Rohr said. The false self is the part of your self tied to your achievements and possessions.

When your false self dies, you start learning how to base your happiness on more eternal sources, he says.

“You start drawing from your life within,” Rohr said. “You learn to distinguish from the essential self and the self that’s window dressing.”

Those who break through the crisis and lose their false selves become different people: less judgmental, more generous and better able to ignore “evil or stupid things,” he says.

It may sound esoteric, Rohr says, but many of us have met older people like this. They possess a “bright sadness”: they’ve suffered but they still smile and give.

“I’ve seen that in the wonderful older people in my life,” Rohr says. “There’s a kind of gravitas they have. … There’s an easy smile on their faces. These are the people who laugh, who heal, who build bridges, who don’t turn bitter.”

Rohr says this bright sadness isn’t confined to older people.

“I've met 11-year-old children in cancer wards who are in the second half of life,” he said in a recent interview with Amazon.com, “and I have met 68-year-old men like me who are still in the first half of life.”

Learning the ‘grace of failure’

Rohr’s book has found some fans in high places who were touched by his insights.

Father Gerry Blaszczak, a chaplain at Fairfield University in Connecticut, says Rohr’s book challenges the notion that success is a natural result of being religious.

“Our culture is prone to imagine that growth takes place in a sort of constant, upward movement,” he says. “Even our religious culture tends to focus on success and stability as ideals for religious growth.”

Rohr’s book reminds people about the “grace of failure,” Blaszczak says.

“In the Christian tradition, loss, collapse and failure have always been seen as not only unavoidable, but even necessary on the path to wisdom, freedom and personal maturity,” Blaszczak said.

He says he knows older people who struggled to rebuild their identities after they poured much of their earlier lives’ energies into professional and personal success.

“It is not that these professional or personal ideas were necessarily bad in themselves,” he said. “It is more that they proved inadequate. We invested way too much in them. We thought our identities could be formed by them.”

Jim Finley, a retreat leader and Catholic scholar, says Rohr is reminding people about the value of elders.

“Our culture tends to be youth-oriented, and a lot of spirituality is youth oriented,” says Finley, author “The Contemplative Heart.” “But our elders are the embodiment of the wisdom that life matters at a much deeper level than what we can achieve and produce.”

Brian McLaren, author of “The Naked Spirituality,” says Rohr’s book touches on an important paradox that you probably won’t hear in a Sunday morning sermon: “Imperfect people” are sometimes more equipped than “perfect people” to help those who are struggling.

“The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a compassionless person, because he sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and he wonders what’s wrong with them,” he said. “But the person who feels that he has ruined his life often has more capacity for humility and compassion.”

McLaren says Rohr’s book helped reveal to him how much of his youthful spiritual energy was driven by narrow concerns.

“I’m embarrassed as I’m getting older about how much of my energy and vitality as a younger man was driven by ego and a win-lose mentality.”

Today Rohr seems driven by something else: The need for rest.

For years, his life has been a whirlwind. He’s traveled the globe speaking at retreats on everything from men’s spirituality to Catholic mysticism.

He also founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an organization that encourages acts of justice rooted in prayer and respect for other religious traditions.

Yet after almost seven decades of living, Rohr said,  “I am still a mystery to myself.”

Rohr plans on solving some of that mystery. He says he’s going to retire in two years to spend more time at his home in New Mexico. He says he needs more time for contemplation.

“The first half of life, you write the text,” he said. “The second half of your life is when you write the commentary. You have to process what it all meant.”

As Rohr withdraws from speaking and writing, he will be challenged to follow his own advice. He’ll spend less energy on his “false self” as his old identity dissolves.

He says he’s ready, though, to fall upward. If he lost his position as a priest, author and respected speaker, he says he would still feel secure.

“Most of us don’t learn this until it is taken away, like losing the security of your 401(k). Then the learning either starts or you circle the wagons,” he said. “I know who I am beyond my roles.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Economy

soundoff (1,015 Responses)
  1. ANN

    no and tell me if he offers you any candy

    September 19, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  2. hippypoet

    if knowledge is power then why do all these ignorant relgious morons hold so much more then science??? because true power is held my the masses and the masses are the ignorant religious morons. they are just to dumb they don't know they power they have!

    September 19, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • hippypoet

      normally i type better, the boss was walking by checking if we are all working, which i am not, so the typing took the hit instead of me get a lashing. no worries!

      September 19, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  3. Winston419

    I woke up from the religious dream... Damnit, I even branded myself with a cross tattoo... I'll never fall for that story AGAIN! Wake up!!! When you are ready to snap out of it, you will. That's how it works.. Once we are willing to admit we don't know, then we can begin to look. It literally was like waking up. Atheism is not rosey, It's realistic. Strengthen your mind.

    September 19, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • William Demuth

      Find an Anarchist tatoo artist. Preferably an eastern European one

      Many specialize in expanding a cross tatoo to modify its meaning

      September 19, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  4. Winston419

    We have Christians with opinions and Atheist with perceptions... I trust a perception more than any opinion. Look up the difference..

    September 19, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  5. William Demuth

    If he quacks like a pedophile, it will be YOU that has to waddle like a duck

    September 19, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  6. leecherius

    I find it amusing that proclaimed atheist and/or non-believers are even posting in this forum. Why are you even here? Do you think your going to change any believers mind with your posts? Doubtful. Debate is futile to a believer. More often than not these people have had a life altering experience that science , in all its glory , cannot explain. Try to keep an open mind , because mankind is fundamentally flawed and no man can disprove or prove either view. That's why it's called faith.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • William Demuth

      We are here because we annoy you!

      And to keep you from ripping off old ladies, or buggering little boys.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • leecherius

      A worthwhile vocation....hardly..

      September 19, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • Rick

      I cannot speak for all non-believers, but I enjoy communicating with (some) believers.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • William Demuth


      I enjoy seducing them, and leading them back to reality.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris

      September 19, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Of course debate is futile to a beliver, their minds are closed. Unlike agnostics who are open minded an embrace debate. I think atheists are closed minded to though. But I also think that to say you "know" for sure either way is ludicrous. There is no way to know for sure. There is no evidence for a "suprem being' of any kind but of course there is no evidence there isn't either. Intelligent debate, using logic and reason is beneficial. Everyone should question their faith, beliefs, perceptions etc.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Nonimus

      From above on this very site, on the right-hand side:

      "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 Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero."

      September 19, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • dnfromge

      @leecherius – I come here because while I am a non-believer, I do feel it is important to be aware of all views, otherwise opinion is built solely on a one-sided view and becomes biased toward that particular belief. By coming here, I can read what believers are thinking and unfortunatly, it confirms and re-confirms my own non-belief – and that is not meant as a slam, it is just that nothing I read on blogs such as these makes a lot of sense. While what this gentleman is saying about two halves of life, moving forward after loss, finding open windows when doors close, I don't agree that it has to be wrapped up in religion. Religion seems to drag things down.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  7. paxman2

    Luis, Reality, John, and all my dear atheist brothers and sisters, I'm still waiting for a reasonable answer to what has been going on in Medjugorje for 30+ years now. Please go to http://www.medjugorje.com/medjugorje/scientific-studies/627-specific-tests-administered-to-the-medjugorje-visionaries-and-their-results.html and look at the results of the scientific studies done by more than a dozen scientist, neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. The names and degrees held by each of the testers is listed at the bottom of this web page. Why would the people who tested them lie about the results? Gives an awful lot of authority to 6 'psychotic' kids. Seems like you believe in science until it goes against your beliefs.

    Still no reasonable explanation from any of you non-believers. I know some have claimed that the RC church has condemned them which is definitely false, or that these visionaries have made claims that were proven to be false but please give me links or evidence of either of these claims. I know the In this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSbN0T6rAIc&feature=fvsr, Mirjana says as children they were arrested by the then communist police, they were put in an insane asylum and told they would live there for the rest of their lives, then they were brought to a mortuary and were left in a room with dead people and told they would have to live there for the rest of their lives. The threatened teenagers, the youngest one 10 years old never backed down from the 'story' they were telling – and still are 30 years later. Some respond to this by claiming that the children have predicted things that haven't happened or said things that are lies or that the apparitions have been condemned by the church but none of this is true. Both Pope JP II and the current Pope have said favorable things about Medjugorje (it's out there, look it up) but they will wait to approve the apparitions until they end. (which they really won't have to bother because by then the whole world will know the truth)

    Starting in June of 1981 6 kids, ages 10 to 15 dropping to their knees at the same time, focusing on the same spot (even though they have side –blinders on), bright flashing lights and hot skin probes not showing up on their EEGs, all raising their heads simultaneously when she leaves. Being arrested by the communist police and threatened with jail and torture and refusing to change their testimony. And now 30 years later, still going to church daily, praying many hours every day, all sticking to their ‘story’ while raising families. Six pathological liars? I guess the proof will be if they die without the signs happening that they say will happen in their lifetimes. Search vimeo for Mirjana or Medjugorje. Look how young Jakov is in the 1984 vimeo video 10286499, how they all raise their eyes at the same time. Someone said there's no sound (which is true) so maybe there was an audible signal so the children would synchronize their looking up. Well, there's a crowd of hundreds of people all around them, don't you think they would have heard the signal. They've done this in front of crowds of hundreds of people hundreds of times. Search u-tube videos of Mirjana. Please reply with your explanation. She says in one of her videos that Our Blessed Mother doesn't refer to atheist as non-believers but as ‘those who do not yet know the love of God’, so at least there’s hope in the way she puts it, sounds like you'll eventually come around. But she also says you'll regret waiting until the great sign, don't let your hearts become too hardened. Keep an open mind and look into it. Also, how do you explain similarities and out of body experiences in people who have had NDEs? I almost drowned as a teenager and I know what I experienced wasn't just my brain failing from lack of oxygen. I’ll keep praying for you.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • William Demuth


      I saw a guy Fernando spend two hours worshiping a broken down Q66 bus back in 1978 while trippping his teeth out.

      We thought about forming a religion, until we all came to the conclusion that rather than being a prohet, he was merely an IDIOT.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I've seen a kitty playing the piano. It was on the web, so it must be TRUE.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • William Demuth

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Piano cat RULES!

      September 19, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Steve O

      I don't suppose it has to do with the fact that the town gets more tourists per year than any other place in Bosnia.
      It's the money, Lebowski.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Reality

      Visions of Mary are simply more Christian voodoo and insanity and it started early in the game.

      To wit:

      Jesus himself was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and "stare at the Sun/cornea-burning visions" and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?

      September 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  8. William Demuth

    Survival Guide rule ONE.

    Tax the Church or many of you will NOT survive.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Leafonthewind

      We're in full agreement on that one, William. That alone would solve the budget deficit problem.

      September 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  9. FreeAtLast

    He's showing people the inner mysteries hidden long ago by the Church and its called esoteric or the inner teaching. Good on you sir! He speaks of the false self or by GI Gurdjieff's oral tradition ..."the false personality". I wonder how this will be received by his peers as they deemed it too important for "common man" and put it away long ago in order to control mankind in the dark ages. Keep up the good work sir as you know "many will be called and few chosen".

    September 19, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • hippypoet

      "many will be called and few chosen".

      phediphiles can be very picky!

      September 19, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • William Demuth


      A Christian conspiracy theorist?

      Why is it that one illness always seems to breed the same two symptons.

      Of cource it is quite possible that ONLY you understand.

      It is FAR more likey that you are crazy as a loon.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  10. hippypoet

    k folks the time has come... time to put your head between your legs and kiss your @ss goodbye... or just pull your head out of your @ss and realize that this is just a moment in time, let it pass, learn from it, and finally – move on with our pointless lives!

    September 19, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  11. shawn

    To the people who go through these horrible times in their life, I am sorry. It changes you forever...best poem ever to get over them is not religous at all:
    What though the radiance which was once so bright
    Be now forever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass,
    of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Actually...

      You say this poem may not be religious at all but it reminds me of a verse from the Bible: "The flowers fade and the grass withers but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
      And here is one from the wisest man whoever lived: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind."

      September 19, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • William Demuth

      I am sure the word of Odin is on the lips of every man doring these trying times.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  12. Luis Wu

    Yeah, looks like CNN has a spelling problem and left out the "i".

    September 19, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  13. Robert Gerard

    God is change. Earth is Change. You are Change. DNA is Change. LIFE is Change. Religions tend not to change. It is obvious that one side of this equation is wrong.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • William Demuth

      It has often occured to me to found a religion the DOES evolve.

      It would be so much easier to manage then one with thousands of years of the previous management absurdities.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  14. rex edie

    too bad ....so many are critical of anyone who tries to give some compassionate advice.... if god is all things ...or created all things... then how can anything be detached from god.... or more apply.... why do humans always see themselves as different from each other.... we are all here together....some ...are more fortunate to have been nurtured more and become productive....while so many have been left to fend without guidance ...i am not a fan of doctrines.....but do believe that each one of us is born with a certain amount of natural knowing..... its the arrogance of the mortal ego....that creates so much discord....

    September 19, 2011 at 6:50 am |
    • John Richardson

      Well, it's the religious people who keep saying that god is detached enough from some people to throw them into hell. Ask them.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  15. kf

    @ Reality: Other than the New Testament gospels – which they hold to be 70% fallacious – and the apocryphal gospels – which were written roughly two centuries after Christ and are exactly the sort of fictional embellishments they think the NT gospels are – where did these scholars obtain the evidence to diagnose the medical state of a man who lived two thousand years ago? Especially in lieu of a body to study? Let's face it: the reason these scholars refuse to consider the NT as credible history is their refusal to admit the possibility of the miraculous. It has nothing to do with the text and everything to do with the preconceptions they bring to it. If miracles can happen, then there is no reason to doubt the historical accuracy of the NT gospels – they were written between 20 and 60 years after Jesus' life, when hundreds and thousands of eyewitnesses were still there to vet the books and raise a stink about errors. Don't tell me that people did object, but were oppressed into silence by church leaders – in the first century AD the Christian church was a brutally oppressed minority and had zero political clout. Its leaders were more occupied with being put on trial and executed. How many people do you know who are insane enough to die for something they know to be a lie? Seems very farfetched to suggest that they let themselves be crucified/burned/devoured by wild animals/beheaded so that their memory could be used to subjugate vast numbers of people for the next two thousand years.

    Miracles are not a topic for science but for history. Science only studies the normal workings of nature. Miracles by definition are abnormal workings of nature. If you want to study miracles, your evidence will be historical in nature, not scientific. You may be of the opinion that it is not possible for nature to work abnormally, but that is philosophy. That is the debate we should be having.

    PS: The doctrine of the Trinity predates Roman Catholicism; see the Apostle's Creed, first historical mention 390AD. The concept of atonement dates to Moses, which would be at least 1200 years before Christ. Please stop interpreting the past in terms of the present. You can use a hammer or religion to kill someone, but that doesn't make it the correct or intended use of either.

    September 19, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • Patel

      Hardly anyone knew how to read. No one was allowed to change what the Nicene council came up with.
      Those who disagreed formed their own sects. Greek Orthodox are not Catholics. They disagreed with the Catholics.
      There were other sects as well, but they were gradually destroyed or absorbed into the few that survive today.
      And all without any words written by Jesus himself! Quite an accomplishment for any religion. Islam did the same thing.
      And the books of Moses were obviously not written by him since they describe his death in a melodramatic way.
      Look at where these words came from. They have no self-evidence. No proof is ready at hand for any one who questions the religion. How sad. If only there were a real and true religion! We would all join. Everyone in the world. But there is nothing to suggest that any current religion has a monopoly on anything but blind followers.

      September 19, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • John Richardson

      Of all the fantastic feats ascribed to mythtological figures, why should all and only those found in the bible be taken as literally true? People like you are depressing, kf. You come of with elaborate rationales to believe silly hogwash in one case, and reject it out of hand in all others. That is truly irrational.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:18 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


      September 19, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • Luis Wu

      People who accept ancient mythology as fact just aren't very bright.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Actually...

      When One becomes "born again" their eyes are opened to the truth (which in fact is Jesus himself). It is then that the Holy Spirit comes to live in them and guide them into all truth. This is a miracle and, BTW, miracles have no scientific explanation. Some Catholics are born again and others are still operating in their own strength and operating without the indwelling Christ. I hope the priest will discover this truth and live out the rest of his years sharing the truth as it is written and available to anyone who truly seeks. "you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

      September 19, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • William Demuth


      So the Holy Spirit is actually directly involved in the pedophillia?

      September 19, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  16. Brian

    In Europe people see religion as part of the problem, not a solution to anything.

    September 19, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • SoundGuy

      You have to go beyond popular religiosity and deepen your own spirituality. The religion stays the same, one changes. The practice goes from going to church and repeating words to experiencing stillness in meditation. The latter is the core practice that has been used for millennia by eastern and western mystics. I found the material provided by TranscendentalTones to be very helpful for beginner meditators.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • AGuest9

      I guess a further issue, if you abandon religion, per se, is this need to believe in unseen, unheard "spirits". There would be something detectible – please spare me the "ghost-hunter" nonsense with RF receivers that pick up errant signals as "proof" of spirits. Again. This is an attempt by groups to somehow separate humans from the rest of the animal planet and claim that we are somehow "special". Other than having developed larger areas of our brains that allow us to communicate and reason, there is no difference between us and the other animals.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • William Demuth


      All one need do is look at a chess board (Europe) to see why they hate religion

      It seems their Kings always had Bishops at their sides whenever they started wars.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  17. Brian

    The only way to survive and strive in a scary situation is to become a scarier person. It's ugly, but it's the truth!

    September 19, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  18. SSampson

    Funny – the Church uses voluntary taxation as a form of personal welfare – and in return they offer........ an imaginary solution based on ancient mans inability to fully comprehend science....

    September 19, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • William Demuth

      Ancient man?

      Two out of three don't know the difference between magic and science.

      The Evangelicals are dragging us back into the ignorance of the dark ages.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  19. Across12

    Priest-pens-and so on.....dude

    September 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  20. itsjustme

    People who are in a hell of a bind because they've lost a job and now they have no way to bring in an income need a TANGIBLE SOLUTION.

    And let's be honest: priests OWN. They own at least one home, they drive the toniest of cars, they're rarely without frills, and guess who pays for it all? Think about it.

    Has he ever been out on the balls of his a** trying to find a job? Has he ever been a 99er? Has he ever been married 30 years and then all of a sudden, his spouse is gone, due to a death? How can he possibly give advice if he has never been in any of those scenarios?

    September 18, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Flash

      I am about as atheistic as they come, but I do strive for realism... and I see a couple of flaws in your message:

      1) Not all priests OWN homes, cars and other things. There are many, many orders of priests - some take a strict vow of poverty and some don't. I would say that the majority of priests live in church-provided housing and drive church-owned cars. They are given a small salary for personal items. Yes, their retirement is provided for and they do have job security.

      2) Not everyone who counsels troubled people has experienced those specific problems - a psychiatrist doesn't need to have had schizophrenia to treat schizophrenics; a psychologist who treats wife abusers doesn't have to have been one himself. They are trained in their fields and have gained experience from their years of practice. Even if you found a counselor who experienced identical woes as you have, he would not necessarily have all the answers for you.

      Life is not easy sometimes. Let's do the best we can and help each other when we can.

      September 19, 2011 at 12:35 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.