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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. herbert juarez

    The atheist who claims to come from a "faith" background is extremely confused and more to be pitied than admired.Had the supposed "believer" continued in the "faith " they claim to have forsaken, they would ultimately have appeared before God and been rejected.These were deceived, they never met God, they never knew God and they never understood God.They are devoid of the Truth and twice lost.There is hope while they still breathe Gods gift of life that they might someday meet and be reconciled to God, but their lying nature makes salvation less likely.Debate with them is an exercise in futility.God bless

    September 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Chucky McLovin

      God is imaginary. Faith is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Belief in god and support for faith are disgusting qualities. Peace & Love 🙂

      September 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • meemee

      Oh what a laugh you are, pronouncing conditions for the "salvation" of a demi-atheist. People like you are so self-deluded that you actually think you understand all about your invisible friend and have authority to pronounce policy. What you actually do is help to convince thinking people of the silliness of your entire outlook of personal and religious myth.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jose

      @HJ-that is correct, atheists don't have the understanding of what plight they truly are in.
      They live for the moment thinking they will be bird food one day, enjoying the delusions.
      issue here is they believe it their moral right to enforce their delusions on the rest of the world.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @chucky and meemee :Read previous post,You both had to lie to yourselves to get yourselves in the unfortunate predicament you find yourselves in.On a side note mee mee is an appropriate name for a self centered, deluded,self ordained atheist.God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Chucky McLovin

      @Herbert What kind of empirical evidence do you have for your belief in god? I patiently await your answer 🙂

      September 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Andrew

      I've learned never to trust people who claim to profess truth. Those who claim to know truth seldom can justify it. I'm an atheist, I don't claim to know for certain there is no god, but I have not been convinced of the evidence, just like I have not been convinced of the evidence for Shiva, or Zeus, or unicorns. That doesn't mean Shiva, your god, or unicorns don't exist, just that evidence provided has been insufficient for me to warrant belief.

      I do not claim to possess truth. I am not so arrogant as to assert what is true or not, just what is supported or not. You, apparently, have no qualms pretending you're privy to 'truth'. I would argue buddhists, shintos, muslims, hindus, sikh's, etc will all disagree with your version of truth. What makes you right, and all of them wrong?

      September 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • God2

      Theists haven't a clue what the atheist lives for.

      Atheists – indulge in a thought exercise with me for a moment. Imagine yourself a theist – your beliefs inform your worldview. Belief in God and his dogma are a prerequisite for all morality, goodness, and self-actualization.

      If I were a theist, the very existence of a righteous and fulfilled atheist would shake my beliefs to their core. Ergo – there is no such thing, and atheists are to be pitied until converted.

      Theists – do you see why we don't happily accept your faith? Do you see how utterly demeaning it is to be pitied and derided for, in our view, failing to share your delusions?

      September 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @chucky
      You are without excuse for your ignorance .All creation declares the creator ,God ! God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Flash

      herbert juarez,
      "All creation declares the creator"

      Calling it (the universe, existence, etc.) "creation" loads the statement with a presupposition and negates the declaration.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Haven't you heard? Herbie says he's met Jesus. He says that he has as much proof for the existence of Jesus as he does for the existence of Einstein. Of course, when you ask for proof, he just disappears.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      All creation is the work of God.All science,math and chemistry is the work of God ,all knowledge imparted to mankind is the work of God,salvation is the work of God.If it lives and breathes, moves or is it is the work of God.From the particles we have not yet seen to the farthest cosmos it is all the work of God.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Andrew

      Herbert, that's a fine thing to say and all, but still does kinda fit with the arrogance of presuming you're correct despite offering nothing to substantiate such a position. Just how little do you actually examine your own beliefs? Such fervent belief, such little content.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Herbie doesn't deal in facts, just his own beliefs.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Sue

      So herbert, the many forms of cancer (or pick any other disease) must all be the creations of your god, from what you are trying to say, since he supposedly created everything. Do you acknowledge that?

      September 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      I think cancer like so many diseases are a mutation of Gods creation,caused by sin. A sin like atheism by the way.God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Nick

      herbert juarez: Which god, you never specified.

      September 19, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • herbert juarez

      @nick
      Let us know how the operation goes.God bless

      September 19, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  2. labandme

    Who cares what religious leaders say? They're the cause of most of the grief in this world. By all means believe in your God. Just don't let your child be an alter boy or fodder for muslim clerics.

    September 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  3. herbert juarez

    To be a lawyer you have to be able to lie on your clients behalf.To be a Republican you must be willing to lie to get yourself elected.But to be an atheist you must be able to lie to yourself, and believe it!

    September 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Chucky McLovin

      Wrong. To be an atheist you must have the intellectual honesty to not believe in claims without solid evidence. To believe in religion, you must be gullible.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Question everything

      Dont you find it ironic that atheists score the highest in knowledge and understanding of the bible?

      September 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Amistavia

      To be Herbert, you must be mentally challenged.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @chucky
      Do you live in a world without mirrors?You may lie convincingly to yourself but everyone else knows better.God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @question everything:I don't know where you are getting your information but I definitely question it.I have found atheists to be remarkably ignorant of the Bible.God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Chucky McLovin

      @Herbert Everyone knows better??? FYI, the majority of people on Earth don't even believe in your imaginary god. How can you say everyone knows better. Do yourself a favor and go read a couple dozen science and history books.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Question everything

      Put down the PS3 remote and try diversifying your infortmation outlets. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html

      September 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @chucky
      Actually the majority of people on earth,both now and throughout history have had a belief and faith system.Only the infirm have been able to convince themselves,by lying to themselves that an atheistic outlook is for them.Sad,deluded souls ,hoping against hope that God will bypass their stupidity no matter how they conduct themselves.And I might add, atheism is an extreme minority opinion.God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Flash

      herbert juarez,

      There is not one shred of verified evidence for any of the supernatural events or beings written about in the Bible... yet you claim that they are true. Claiming that something unproven is true... is lying, whether you want to acknowledge that or not.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @flash
      Millions of people over thousands of years give witness to the Truth!I'll go with the numbers, thank you,sufficient evidence or proof for all but you, and a few additional self deluded.You have no position and no authority,in short the facts remain you have lied to yourself and are trying to drag civilization down with you.You are exposed as a fraud and a liar and will stand before God as such unless you change.God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Still think the earth is flat, herbie? Millions of people thought that for millions of years, until they learned differently. I guess it just goes to show that belief does not equal fact.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @tallulah13
      I have never advocated a flat earth, nor has the Holy Bible.The fact that some people centuries ago held that belief is totally irrelevant to the discussion.As long as you are that far out in left field , if a ball comes your way, toss it back ,o.k.?God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  4. Chucky McLovin

    Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

    September 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Tom

      True spirituality flies you to God who guides us on the journey. The eye has not seen, the ear has not heard...the wonders that await, no pain, no more bickering, just peace and harmony.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Tom- Sounds like a fairy tale to me. Fitting since you lick the feet of an imaginary sky fairy.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Chucky McLovin

      @Tom What kind of empirical evidence do you have to back up your outlandish statement? My guess is none, just your pathetic delusions.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  5. clarke

    Everyone has some belief system, may not be mind, or yours, but so what does it matter to anyone.

    September 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  6. martinipaul

    Atheists are a blessing. I thank them and pray for them. Conversion is possible. I was once an atheist myself. With God, all things are possible!!!!!!!

    September 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Question everything

      We are all atheists, you just took it one god further.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Amistavia

      I'm sorry to hear that you abdicated your rationality. You must be a truly weak person to have fallen into that cesspool.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Question: apparently that's all I need to take it.
      Ami: I'm a Christian but not a very good Christian. I'll scrap with you anytime you say, droogie.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Ziggy

      If you don't believe in something, you will fall for anything.

      Nonbelievers cannot be Freemasons.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Have another martini- maybe it will lead you to a vision. Loser.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • pat carr

      oh my not-god. you went backwards! i am sorry for you

      September 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Ami: What's the matter? You don't like Christians who stand up for their faith? I'm willing to die for what I believe. Are you?
      Christians shouldn't run from bullies.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Amistavia

      martinipaul- The more relevant point is how many you're willing to kill for your faith. Your kinds does have an awfully bloody history, after all.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Tom

      Right on. With God on our side, who can be aginast us..

      September 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Nick

      martinipaul: Which god, you never specified.

      September 19, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  7. Barbara Clary

    Someone at CNN should check the Google entry for the "Priest Pens Spiritual Survival Guide for Recession".
    It does NOT say "Pens"

    September 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  8. Question everything

    How typical of the egotistical maniacs that we are to be convinced that a force that created and controls the galaxies is one of us, a human. Pretty convenient, isn't it?

    September 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  9. CatS

    One cannot have faith in a certainty. Faith is to trust in something – or someone – that may or may not be true. Christianity is a faith-based religion – meaning there must always exist the uncertainty of God's existence. When Christians say they have 'faith in God or salvation, they are also saying that they are choosing to believe in something that may not exist. Christian 'faith' cannot exist in the face of certainty.

    September 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Amistavia

      In other words, Christianity is anti-evidence. That pretty much says it all.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ CatS,,,,,,, "Christian 'faith' cannot exist in the face of certainty."

      What does this "face" of certainty look like? The finality of one's living days? Is this not the "only" certainty that all do face? Everything else is but fragmented portions of memorializing events be they good, bad or indifferent. I am alive but for a sliver of Time, but why am I alive for the moment? Life, as we know it is the 1st step upon spiritualism's doorway onto an abundancy of Life/death onto Life/death ad infinitum and is in foreverness the "Way and the Truth and the Life"

      Jhn 10:10 "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly."

      To have grain and have it "more abundantly" decalres rather outrightly that there are many "grain" therefore for Christ to say that we "might have [it] more abundantly" declares without much doubt that we become eternal in the Life/death Life/death struggles throughout eternity.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • CatS

      Pretty much. It always amuses me to think that if God came down to Earth tomorrow, the free will we all enjoy so much would cease to exist. Any disobedience would result in immediate banishment to H3ll. From the Christian mythos, that's exactly what happened to Lucifer. How many American Christians would call that 'heaven'? What if 'God's Will' wasn't what you thought it was? What if you didn't agree? With all the different Christian beliefs in 'God's Will', they can't ALL be right. Someone's going to be pretty darn unhappy!

      September 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Question everything

      Death death death. The big, what if. It is within this what if that has allowed a large portion of our species to reject our ability to rationalize. Most religious are so afraid of death that they prohibit themselves true free will.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • CatS

      @Richard – I came across this understanding of 'faith' from the writings of a Catholic priest whose job it was to understand and explain Christian theology. He made the point that Christianity depended heavily on the invisibility and uncertainly of God. If the existence of God were a certainly, there could be no faith in God. Your 'faith' in salvation acknowledges that there may be no salvation. Faith is a choice – a stepping out over the abyss and trusting that you will not fall. To believe otherwise is to belittle your religion.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ CatS,,,, "Faith is a choice – a stepping out over the abyss and trusting that you will not fall. To believe otherwise is to belittle your religion."

      My "faith" is built upon many verses that are seldom reflected via otherly Christians, They are as follows;

      Mat 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

      Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

      1Cr 3:9 “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.”

      1Cr 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

      Luk 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is inside/within you."

      1Cr 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

      1Cr 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are

      1Cr 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

      For one to believe in my "scripted" understandings one needs to contemplate what science calls "Fractal Cosmology" and even "Cellular Cosmology" along with "Celestial Cosmology".

      Fractal Cosmology deals with an idea that there are universes within universes ad infinitum. I cannot deal with an infinity of ever smaller and even ever larger universes. There has to be a beginning point of a finite small universe and likewise there has to be the finite greatest universe.

      Cellular Cosmology deals with Life Cells and within such cellular universes lives out Beings of the Superlative kinds. They have created us, (Celestial life-forms) and our Cellular Universes are giant mechanisms where upon them live such super-intelligent beings. Their lifespan is proportional to ours in that one second of our time equates to say a thousnad or so years their time. These beings are for the most part eternal and they live for eons and eons. Whenever one body (ours) no longer functions, they migrate to a body that is yet functional.

      Celestial Cosmology deals with an immeasurable amount of celestial universes within the grand scheme of the Cosmos. They are fluidic and are fundamentally sensual instead of being intellectual. The dimension of the Cosmos of immeasurable universes is ever changing and not stagnant and new universes are always being formed within the depths of the Cosmological Sea of Nothingness.

      I am hopeful CatS that I make some sort of sense to you or others who read this post. 🙂 & 😦 = 🙂 🙂 🙂

      September 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • CatS

      @Richard – I understand the concepts. But the point I would make is to the 'scriptural' basis of your interpretation. You are relying on the 'truth' of biblical writings. Written by people you do not know and have no way of evaluating whether they are inspired by God or not. You are accepting this scripture on 'faith'. You trust that these writers are in fact speaking for God – without any actual factual evidence. Your actual beliefs are not the standard Christian fare – but your basis on faith is. This is common in people who were raised Christian. It is difficult to consider a system of belief that is NOT based in faith.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ CatS,

      I was not born into Chrsitianity CatS. I became acquainted with it many years ago when I first found blueletterbible.com. I found my aforementioned scriptural verses while searching the KJVB at blueletterbible. Without these scriptural basis', my concepts regarding Fractal and Cellular and Celestial Cosmology would make little sense in regards to "intelligent beings or Gods" living upon the Cellular-like universes of all Life we know of. These verses run hand in hand with my found views pertaining to Cellular Cosmology.

      I do so believe that GOD who is the embodiment we call the Cosmos never throws away or discards anything but thru the advents of the meandering Tree of Cosmological Constants do all things return and/or are rebirthed but in variations of size dependent upon amenable classifiable symmetries of once was, toward that which is, to dependencies of what one will become. Our soul or aura which emanates throughout and around one's body does not die. This aura is our spirit and when death occurs, it is called back to its' origins within our cellular embodiment to live out its' remainder of life. (Keep in mind that a 1,000 years is likened to a second of our time span.)

      CatS, if it weren't for the words spoken by Christ Jesus, I may never have been led to such thoughts. I believe in Him and He died for the sakes of All Life to be given an eternity of many lives/deaths lives/death ad infinitum to be lived out within the eons of Time the only thing that is truly Immortal.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  10. Ana

    Great article, and as usual the atheists are out in full force..Please give it a rest. I am an atheist too, but I enjoyed reading what this author had to say. Now...onto the article :

    I find myself in opposition to some of these qualities. I had the patience of Job ( yes, religious reference ) when I was younger. I was selfless and idealistic until I was bled dry, and there was nothing left. Now I am more in the 'first half of life ' as he so eloquently put it. I am concerned now with MY family, MY health, MY happiness, and MY legacy. And I've never been happier !! I am sure there's a lesson in here somewhere, but I really don't care. Life is to be enjoyed, not picked apart too much.

    September 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Oh look, it's an accomodationist Atheist. You may be happy with your seat at the back of the bus, but some of us aren't.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • pat carr

      ""Oh look, it's an accommodational Atheist. You may be happy with your seat at the back of the bus, but some of us aren't."

      That's how i feel. Some of us had a very bad experience with christianity. I am definitely not a accommodational atheist

      September 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  11. Eleanor Greene

    It sounds like the priest is an atheist! No mention here of faith in God .... the sustainer of our souls!!

    September 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Henry Santana

      God is not necessary. God plays no role in my life and I get along fine. I have suffered many losses and moved on with out spiritual help.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • CatS

      You should read up on the beliefs of some of the older Christian religions. Their beliefs are closer to atheism than many 'younger' Christian religions. They acknowledge the uncertainty of faith.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  12. JFritz

    Another priest with a gig. Fact is, American boomers thought they'd be young forever. They stretched adolescence as far as they could, and it finally snapped. All those years of shoving their kids in day care as they fulfilled themselves has finally caught up. The kids don't care about them. The churches don't care about them. Worst of all, their employers–snotty young kids who were raised by them–don't care about them. They waited to have kids while they enjoyed endless youth, and now they're strapped with kids in college, aging, and debt. We reap what we sow.

    September 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  13. Stevo

    Wow, you atheists are all real pigs here. Pure trolls. When will CNN get an Atheist blog going so we can stoop down to your level and return the favour?

    September 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Theresa

      They're like that everywhere. IT's an insecurity thing.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Doris

      I call them Christian stalkers. They get some perverted pleasure out of hunting down every article and post by any Christian or spiritual person and attacking them. They are kind of weird and creepy.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Bristol Palin

      I find that an orgasm a day keeps the bible bangers away.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • martinipaul

      This is the only venue they have to express their discontent. Atheists are pretty much loners and this may be the only social network they have. Loners in the sense of being able to openly express themselves.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Question everything

      Now c'mon christians, dont judge. Remember, the sky fairy watches everything you do every day. He is not going to be pleased with the mistreatment of your fellow man.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Maybe you just don't want us around because your beliefs can stand up to scrutiny. That's the funny thing about faith- there's no evidence for anything you believe in.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Stevo..you have shown, through your comments that you are just a human being like the the rest of us. Also that belief in a god does not improve your ability to be moral or kind.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Tom

      Good one. Many of us have too much time on our hands because unfortunately there's not many jobs and we're trying to make sense of it all. I think the best thing is to stop paying taxes. Let the control freaks do what they want – but take away their money. At least they won't be selling their good on our dime. Go back to family and farming (using your own organic seeds) and keep some of the really good things...like penicillan which saved so many lives at very low cost. God bless the inventor – saved my life.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  14. David

    @Glades2
    The bible teaches that everyone will be judged according to their works/deeds. A profession of belief on a person's death bed will mean nothing to their salvation if their life is full of sin. Considering reading about the parable of the sheep and goats, or perhaps the rich man who asks Christ what he needs to do to be saved, or any of the verses that talk about enduring to the end to be saved. Even the devil believes that Christ is the savior of the world and that's not going to do him much good in the end is it? Belief is but the beginning...if you don't do as Christ has taught your salvation is merely wishful thinking.

    September 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • DJ

      I wonder if the thief on the cross would agree about conversions at the time of death.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Fred1

      So what about this?
      And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 NAB)

      September 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • David

      @DJ
      I wonder if you know anything about the thief on the cross? Let me help you with this...you don't. We know there was a guy who we are told was a thief. Was he a thief? Maybe he was innocent? Maybe he was baptized. Plus...where is paradise? Christ told Mary 3 days later he had not ascended to His father yet...doesn't like the 'paradise' the thief went to was heaven..at least not his final destination. If you believe that the story of the thief is license for deathbed repentance then you are seriously reading between the lines.

      @Fred
      According to your logic God will give you anything you ask....even if it is contrary to His will? Doesn't sound like a God of order to me...or one that is the same yesterday, today and forever. God has rules (for evidence of this look at His creations) and he plays by the rules he sets. If He says 'repent or be baptized or you cannot be saved' then guess what....you need to repent and be baptized. Seems simple to me. Unfortunately people stretch the truth, read between the lines, cherry pick scriptures and do anything they can to make the Bible fit their desired beliefs.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  15. martinipaul

    Atheisms lack of understanding of the human condition is appalling.

    September 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Colin

      On the contrary, it is our understanding of human nature that allows us to understand why millionsfeel the need to believe in non-existent sky-gods.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • bb

      When churches are full of hate and bigotry, other alternatives look better by the day.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • martinipaul

      colin: then why don't you accept that fact?

      September 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • JFritz

      Are you for real? Are you actually going to say that "religion" understands the human condition? Yeah, tell that to the understanding folks at the Vatican. Witch-burners. Religious men who put their women in burkas or, in our country, long denim jumpers. The folks who sent children to the Crusades really understood the human condition. Oh, puhleeeze!

      September 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Atheists are actually a blessing. Not only do they prove that returning love and forgiveness for hate is liking heaping coals upon their heads but their barbs and attacks only deepen our faith. Pray for them. Conversion is possible. I know, I was once an atheist myself. With God, all things are possible!!!!!!

      September 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Flash

      martinipaul, "Pray for them."

      And what do you think that does?... other than keeping your mind busy?

      September 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      martinpaul i tend to think that religion only understands the human condition in terms of which god you believe in. You do not see the human until the religion is pealed away by which time you have already formed an opinion.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      "Conversion is possible. I know, I was once an atheist myself. With God, all things are possible!!!!!!"

      At the risk of being called out for using the "no true Scotsman fallacy", I guarantee you that you were never an Atheist for valid reasons in the first place. Or has your mind become so open that your brains fell out. Coming to the conclusion that faith is a terrible excuse for accepting something as true is a painstaking journey many of us have experienced. It is by virtue of examining all the evidence in detail that most Atheists come to the conclusion that belief in the supernatural is unwarranted and just plain silly. The reverse speaks only to unfathomable gullibility since evidence to support your beliefs are non-existent. Conversions to our side far and away outnumber cases such as yours.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    @MW – Be careful? Your ancestors were not careful now you must pay for their sins. Careful? Read Torah and discover your fate.

    September 18, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  17. Jerry

    Pshh, this guy did not coin that term. Shel Silverstein did, in his1996 poem.

    "Falling Up'

    I tripped on my shoelace
    And I fell up–
    Up to the roof tops,
    Up over the town,
    Up past the tree tops,
    Up over the mountains,
    Up where the colors
    Blend into the sounds.
    But it got me so dizzy
    When I looked around,
    I got sick to my stomach
    And I threw down.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  18. SCAtheist

    The church is paying attention to seniors. They pick their pockets every chance they get.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • bb

      Nail on the head. Churches are businesses. In my experience in many churches in the religious-right south, the attention follows the money every single time. And people realize that too.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  19. AGuest9

    Just as James formed a church based on his brother's death, and sent Peter to his demise in Rome.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  20. muddiggermom

    a bit too esoteric for me...I don't really believe in a god nor do I believe everything is a "spiritual lesson." as my dyslexic aunt used to say, "tish happens.."

    September 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
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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.