Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Christianity

22 great quotes from the book God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Mirabai Starr


1. The compassionate Father and the protective Mother

“The One revels itself as the compassionate Father and the protective Mother, as unrequited Lover and loyal Friend, residing always at the core of our hearts, and utterly invisible.  The One transcends all form, all description, all theory, categorically refusing to be defined or confined by our human impulse to unlock the Mystery.  And the One resides at the center of all that is, ever-present and totally available.”

2. Taking care of the land

“Our challenge is not only to recognize the face of the Creator in the beauty of creation, but also to serve the Divine by taking care of the land, the air, and all beings that dwell with us here…”

3. Giving voice to the voiceless

“Countless women and men – known and unknown – stand up every day to give voice to the voiceless – not because it seems like the right thing to do, but because they have no choice: The call comes storming through the gates of their hearts…  In the act of surrendering to the Divine, the prophet relinquishes comfort, control, and any hope of being understood.”

4. At the heart of spiritual practice

“There is a longing that burns at the heart of spiritual practice…”

5. Longing and wholeness

“Longing may be our legacy, but wholeness is our birthright.  It lies at the heart of the disappointments and delights of everyday life.  In weeding the garden and burning the toast.  In falling asleep alone or enfolded in the arms of another.  In reading poetry instead of watching the news.  In missing the grandmother you adored and becoming the father you never had.  In weeping for the suffering of the oppressed, the degradation of the planet.”

6. Interdependence with all beings

“Interdependence with all beings has never again been an abstract concept to me.  I am viscerally aware of my debt to every blade of grass.  Innumerable, unexpected blessings emerged from the ashes of my loss: a childlike wonderment and gratitude in the face of the simplest things: a bowl of buttered noodles, reading poetry to my husband in bed, two horses prancing across the field behind our house.  These are the blossoms that unfold from my growing relationship with the Mystery of Love…”

7. Intrigued by your own unraveling

“You dare not speak these questions aloud…  It looks like a crisis of faith.  They will rush in to fix you.  But you are intrigued by your own unraveling.  You would like to see what comes next.  It is a relief to know nothing, to want nothing.  If this is an ailment, you think, may I never recover.”

8. Undergoing periods of radical unknowing

“It can be terrifying to find ourselves alone with Mystery.  Yet it is necessary to undergo periods of radical unknowing.”

9. An authentic spiritual meltdown

“…an authentic spiritual meltdown is a cause for celebration.  It is only then that we are stripped of our attachment to the way the presence of God is supposed to feel, and begin to rest in spiritual nakedness.  Divested of our constructs about the existence and nature of this God, we come face to face with Ultimate Reality.  In the midst of our crumbling, we may not see it as grace.  In fact, it looks as though we are giving up on God or, even worse, that God has abandoned us.”

10. The Dark Night of the Soul  

“The Dark Night of the Soul is often an intensely private experience, invisible to the casual observer.  It may have nothing to do with external circumstances…  Yet life-changing losses can be a catalyst for the internal breakdown of our most cherished beliefs.  If we tighten against the pain of this process, we may miss the opportunity for personal transformation and spiritual healing…”

11. Too mysterious to be defined

“The God of my parents repudiated is not my God.  My God is too vast to be contained by theology, too mysterious to be defined, too holy to be personified.  My God neither punishes nor rewards, but invites me into a living relationship that unfolds in the heart of all that is.  My God belongs to everyone, and this belonging connects me to the web of all life.”

12. The embodiment of the beloved

“The life of Christ is a mirror of the generous face of the Divine.  One Gospel story after the next reveals a God-Man who treated everyone as the embodiment of the beloved…”

13. A direct engagement with the roots of poverty

“Compassion is not a matter of feeling pity for the poor; it is a direct engagement with the roots of poverty, a willingness to sacrifice our own comfort for the well-being of someone else…”

14. The most difficult stranger to welcome

“Maybe the most difficult stranger to welcome is the one who lives inside us…”

15. Striking a balance

“How do we strike a balance between tending to our own welfare and serving the endless needs of humanity and the earth, between pouring ourselves out into the world and seeking to refill our own cup?  How do we ensure that we are not rolling down a path of convenience, showing up to serve when it suits our comfort and boosts our prestige, and withholding our gifts when we are feeling impoverished and underappreciated.”

16. Our most beautiful gifts

“And so I am reminded that our gravest errors can leave scars that become our most beautiful gifts.  And our scars become reminders of grace, of forgiveness.  Our wounds can serve as signs of our interconnectedness with all beings, and motivate us to continue striving to make things right between us.”

17. The technological world

“What is it in the psyche of the human family that now so deeply yearns for the Divine Feminine?  Why has She been shunned, ridiculed, and buried alive for millennia?  Perhaps by revitalizing our relationship with the Holy She, in the form of Mother, of Lover, of most intimate female Friend, we may unfold the treasure map that leads to the resources we need to heal the ravaged planet and all who dwell on her.  Tribal peoples have always understood the sacred nature of Mother Earth, but the technological world, in losing its connection with the land, has lost its connection to the Feminine.  It’s time to reclaim our birthright.”

18. Lifting up the whole world

“When you drop down into the silence, you lift up the whole world.”

19. The gift of being in the present moment

“To live a contemplative life means to consciously put aside the thousand demands of the world and offer ourselves the gift of being in the present moment, alert to the signs of the sacred that are breaking through everywhere, always…”

20. The line between genius and madness

“The greatest saints and mystics were plagued by all the same challenges the rest of us grapple with – often more so…  The line between genius and madness has always been a fluid one.  Radical gifts seem to be accompanied by equally potent imbalances.  Many brilliant artists, poets, and spiritual leaders suffer from depression and substance abuse.”

21. Let our experiences break us open

“…we all have the opportunity to let our experiences break us open to a place beyond the dualities of good and evil, right and wrong, self and the Divine…”

22. Rest in your groundedness

“So don’t do anything fancy.  Just rest in your groundedness and witness what happens.  Be willing not to know…”

Which quote here is your favorite?

How Christianity Can Learn From Buddhism


Buddhism appeals to a lot of my deep intuitions as I find myself liking the focus on mediation, living in the present moment, compassion, mindfulness, awareness and enlightenment.  It seems that an authentic expression of Christianity would have similar practices to it, but unfortunately most of Western spirituality is void of such things.  As I am trying to identify with what is authentic in the Christian tradition, I see so much authenticity missing and nowhere to be found.  Christians have become lost because we are often times estranged to the practices that help us to live into our depths.

  • The life of Thomas Merton

I love the life of twentieth century mystic Thomas Merton who started to explore how Eastern spirituality could affect his understanding and practice of Christianity in the West.  He particularly studied Buddhism for his own enlightenment.  Merton was a Trappist monk who dedicated his life to contemplation for twenty seven years in a monastery in Kentucky.  He loved silence and solitude along with writing as he published around 50 books during his short life.

  • A way of life versus an intellectual belief

Often times when we think of Buddhism we think of a way of life.  And when we think of Christianity we think of an intellectual belief in the mind.  Why is this?  It seems that Christianity has lost the interior practices that lead to a way of life such as: meditation, awareness, mindfulness, living in the present moment and compassion that are so common in Buddhism.

  • Living in the present moment

Over the years, as the church has been lacking to help me with my own own spiritual formation, I have searched for a way of life that can lead me to awareness, mindfulness and compassion.  All of this fosters living in the present moment.  This is the rule of life that I want to live by, but I probably won’t find guidance from those associated with traditional Christianity.  Thich Nhat Hanh and Thomas Merton have been tremendous guides to me as I have read some of their books.

  • The friendship of Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh

In fact, Merton said that he had deeper resonation with Thich Nhat Hanh than he ever had with any other Christian he knew in his life.  They become friends and their bonds were nothing like he experienced with those in the Christian tradition.  Thich Nhat Hanh was a lifelong Buddhist practitioner of mindfulness, awareness, living in the present moment and compassion.  He was also an extravagant writer like Merton himself.

  • Listening to what is authentic in you

One of the things I love about Buddhism is the focus on meditation.  When so much of Western Christianity is focused on prayer through words, I have found this so empty because often times the content of our intercession is about our own agenda at the exclusion of really listening within ourselves.  There has got to be a different way to express our communion with our Creator.  The Buddhist practice of meditation is all about listening to what is authentic in you.

  • Jesus often went to solitary places

Without listening through mediation, we have no awareness, mindfulness or compassion to allow love to lead us in everything we do.  We have no capacity to discover our true selves where love and compassion come from deep with us.  We will get stuck in the past or the future and forget about the present moment.  Jesus often went to solitary places to practice mediation in silence and solitude where he listened intently to God.

  • Buddhism has much to offer Christianity

This encompassed Jesus’ life giving him the capacity to love, suffer, show compassion and be mindful toward everyone he encountered on his journey.  Followers of Christ should learn to practice these things just as he did during his lifetime.  This is a practice that allowed Jesus to connect with his being and become an expression of love in the world around him.  Buddhism has much to offer the Christian tradition in the West that has virtually forgotten the interior life.

  • Learning from Eastern practices

What a sad tragedy this is, but there is hope to recover this way of life if we open ourselves to learn from Eastern practices of the contemplative life which embodies deep reflection and compassion.  It seems contemplatives have always been the outsiders.  Often times the mystics are the one who embrace authenticity, simplicity and truthfulness.  But they are judged or condemned as heretics, sad to say.  There needs to be a contemplative revolution within the body of Christ in everyday life.

Here are a couple of Thich Nhat Hanh quotes from his book Touching Peace and a Thomas Merton quote on ecumenism taken from Mystics and Zen Masters.

  • Meditation is the art of stopping

“Mediation is not to avoid problems or run away from difficulties.  We do not practice to escape.  We practice to have enough strength to confront problems effectively.  To do this, we must be calm, fresh, and solid.  That is why we need to practice the art of stopping.  When we learn to stop, we become more calm, and our mind becomes clearer…”   Thich Nhat Hanh Touching Peace

  • The present moment

“Life is found only in the present moment…”  Thich Nhat Hanh Touching Peace

  • Seeds of enlightenment, awareness, understanding, and compassion

“Mindfulness is the seed of enlightenment, awareness, understanding, care, compassion, liberation, transformation, and healing.  If we practice mindfulness, we get in touch with the refreshing and joyful aspects of life in us and around us, the things we are not able to touch when we live in forgetfulness…”  Thich Nhat Hanh Touching Peace

  • A genuine ecumenism of common intuitions

“…genuine ecumenism requires that communication and sharing, not only of information about doctrines which are totally and irrevocably divergent, but also of religious intuitions and truths which may turn out to have something in common, beneath surface differences.  Ecumenism seeks the inner and ultimate spiritual ‘ground’ which underlies all articulated differences…”  Thomas Merton Mystics and Zen Masters

Do you think that Christianity could learn from Buddhism?


Book Review – The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings by John Phillip Newell


The Rebirthing of God is such a wonderful book that brings forth an imagination for the sacredness of all of life.  John Phillip Newell focuses on “a reconnecting to the earth, a reclaiming of compassion, a revisioning of Light, a recommitment to the shared journeys of faith, a rediscovery of spiritual practice, a rededication to nonviolence, a reentering of the unconscious, and a reuniting of love.”  This is an enlightening book for those disillusioned with Christianity as they know it and wanting something more authentic in the twenty-first century.  Highly recommended reading!

The book uses different characters such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mary Oliver, Bede Griffiths, Thomas Merton, Mahatma Gandhi, George Macleod, Carl Jung and Simone Weil to demonstrate this rebirthing of God.  John Phillip Newell helps us to reimagine a spirituality in which we are aware of our connectedness to one another and the earth.  This is a deeper vision for love and unity as Jesus taught us.

When so much of Christianity is based on division, indifference, violence in the name of God and disconnection to one another this book was a breath of fresh air to me.  It brought together the importance of love, unity, connection and peace in a world that tries to tell us that we are so different from one another.  I do not believe this is true anymore.  This has brought me deep liberation within my soul.

I want to be free to experience this rebirthing of God within me all throughout my lifetime.  The centering of love and our essential connection to one another is good news to me.  I love the title of this book, The Rebirthing of God, because that is what we need as our American Western forms of Christianity have not brought us much life.  There has to be more to our spirituality that is authentic, deep and mystical.

  • The refusal to honor what is deepest in others

“Is this not the root of our falseness, refusing to bow to the sacredness of what comes forth from the earth?  Is this not the pattern in most of our division as nations and as a human species – the refusal to honor what is deepest in others?”

  • Compassion is at the heart of our being

“Compassion is at the heart of our being, waiting to flow again for one another and for those who suffer.  Part of the rebirthing of God in our lives and our world is allowing these depths to flow.”

  • This Light at the heart of our being is for one another and for the world

“…we have a sibling relationship with everything that exists and that the Light that we glimpse in the trees, in the creatures, in the eyes of another, is the Light that is also within us.  Do we know that we are bearers of this unspeakably beautiful Light?  Do we know that this Light at the heart of our being is for one another and for the world?”

  • The imprisonments that keep us in exile from the true heart of one another

“For it is now that we need to do the work of dying to the way in which our ego claims to be the center, rather than serving the Center.  It is now, both individually and collectively, that we need to be freed from the imprisonments that keep us in exile from the true heart of one another.”

  • Our true Center is at the heat of one another

“…we are most free when we do not lift ourselves up over one another but when we remember that our true Center is at the heart of one another.”

  • Hatred of others

“Hatred of others can never lead to true liberation…”

  • Our whole being moves as one with the other

“The unconscious invites us to discover the bliss of oneness.  It does not diminish our uniqueness and individuality.  Rather, it is a conjoining that delights in our differences and honors them…  Our whole being moves as one with the other in an enfolding and intermingling that goes deeper than our differences.  It does not smother it…”

  • Love has the power to bring us together

“The only force that has the power to truly bring together the apparent opposites in our lives and our world is love.”

In what ways have you experienced the rebirthing of God in your life?

Celebrating my 200th Blog Post – 10 Reasons Why Christianity Has Lost Credibility in North America


When Christianity becomes corrupt through our power, ego, wealth and arrogance it becomes very destructive, violent, colonial and unauthentic.  It seems Christianity in North America promotes sin that is destructive to us all.  Most of the world hates this kind of stuff and we are to blame for how others reject Christianity because we are so unlike the one we claim to follow.  Here are 10 reasons why American Christianity is contributing to atheism in our world.

1. We have too much division over stupid stuff that doesn’t matter.  There are thousands of denominations in the United States and most of them think they have a monopoly on truth.  There is a lack of learning from one another and working together for the common good.  We look at differences instead of similarities.

2. Hierarchies that feed off of power.  Hierarchies are created by men to control and dominate in the name of God.  Hierarchies exclude and instill fear in others.  Jesus didn’t care about power so why does the church love power so much?

3. Making the church into a building.  The church is not a building.  The church is not even a service.  The church is the people living in a particular place in everyday life.  When there is no commitment to place, there is no expression of love in everyday life together.

4. Lack of love and compassion for the marginalized.  The church has mostly abandoned the poor.  We don’t understand that God lives in the poor.  It seems we don’t care that much.

5. Overemphasis on vocal intercessory prayer and neglecting a contemplative spirituality of deep listening.  It seems that our notions of prayer are not really about listening and reflecting deeply within ourselves, but about constantly asking God for things.  When will we stop asking God for things through a Western mindset of comfort, security and success?  We need to develop a contemplative spirituality that listens deeply and stops talking so much.

6. Compartmentalizing worship into music and not a way of life.  Worship is not about music.  Why do we have such an addiction to our American forms of church worship?  We revolve so much energy around songs as worship, but whatever happened to community as worship, being neighbors to one another as worship, living in simplicity as worship, showing compassion as worship, living an intentional life of discipline as worship?

7. Living above place.  We do not care about place anymore.  This is making our services we call church damaging, manipulative and irrelevant.  If we committed to place, this could bring us together to engage our culture in ways of love, compassion and grace beyond our services.

8. The abandonment of vulnerability and humility.  We have become arrogant.  We think we know all the answers.  When will we show our vulnerability and some humility to the world who judges us most of the time as fake, ignorant and unauthentic.

9. Overemphasis on sin within us and ignoring the life of Christ within us.  There is so much emphasis on sin and not enough emphasis on Christ living within us.  We are not just sinners, Christ lives within us.  We do not embody the life of Christ within us because we are instilled with a deep consciousness of sin that causes us to never discover our true selves as created in the image and beauty of God.    

10. Lack of respect for all people.  We think we are right and everyone else is wrong so we disrespect others if they do not have similar theological beliefs.  What we think as the way, truth and life leads us to be judgmental, arrogant, proud and disrespectful.  We do not realize that God is love and values all people so we should have a learning posture toward others who we think are different from us.

How can we establish a more credible Christianity in North America?  What point do you resonate with most?

Is Patriarchy One of Our Greatest Sins?


Being a man in a culture that is dominated by men has been difficult at times for me.  So much of my experience around church and Christianity has been disturbing.  It seems that women are not equals with men.  Women do not have voice the way men do.

This is weird to me.  Maybe it is because I grew up with five sisters and only one brother.  It is my conviction that the church has struggled tremendously because we have not allowed women to be their true selves within the body of Christ.  We have reduced them to insignificance.

This is tragic and sad.  Some of the greatest teachers in my life are women.  If it wasn’t for the women in my life, I don’t think I would be the person I am today.

  •  Men should learn from women

Men have a lot to learn from women.  When interdependent leadership is about egalitarianism and everyday life in the parish, women seem to embody the gospel through love much better than men do a lot of the time.  Women love their neighbors well.  Men should take note of this and stop pushing a patriarchy on women who show more love, grace, humility and empathy toward their neighbors most of the time.

  •  Christianity has become irrelevant because of patriarchy

Women are our greatest teachers.  Men are foolish if they cannot see this.  I believe that it is because of our patriarchy that Christianity has become so irrelevant to our culture.  When we silence women and do not empower them, we distort the image of God because man and woman were both created in the image of God.  We are to be an expression of the whole nature of God.  God represents both the male and the female.

  •  An egalitarianism that is rooted and linked

Patriarchy is unjust and oppressive.  An interconnected leadership is not about patriarchy, but egalitarianism.  The parish imagination does not like patriarchy.  The parish imagination demonstrates an egalitarianism that is rooted and linked.

  •  All are equal in the parish

There are too many barriers between men and women among the body of Christ.  An interconnected leadership breaks down these barriers and helps us to live together in everyday life.  All are equal in the parish.  Women have just as much opportunity for meaningful engagement in everyday life in a particular place as men do.

  •  Patriarchy is not a theological issue, but a justice issue

God will use both men and women through an interconnected leadership that is rooted and linked.  The parish imagination does not discriminate against women because of gender.  This is no longer a theological issue, but a justice issue.

  •  Breaking down barriers between men and women

Kathy Escobar says, “Until barriers are broken down between men and women in the body of Christ, a chasm of lost experience and wholeness will always be present in our relationships and communities.  We can never underestimate how much healing and spiritual transformation can happen when men and women learn to live alongside each other in equal, loving relationship.”

  •  We cannot create a holistic counterculture without women

We cannot create a holistic counterculture without women.  We need men and women to work alongside each other in the parish.  We need men and women to see themselves as equals in the parish.  We will lose so much if we continue to oppress women.

  •  Practicing the priesthood of all believers

The body of Christ needs to practice reconciliation between genders and learn how to love our neighbors together in everyday life.  We need to learn how to be rooted and linked as we practice the priesthood of all believers that is interconnected in our leadership.  The parish will not come alive in any other way.  The parish imagination dreams of this oppression of women to end through the body of Christ in everyday life together.

Do you think patriarchy stems from insecurity and control within men?

Book Review – How To Be A Christian Without Going To Church: The Unofficial Guide To Alternative Forms of Christian Community by Kelly Bean

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This is a fantastic book by Kelly Bean!  She helps us to reimagine what an embodied Christianity can look like in the twenty-first century.  Local community outside of the structures of what we know as the institutional church is a big emphasis of hers.  I find this to be compelling and inspiring.

Kelly takes us through a paradigm shift from going to church to being church in the particular place we live.  I love how she has a strong emphasis on the idea of parish and neighborhood.  She draws out how we need to be asking new questions together about authenticity.  Uncertainty, relational community, sustainability, hospitality, intentionality, self-awareness, presence and listening will all be a part of our journey in this way of being.  I strongly agree and am delighted that Kelly Bean has written such a wonderful book at such an important time in our history.

  • Local and sustainable ways of life

“People have an increased awareness of the need to live in ways that are local and sustainable.”

  • New questions become important

“…we were not made to go it alone, and the body of Christ cannot be the body of Christ if we give up on each other.  But what happens when the structures, institutions, and forms that exist now – even innovative new forms – are no longer working for a growing number of people?  New questions become important…”

  • Authentic relational community

“These non-goers are likely to look for faith expressions that support integration of ordinary life, authentic relational community, hands-on engagement, and smaller, more sustainable forms of community.”

  • Lived communal examples

“More than ever, the world needs to see lived communal examples of what it means to be Christian…”

  • There will be uncertainty

“It comforts me to remember this: when the first Jesus followers threw down their nets, they had no idea what they were getting into.  When the Protestant Reformers parted ways with the Roman Catholic Church, they didn’t have new forms in place to replace the structures that had shaped their way of life.  When Francis of Assisi flung his father’s fortune in the street and set out to form a new community of faith, he had no idea what would be born.  Charting a new course does mean there will be uncertainty.”

  • The peace of Christ is with us

“No matter what our circumstances are or what craziness is going on in the world, we can remind each other that Christ is present – the peace of Christ is with us.  We are not alone.  A simple kindness, eye contact, and human touch bring a blessing wherever we are…”

  • Examine the call toward hospitality together

“When we, the community of Christ, examine the scriptural call toward hospitality together and then we work together, we can stretch our imaginations and our comfort zones.  It is important to keep in mind that sometimes we need to first be hospitable to ourselves, close that open door, and focus inward for a season.  When it is time to open the door, when we welcome the wayfarer, the immigrant, the homeless, the displaced, the lonely, the single parent, we incarnate the welcome of Jesus and we ourselves are transformed.”

  • Relational expressions of community

“Relational expressions of community can be healing and life-giving to us and to others…”

  • With intention and with action

“With intention and with action, and even without the structure of the church, we can indeed bring blessings to the world and extend transformative hospitality to others.  When we take the initiative to be present to people, to share our gifts, and to always keep learning from others, we extend the light of kindness and the Good News of Christ right where we are to whoever we are with.”

  • Being transformed by others who live differently

“There are many ways that, together, we can build bridges.  Being open to being transformed by others who live differently than we do not only helps change us but helps to connect and change the world.”

  • Working through our pain

“…working through our pain and choosing to gain new tools for dealing with conflict and engaging in communication brings benefit to not only ourselves but to all our relationships…”

  • Real-life experience

“…real spiritual formation comes from real-life experience…”

  • Called to be Christ to people where we live

“As Christ was God incarnate – fully God and fully human – someone we could see and feel, so we are called to be Christ to people, incarnating and redeeming the places where we live and work, for the good of all…”

  • Getting in touch with our own pain and becoming aware of our own brokenness

“Getting in touch with our own pain and becoming aware of our own brokenness is not an easy path, but it’s one that leads to our own transformation as well as the possibility of forming authentic relationships.  No matter how many good intentions we have, if we are not becoming more self-aware and taking active measures to continue toward growth and healing, our work and our relationships can only go so far and may end up causing more harm than good over time…”

  • Starting with our own neighborhood

“…if we can learn to walk with others, in ordinary ways and places, we help bring grace and healing to our neighborhoods and cities – to the whole of society right where we are.  I would add that in the process we receive grace and are healed as well.  The fact is that we need to start with our own neighborhood, our own zip code, to work toward making a better society and world.”

  • Stop to listen and learn from our neighbors

“When we stop to listen and learn from our neighbors and neighborhood, the need of the neighborhood itself can inform our action…”

  • Engage in local solutions and connection for the good of the world

“Christ, who made himself local and rooted himself in a particular place at a particular time in history, invites us to engage in local solutions and connection for the good of the world.”

  • Become communities that bear light together

“May we all keep growing, continue learning, and become communities that bear light together, even in our brokenness…”

  • Wounded by the church

“If you were wounded by the church and you’ve left in pain or discouragement, please, seek healing and don’t allow that place of pain to settle in and take hold of you.  Grieve, and when you are ready, move forward with the awareness that there is goodness to pursue.  For those of you who have been lonely or uncertain, be encouraged that you are not the only one in this place of change.  There is a place for you – make a way for others or seek out kindred souls for the way forward.”

How do you feel about the idea of being a Christian without going to church?  What positive or negative impressions does this bring up in you?  Does it bring you hope or fear?