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On Not Wanting to be a “None”

Posted on 25 November 2019, 11:33

Several times during the past 15 years I have had to sit in front of a hospital admissions clerk and answer questions – full name, address, date and place of birth, spouse’s name, doctor, insurance, prior surgeries, blood type, etc., etc.  I rattled off the answers each time until the clerk asked for my religion.  The first time I was asked the question I was stopped in my tracks as I didn’t realize that religion was a pertinent question for a hospital admission. It quickly dawned on me, however, that they needed my religion in case things go awry and they have to call in a pastor of some kind to administer last rites or whatever it is they do.  However, understanding the reason did not help me answer the question on the first admission or on subsequent admissions. I have had to ponder on my answer each time, because I refuse to be a “None.” 

 none

According to a recent Pew Foundation report, 26 percent of Americans are “Nones,” which includes atheists (4%), agnostics (5%) and “nothing in particular” (17%).  The report further indicates that 68 percent of those surveyed believe in God.  The math suggests that 32 percent don’t believe in God.  Thus, there are some who declare a religion but don’t believe in God (6%), no doubt some Buddhists among them.

While I’m probably overgeneralizing, my stereotypical None is a cynical know-it-all wise guy (or gal), usually someone still wet behind the ears.  In more cases than not, Nones are former fundamentalist Christians who, with the help of their biology teachers, suddenly saw the light and realized that their parents had pulled the wool over their eyes and had duped them all those years about some big guy in the sky called God.  In dismissing an anthropomorphic God, they have automatically dismissed survival.  If someone brings up the overwhelming psychical research supporting survival, they turn to Wikipedia and then espouse the debunker’s view of it all, seemingly unable to grasp the fact that there is no a priori need to identify and prove God before weighing the evidence for survival.   

To the extent that I doubt the existence of an anthropomorphic (humanlike) God, I might be considered an atheist or at least an agnostic.  But you don’t have to believe in an anthropomorphic God to believe that consciousness survives death, and that is, or should be, the governing factor behind the question in the first place.  If there is a God but no afterlife, what is the point of believing in God?  I may be an atheist by a broad definition of the word, but I am not a nihilist.

On the other hand, not believing in an anthropomorphic God but believing that consciousness survives death does provide life with meaning, although one might see God as some kind of Cosmic Consciousness or Creative Force.  “Neither a person nor a nation can exist without some higher idea,” wrote Fyodor Dostoyevsky, (below) the renowned Russian philosopher and author of Crime and Punishment. “And there is only one higher idea on earth, and it is the idea of immortality of the human soul, for all other ‘higher’ ideas of life by which humans might live derive from that idea alone.”

 dostoyevsky

In effect, we can go on and on trying to prove God and never get anywhere, as it is all circumstantial evidence.  As pioneering psychologist William James put it in his classic, The Varieties of Religious Experience, “…so long as we deal with the cosmic and the general, we deal only with the symbols of reality, but as soon as we deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal with realities in the completest sense of the term.”  As I interpret that, we should look at the evidence coming to us from studies of mediumship, near-death experiences, deathbed visions, and other psychic phenomena suggesting the survival of consciousness and forget about trying to find evidence of God. 
     
If I were asked by a Pew researcher if I believe in God, I wouldn’t know how to answer the question. I’d have to request clarification.  “Do you mean an anthropomorphic God or some kind of Creative Force that is beyond human comprehension?” would be my question.  Complete silence would likely be the immediate reaction.

I can imagine the perplexed reaction of the admissions clerk if I had hit her with my concerns or questions.  I’m pretty sure her job description doesn’t call for analyzing a person’s philosophical views and condensing them down to one word.  All she wanted was that one word to fill in the blank. I could have simplified things by declaring myself as a None, but I just couldn’t bring myself to such a label. 

I considered telling the clerk that I am a spiritualist, making sure that she understood that I am a spiritualist (with a small “s” and not a capital “S”).  That is, I don’t belong to a Spiritualist church of any kind; I’m a spiritualist to the extent that I am not a materialist.  But a spiritualist (with a small “s”) is not really a religion, so that would not be a proper answer.  It might be as confusing as telling her that our 33rd president was Harry S Truman, not Harry S. Truman, i.e., no period after the S.

I still have a very vivid recollection of the time I attended a luncheon sponsored by a “lawyers for Christ” group and when the president of the organization was told by a friend that I authored a few books dealing with mediumship.  She asked me how I could live with myself before she did an immediate about-face and walked away in disgust, no doubt wondering how such an agent of Satan could be in their midst.

I also considered telling the admissions clerk that I am a panentheist, but that is more a philosophy than a religion and I might have to explain how a panentheist differs from a pantheist. I doubt that I would be up to that, even if she were interested in an explanation. 

I further considered that not wanting to be a None was a display of egoism on my part – wanting to be something rather than nothing.  A truly spiritual person would bask in the humility of being a mere nothing; only a proud person would insist on being something. 


I recalled the words of the “Master” in the classic Zen in the Art of Archery that one must become “egoless” if he is to hit the target.  That led me to the wisdom of Shivas Irons in Golf in the Kingdom, when Shivas told Michael, “Ye try too hard and ye think too much…Let nothingness into your shots.”  In spite of those flashing thoughts, pride got the best of me and I refused to declare myself a None. I could accept being a simple None, but I didn’t want to be a cynical wise-guy, know-it-all None.

Although all those thoughts took less than a second or two on that first admission, the pause was long enough for the admissions clerk to look away from her computer screen and at me in anticipation of my answer. As the hospital was run by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, I wondered if the clerk might be of that denomination and further wondered if she might conclude that I am a heathen of some kind.  By dictionary definition, I probably am a heathen, but, here again, my ego prevailed and I did not want to be thought of as such.  Being a heathen might be worse in her eyes than being a spiritualist.

I couldn’t take up any more of the clerk’s time, so I had to come up with an answer.  So I told her to put “Christian” without denomination.  Even though I don’t believe in the atonement doctrine, the bodily resurrection, the inerrancy of the Bible,  and some other Christian beliefs, I do believe in the basic principles taught by Christ and set forth in the New Testament, e.g., Do unto others…, Love thy neighbor….,By their fruits you shall know them….etc., and I look to Jesus as the “Chairman of the Board” on the Other Side. 

I accept the words of the group soul known as Silver Birch, who said, “There has never been on earth anyone through whom the manifestation of the spirit has been greater than through the Nazarene.  There has never been any through whom the laws have revealed themselves as so great an intensity as the Nazarene.”  So even if a garden-variety Christian priest or minister shows up on my hospital deathbed, I am prepared to welcome him or her. It’s probably best, however, that I not mention my “demonic” beliefs derived from psychical research.

Next blog post:  December 2

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.

   

 


Comments

Dear Eric, dear Amos,
when you follow this kind of path it’s amazing how intense could be the vibrations despite the fact we’ve never met in person before.
Anyway, I would suggest to read carefully the Greber’s book (just in case you hadn’t done it yet)‘cause I never found anything on that level. If we are sincere seekers, we can very well sense when what we’re reading is true or mitigated by the ambitions of the writer.
Moreover, I would say that anything that doesn’t satisfy “hearth AND brain” (to be clear emotions and logic) can be only “partly-accepted” (not to say “blindly” accepted), so it’s good to start a reading asking to the spirits for discernment.

Personally I think that words are an enrichment, let’s try imagine how would be our society without words: only to tell you “vegetables are good for health” I would have to bring a vegetable to you every time… Oh my God tongue laugh
Everything that we have is a gift of the spirit (-s), that we can use properly or unproperly. For this reason I think we should seek QUALITY (and not quantity) in everything in our life. The words we use should be loving and understanding, the food we eat should be good, natural and when we eat don’t take it for granted etc etc in all fragments of life… All this without exaggerating, as we know we are in an imperfect world and God is a not a fanatical God…
Gently, a step at a time…

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
My very best,
Marco

Marco, Thu 5 Dec, 15:22

I would have no problem with calling myself a “None” at hospital admission because I know that the hospital staff need to know whom to contact to attend to my spiritual needs and/or to console my loved ones.  If I don’t want that service then I would answer “none”.  Most likely I would label myself a “Christian” and move on as those religious teachings and beliefs of Jesus would be those with which I am knowledgeable and which which I might most agree as a moral good.  Whatever my own personal belief system is, it is not important in a moment of crisis.  What is important is another human’s concern—-that is, love and caring for me and my family and personal contact from someone who conveys that love and caring. The question asks,  “Who would I prefer to show that love and concern for me and my family?”


Marco’s and Eric’s comments about the inadequacy of words to describe “God” or other spiritual concepts has sparked my thoughts about just how it is that we know anything at all if not through our imperfect use of sound and/or written symbols (words).  Obviously there is no concept that really is described by the word itself as each of the many languages of humans and perhaps other creatures has its own sound or written symbol for each thing or mental concept. How can one communicate without a sound symbol or written symbol? It is the meaning of these symbols that is important and that occurs in the consciousness of the one who receives them.  There is no reality in the sound or written symbols themselves.  The current use in the press of the acceptable symbol F**k, for—-well, you know—- is not changing the thought or communication by one iota.  The thought is the same as if the complete word were used; we have just kidded ourselves. Every English-speaking person gets it!  We have just changed the symbol.  I laugh at people who use this technique thinking I suppose that they are a ‘holier than thou’ for hiding in plain sight what they really mean to say.  No matter what the substitute for F**k is, everyone knows what is meant.  The meaning resides in the consciousness not in the symbol.  Perhaps there is an existence where symbols are not necessary and communication occurs directly, consciousness to consciousness without words. Some people say this is the case.

 
How can we have a word or other symbol to describe something if we have never seen, heard, smelled, touched, or tasted it.  That is, words are secondary to experiencing something.  Without the experience and the agreed-upon word or other symbol for it, then communication is just babble.  It is impossible to describe God for that very reason and whatever God is, no living human remembers experiencing it and probably God is not the same today as it was yesterday or will be tomorrow so it is futile to try define something that ‘none’ have experienced and is evolving moment by moment.


Although not describable, just rest in the knowledge that ‘GOD IS ‘and go on with your life.  -AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 4 Dec, 15:32

Dear Marco, and dear Amos,

I am glad to read both your respective contributions to the discussion. Thank you.

Discussion has moved away somewhat from Michael (Tymn’s) original line of thought in his blog about the wish not to be a “No-religion person”. Our society does not yet recognise that it fails to allow for people whose spirituality cannot thrive inside the human religious systems, but flies far higher in those spaces that cannot be described in words at all. When society begins to recognise the need for a category that is emphatically NOT atheism, but just as emphatically NOT religion, it will have come of age at last, and we can all (also at last) be recognised as not the “Nones” of whom Michael (Tymn) writes.

Perhaps recognising the reality of climate change and the need to drag big business off its perch as the most destructive of humanity’s diabolical inventions will at last bring a golden age of human small-scale successful humility.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 3 Dec, 22:01

Dear Marco,
I am enjoying your thought-provoking comments.  Please keep them coming. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 3 Dec, 20:02

Dear Eric,
what a pleasure to have such a lovely conversation.
I agree with you about the fact that words are useful as well as useless when it comes to describing God. Let’s put it in this way: when a couple “make” a baby (extremely simplified just to get to the point), this baby is provided with consciousness but of course he is NOT his/her parents, as well as he is not the air/ the ambient etc. Ofcourse he/she is immersed in this whole, but also with his/her own selfconsciousness/individuality. This just to point out that we are “sons” of creation, but creation has been “created” top-down in a chain made by conscious beings. God who gave us individuality has “he” himself (logically) individuality, surrounded by odem.
If we would say that the odem which pervades everything IS God, of course we are free to say that, but it sounds more logical to me that the individual God (pure in love and knowledge like nobody else in the whole creation) formed a chain (from Christ down to archangels and angels) which created in turn the spheres, planets, “objects” and everything has a shape in the universe(s).
Regarding the Divine Essence (so to be clear “the way how God the creator of conscious subjects has been originated”) is not all that important for us on this stage of evolution and as reported by Micheal Tymn mentioning Greber’s book “But as to the nature of God, that is something I cannot explain to you, any more than I can explain the Cause of Divine Existence.  It would be like trying to explain the calculation of a planet’s orbit to a four-year-old child”.
So I think that as much as we climb the ladder of evolution we will understand more and more, but in order to do that we have to understand what is really essential and what is, as you said, just a verbal issue.
My very best,
Marco

Marco, Tue 3 Dec, 10:57

Dear Marco,

Thank you for your interesting and worthwhile additions to the conversation/discussion.

I think myself that while we cannot possibly know, or be acquainted with, the Being who seems to have ‘made’ everything that we see and everything we cannot see, that Being encompasses and includes all the ‘made’ things, and is a consciousness of a ‘Person’ type, ie a CONSCIOUS Being, far above our level of consciousness, and big enough to be the being of everything. In more traditional words, God is, and includes, everything distinguishable AS a ‘thing’ there is. After all, what we call ‘thingness’ is imputed by us to what we SEE AS distinguishable from other ‘things’ we also see as distinguishable.

A black cat in a coal cellar is not distinguishable unless it miaows or scratches, or rubs against our legs, but when light shines into the coal cellar the coal cellar and the cat are instantly distinguishable. That whole process depends on our very limited senses, our awareness, our consciousness.

Distinguishable-as this or that is what to be a thing IS. ‘Thingness’ is in part an invention of our limited human minds. We need to be free of the influence of pre-existing words when we contemplate the cosmos around us, and so try to ‘see’, ie conceptualise, the nature of what is there around us in the Universe.

It is, surely, a Whole, but having distinguishable parts within it. We who ‘see’ (a little) are also parts of the Whole that is “God” and his/her Creation. The Indic saying ‘Tat twam asi’, meaning ‘You are THAT’, tries to express the idea. It’s best to “see” the idea without words (as Einstein did). Otherwise, words tie you up and muddle your head. They are so useless I had better stop spinning them . . .

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 3 Dec, 09:39

I agree with you, that kind of fanatical worship is irrelevant to God, the only thing that really counts is love and understanding. On the other side I see that love is strictly linked with knowledge, and my perspective changed completely when I found the reason why Christ came on Earth (he easily might remain in heaven, but as stated by spirits to Greber there are precise reasons why he didn’t). Furthermore, knowing that the spiritual high spheres are populated by people like us (only the substance/odem is ofcourse different, more refined) helps a lot to get the big picture.
My best and thanks again for the inspiring discussion,
Marco

Marco, Mon 2 Dec, 22:09

Marco,

You are right.  On page 88, I found, “The fact of the matter is, then, that all spirits have shape, beginning with God and passing from Him down through His higher spirits to the most hideous figures of the depths, and to the incarnated spirits on earth.”

I struggle with that, but the Greber spirits seem otherwise credible and I am not qualified to take issue with them. At the same time, I still contend that the nature and form of God is academic and secondary to the belief that consciousness survives death.  If one is to assume that God demands worship and adoration, then it might be important to focus more on an anthropomorphic God, but I refuse to believe that God wants such worship and adoration, and therefore, the form of God is somewhat irrelevant in the big picture.

Michael Tymn, Mon 2 Dec, 18:42

Dear Micheal,
thank you very much for your prompt reply.
I think that we’re mixing/confusing God with the Divine Essence. God is a person and has a shape (as clearly written in Greber’s book, you can check at page 88), the Divine Essence is odem/energy and permeates everything on this sphere and all the others.
I found the odem chapter absolutely essential to solve this apparently unsolvable conundrum.
The “origin” of the divine essence is another matter, but it’s logic that God (and Christ, and the archangels and all the angels) are persons, not unshaped energy.
What do you think?
Best from Italy,
Marco

Marco, Mon 2 Dec, 12:20

Eric,

I agree with you that so much of the confusion has to do with semantics.  Nearly every word in the our vocabulary can take on a different meaning or at least degrees of meaning.  We see it in our politics every day.  And so much of it boils down to a compromise between idealism and pragmatism.  Too many people are unable to make such a compromise and remain polarized in their views.

Michael Tymn, Thu 28 Nov, 23:05

Marco,

Thank you for your comment.  I agree with you about Greber’s book.  It is one of my primary references. 

Relative to God, the communicating spirits told Greber:  “But as to the nature of God, that is something I cannot explain to you, any more than I can explain the Cause of Divine Existence.  It would be like trying to explain the calculation of a planet’s orbit to a four-year-old child, who would naturally lack all knowledge of astronomy and mathematics and of all the principles, formulas and equations involved…..

That is what I have been trying to say here.  God is beyond human comprehension and beyond proof.  However, the evidence from psychical research strongly suggests survival, from which we can infer some kind of Creative Power.  Being told that we are actually made in “His” image creates even more questions than answers.

I personally am satisfied at believing in survival with 98.8% certainty and continuing to think of God as too abstract for my limited brain, yet still seeing Christ as the “Chairman of the Board” on the other side.

Michael Tymn, Thu 28 Nov, 22:58

Dear Micheal and everyone,
I’m from Italy and really love your topics and discussions.
What do you think about Greber’s book “Communication with spirit world of God”? I found this book essential and even “the” book enlightening on this subject. Human beings often wonders about the nature of God, and some spirits answers that God has not a shape but is a flux of energy/the wholeness etc.
My question is, why don’t we accept the most simple possibility that the spiritual world is a “perfected” material world and God is on top of it? It sound absolutely logical to me, and logic should guide us in spirit communication also… I found that, as clearly indicated in this book and in all the lectures that the swiss medium Beatrice Brunner gave in 35 years, man IS in the image of God. This means that (and sounds absolutely reasonable to me) God is the most perfect being ofcourse, but “his” shape is not far from human! We as humans often prefer to complicate things, instead of accepting simple things (I put myself in this also wink.
I would love to receive a feedback from you on this,
p.s. sorry for my english.. grin
thanks again and have a good day,
Marco

Marco, Thu 28 Nov, 14:09

Dear Michael (Tymn),

Thank you for your general expression of appreciation of the comments of all of us who make them. We all need to address the commentator towards whom we address our own comments by her/his full name, to avoid misattributions and misunderstandings.

May all of us have good days today.

(A wry comment on the anomalies produced by language: do we share or experience one day between us, or do we each have a day of our own? Whether a good one or a bad one. Wittgenstein was not the greatest of philosophers, in my humble opinion, despite many people’s adulation, and made the rather naive blunder of relying on language even though he drew attention to the way it “bewitches” our thought. Cancer removed his body from our cosmos at the very point, I think, when he had begun to see the mystical. He did not seem, to me, until his last days, to be able to reach that language-less state of mystical or meditative contemplation and “just-seeing grasp of mind” that Heidegger shows. That, in different ways (but both to do with language) in the two cases, is why both philosophers are very difficult to understand. That phrase “just-seeing grasp of mind” is my own attempt to do the impossible, and encapsulate the Buddhist-like quest for a way to see a thing as it is.) As I say, shall we all have (a) good day(s), and thank you, Michael TYMN for the whole opportunity to share our thoughts on your own very interesting thoughts.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Thu 28 Nov, 11:41

Bob,

I don’t drink alcoholic beverages and and don’t really care all that much for steak, so I guess I don’t qualify as a hedonist.  I was once told by a psychic that I owned a vineyard in France two lifetimes ago and that I drank all my profits.  I’ve wondered if that is the reason I have never acquired a taste for any alcoholic beverage. 

Thanks to all for the comments thus far.  I think I will answer with “Christian Spiritualist” on my next admission.

Michael Tymn, Wed 27 Nov, 20:48

Why don’t you just put down “hedonist”? If you enjoy a nice glass of wine or a juicy steak, you qualify.

Bob, Tue 26 Nov, 22:40

Eric,
Dr. Keith Parsons put together a very short video on The Golden Rule, that is, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  He also added a little bit about respecting nature which appeals to me.  I really like this short video. After watching all of Keith’s other fact-filled videos this one video is refreshing and provides focus to one’s day.  It is a great way to start each day and if I were King I would require it to be played in every elementary school at the beginning of the day, perhaps replacing the Pledge of Allegiance in America.


  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTnM44sF0SM&list=PLLB-82YMhiPFPKSm2Ke69aK0DKTftpvo0&index=6&t=0s


Keith’s theme music is one of the most beautiful relaxing piano compositions I have heard and I have wondered is Keith is the pianist.  I found a copy of the written composition and often play it myself on my piano to calm down after a hectic day.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 26 Nov, 15:32

Dear Michael (Roll),

You misunderstand, and so misrepresent, me. By doing so you prove my point about the uselessness of words for communicating ideas one’s to hearers and readers. You may like to read my contribution to Dr Maureen Lockhart’s book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 2010, which tries to explain what you evidently completely misunderstand about me.

The root word for ‘believe’ in most instances in ancient writing such as the biblical texts is the Greek word ‘pisteuo’, which does not mean to give credence to some alleged doctrinal fact, but simply means ‘trust’.

I have just posted a second comment which illuminates this, between its lines.

I have no time at all for any churchy kind of god, all of which are humanly manufactured and foisted on us, but for a being who contains all (including all human science) and is therefore superlatively conscious and purposive. We are part of that, and secure as small beings within that. Tat twam asi.

I repeat, you are grossly misunderstanding me. But misunderstanding one’s fellows is just the human lot, and need worry neither of us.

Eric

Eric Franklin, Tue 26 Nov, 11:29

Your comment, Stafford Betty, is very apposite, interesting and, in its few words, substantial. It indicates more by (but only apparently) saying less. My own view (and saying it so boldly that I may offend many sincere people) is that the Christian way of belief has, from before AD 33 and throughout subsequent history, been grossly misunderstood, misrepresented, and misapplied. The apostle Paul, the earliest of the New Testament writers, said that in his own day “the mystery of iniquity doth already work”. What did he mean? Yahshua himself had said that there were only two commandments (he had done away with the rest, though not by being a continuation or fulfilment of the Mosaic cruel crudity of the blood sacrifice) to love God and to love one’s neighbour as one loves and looks after oneself, and wants to be treated by others. But look at what we have had throughout the ensuing history: a myriad splinter groups, all peddling their own doctrines in Yahshua’s name, and many of them killing each other, also in his name, and all teaching the traditions of men that were specifically condemned by Yahshua himself instead of encouraging each other by celebration of the “easy yoke and light burden” that is the real gospel.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 26 Nov, 09:51

Eric, I don’t see why we have to believe in a higher being when it comes to the subject of survival after death. In fact we don’t have to believe in anything. We can get rid of this dreadful priestly word “believe” all together. We have had the scientific proof that we all have a soul that separates from the dead body ever since Sir William Crookes carried out repeatable experiments over three years and published the results of his experiments in 1874 in ‘The Quarterly Journal of Science’. Crookes did end up as the president of The Royal Society. Needless to say the God merchants do not want people to find this out. Who is going to pump money at the Vatican, and the huge army of priests, if people eventually find out that us atheists also have a soul?

Michael Roll, Tue 26 Nov, 09:32

Dear Michael,

At root, it’s a verbal problem masking a conceptual uncertainty.

In many cases, our own and our hearers’ uses of language differ, so elucidation for them of what we ourselves believe is impossible. Since we can scarcely communicate without words the problem remains. But our non-verbalised conceptions are often similar, despite their differing verbalisations (about which the whole world has always fought wars). Conceptions have changed over history, and geographically too. Science, whether truly understood or (more usually) grossly misunderstood, has influenced what we each believe to be the case, and so decides what words we actually choose when attempting to define our beliefs for others. Misunderstanding of others remains inevitable.

I think our conceptions of ‘God’, formed and developed in the way outlined above, may be far more similar than we think, as Pascal seems to have believed, though intelligence and education, erudition and thoughtfulness also influence what we might call the maturity of our beliefs - and language will always be a barrier, not a bridge, to sharing even a mutual identity of understanding.

I’m not sure anything more that has value can be said. Perhaps just this: it’s recognised that in a crisis everyone shows him/herself a believer of some complexion in a higher being that we need to, and hope we can, depend on.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 25 Nov, 21:47

I found myself smiling as I read. I don’t like being labeled a none either. I call myself a “Great Commandments Christian” when Christians of the more conventional sort ask me what I believe.

Stafford Betty, Mon 25 Nov, 19:35

You may want to be careful about the ‘Christian’ designation choice.  You might end up with someone in the room hitting you over the head with the New Testament during a crisis when you need to concentrate on more important matters?

Keith K, Mon 25 Nov, 19:21

Instead of asking a patient what his or her religion is, the hospital could ask: “Do you want to declare a religious affiliation?”

But the idea of a personal sphere outside of government and corporate probing seems to be increasingly quaint.

Google, Twitter, etc. collect and sell their customers’ online history, and the National Security Agency and its analogues in other countries can read this comment. We live in a technological goldfish bowl.

Rick Darby, Mon 25 Nov, 18:59

It is people being brainwashed to believe ancient doctrines and dogmas that send many people bonkers. Much better to be a “none”

Michael Roll, Mon 25 Nov, 17:56

My query would be “what on earth are you doing in a hospital run by a church?”

gordon phinn, Mon 25 Nov, 16:23

It brings to mind the Bertrand Russell story that when he was imprisoned in WWI for his pacifist activities, the jailer asked him his religious beliefs and Russell replied that he was an agnostic. The jailer replied that he had never heard of that religion, “but I guess we all worship the same God.”

Bob Rosenberg, Mon 25 Nov, 15:32

We have similar issues filling out forms for the children’s’ school etc. - likely collected for statistical reasons rather than delivering any last rites.
We tend to put “Christian” too as “none” is often interpreted as atheist.  However, a box labelled   “spiritual” would work better for us.
Otherwise, if I were to create a label on the spur of the moment, perhaps I would put “believer in a divine implicate order”.  Lol!

Maryam, Mon 25 Nov, 14:20

Mike, I really enjoyed this insightful piece as much as any you have published. It romps along in a clear and coherent way, with me supporting you in my mind all the way. Except I wouldn’t call myself a Christian even though I can see the logic in the position you finally took. Strictly speaking is the Golden Rule the preserve of Christianity? I think not. I made a 3 minute duration Youtube video called ‘This LIfe, This Life’ on the splendid Golden Rule, but without offering any religious connotation. But a phrase did pop into my mind from this offering of yours. Why not call yourself ‘A spiritual heathen’ ? Not that the receptionist would think you anything but bonkers if you did !

Keith P in England, Mon 25 Nov, 12:54

Dear Michael,

A fascinating and thought-provoking post, as ever. This reminds me of how there are so many forms, eg those asking for ethnic identity / race, that just do not do it for me. By their nature bureaucracies aim to put us into convenient slots, and when they cannot, the machinery jams, or it sends things willynilly down some definitively wrong conveyor belt.

C.M. Mayo, Mon 25 Nov, 12:32

So did you resolve this at all? It is a dilemma, it’s true. One could “rabbit” on all day on the pro’s/cons/ if’s and but’s on a label. But of course, God is larger than a label. It all shows, we still have a long way to go to understand, relay and share these philosophies. No label of any kind in our global language will ever be sufficient. Sincerely, with Blessings, Margaret.

Margaret Coles, Mon 25 Nov, 12:05

“Spiritualist” works for me. RLV

Richard VanDerVoort, Mon 25 Nov, 11:54


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Excerpt from A Course in Miracles. IX. The “Hero” of the Dream – 74 The body is the central figure in the dreaming of the world. There is no dream without it, nor does it exist without the dream in which it acts as if it were a person, to be seen and be believed. Read here
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