When I was a girl, I loved to attend Mass with my Catholic cousins, but as a non-Catholic, I sat wistfully in the pew when they took communion. I felt like an outsider. So I did what any industrious 9-year-old would do: I invented my own religion and baked communion wafers in my Easy-Bake oven. They turned out dry and crumbly, but it felt like I was doing something sacred and precious. It turns out I wasn’t alone in adapting rituals from other faiths. (For instance, I have a Protestant friend who gives up a luxury item for Lent every year; a coworker whose son enjoys visits from Santa as well as spinning a dreidel for Hanukkah.)
I’ve always felt that we as individuals—no matter what we label our spiritual path—actually create our own religion, just as I did as a precocious young girl making unleavened bread. This issue of Unity Magazine is dedicated to just such spiritual discovery.
In “We Turn to India,” page 14, Philip Goldberg describes how Eastern thought has influenced Western culture and is evident in many ways, from the revival of Jewish mysticism to the prevalence of yoga and tai chi studios (see page 30 for a story on the latter). Goldberg didn’t have to go far to find evidence of East/West convergence. In Unity Magazine’s predecessor, Modern Thought, Charles Fillmore wrote that “the evolution of the spirit has created a demand for a religion of broader scope.”
My fascination with Catholicism led me to explore other religions. By the time I was a teen, I had been solicited at the mall to be “saved,” and I began wondering what I needed to be saved from. That’s why I'm fascinated by the story “Inclusive Christianity,” on page 18.
“Jesus demonstrated that all people are welcome at the table of God’s kingdom—and all means all,” writer Paula Coppel says. “Jesus was a champion of the oppressed—the living example of unconditional love—and he vehemently opposed exclusionary practices.”
Such an inclusive vision would reject the notion that Jesus intended to launch a religion bent on “saving” only select insiders for the kingdom of heaven—or saving anyone at all, for that matter.
What fundamentalists in any faith do in the name of religion is cause for concern. In the “Merging of Two Faiths,” page 22, writer Reggie Oliver offers his perspective on similarities between the Ku Klux Klan and Islamic jihadists. And while there are many differences among the major faiths, there are also similarities, such as the universal appeal of the Golden Rule (page 12) and the importance of forgiveness (page 35). There is common ground, if we look for it.
Toni Lapp, Editor