Episode #159 Rethink Your Religion

Religion is not so much about what we resolve or reject but about what we allow ourselves to review, re-examine, or reconsider. This week, Dr. Michael Brown and former pastor Casey Greenawalt encourage us to open our minds to new – or even old – possibilities.

Show Notes

There were other answers out there. There were people that were smart, that were thoughtful, that were kind, that embodied a life that I would look at as a meaningful life that didn’t have those same beliefs.
Casey Greenawalt

Seven Problems

  • We are often discouraged from discussing some of life’s most important topics: money, politics, sex, and religion.
  • We are typically reactive rather than proactive when it comes to reconsidering our beliefs.
  • Rethinking our religion often creates greater conflict with our community than it creates with our God or with ourselves.
  • Many of us have never once spoken to our best friends about the topic of religion.
  • There is so much more nuance, messiness, and gray area in life than many of us were raised to believe.
  • When we insist on seeing the world in black and white, we are at greater risk for rejecting our beliefs than if we choose instead to live in the gray.
  • When we prohibit our children from exploring their religion, they often reject it outright.

Nine Principles

  • When we ask the questions we’ve never asked, we may see a world we’ve never seen.
  • Thoughtful, smart, and rational people regularly arrive at different conclusions.
  • We don’t need to be certain in order to be convinced.
  • We can never argue with others’ personal experiences.
  • The rejection we face from others when we examine our beliefs is often a reflection of their fear rather than their judgment.
  • Our approach to controversial conversations is perhaps just as important as our conclusions.
  • We can honor our religious heritage without accepting it blindly.
  • Life is more like a track than a mountain; we don’t merely get further away from where we once were, but we return to the same places over and over at a deeper level.
  • A willingness to change our minds isn’t a sign of frailty but of humility.

Eight Practices

  • Honestly consider the questions, “Why do I believe what I believe?” and “Why might others believe something else?”
  • Become comfortable with the reality that you will someday hold beliefs that are different from the beliefs you hold today.
  • Initiate a conversation with your closest friends about beliefs, doubts, and spirituality.
  • Engage in a community where you are free to think what you think – and free to be honest about it.
  • Be very careful not to express that which you do not embody.
  • When a divisive discussion feels overwhelming, don’t be afraid to state, “I’m not sure I’m in the right place emotionally to have this conversation right now.”
  • Give your romantic partner the freedom to evolve and grow over the course of your relationship.
  • Seek out authors and mentors who see the world differently than you do.