Religion Divides, Spirituality Unites
One Man’s Journey from Unquestioning ‘Choirboy” to Freethinking Spiritual Thinker
James O. Rodgers was born into a family in which the practice of “ol’ time religion” was a cultural staple. And he still fellowships regularly with a Christian community. But, as a thinking person and The Diversity Coach™ for major brands such as Coca-Cola and United Way, he began to question the rigid teachings of the Baptist Church.
He came to believe that the Bible, which he’s read cover to cover more than 15 times, held some – but not all – of the answers he sought. So he also studied other religious manuscripts, including the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching.
What he discovered was that the different religious teachings shared many common principles. It was how people practiced – or labeled – those teachings that separated them.
If we strip away religious labels, he wondered, couldn’t we come together over a common bond: love and compassion?
Epiphany: Finding Truth Without Losing Faith, explores the answer to this question. It challenges readers to celebrate and applaud their differences – as God does – and to seek their personal truth wherever it may come.
James does not preach his – or any – path to God. He wrote Epiphany to provoke readers to think about and question whether adherence to a particular religion’s teachings brings them closer to God or further apart from the people who worshipped the Divine in different ways.
Finding Diversity in a New Frontier: Religion
Talking about religious differences is difficult and may seem too hard. But it was not too long ago that we also said it was too difficult to discuss diversity in gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. When we faced those issues, our workplace and personal lives improved.
Epiphany: Finding Truth Without Losing Faith applies James’s expertise in corporate diversity management to religion.
Diversity management involves understanding both differences and similarities among people. It acknowledges differences and embraces similarities. Our ability to work effectively and productively with others depends largely on how well we navigate differences and identify similarities so that we feel comfortable and natural with our team members. It is the “labels” we associate with others that raise the specter of differences.
Epiphany shows how it is possible to change the labels. We assume we know what a person believes based on the religious label they carry. But an inherited faith tradition does not fully explain a person’s worldview.
James’s worldview, for example, has grown to encompass the teachings of the Buddha, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the poetry of Rumi, Longfellow, and Kipling, as well as modern commentary in all major spiritual traditions. And he will continue to read and absorb other teachings, accepting principles that resonate and setting aside those that do not.
Epiphany does not pretend to hold all the answers to faith. It is an invitation to think beyond the borders of religious labels and embrace religious diversity. Such conversations will not eliminate the natural tendency for “Us versus Them” thinking. Instead it is a way to expand the definiton of “Us.”
Are you ready to expand your defintion of “Us”?
Begin your journey by reading powerful spiritual and religious book Epiphany: Finding Truth Without Losing Faith.
Praise for Epiphany: Finding Truth Without Losing Faith
I found Epiphany to be a very open exploration of faith in a world that is certainly no longer flat. It offers a perspective that could help others understand that in many ways there are only small degrees of separation. Epiphany made the point that the separation and the differences between traditions are sometimes exaggerated by the institutions that serve religion. As someone who believes in Christianity and also sees the need to understand our differences with others around the world, Epiphany was a welcomed dialog.
Jamie M. Thomas
General Manager, Systems Strategy and Development