Comments about ‘Jerry Earl Johnston: 'Designer faith' trend here to stay’

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Published: Sunday, Nov. 25 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

[Over the next few years, watch for the name of Anne Lamott to start showing up in textbooks.]

What text books include the names of flavor-of-the-month, self-help gurus? Will they include Joel Osteen and prosperity preachers? Wayne Dyed, Dr. Phil, Deepak Chopra, and whatever other feel-good, emotional snake-oil salemen Oprah is pushing that week?

This is just another fad. Eventually, all these books will only be found in thrift store bins where teenagers read the nonsense contained within aloud to each and snicker inbetween the asinine passages.

Anybody remember "Chicken Soup for the [Target Demographic]'s Soul"? Obviously, this latest "soft sprituality"

The Scientist
Provo, UT

Is there something actually newsworthy here?

Salt Lake City, UT

The most distinctive characteristic that I find among writers and "thinkers" like the ones mentioned here, is the need to avoid any chance of offense or even contradiction to....just about anything.

The goal is comfort. Clarity of thought, where the reasoning has edges to it, is strictly forbidden. Thus, what is left is a gauzy diffusion of inoffensive words, meaning very little, when boiled down.

Unfortunately, when there's no wrong, everything is right.

And, as history has shown us too often to ignore, the result of that kind of chaotic thinking is a chaotic, ineffective and, ultimately, evil society. We're well on the way to repeating that pattern.


I would imagine that the Bible of such "free-thinkers" reads "So Man created god in his own image..."

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

While some core truths remain unchanged, religion has always been an evolving phenomenon (or is there anyone alive today who actual puts into practice all of Leviticus?). If it doesn't change to meet modern needs, and adhere to facts (i.e., science), it atrophies.

The fact that we live in a democratic and pluralistic society with no State religion simply accelerates this process. The real problem is not that religions change, but that due to calcified doctrines and Bronze Age sacred books, they don't change fast enough; which is why over the past 50 years the fastest growing segment of our society is the "spiritual but not religious" group.

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

This reminds me of the points made in the web article Friendship with a Marshmallow God, an article at the Christian Answers for the New Age (CANA) website that reviews the book Looking at Friendship with God by Neale Donald Walsch.

A quote from the review:

"Walsch accepts unquestioningly that G is God, although G gives no evidence that he is who he says he is. G evades questions, contradicts himself, makes sweeping grandiose statements with nothing to back them up, has trite platitudes for philosophy and schtick for humor, butters up Walsch, and offers shallow advice culled from previous New Age writings. In fact, every single idea offered by G, which seems to strike Walsch as profound wisdom , was an idea this writer studied or read about starting back in the late 1970?s when she was personally involved in Eastern and New Age beliefs. And this is supposed to be God -- a gooey, gushing marshmallow of a god with a greeting card mentality?"

Dr. Laura Schlesinger also always had a few choice words for callers who had disdain for organized religion. Everyone doing their own thing doesn't add any value to society.

Salt Lake City, UT

[But to a budding generation of Americans who've grown suspicious of organized religion — kids who see no way to separate religious history from folklore or drain theology of superstition, the Anne Lamotts of the world are a safe harbor.]

Young people don't read this tripe. It's by and for aging Baby Boomers. The author of this article and the authors of the books mentioned here are all about the same age. Young people may subscribe to this "spiritual, but not religious" nonsense, but they don't read books about it.

layton, UT

'Designer faith' trend here to stay: Faith is only as good as the object of that faith.

Jesus said in John 8:24, if you don’t know that I am (God) you will die in your sins.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

The human yearning for the transcendental is as irrepressible as hunger for food or thirst for water. Man does not live by bread alone.

Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before embarking on his life’s work. Others have had life changing experiences before a burning bush, in a sacred grove, or kneeling in prayer at their bedsides. Some of them encountered virulent antipathy from a scornful world. Yet the yearning and the search will not be suppressed.

Layton, UT

A religion that demands nothing ultimately has no ability to impact the lives of its followers. While I appreciate self-reflection and introspection, we live in a world of actions and finite time. Keeping oneself locked in a spiritual malaise, even with good intentions and comfortable chant-worthy feelings of wellbeing to all, may rob an individual of the heart-breaking challenge that comes in exercising concrete faiths filled with concrete people with concrete problems.

Free Agency
Salt Lake City, UT

It would be a mistake to think that people who resonate with writers like Lamott are simply saying "I want God *my* way." What they--or should I say, we--are actually trying to do is sense and understand God from our own spirit. The spirit which, we believe, was given to us by God in the first place.

In short, we approach God from the inside out, not have God "handed" to us by dogmatic religions from the outside in. That simply has never worked for us.

And I would hardly call our encounters with God "unanchored." True, we have no "inerrant, infallible" religious books, but we feel very much anchored in our ongoing communion with God.

Finally, please do not link writers like Lamott with self-help gurus like Joel Osteen. The two couldn't be more dissimilar.

Admiring Gentile
Salt Lake City, UT

This is a P.S. to my earlier comment on Lamott.

I hadn't dipped into her latest book, "Help, Thanks, Wow" when I posted. But I've since read an excerpt of it on Amazon.

If you think hers is a "marshmallow God, feel-good religion," I urge you to read that excerpt. She's dead serious. Or should I say alive serious.

Believe me, no one's taking the "easy" way out if they sincerely choose to be spiritual but not (dogmatically) religious.

Please read it.

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

Admirng Gentile, I did just as you suggested, but only found mystical marshmallow. Sorry.

However, yes, I do understand that she's serious about it. I wouldn't deny her that.

Tooele, UT

Designer Faith...sounds like the philosophies of man.

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