One remedial admission of guilt before I let you read … last week I was pretty tough on technology and digital communication, wondering out loud how connected we really are, and bemoaning how much humanity we are losing as we type — rather than talk, smile, or cry — our thoughts to one another.
When you read the responses below and imagine the responders’ lives — in all their diversity, where they come from, what their backgrounds must be like, the influence of spiritual leaders, heroes, and shameless traders on their lives — who can doubt we are connected? Where else would we ever have met, but right here in the digital age?
We may not always agree on ethics, religion, or politics, but I think for the most part there is mutual respect among us and a willingness to change when we see we are wrong. Have a great weekend.
God bless, Father Jonathan
P.S. I’ve decided not to respond to your notes this time. You have responded to each other. In any case, you know what I think. God is love, not the warm and fuzzy kind that comes and goes. Instead, he’s the kind that never fails and these days, that kind of steadfastness isn’t easy to come by.
Your 2/21/07 article describing Scientology left me pleasantly speechless. Having happily been a Scientologist for 17 years now, to see a frank, simple discussion of a religion, without the lies, without the alarming adjectives, without the "controversy," but a simple and eloquent description of what Scientology actually is, was refreshing, to say the least.
You have earned my respect as being probably the most unselfish and independent journalist I have read. — Pearson
The day religion is banished from the world will be a glorious day for all of us. You are a hypocrite. Plain and simple. — Paul (San Diego, CA)
As a pastor, I wanted to say thanks for the way in which you address current trends and hot topics. You don't deviate from the truth, yet your approach is humble and seasoned with grace. As Christians, may we have boldness with humility and passion without pride. Let us always convey, the message that God is a God of relationship and love. I believe that you do this well. Thanks again. — Bruce (Montevideo, MN)
Your report seems very unbiased and is an accurate description of some of the facts of my religion, Scientology. I have been a Scientologist for 31 years now and it has helped me in many ways. A person needs to find out for themselves and see if there is something there that can help them in particular. This is a practical religion, it does not ask or demand that you give up your faith in God or your beliefs about him. It just supplies people with workable technologies to help them in life. Thanks very much. — D.F. (Sunnyvale, CA)
Scientology, what silliness! I didn't control being born with birth defects, I didn't control 9/11, I didn't control WWII, I didn't control the move my Dad made from Montana to Washington to work at the Bremerton Navy Yard, when I was two years old. I don't control John Hopkins University's medical research into heart surgery on infants. I didn't control the doctor who did my surgery at Children's Orthopeadic hospital in Seattle, which was experimental surgery. On and ON. What nonsense. — Bernice (Bremerton, WA)
As an LDS adherent, I couldn't agree more with your profile of modern depictions of God. Not only were they highly entertaining, but they also provided great insight as to how we should approach him in prayer. Thank you for your column.
I’ve never loved or hated someone so much in my life. Do you have to keep writing? If you do, I will read.— Jim
My husband and I have studied Scientology for many years. As a result, we have a strong marriage (over 25 years) and our children do well in school, in sports and in life. Our studies of the works of L. Ron Hubbard have enhanced our lives, and, after reading your pieces on Scientology, I wanted you to have our story! — Carol (Cheshire, CT)
The best thing that has happened in my life (other than accepting Jesus Christ) was realizing that GOD wanted a daily, personal relationship with me. HE has opened my eyes to the fact that my purpose in life is to serve HIM and others through a personal relationship with HIM. That relationship is one of love and respect. GOD bless you and keep up the good work! —Lewis (Enterprise, AL)
I never worry about the state of religious evolution or devolution, or feel a need to make a militant stand against it. Though I shall not live long enough to see it, man is inevitably, inextricably evolving toward reason and away from superstition. In time, rational man will drive mysticism into an inescapable corner, and then and there he will crush it with what he knows. — Kirk (Los Angeles, CA)
How about God the Father? Slow to anger, loving and kind. Merciful and just. — Kim (Cleveland, OH)
I've only read your Thursday article on Scientology, and I agree absolutely with your conclusion that religions of this sort crop up because of complete misunderstandings of who God is.
I think you want to present something that is "fair and balanced." But you don't need to speak "fair and balanced" rhetoric, you simply need to speak the truth. Do not worry about offending others or sounding "critical." You are not responsible for other people's responses/feelings simply based on your telling of the truth of the gospel. — John
Thank you for the informative articles on Scientology. After reading about this religion, I find the great thing they are missing in their formula for fulfillment and happiness in this life is a "relationship" with God — I pray that these followers will realize that relationship with God, not religion is the answer to all of life's questions. — Dianne (Missouri)
There is a time and place for everything. Your article last week could not be more in tune with where I've been in life, what I've been thinking about, and what needs attention in my life today. Thank you Father Jonathan. — Phil (California)
Your blog is keeping me together and gives me hope. Even though I feel that it is too late for me. So many rules to follow, that I seem to be off the path most of the time. The end is near, and the gates of heaven are closed, but I still get a lot out of what you say.
I do know that God does forgive, just think I have done more then he can forgive. — Greg
I am a Scientologist of 20 years. I think you did a good job of giving an unbiased account of my religion. However, there is something that you left out. We do believe in God, though we do not practice reverence for God in the manner of a Judeo-Christian religion. We believe that one has a duty and responsibility, not only to God but also to mankind, all life forms, and more. The way in which we show reverence to God, the creator of the human spirit and all life force, is to take responsibilty for all the creations of God in an attempt to make the world a better place. I believe that this is a submission to God's will. — Mrs. Shaw
In the course of my 41 years and raised going to church, I have thought of God as every way you described. It wasn't until adulthood and parenthood (actually in my late 30s) that I truly came to know God as he is. My father and creator loves me like I love my children, and that is why he sent his son to save us. — Connie (Nashville, TN)
Thank you for your commentary on Scientology. There seems to be a growing sense of unwillingness by individuals to submit or serve today. It appears to be an outgrowth of the "me" generation. "I am my own God." seems to be the mantra. No small wonder then, that it is growing so rapidly in the most conceited place on earth; Hollywood. I believe in a higher authority. I believe someday we will all submit to that authority whether we wish to or not. God bless YOU — Jack
I don't know how people who blindly believe that a virgin gave birth or that a dead man can be resurrected and will return 2000 years later can have the nerve to think Scientology (or any other belief) is wrong. The Christian church is based on fear and has no scruples against taking money from poor people while those in the Vatican dress up in such finery and enjoy one of the richest states in the world. Such hypocrisy. — Erin (Hollywood, FL)
There is something very common in each of the quotes from the Church of Scientology International website that you included in your article.
Scientology is all about "self." No talk of fulfilling the needs of others. I need to do more study on this so called "religion", but I can see that standing a mile away. There is no talk of love. The only true and living God is love! And that is the God of the Bible. But those seeking false religions like Scientology, are not seeking a God to serve and to praise. They only seek to satisfy their own needs ... but they will still never be satisfied. They will always have a void without Christ.
The ultimate goal in life can't be to just please ourselves! Does that ever truly satisfy? God bless. — Chase
Frustrations with all the errant definitions of the divine that you describe are what eventually led me to atheism. So many folks I've known, including myself in earlier days, maintain one or more of these views of a deity. I've come to believe it is far more honest to deny all these views. At least I'm not lying to myself with phony and self-serving beliefs. — John (Little Rock, AR)
I applaud you for NOT simply taking “potshots at Scientology’s more outrageous tenets, but taking a deeper look at what I will call “the Hubbard movement."
I became involved with Scientology while at the University of California-Davis in 1969 to form my own understanding.
Today, as a Scientology apostate, and a returned Roman Catholic (“reverted” from the Scientology perspective), I would like to be of any assistance I can in helping you deepen your understanding, so that you can help others deepen their understanding of this phenomenal neo-Gnostic, pseudo-scientific, totalitarian, partially occult (heavily influenced by the teachings of Alistair Crowley), tremendously successful “Hubbard Movement” of which “Scientology” is simply one part. — Dave (Simi Valley, CA)
I read and enjoy your column regularly. As a pastor/producer of a worldwide Christian television program for children that airs over 18 times weekly, I and my family have been researching, because of its intentional influence filled with ideals contrary to what we stand for, this Hollywood phenomenon that fills the silver screens of America. […]
Today, people are hiding behind religious intellectual philosophies and missing the true garden experience with a God who wants to walk with them. He made a way to do so, that was through his son, Jesus Christ. All these philosophically based beliefs are missing the son. They, in their influential religious craze miss the main thing as they try to be the main thing. The main thing is, "Man is in need of a Savior." God bless. — Pastor Kim
Thanks for your insightful, yet simple take on our perceptions of God. I found myself in all them. As a Mennonite, I think I view God as a cop more than anything. I will definitely study the article. I am having some struggles with my perceptions of God and Christianity and am glad to have found your forum on Fox News. Keep up the good work. — John
I don't quite know how to define what God is, but I think I know what God isn't. I don't believe in a loving God that uses tools like guilt, fear and shame. — Skip
As a former Protestant who converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity in 1995, I agree with your implication that most Americans don't understand the role that God plays in our lives.
I laud your effort ... the misunderstanding to which you refer is serious and indeed diabolical. I find moreover that even devout Roman and Orthodox Catholics fall into that trap. I myself while striving to understand the Omniscience of that role find that I try to fit it into the limits of my convenience and understanding. — Bob (Holt, MI)
I think the reason that people today try to fit God into one of the categories you described is because they are afraid to choose between God and the culture we live in. In today’s culture, people have been misled into believing that a “collegiate soup bowl” of opinions is OK and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and, hence, lifestyle. Unfortunately, most don’t turn and ask God what his opinion is. — Kevin