Helix Nebula – Unraveling at the Seams
A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which NASA has lent to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In death, the star’s dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core.

THE KEY word is “traditional.” Those days have ebbed.

However, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor. – “Nones” on the Rise [Pew Research Center]

Modern life has changed the affiliation of many people, because traditional religiosity often clashes with people’s basic notion of right and wrong, even fairness.

One-fifth of U.S. adults say they are not part of a traditional religious denomination, new data from the Pew Research Center show, evidence of an unprecedented reshuffling of Americans’ spiritual identities that is shaking up fields from charity to politics. But despite their nickname, the “nones” are far from godless. Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines. – One in five Americans reports no religious affiliation, study says

The “nones” are “far from godless.”

Archaic ideas of worship are being replaced by a spirituality that Martin Luther could appreciate.

Many formerly religious people have walked away from the traditionally male mediator.

Women like myself have gone further, believing that the war on women being launched by religious conservatives, no matter the political affiliation, is moored in patriarchal religiosity that no longer serves us.

That politicians create a space for religion in the political arena, with denominations determined to continue the tradition that culls away women’s own power, these same fundamentalist faiths maintaining women should be kept as step children in holy spaces of leadership where men dominate, continues to reveal the spiritual bankruptcy of organized faith.

Spiritual people have learned that the journey of experiencing the quest for something greater than ourselves is quite private. That it doesn’t have anything to do with organized religion, even if that is the gateway by which most start the journey.

The quest to look at the galaxy to see something miraculous, scientific, while holding to the notion of something greater that binds or skips between particles is fruitless to some. But to those who have experienced everyday miracles of unexplainable connection this remains a mystery worth continuing to contemplate and mine.