Tag Archives: spirituality

Ep49 Howard Stern’s Religion Dilemma



Father Len responds to Howard’s conflicted thoughts and feelings about faith and religion and his strong desire to figure out what he believes about the existence of God. 

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “Howard Stern Comes Again” by Howard Stern
  • Exploring the mysteries of life puts us on the road to wisdom.
  • Curiosity is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Humanity tends to pervert most things like politics, nature, marriage, and religion.
  • Religion is mandated to try to clean up the corrupting impulses of human beings.
  • Spirituality is not an alternative to hypocrisy in religion. Spiritual integrity is dependent on what each individual declares it to be. Spirituality is accountable only to the individual. Religion is accountable to God. Spirituality is not a meaningful alternative to religion.
  • Our brains are hardwired to seek meaning and connection with God.
  • “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science And the Biology of Belief” by  Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, Vince Rause
  • The fact that there are sociopaths in religion and business and schools doesn’t invalidate religion any more than it does business and education.
  • You don’t enter religion because you’re perfect. You enter religion as a way to become a better person.
  • Howard wonders if all the hours he spent studying Scripture as a kid were a waste of time and why his parents, who weren’t living a spiritual life, would make him do that.
  • Parents who preach religion to their kids, but don’t practice it, introduce their children to a life of hypocrisy.
  • Howard struggles to understand the meaning of the Bible story of Abraham, Sarah and their “miracle” son Isaac.
  • Mothers tend to be the teachers of faith to their children, but if they see their fathers not practicing religion, they probably won’t either.
  • Wrestling with difficult to understand passages in the Bible helps develop the skill of looking at things differently and discovering their true meaning.
  • Real faith and religion are often best demonstrated by the elderly.
  • Howard wonders if logic will help him decide whether to believe in God.
  • Human beings seldom make decisions based on logic.
  • The Dunning-Kruger Effect states that “dumb” people think they are smarter than they are and truly smart people are awed by how much they need to learn.
  • “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius
  • “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” – Charles Darwin
  • “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – William Shakespeare
  • The greatest scientists in history used logic and faith to come to their belief in God.
  • The greatest mystery of all is God. Even the Angels in the Bible, when seeing God, kept repeating, you are different, you are different, you are different. There is no way to adequately define God.
  • Heaven is this community of unconditional love that narcissists are unlikely to understand because in their world everything is about them.

Ep20 Good and Evil Are Hard to Define and Fully Understand



Father Len explains why defining and fully understanding good and evil is pretty much beyond our ability as humans.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • The only wise reaction to evil is faith in God.
  • The mystery of what seems like evil to us may actually be something used by God for our good.
  • Father Len explains why we shouldn’t settle for cheap and easy answers for why evil and suffering exist in the world and instead humbly ask questions and more questions.
  • We will not understand evil until we can have the same perspective as God.
  • There might not be answers about good and evil that we can see and understand until we get to heaven and can look back in time.
  • Real wisdom is acquired through intimate experience with suffering.
  • What we proclaim as good may actually be bad for us.
  • What we proclaim as evil may actually be good for us.

Ep18 Politics, Religion and the Slogan “Black Lives Matter”



Father Len and Irish grapple with the difficulty of having a spiritual, moral, and meaningful conversation about the slogan “black lives matter.”

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explains why he is reticent to make statements about political slogans.
  • It’s cowardice for religious leaders not to lead and speak out about spiritual and moral issues.
  • People have to come to the truth by themselves, but religious leaders can and should help lead them there.
  • “We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.” – Blaise Pascal
  • We have become so politically rigid, polarized, and hell-bent on winning in the United States that the search for truth gets lost.
  • There are good people and evil people. The line between good and evil cuts through every human heart.
  • Father Len is reading “Black like Me” by John Howard Griffin to become more compassionate and feel the pain and suffering that can come from discrimination and being a minority.

Ep12 Spirituality without Religion



Father Len explains what’s missing in spirituality without religion in answer to a listener who asks: “Why do I need organized religion? I’m spiritual and I have a personal relationship with God.”

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • What is a “personal” relationship with God? What does it mean? Father Len explores the difference between an intimate relationship with God and a private relationship with God.
  • Father Len explains how religion satisfies the natural human need and desire for being social and how that makes an essential contribution to a spiritual life.
  • The very definition of what it means to be human is to be connected to other people.
  • We survive and thrive not only because of our intelligence, but also because we live and work as a group.
  • Religion and spirituality should make you a better human being.
  • We are more of who we are and who we are meant to be in community with other people.
  • Father Len shares an inspiring story of enemies protecting enemies during the Serbian Croatian war to illustrate the meaning, power and importance of true community.
  • Spirituality should lead you into the very essence of community.
  • Private spirituality can lead to becoming your own God.
  • Religion is like a marriage, a marriage between us and God.
  • “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni
  • Father Len explains how conflict is an important element in strong marriages and good religion.
  • Being spiritual but not religious means there is likely no one to challenge your ideas and beliefs.
  • “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Ep11 Why do we need religion?



Father Len explains how religion helps us recognize who we are meant to be and helps us become our best selves.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Religion is to spirituality what tea is to water. Religion adds flavor and extracts the essence of spirituality.
  • Practicing religion makes people happier, healthier, and live longer. It reduces depression, lowers blood pressure, crime, and the divorce rate.
  • “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert Putnam
  • Religion brings people together and helps them recognize who they’re meant to be.
  • We all need a community that cares about values and way of life to bring out our full and best selves. Working together with a common purpose, we begin to share each other’s story and become more concerned about other people’s stories than our own.
  • Human beings have always searched for the divine.
  • The common translation of the word shalom is peace, but it really means unity. This unity has four parts. Unity between us and God. Unity between each other. Unity within ourselves. Unity with creation. When you have all four, you have shalom and a great analogy for religion.
  • We all need connection with a goal and purpose in life that is greater than us.
  • Father Len reveals what he believes is missing in our Facebook “connections” and why he believes the “Facebook life” is likely contributing to rampant depression and the rise in suicide, cynicism, and mocking in our society.
  • Research has shown that worship produces a Spike in the love hormone oxytocin that helps bind us together.
  • Worship helps us discover our personal worth, other people’s worth, and the worth of God.
  • Father Len shares a little fun “family trash” to illustrate the relationships, values, and commitments that flow from religion and help us improve ourselves and our lives.
  • Religion is about a sacrifice and an offering of that part of us that thinks only of ourselves in hopes that part of us will eventually die.