Finding Common Ground

The place God calls you to is the place where your
deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Frederick Buechner in What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles

When we launched the Big Love initiative a year and a half ago, its underlying ideas concepts felt powerful.  But we hadn’t really found the best place for “fitting in” to the spiritual-religious scene.  In short, we were looking for its “sweet spot” — that place where our great passion and the world’s deep needs intersect.

As I often say, “I felt like a monkey stumbling in a blizzard.”  First it felt like more of a “virtual” organization — offering things on the Internet.  Then we made a somewhat half-baked effort to  form a “live” group here after returning to San Diego.  Neither effort got much traction. My passion still burned strong and I “popped” up with a couple of blogs in February.  But a lack of clarity prevailed.

Just before writing our blogs in February, I decided to free myself from my desk and step out into the world in search for our “intersection”.  I decided to see what was happening in terms of “Interfaith” here in San Diego.  My timing couldn’t have been better. I was soon involved in several groups, immersing myself in their meetings, events, and activities.

Simultaneously, I was more carefully studying what is happening in the American spiritual-religious scene.  What I’ve discovered is that there has been (and is continuing) a huge — if not tectonic — shift in that area over the past 100 years (more on that in a future blog).  And one thing really stood out — the shift away from traditions to more personal expressions of spirituality.

The fastest growing segment of the American spiritual-religious demographic are people who do not self-identify with any specific religious tradition.  When asked to “check a box” about which religion they prefer during surveys, they check “None of the Above”.  As a result, they are often referred to as “NONES”.

The Nones now constitute from 25% to 33% of our population (depending on which poll results one reads). Think about that: between 1 in 3 and 4 people in the U.S. do not self-identify with a religion. But, most of them are “Spiritual But Not Religious” in one way or another.  In Big Love “parlance” they are practicing “Personal Spirituality”.

I noticed, however, that very few (if any) Nones were “at the table” of Interfaith gatherings.  And Interfaith groups did not appear to be seeking to engage the Nones (in fact, they seem to be unaware of how big “the Nones movement” is). 

It seemed to me that Interfaith conversations and activities which do not include them are incomplete. After all, both people of faith and the Nones share “the human spirit” — concerned about the welfare of all, passionate and compassionate about caring for others and the greater good.

I started “testing” the waters to see if this might be a sweet-spot for Big Love.  Could we serve both people of faith and the Nones by promoting dialogue and understanding?  Preliminary experience and feedback suggests that there is something here worth exploring.  So it has become Big Love’s top priority.

As a first step, Big Love is co-sponsoring an event with humankind (a San Diego group that is not a faith-based entity) called “FINDING COMMON GROUND — INTERFAITH MEETS THE NONES”.  This is a part of Interfaith Awareness Week, a statewide event coordinated by the California Interfaith Association. 

Our intention for “Finding Common Ground” is to create a loving space for a highly engaging and experiential “conversation” to explore topics of shared meaning and concern. This is NOT a confrontation, but an opportunity to experience what we all value most dearly — individually and collectively.

[For more information and to download a PDF flyer of this event, click here.

We’re excited and energized by this new focus.  It’s taken some time to find where Big Love needed to land.  What’s exciting to us is that spot is “Common Ground”  — a place where we can all come together for the greater good.  Will you meet us there?

Onward and Upward!

Steve & Olivia

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It’s Your Turn!

Think about your “sweet spot” … where is the “intersection of your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger?  How have you discovered it?  What are you doing to be in that place and to do what you are called to do?

If you’re willing, please share your responses in the comment section under this blogpost as it appears on the Big Love Community Facebook page

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Big Love News

Our event “Finding Common Ground” was included in an article in today’s San Diego Union Tribune. Read it and find Big Love in it by clicking here.

Since becoming involved in Interfaith groups, one of the things we’ve done is to build and launch a website for the California Interfaith Association. It is a new network that connects Interfaith Groups throughout the state. To see this simple but powerful website go to www.CAInterfaith.org .

If there are topics you’d like us to address, please send us an email from our “Contact Us” web page.

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