In a world increasingly split and shattered by religion, especially broken to pieces and polarized by religious fundamentalism, Chris Highland cuts a new pathway to the roots of reason and sanity. He harvests a more organic set of fundamentals planted in reason and compassion, sprouting straight from social action and a living relationship with the nature of the earth we share. In the face of weak “progressive” religious movements Chris Highland presents a new “liberalism” rooted in freethinking that finds its sources outside the walls of ideologies or theologies. With a refreshing style of fearlessness and truthtelling, this unapologetic heretic and spiritual insurgent points to what he sees as the Achilles’ heel of the Christian religion, nailed to a broken cross, and then offers surprisingly down-to-earth, positive and joyful alternatives. His analysis reaches far beyond Christianism to the most sacred cows and cartoons of the world of faith.
Now this longtime interfaith chaplain, teacher and former protestant minister presents his personal voyage out of Christianism (and theism) through incisive questions, thoughtful reasoning and anecdotes laced with a touch of wit and humor. He illustrates his moving story with his own “change of addresses” drawing analogies from shipwrecks, pathfinding, islands and rivers. He grounds his practice of “happy heresy” in his own compassionate counseling experience working with homeless folk, prisoners and people with broken bodies and minds, as well as his many years exploring religion, philosophy, Nature and the most troubling fractures of faith.
Drawing from the alpine streams of wisdom in Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Paine, Mary Oliver, John Burroughs, Soren Kierkegaard, Margaret Fuller, John Muir, Walt Whitman, Frances Wright, Henry Thoreau, John Steinbeck and other less-recognized “saints,” Chris Highland offers refreshing adventure as he opens new maps to present countless routes for spiritual discovery.
Questions wrestled with in this book include:
*Who and what has been crucified in the name of the cross?
*How does the fall of The Tree echo through the whole forest of faith?
*How does a person of faith lose faith and make a conscious choice to let go of Religion and Religion’s God?
*Why choose to leave a community, a family of faith, and ordination?
*What happens when God moves away and Nature moves in?
*If there is no super-natural, can there still be hope beyond death?
*Does religion still offer something valuable to the world?
*What if we re-defined “spirituality” as being deeply human in relation with all Nature, the meaningful inter-connection of relationships?
*Who are the spiritual insurgents to lead the way forward in this non-violent revolution?
*Can a natural spirituality provide a sustainable, simpler life?
*How can a person live a meaningful, contented life after faith?
Carrying your own questions, doubts, fears, faith or freethinking, let one person’s liberating story be a source of encouragement, freedom and fresh action as the landscape of your life opens to the wilderness adventure beyond religion’s borders and boundaries. Life After Faith may not change your life or your thinking, but it may surprise you with an alternative path along “other rivers” you may never have considered. Here is your invitation to discover a riskier yet perhaps more rewarding route over the mountain ranges of belief, into the fresh air of a reasonable, more contented life lived in the open country, delightfully cutting new paths in the overgrowth and undergrowth of faith.
All writings and photographs copyright 2012 by Chris Highland
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