Tuesday, December 25, 2018

How Christmas Began

[first posted December, 2011]
The history of Christmas should make us ponder. Christians had no Christmas for more than 200 years after Jesus was born. The origin of the feast had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus because no one knew when he was born.

Bible scholars inform us of contradictions and impossibilities in the biblical accounts contributing to the myth, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (the authors actually are unknown, but that’s another story). Rev. E. J. Niles, a scholar quoted in Unity magazine, says,
I love how Joseph was said to take his pregnant wife Mary 94 miles to Bethlehem to fulfill a type of civic duty (a census) that most women would never have even participated in during those times.
Also factual nonsense are the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, which disagree with each other, as do their implied dates of Jesus’ birth. Quirinius was governor after Herod died, not before.

But we don’t need Bible scholars to tell us that the manger myth lacks facts; any intelligent reader can infer its disagreements with science and history. Myths are not about facts; they're about meaning.

Not until the third century, at the earliest, did Christmas begin. It developed in competition with Pagan feasts observing the birthday of the sun on the winter solstice, when the sun “dies” as daylight reaches its shortest point and then is reborn or resurrected as daylight increases. The Romans celebrated Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, “whose annual journey across our sky can be celebrated worldwide as a truly unifying expression of our global family.” This last lovely sentiment comes from Acharya S., an atheist writer. I note this to banish Christian notions that we own Christmas exclusively.

The earliest written record of Christmas appeared in 336 CE, and in 354, a calendar entry for December 25 listed the births of both Sol Invictus and of Christ in Bethlehem of Judea. This double notice provides an example of syncretism, the melding of religious ideas, which, contrary to Christian claims, occurred often in our tradition.

Before the earth was known to be a revolving sphere, the sun mysteriously disappeared in the west every evening, followed some unknown course below earth during the night, then reappeared in the east every morning. Naturally this cycle of nature inspired mythmaking. The Goddess enveloped the sun in her body in the evening and sent it forth in the morning. The Greek sun god Helios crossed the heavens from east to west in a shiny chariot, descended to the underworld, and was "born anew every morning," sang the poet Horace.

The sun's daily descent and ascent also provided rich Christian symbolism. Surrounded by and steeped in Greek myth, Christians of the early centuries imagined Christ journeying to the underworld and rising in the east. "As the sun rises daily for all, so the mystical Sun of Righteousness rises for all," sang a Christian verse. In ancient records Christ was listed as one sun deity among several.

Pagans called their birthday feast of the sun god “Epiphany,” meaning "appearance." The Pagan Epiphany happened on January 6, which also became the date of the rival Christian feast celebrating Christ's appearance in the flesh, showing Christmas to be one solar celebration among several.
Calendar adjustments moved the winter solstice to December 25 and later to December 21. Some quarreling between Christians in East and West broke out when the East continued to observe the birth of Christ on January 6 after the West switched to December 25. Today Eastern Orthodox Christians still celebrate Christmas on January 6.

Because of its Pagan origin, the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas at all, and a few other Christian groups have discredited Christmas for the same reason. But that would also disqualify Easter, All Souls Day (Halloween), and other Christian feasts related to Pagan holidays.

For thousands of years before Christians took over solstice celebrations, human cultures developed myth and ritual to mark it. Huge bonfires were an important part of such events. We can easily imagine that before artificial light existed, the annual shrinking of light down to the shortest day of the year, followed by the steady growth of light foretelling spring, would have had a huge impact on human life.
Today we see the human impulse to light up the darkness in the riot of artificial lighting from November to January. The lights are not necessarily related to the Christian festival, as few people in the West believe the manger story literally anymore.

But for good reasons we continue singing songs that repeat and embellish the myth. There must be something besides commercial value that makes Christmas precious to more than believing Christians. The birth of the Child represents the birth of the precious Self inside each of us, the Christ consciousness in every person—the urge to give generously, the warm feelings of unity with all. This, I believe, is the enduring value of Christmas.

Christmas message, December 26, 2008
Here's my Christmas message along with my consoling philosophy/faith. I learned 28 years ago that I could reconcile my knowledge of Christian myth with my need for spiritual solace by trusting in a Higher Power. It shows Its face in interesting ways when I give myself over to Its guidance.

I was planning to drive somewhere on Christmas Day, having spent Christmas Eve with my son and daughter. In various ways I was prompted to change my mind, sure that it was best to stay home. I prepared to enjoy music and reading. But a friend in emotional need called and we spent much of the day together. I could not have been there for her, had I insisted on my original plan instead of being attuned to the subtle prompts diverting me from that plan.

This sort of thing happens to me often—an inner thread pulling me through the little and big decisions of life. Others attuned to a Higher Power, whether they respond to Jesus or another name, will not scoff at this.

I don’t consider this a late Christmas message. When I was growing up we started the Christmas season on December 25, and it lasted through January. The Advent period before that really did await the day when celebrations would start. On Christmas morning we woke up to the miracle performed by Christ Kindchen the night before. He brought our presents, trimmed the tree, made Christmas cookies—everything. When a school classmate told me slyly that Santa Claus was fake, I was surprised that he’d ever believed in silly Santa Claus. It did start the wheels in my little brain turning with regard to belief in the miracle.

I resent consumerism for stealing Christmas. On this day after December 25, radio stations refuse to play Christmas music anymore, the inspirational, meditative music appropriate to this dark and wintry transitional time between the old and the new. Professional musicians and singers who perform the music know its text is based on myth but appreciate our spiritual heritage. But the commercial world has convinced Americans that material stuff makes up the whole purpose of life. No more buying presents after the 25th, so no reason to play Christmas music. Despicable reasoning.

I wonder what the purveyors of consumerism think “The Twelve Days of Christmas” are about. The twelfth day was Epiphany on January 6, which was the Roman Empire’s winter solstice until a calendar adjustment moved it to December 25. Pagan religions celebrated the birth of the sun on this day and Christians established a rival feast to celebrate the birthday of their “true sun.” When the solstice moved to the 21st in another adjustment, Christmas stayed on the 25th in the West, but Eastern Orthodox still celebrate Christmas on January 6.

Dates and names are less important than the theme of death and renewal—Easter’s theme. For this reason it was a more important Christian feast than Christmas, before consumerism stepped in. Enough of that.

May the economic downturn direct us away from material things during the following year and toward healthy, loving relationships. This is my Christmas wish for all.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Awaken the Feminine

Today promises to be a sunny day, unlike the gloomy past month. I sorely missed the sun hiding behind clouds day after day. While preparing a Christmas card for my nephew and his family in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, I realized they have an even longer darkness surrounding winter solstice. I wondered how difficult it is for him, born and bred in Minnesota. 

Years ago I overcame the blues of sun-deprivation at this time of year by placing it in the context of spirituality and religion. While I was trying to be an atheist, I learned about non-Christian religions. My discoveries appear in my essay for Awaken the Feminine!: Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth.
Wanting distance from Christian stuff but drawn to spiritual content, I read about the pagan religions I had been trained to despise and got surprising revelations about the Goddess. I learned that human beings had prayed to a Great Mother before the Father/Son myth started.
Accounts of Mater Magna, the Great Mother, creator of the universe, taught me that She manifests the feminine face of the Divine. She is simply an alternative way to think of what is called “God.” That She reigned under many names in pre-historic times obliterated the Judaeo-Christian claim to being the first monotheistic religion. 
Goddess myths center divinity more in the earth than in the sky. The Goddess envelopes the sun in her body every evening and sends it forth in the morning. 
I learned that Christmas copies birthday feasts honoring pagan gods and that, before Jesus of Nazareth lived, pagan gods had twelve disciples, died and rose in three days, were commemorated in rituals involving wine and bread, and so on. 
Promoting their own feast, Christians declared that Jesus Christ is the real sun-god—“the real light which gives light to everyone." John 8:12 has Jesus saying, "I am the light of the world. 

Having learned alternatives to the Christian myth enriches rather than spoils my celebration of Christmas. It also makes me more tolerant of the way our secular, commercial world treats it. 

When displays of Christmas lights appeared before Christmas, I used to strongly resist. I wanted the world to begin Christmas celebrations on the Day, as we did it in St. Martin in the 1950s. But it’s during these dark days before the solstice that the world needs more light. I’m sure that this, and not only the commercial motive of making money, accounts for Christmas lights going up a month before Christmas Day and coming down soon after Christmas Day. 

I leave my lights up much longer just because I was trained that way. But I see that after the solstice on December 21, people are relieved and happy that the sun stays with us longer and longer. So the artificial lights come down. 

Whatever connects us with Transcendence seems good to me. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Dismantling Male Domination

My book, Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses, will come out in spring, but another book with an essay of mine just came out at Thanksgiving. Karen Tate is the editor of this anthology.

Awakening the Feminine...
Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth

Third in the "Manifesting a New Normal" Series

$15.00 through December 31 (Including S&H in the US only)
Using Paypal - PayPal.Me/karentate
Manifesting a New Normal Series...

Friday, November 16, 2018

Beyond Parochial Faith

Yesterday I sent my completed manuscript, Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses to my publishing company, Wipf and Stock. They publish mainly academic religious works, but mine is a memoir.

I combine my personal story of growing up German Catholic in Stearns County with my spiritual evolution. As a lifelong educator I aim to educate with this book too. It exposes my deepest vulnerabilities to encourage readers as they experience the pain of their own wounds.
I hope my story eases the spiritual work required of absolutely everyone—reflecting on our lives, honoring our pain, and grappling with life's questions. I reveal my secrets because seeing another's story somehow makes it easier to face one's own. 

Beyond Parochial Faith weaves together alcoholic husband and mid-life meltdown, judgmental siblings and prudish aunts, the Goddess and the historical Jesus, the Father/Son myth and Carl Jung, atheists and Benedictines. I aim to inspire self-awareness, to open minds. to broaden horizons.

This book started four and a half years ago with a series of articles in Crossings, the magazine published by the Stearns History Museum. My writers group encouraged me to write more personal stories, which I did, but as I continued writing, I fell back into my usual intellectual reflection. 
The result is this memoir that merges my life story with information challenging the religion I learned in my youth. I had to unlearn a lot. Now you can unlearn and learn with me.

Beyond Parochial Faith reemphasizes the message in my book published in 2007, God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky: Cherishing Christianity without Its Exclusive Claims. Its message is that Christianity mistakes its myth for history and its symbols for facts. With a few clicks on this site you can read excerpts from that book. 

I neglected this blog while I was preparing it for publication. Now I plan to post here more often, probably some excerpts from Beyond Parochial Faith, which will come out in Spring 2019.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cardinals and #MeToo

When I saw the idea in National Catholic Reporter, I thought, "Impossible." But making women cardinals seemed much more plausible when I read the facts given there.

The rule that cardinals must be ordained is only 100 years old. It was part of a new Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917 to curb abuses in naming cardinals.
Some men had little knowledge of theology, and others were, well, very young. 
One was only 8 years old.

John Paul II wanted to appoint a woman cardinal. I can't think of a less likely pope to do that. Timothy Dolan reported on EWTN that John Paul offered it to Mother Teresa, but she didn't want it. This story was corroborated by Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI.

The list of eminent women theologians suggested as candidates makes another good argument in favor of making women cardinals. I mention only those whose names are familiar to me: Elizabeth Johnson, Margaret Farley, M.Shawn Copelend, Phyllis Zagano.

I still think it can't happen until hell freezes over, but I like putting out ideas to subvert the common mindset that automatically places men as authorities over women.


I aimed to subvert the common mindset in a letter to the StarTribune of Minneapolis last Sunday, September 30. Adding to the discussion, "How to fill the churches: reconciling reason and faith," I said that God was imagined a woman in prehistoric cultures. Myths portrayed the supreme authority in heaven as a great lady.
Before Hera became the jealous wife of Zeus, . . .  She sat on the throne with Zeus at her side. God was known as "Queen of Heaven," "Her Holiness," . . .
Everything changes when God is imagined to be a woman rather than a man.
Greek historian Herodotus wrote that in Egypt, "women go in the marketplace, transact affairs and occupy themselves with business, while the husbands stay home and weave." 
Imagine that.
It's actually not so hard to imagine today because roles in some marriages are already reversed. An American living in Stockholm, Sweden, wrote in Time magazine that he was startled by the number of dads there parenting kids full-time. I have seen the same here and applaud men brave enough to do it.

Thank Goodness, we have made some strides toward equality but what a distance to go! The most pernicious sexist habits happen in church--always, without exception, referring to God as He, Him, or His, and never as She or Her.

Sexist God-talk has got to go if Christians seriously want to address #MeToo.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Democratic socialism

I’m sharing another of my published opinion pieces, this one in the St. Cloud Times. An email friend told me it was in. That’s usually how I find out it’s been published, because I don’t get the paper until days later from a kind neighbor. This arrangement saves both the environment and my pocketbook.

The Times used my suggested title— “Socialism” is not a dirty word. I explain that democratic socialism does not reject capitalism but checks its vices—power-grabbing, union-busting profiteering at the expense of all citizens with less money and power.

The U.S. already has forms of socialism because our taxes fund transportation, police, schools, FEMA, Social Security, Medicare, and many more socialist institutions. They provide for the welfare of all and check the power of capitalist bosses to control what rightly belongs to everyone—like our government.  

Without socialist checks, Washington D.C. becomes an enemy of the people instead of our protector.

During this time of Trump, people of conscience must do what we can to resist destruction of socialist protections: clean air, water, and soil, safe drugs, health care, protections for consumers, workers, elderly, disabled, and marginalized persons. All are at risk today.

Democratic socialism tempers strict capitalism with kindness and justice. This is where religion and politics intersect.

I just listened to MPR Presents, The Making of Male Dominance.  It quickly summarizes sexist developments over millennia, back to pre-history.
I would have liked to hear more about religion's role in this, but my greatest criticism concerns language. They call humanity "man." How could people working to topple male dominance fail to recognize this vocabulary of male dominance? 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Bottom-up power

I neglected this blog to work on my memoir, but I continued getting opinion pieces published elsewhere—recently in the Minneapolis StarTribune about righting patriarchal wrongs. To provoke awareness of what’s been done to women, I write, “Consider an ad displaying a man’s genital area clad in a clinging fabric.” I urge women to educate men in healthy relating.
Yesterday, the St. Cloud Times titled my piece: Citzens gain power when they work together. 
The real voter fraud is blocking people from voting by expensive ID requirements and other restrictions, obviously, to suppress bottom-up power. . . .
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency, formed during President Obama’s term to protect consumers . . . was taking three to five enforcement actions against powerful wrongdoers each month. After Donald Trump took charge, its enforcement actions dropped to zero. . . .
But this bleak picture tells only half the story. As top-down power surges, bottom-up power is roused to action. . . .
In the new wave of sensitivity, . . . Minneapolis police now are listening to the homeless and finding out what they need. . . .
“Focusing on what’s wrong leads to despair. . . . We can infuse hope, living by Paul Wellstone’s words: We all do better when we all do better.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Obscenely Rich

My recent letter in the St.Cloud Times got such favorable response that I decided to post it here. But it can leave a person despairing for our country, so I'd like readers to scroll down to the post below to see reasons for hope.  Excerpts of my Times letter:
One sentence in “The Politics of Politics” stands out for me: “We cannot be jealous but are to be grateful to those who do well and not punish them with punitive taxes.”
 It displays a naïve concept of economic reality in the U.S.
 Multi-millionaires and billionaires hold their wealth in assets that are not taxable. . . .
The belief that cutting taxes boosts the whole economy contradicts reality. . . . Strenuous efforts fail to find any benefit for most people.
The top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent combined. . . . Big Money buys influence in D.C. . . .
Raising taxes for those who are doing obscenely well would not be punitive. It would be wise. 
My letter in the Times spells out how our national government tilts toward the rich and powerful, but it inspires little hope. Again I remind readers to scroll down for reminders that all is not bleak. 

Injustice has always existed in our national government. From the very beginning it privileged the privileged and burdened the needy by, for instance, excluding women, Blacks, and persons without property from playing a role as citizens. Our current president and administration only do it more blatantly and extremely.

But that rouses ordinary citizens to action. Just this morning I heard about citizens countering NIMBY (not in my back yard) resistance to building apartments in neighborhoods with single-family homes.

A woman who saw how NIMBY was fueling the housing crisis in San Francisco decided she did not have to settle for being angry. She could do something to relieve homelessness. And thus began the YIMBY (yes, in my back yard) movement. It assures fearful homeowners that building affordable housing in stable neighborhoods does not threaten their economic security. YIMBY has spread around the country—including Minneapolis—and even to Australia.

Similar stories of volunteers springing to action show grass-roots in motion as never before. And that gives me hope.  

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Good of Trump

I'm gratified by the scene in America today. Sounds like a Trump-fan, huh? How can Clancy be saying this?

I'm serious. What's going on in our country gives me hope. Never before have so many Americans defended Blacks, Muslims, and immigrants. Never before so many men nurturing children and doing housework. Never before so many women and people of color entering politics. Never before so much concern about unequal wealth and power, disgust with Big Money, awareness of discrimination in our criminal justice system, and concern for victims.

At the same time, macho toughness seems to be rising not only in our country but around the world. Victor Orban in Hungary and Morawiecki in Poland turn away immigrants, Putin persecutes opponents in Russia and kills them elsewhere, Duterte slaughters citizens in the Philippines, Xi Jinping tortures political opponents in China, el-Sissi in Egypt and Erdogan in Turkey jail dissidents, Kim Jong Un tortures citizens and executes rivals in North Korea.

Trump expresses admiration for these strongmen, he calls them friends, but American citizens are repulsed by strongman brutality and cruelty. As they come into stark relief, they engender reverse impulses. People are waking up to the ugliness of making enemies of people who are different from us and disagree with us.

The story of Americans insisting that immigrant children must not be torn from their parents shows the rise of compassion and understanding of otherness. Stuff going on in our country and elsewhere pains me, but it forces awareness and I believe this ultimately leads to good. When we hit bottom, the only way to go is up.

July 22
As I read about the administration's dirty, less well-known policies that persecute refugees, workers, consumers, and marginalized of all kinds, it becomes a challenge to keep my chin up. Seeing things from a long-range perspective helps.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Food Aid

Having just given the rich hefty tax cuts, the Trump administration and Republican Congress now are bent on reducing aid to have-nots in sundry ways. NCR editorialized:
While cable pundits are buzzing about Stormy Daniels, the most vulnerable Americans now face the prospect of losing critical nutrition support for their families. 
The editorial bemoans the draft of the 2018 farm bill that proposes cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rep. Colin Peterson of MN said it would drop 8 million people—children, seniors, disabled, and those who aid them—from getting food aid. Authors of the draft are reconsidering because of intense opposition. 

It’s already an old story during this administration. It and Congress propose outrageous attacks on vulnerable people, then have to back down in the face of vigorous objection. Citizens have power during this critical time, but only if we keep paying attention. 

We must not accept as normal what is now going on in D.C. This president and this Congress do not represent citizens fairly. They got their positions of power through gerrymandering and misleading propaganda paid for by Big Money. We need to keep calling out against injustice. Only if we are vigilant can we save our country from its immoral politicians. 

Responding to proposed food-stamp cuts, a Benedictine friend mourns, "What next?"

I draw strength from a psychic friend who sees the sun rising because of Trump's presidency. When we've sunk so low, the only direction to go is up.

But we have to make it happen, with our attention if nothing else. Staying informed, paying attention, is not doing nothing. Our mind activity alone can help to make things happen.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Migrants on the Cross

From Good Friday to Easter, Christian church-goers memorialize the transformation of a man named Jesus who lived in Palestine. The Apostles’ Creed says he descended into hell and rose again from the dead.

From Joseph Campbell I learned of innumerable myths around the world with an array of Christ-figures whose lives resemble the Jesus story. The myths tell of transformation—dying and rising—often through the death and resurrection of a god or goddess. Campbell called this ubiquitous theme “the monomyth” of ancient civilizations.
The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl evokes Christ on the cross by sacrificing himself and descending to the Underworld. His heart then rises to the heavens and becomes the star Venus.

A Mother/Daughter myth of dying and rising balances the Father/Son myth of Christ. Persephone, the daughter, is abducted by Hades, who rules the underworld where the dead live. After her descent to the dead, her mother Demeter becomes enraged and withers the earth into a wintry death.
Demeter and Hades come to an agreement. He lets Persephone ascend to earth and live there for two-thirds of the year. When she rises, Demeter allows the earth to reawaken and it bursts into the fertile growth of spring.

Persephone’s descent and dwelling awhile in the underworld symbolizes a drop into the unconscious, where she is transformed. We all are transformed during moments—sometimes lasting years—when our divinity within guides us through perilous circumstances.

Striking examples of cross and resurrection today are the journeys of migrants. Imagine the terror of facing their horrific crossings over sea and land and then perhaps to meet hostility at their destination. If they experience a final resurrection on this earth, it is hard-won.

Our small deaths and resurrections pale by comparison, but recognizing the parallels with their journeys may help us to empathize appropriately.


A college classmate commented on Knowing from the Other Side:
Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece, Jeanette. Great story demonstrating how we all have this inner voice of intuition and it’s important we learn to listen to it, trust it, and follow it. I’ve heard it referred to as our own personal GPS (Global Positioning System).

A teacher I follow states: Your emotions are your very own GPS, a rock-steady, unfailing and unerring "personal navigational device" to get you where you want to go. "All is well. You did not come here to fix a broken world. The world is not broken. You came here to live a wonderful life.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Knowing from the Other Side

Maxine Moe Rasmussen lives in the country near Ada, Minnesota, about an hour east of Fargo and Moorhead. I asked her to read and comment on parts of my memoir. One of my chapters prompted the following story in response:
Helen and her husband Bob lived across the road from us, where he grew up. She grew up a quarter mile east. They were related to much of the neighborhood and were its matriarch and patriarch. I was out walking one day and about a mile east of our house I turned around to walk back home, when I had the sorrowful thought that everything would soon be changing in our neighborhood. I didn’t like the thought, so put it aside, but it was a knowing that could not be denied.
 One morning I stopped at the mailbox to pick up mail on my way to work. I was always running late and in a hurry. As I stopped the car and got out to get mail out of our box, I heard Helen’s voice. She was saying something to Bob, don’t know what, but at the sound of her voice and the closing of her car door, I felt a strong punch in my gut—the only way to describe that feeling, like someone punched me in the gut.
 Not long after that, Helen got sick. My beloved neighbor Helen was in the hospital with cancer. I doubted she would get out of the hospital and was thinking this as I left my house to go to the garage one day. I noticed the new moon above me and it was so very bright. Brighter than I’ve ever seen the new moon, neon bright. At that instant, the thought came that Helen would not be here when the moon was full. She held on while the moon gained in size and was almost full. I wondered if the prediction could have been wrong when I was so certain it was correct. She died the morning of the day of the full moon.
 My certainty of the knowledge received at the new moon was correct. I can still see the extreme brightness of that new moon. These experiences are truer than physical experiences. I can only see them as real and true.
 When Helen got into the car that one morning and shut the car door, it was the last time she set foot on that land. No wonder I felt a punch in the gut. She and Bob had spent their whole lives within a quarter mile of land. She never made it home again. It was a definite ending.
 Bob hung on a few years before he died. These two kept the neighbors connected, and their deaths brought about many changes. Shortly after Bob died, their daughter Mary died. Mary was the one in their family who kept things together. I still miss them very much. It’s been five years since their deaths and we still do not have neighbors across the road.  
Maxine was experiencing a knowledge that can't be verified by science, nevertheless true.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pews Emptying

It happens sometimes that I read one of my letters in a publication, agree with it, and discover I’m the author. (I admit my countless letters are one reason I haven’t blogged faithfully.)

It just happened again. I came upon a letter I submitted to National Catholic Reporter in December. It applauded an article about “churchless nones.” They are identified as non-affiliated with any religion in surveys of religious participation by the Pew Research Center. The article that drew my comment accepted “nones” as often being spiritual without being religious.
. . . If you’re looking for a place to comfortably park your soul, coming out as spiritual offers benefits.
But it wondered what the “nones” believe. I wrote,
What do they believe? It matters not what God-images draw them to the Inner Realm. But what’s better than the images given by the spiritual master Jesus? The inner Reign is like yeast, like a seed, like buried treasure, like a pearl (Matthew 13). I vastly prefer these images to the father-son gods created by the religion that claims to represent Jesus of Nazareth. 
I believe Catholic pews are emptying because the gods imposed by stale Mass language are no more credible among educated persons than pagan gods. We need a hierarchy that spreads teachings of the spiritual master Jesus instead of regulating liturgies to promote a god and male supremacy.