Earl Lectures 2010: What did you think?

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Earl Lectures 2010

Looking back at the Earl Lectures, I have three initial responses. First, we pretty much demolished the notion that religion and spirituality are polar opposites. Each needs the other to be truly healthy. At the same time I'm reminded of a conference I attended in New York City many years ago where a study was released that showed many Hispanic Catholics also say they are Protestant Pentecostals. Catholic leaders were disturbed to find that many people attending morning mass and then afternoon Protestant revival meetings. A bishop remarked: “It’s just not possible to do both.” But, even if it’s “not possible,” it is real. As we learned in various ways from the speakers and workshops, people do experience “religion” and “spirituality” in different ways and many have little difficulty defining themselves as "spiritual but not religious."

We heard a lot of talk from many speakers about “mysticism,” which the German theologian Ernst Troletsch called “the secret religion of the educated classes.” It may be time to focus on the modern and post-modern meanings of mysticism, which has a rich heritage in all of the major faith traditions. Is the experience and idea of mysticism one way of bringing together religion and spirituality?

A third response to the Earl Lectures as a whole is that it was a vital reminder of the wonderful synergy that springs forth when you bring together groups of very interesting people and give them opportunities to engage one another. Ideas flow! I was blown away by all of the speakers as they tracked what Scotty McLennan called “the dance of religion and spirituality.”

Spirituality & Religion

One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. is
"power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love."
Perhaps we could formulate a similar idea about "spirituality without religion is....and religion without spirituality is...spirituality at its best is religion implementing....and religion at its best is...."
I leave it open to others to fill in the blanks as they will.


I've come to most of the Earl Lectures for the last 15 years and have valued and enjoyed all of them. However, there was something 'extra special' about this one. As Bill M. said, there was a "synergy" that really worked. I came home with new information, new ideas, new heart for the work. And I love having the event on Holy Hill. Congratulations and thanks!

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