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Northwest leads way in designer faiths creating God in our image

Say a little prayer of thanks, or light a candle, or have some form of gratitude ceremony that suits your particular circumstances.

We have religious faith in the Northwest, but we don't attend Sunday services as much other regions. When we do have faith, many of us customize it to our liking.

According to Mark Markuly, the Dean of Theology at Seattle University, "we in Seattle are a little ahead of the patterns that we're seeing in the rest of the United States."

Those patterns include not going to church regularly, not reading the Bible outside of church, and not believing the bible is totally accurate.

New research shows Northwest residents, and the rest of the U.S., are drifting away from established churches and their dogmas, and cutting the cloth of faith to fit our specific needs.

Markuly says it's part of our culture's turning away from big, common sources for everything. This trend can be seen from entertainment to information, and religious doctrine. We seek out niche sources to feed our need for information.

"There isn't one grand narrative or story that binds everyone together, there are lots of little stories," he says. "Cable news is a good example of how we can pick and choose the beliefs and influences that we let into our lives."

So a lot of us say, 'Yeah, I believe in God and Jesus, but then I believe whatever I want.' Add in a little reincarnation from the East, forget about that birth control stuff, let witches live, and I'll eat what I want when I want it.'

Is cherry picking your own religion a good idea?

Markuly says there is a danger of your jury-rigged faith collapsing on you.

"People become somewhat rootless in their belief system. That system might work for them in good times, but when times become tough, they might have problems holding their world together when they cherry pick beliefs or practices that don't have an internal coherence."

But he says the cherry picking leads to a deeper spirituality for some people "who can learn the skills of grounding themselves in the authenticity of their own system, without becoming too strict."

About the Author

After signing on at News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM back in the waning days of the 1980's, Dan's worked his way up from the ranks- working as Desk Assistant, Morning Editor, Afternoon Editor, and Reporter.


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