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Belief-O-Matic

Last fall, I took the 20-question Belief-O-Matic quiz on Beliefnet, just to see where I fell on the religious spectrum, because as you know, I’ve pretty much said goodbye to organized religion, calling myself spiritual instead.  [I realize definitions are in order, but we’ll get to that later.]

As you’ve probably figured out already—whether or not you’re religious—religion is a mixed bag.  For instance, if you think you’re a true blood Protestant or Buddhist or Catholic, you might be surprised what else you’ve picked up along the way.  There are so many doctrines to know, so many commandments to follow, you’ve chosen some and rejected others, without even realizing it.  You’re a calico cat when it comes to what you believe!

So.  Do you know what you believe?  If you take the quiz—which quizzes you on everything from your concept of God to your thoughts on human nature to your beliefs about the afterlife—they’ll tell you what religion you’re adhering to most.

Are you ready to give it a try?  Here’s the Belief-O-Matic quiz.  Go for it.  You might surprise yourself.

And remember, every Monday morning, I publish the Living the Questions podcast.  This morning the topic is: “Are People Inherently Good or Bad?” Always a topic that generates lots of discussion!  On the docket for next week?  “Are You a Trustworthy Person?”

[Post image: Notre Dame stained glass windows]

20 Comments


  1. Renae C
    Mar 07, 2011

    I cried all the way through service yesterday, recognizing that I have to let go of the illusion that somehow I can make it okay if I just try hard enough. I am grieving the process of letting go of something that has been so much of my identity for ever. We probably won’t walk away from organized religion completely, but there is a shift coming, and when the door opened to really make a move – I figured out that it was ME that was resisting transition and the excuses I’d been making were simply that – excuses. I took the quiz and laughed at the results – NeoPaganism and Unitarian Universalist topped the list. I’ve got almost 0% in common with where we are now. No wonder I chafe. When something doesn’t fit any more, it creates blisters and pain if one continues to try to wear it simply because it’s been there forever and is familiar. Eventually the discomfort becomes too much to bear. I’m glad you are back and putting your words out into the world again. I’ve missed you.


    • Elissa
      Mar 07, 2011

      Oh, dearie, this IS the hard part about learning and growing! Nothing ever stays still. You feel a little like you have to keep getting your land legs, right? And grief is a large part of it, in that what we THOUGHT would happen…isn’t. you’re being brave and courageous to follow your path.

      Look below to see what my results were. 🙂


  2. Don Rogers
    Mar 07, 2011

    “Neo-Pagan”. Well, that’s a shock! Not sure I agree….but maybe I’ve moved further than I thought.


    • Elissa
      Mar 07, 2011

      Don,

      That’s funny, actually. I think if people take this, they’ll be surprised at how much they’ve moved from what they thought they were (or maybe not)…


  3. Jen N.
    Mar 07, 2011

    I got 100% Reform Judaism, which I didn’t know much about. After reading more about it, it actually seems pretty accurate. Interesting ideas!


    • Old Pete
      Mar 08, 2011

      Another 100% Reform Jew – that was a bit of a surprise!


      • Elissa
        Mar 08, 2011

        Love that you both are discovering something new! That’s what it’s all about…


  4. Jen N.
    Mar 07, 2011

    Do we get to find out what your results were? 😉


    • Elissa
      Mar 07, 2011

      Oh yes, Jen, mine came up:
      1. Theravada Buddhism (100%)
      2. Unitarian Universalism (80%)
      A far cry from how I grew up…LOL.


  5. Sylvia
    Mar 07, 2011

    Unitarian Universalism (100%). A far cry from my beliefs 2 years ago.


    • Elissa
      Mar 07, 2011

      And you wonder where you’ll be two years from NOW…you know?


  6. Sara
    Mar 07, 2011

    Good thing my mother doesn’t read your blog. 🙂 Roman Catholicism was nowhere to be found!
    So interesting and incredibly thought provoking. Thanks so much for sharing!!


  7. Sara
    Mar 08, 2011

    I apologize for the rather juvenile comment—about my mom not reading the blog. It was my very tired, yet interested in the matter, mind essentially agreeing with all the other comments. I just meant that growing up we believed x, y, and z, and we would, in the most monotone voices possible, chant our beliefs, without questioning them, each week—like zombies. I do have to really shout out some hip-hip hooray’s for my siblings AND my parents, though. My parents never once had a problem with us going to someone else’s church for services, camps, activities, etc. Similarly, only one of 5 siblings practices the same faith they (my parents) do, everyone else branching out into another religion. The first people to do so in any generation we can trace, including cousins on BOTH sides. I think this is phenomenal—5 siblings, 5 different religions/spiritual paths, and parents, whom will attend the host church of any child they are visiting. Well, with us, we share our time at home, not in a church, because, well, we don’t go, but they don’t mind that either. I’ll stop babbling. 🙂 Have a great day, E!


    • Elissa
      Mar 08, 2011

      Isn’t that amazing–how such diversity can happen in ONE family? I know it has in mine, too. And you’re right. It’s a little unnerving at first, because you’re “going away” from what you were taught, but as we both know, we might be in a different place next year, which is how life goes…and learning goes…kisses to you and the girls (ok, and Matt, too)!


  8. f451
    Mar 08, 2011

    Oprah said there are many paths to God.


    • Elissa
      Mar 08, 2011

      And technically there are, if you think of how many people have come to God on separate paths. At least that’s my humble opinion…


  9. Old Pete
    Mar 08, 2011

    They say it’s never too late to learn – and I’m 75. Over the last 7-8 years I’ve been learning so much about why people believe what they believe, often as a result of divisive denominational theology. I’ve been outside the walls of traditional Christianity for some 40 years but it’s only recently that I’ve realised that there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH. It’s been, and is still an exciting and challenging journey!


  10. Elissa
    Mar 08, 2011

    I agree, Old Pete. There’s a HUGE difference between the Christian religion and the Christian faith. Some people have an intense faith without the church or ritual. Others like the structure that religion provides…I, for one, love that we’re all so different! Thanks for sharing…


  11. Joan
    Mar 14, 2011

    Since your return, I’d not gotten back into the habit with your blog. However, I was drawn here today for whatever reason and thrilled by how a couple of posts spoke to me. I have a dear friend in his last hours on the planet. I’ve been uncomfortable through the journey the last month with my friend. He’s become deeply immersed in his religion the last 2+ years of his illness, which in some ways has been distancing as I am not willing to accept a belief in Jesus as the exclusive path to God. Outside of just grief, my biggest discomfort these last few weeks has been the loss of ritual and certainty. In times of deep grief or trouble, what replaces the structure/ritual and the certainty of a particular religion when you’ve become a seeker without a rigid belief system. I watch my friend’s church community surround him feeling jealous about their certainty regarding what’s happening and what comes next. I’m jealous they have this ritual and belief to focus on during this time while myself, the spiritual seeker, flounders over here by myself without clearly defined ritual and beliefs to quiet my mind and soothe my heart.

    So to wrap this up, I’m evolving spiritually. I test different on my beliefnet quiz than I did 4 years ago. I’ve definitely moved away from the religion of my upbringing. I am curious to know if you and your readers who craft a personal faith feel discomfort or a void without ritual and rigid beliefs in tough times, and if they do what fills that void.

    Glad your back –


    • Elissa
      Mar 14, 2011

      Hello, dear Joan,

      You ask good questions–hard ones, ones that can only be answered by each individual person, but I’ll do my best, coming from me (meaning, my own private and humble opinion).

      You’re right. When you venture away from what you’ve always known–the songs, perhaps, the worship, the faithful church-going, the strong sense of church community, you feel a little untethered. But that’s normal. I’ll use a more mundane example. My father hated gum…HATED it, and we were never allowed to chew it in the house. So, today, whenever I pop a piece of gum in my mouth, I remember that…and feel a little rebellious. Such a small example, but magnify that a thousand times (when you’re dealing with religious right-and-wrong feelings), and you have full-blown withdrawal feelings or a complete discombobulation.

      I think you would like Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. She makes the point that we’ve been lied to all our lives (not maliciously, just simply because this is what our parents were taught). Things don’t always work out. Life is not necessarily easier if we believe in a deity. Crap happens. IF we can live in this groundlessness, this not knowing, this place of not expecting good or bad, we’ll find over time that life is daily. We can take things as they come, without labeling WHY or HOW COME or DOES GOD LOVE ME? Our responsibility is to our life right now. Every decision we make. Every thing we do.

      It’s a daily thing. It gets better over time. At least for me it has. You can have God (or whatever your belief system is) without the ritual you knew as a child. That’s all man-made. You can create new ones. Ones that mean something to you. You can create an eclectic NEW group of people (like me!) who are searching, too, and will discuss these questions with you. It’s not the same, I know (especially online). No one’s inviting you to potlucks or bringing food to you when you have a baby, unless you have friends like that outside of the church, BUT you’ll have different friends who push you in new ways.

      Dan and I were just at another couple’s house on Sat. The wife counts herself as Buddhist. The husband counts himself as Jewish. Their family celebrates Shabbat on Friday night with their son. It’s a way to ground him, give him important lessons. They designed this for THEIR family…and they encouraged us to create something (of our own choosing) for Liliana. See? It’s a process. It’s something you explore (feeling a little shaky…and that’s okay…), to see where your heart ends up. There are a million ways to be spiritual. Some would say it’s not possible without God or Jesus, but I disagree.

      Your struggles are the same as mine. Let’s keep dialoguing as we try to figure it out. Above all, honor the views of others. And on the flip side, you can give love and kindness without having to agree.

      I hope your friend can understand your journey, too. For some people, death is a fearsome thing, and reassurance is needed. That’s okay. It’s a part of life. And who knows what we’ll be like when we’re about to die? xo

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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