Friday, September 11, 2009

Science & God

I'm in the middle of reading a book called "Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality."

Since when did science and spirituality mix? Or did they?

I was intrigued.

Luckily, the author works at NPR. So last week I emailed Barbara Bradley Hagerty and asked to meet with her. So we met in the cafe for some coffee talk.

Hagerty is NPR's religion correspondent and has spent about 10 years with the organization. She previously worked at The Christian Science Monitor.

It's funny meeting with another journalist; we like to ask questions so much that there never seems to be enough time in the day to finish talking.

Hagerty's spiritual exploration stemmed from an early upbringing as a Christian Scientist (Not to be confused with Scientology). But in her early thirties she began her own exploratation into the world of faith.

She began asking questions like “Is there a God gene?” and "Are there spiritual virtuosos?” It’s these questions and more that she explores in her 285-page book. Her adventures took her to a variety of places - including a Peyote ceremony and a meditation ceremony in Wisconsin.

Hagerty reminded me about the Religion Communicators Council chapter in Washington, D.C. (I attended the annual conference last spring in Boston - an event that kick-started this blog.)

Fast forward a week. Hagerty and I took a cab over to the the Baha'i office near DuPont circle. Hagerty was the guest speaker for the RCC (DC chapter) meeting. She explained to other religion communicators her adventures in researching the Divine. I was able to reconnect with a few folks I had met in Boston, while Hagerty signed books.

The book has been a really great read for me (I have to admit, I haven't finished it yet, but I've listened to the podcasts on NPR's website).

Hagerty's advice to me - which she wrote in my book - "To Meg: May the search bring great answers - and more questions."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Your Faith Life: Personal or Private?

I've found it intriguing to meet people who view faith in many different ways.

I've moved to Washington, D.C. for the semester while I complete an internship with National Public Radio. The other day I visited one of the many Smithsonian museums: The National Portrait Gallery. I was struck by one particular portrait, called "Untitled (Man Praying)" by photographer Jocelyn Lee.

No doubt the man knew he was being photographed. But in a way, the photo made me feel like I was intruding on something private - like I was eavesdropping on a conversation.

It made me ask myself, if someone saw me praying, what would that photo look like? Would I appear vulnerable? Would I look contemplative, or joyful? Is prayer something private or does my faith extend outside my four walls?

I have devout friends who firmly believe their faith is a private matter between God and an individual.

Others are more open about their faith and have no problem discussing the topic with others.

Yet others risk their lives for the sake of their faith; holding to it so firmly that they face death for their beliefs. Rifqa Bary, 17, has gone to court because she says her father threatened to kill her after she converted from Islam to Christianity.

What about you? Do you prefer your faith to be private or are okay "going public"?