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Spiritual: October 05, 2022 Issue [#11599]

 This week: Spiritual Forum Shopping
  Edited by: Jeff
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Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

"Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief."
-- C.S. Lewis

About The Editor: Greetings! My name is Jeff and I'm one of your regular editors for the official Spiritual Newsletter! I've been a member of Writing.com since 2003, and have edited more than 350 newsletters across the site during that time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me via email or the handy feedback field at the bottom of this newsletter! *Smile*

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Letter from the editor

Spiritual Forum Shopping

         The term forum shopping is a colloquial term that comes from the world of litigation. It refers to the practice of seeking a court or jurisdiction that will be more favorable to the outcome you're looking for. A lot of companies incorporate their business in Delaware, for example, which is an extremely pro-business state with longstanding precedents that advantage corporations in lawsuits. When people file lawsuits to challenge a law, or file appeals to overturn a lower court's decision, they will often choose which court they file their litigation with depending whether that court has ruled favorably in similar cases.

         Forum shopping isn't an inherently bad practice. We all look for tiny advantages when it's to our benefit to do so. At work, we might bring up an issue with one supervisor over another based on a better, more receptive relationship. In relationships, we might wait to give bad news at an opportune time. Within the realm of spirituality, though, the practice can potentially have a really detrimental effect, especially if your particular expression of faith at all prioritizes the role of community.

         I live in Southern California (Orange County, to be more specific), where churches are plentiful. My wife works less than five miles from our home and she drives past more than twenty different churches on her commute. When we first moved to this area, trying to find a church was like trying to decide on which television to buy; there's so many different features of each one, you can just lost just comparing everything! We ultimately settled on a church that we attended for the better part of ten years, and the transitioned to a different church which we've been a part of for almost five years.

         Over the years at those two churches, we saw a lot of people come and go. Some would only come a couple of times, others for a couple months, others for somewhat longer seasons but still less than a year. And while there are lots of reasons why people leave churches and many of them are perfectly valid, a fair number of them were "forum shopping" for churches. And not in the "I'm new here and looking for the right place" kind of way, but in the "the minute I hear something I don't like, I'm gone" kind of way. Maybe it wasn't the exact kind of worship music they liked, or the pastor gave a sermon that they didn't agree with, or someone in the church hurt someone's feelings, etc. We live in an era defined by disposability; the minute you find something that's not to your liking, dispose of it and get something else.

         And, to be clear, I'm not saying that people should have to stick with something that isn't working for them. Everyone has different seasons in their life and different needs in those seasons; sometimes it's just time to move on. And sometimes a particular church community hurts its members in very tangible, scary ways and people should definitely not stay if that's the case. But in this editorial I'm talking specifically about situations where people leave a spiritual institution or practice after a short period of time because it doesn't exactly match their expectations, and often repeat the practice multiple times in relatively short order.

         What this practice often misses is that many forms of spirituality are about (1) community, (2) wrestling with spiritual concepts, or (3) both of the above. And those elements really only happen when you're committed to an exercise or practice and see it through, even when it's a struggle. Those times of struggle and uncertainty and questioning can actually be the very things that help shape us and grow in our faith after we come out the other side.

         If you're struggling with a matter of faith (assuming that it's a matter of spiritual discomfort and not a real threat to your physical or psychological wellbeing) and considering doing a little "forum shopping" for a new outlet, I'd encourage you to consider pushing against the inclination to hit the "eject" button and instead ask yourself what it might look like to stay, to lean in, to really examine what it is that's causing the discomfort (or if it's a matter of preference, whether there's anything to this other type of expression) and see if there's something to be learned from the experience.

         Spirituality and faith are, after all, lifelong pursuits that are made more valuable the more you invest into them.

Until next time,

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Editor's Picks

This month's official Writing.com writing contest is:

Short Shots: Official WDC Contest  [ASR]
Use the photo to inspire your creativity. Write a short story and win big prizes!
by Writing.Com Support

I also encourage you to check out the following items:

 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

EXCERPT: One gets a sense of destiny at the most interesting times. For me, one of those moments came unexpectedly, as these things do, during casual conversation. I was talking with my mother one day during those teenage years. The topic of one’s life work came up. As usual I hadn’t a clue. A lot of us don’t, but some are better at hiding the fact than others.

And This Is Our Story  [E]
For those who of us are lost and need to rediscover our faith in God and the Universe.
by DayleeCoffee

EXCERPT: I have always thought God has abandoned me. My mother has heard and seen Him and our angels, but I could never feel their presence. She said they were massive, half transparent beings who emanated light so bright that it hurts to even gaze upon them. The Divine took her out of her body and they all flew in unison out through space at the speed of light before gazing down upon a tiny earth. The earth looked dark. Pitch black.

 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

EXCERPT: The world I would want to live in would be a much better one then today. There wouldn't be any talk about the threeD's: Disease, death and Destruction. We would live in a world where everything is beautiful, bold, and bright. There wouldn't be any lack for friendship, because everyone would be kind, and have a smile on their face.

 Rest  [E]
Isaiah 57:20-21
by Private

 The Light  [E]
There's always a light in the darkness.
by A Discombobulated LeJenD

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Ask & Answer

Feedback from "Spiritual Newsletter (September 7, 2022) about repetition:

AmyJo -June, already? C'mon! writes:
Thank you for the reminder of making devotional time a daily habit. I too, sometimes fail, but all I can do is get back up and keep going forward. This is the first time I've thought about rule of 7, but it makes sense. Appreciate the newsletter. Keep up the great work!

Annette writes:
I didn't go and look anything up, but what you describe about repetition to get more out of the sermons you hear, sounds a lot like deep learning. That means, spending a lot of time with one subject (even a very vast one) until it becomes ingrained and second nature. That is why language learning apps reward streaks of learning with virtual badges. Or why some of the best writing advice is to practice daily or at least regularly.

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