April 24, 2012
12 Months, 12 Religions
A young Christian practices 12 faiths in one year and his surprising conclusion.
29-year-old Andrew Bowen became a Christian in high school, but says that he took "a nose dive into fundamentalism. It just ignited a furnace in me." His journey with God since then has been challenging. When his wife experienced a complicated pregnancy that ended tragically, Bowen says he plunged into a "two-year stint of just seething hatred toward God."
Last year he decided it was time to explore what he really believed. He began Project Conversion. With the aid of religious mentors, Bowen practiced 12 different religions each for one month including: Hinduism, Baha'i, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhisim, agnosticism, Mormonism, Islam, Sikhism, Wicca, Jainism, and Catholicism.
His journey is reported by Amanda Green on the Religion News Service blog. It's well worth the time to read. Not only does Bowen's attitude toward religion reflect that of many younger people, but where he lands may surprise you.
It appears from Bowen experience (a full book is in the works) that he wasn't necessarily searching for truth as much as help. He is able to articulate what he appreciated about each faith, and what useful lessons about life he discovered in practicing them.
We sometimes joke that our religious consumer culture treats faith like an all you can eat buffet where people come to church picking and choosing which aspects of Christianity they want, and which they don't. Bowen's story takes this metaphor a step further. His sample platter approach to religion may help us all understand why younger people are not showing as much fidelity to a single faith or church. And it also highlights the need for pastors to be more conversant with other religions, their beliefs, practices, and appeal.
I encourage you to read Bowen's story and then share you thoughts about what it here.