unTapped Topic: Gratitude and Entitlement

Thanksgiving is next week (already)!

So, we thought that this Thursday at unTapped we could discuss the dynamic that exists between a sense of gratitude and a sense of entitlement. We've seen this play out on a number of different levels, of course. There is the way that it plays out on a national/international political level. It plays out in faith groups, and, especially in families and personal relationships.

On a political level, we have seen this most recently play out in Europe. Several governments have instituted austerity measures in order to pay off massive debt and avoid government bankruptcy. Such moves have not been well received by people who feel the government is mandated to pensions and retirement benefits. France, for instance, has been struggling with massive riots across the country for angry citizens who feel entitled to these benefits. Britain, Germany and others have also started an austerity program and the US may have to grapple with this reality next.

Faith groups often struggle with a sense of entitlement from their members. People insist on certain programs or ministries, but a minority of those same people are willing to participate or fund those things.

Do we even need to mention family members that seem to take everything we give them for granted? How many times have you heard about a friend or relative that receives a gift or help and will actually complain about it!?!?

With all this negativity surrounding entitlement, perhaps it is good to remember how to be grateful. Here in the US, we all have so much to be thankful for. None of it happened by accident and we would do ourselves a favor not to take it for granted.

In fact, scientists have researched the effects of gratitude on people's health. Read about it here.

Lives lived in gratitude are happier by about 25 percent, healthier, more fulfilling and often longer. Gratitude helps reduce feelings of envy, resentment, regret, bitterness and greed. Grateful people experience more vitality, optimism and hope, and thus greater satisfaction with life.
So, what are you grateful for? Does your gratitude affect your sense of entitlement? Can you feel grateful for the things you feel entitled to?

Join us this Thursday for our final discussion of 2010! We'll give everybody a chance to share what they are thankful for and what they are entitled to.

See you this Thursday at Short's Brewing in downtown Bellaire!


unTapped Topic: Our Four Gods

This week's topic comes to us from Barb Lockrey. Thanks Barb!

How do you view God? What are assumptions and preconceived notions that you maintain about God and how do those notions shape the way you view him?

Take the God Test and find out! Take the Test and we can we discuss the results this Thursday.

According to a book and study from a Baylor University scholar, Americans tend to believe in one of four different Gods. Here is a section from USA Today's coverage:

Froese and Bader's research wound up defining four ways in which Americans see God:

•The Authoritative God. When conservatives Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck proclaim that America will lose God's favor unless we get right with him, they're rallying believers in what Froese and Bader call an Authoritative God, one engaged in history and meting out harsh punishment to those who do not follow him. About 28% of the nation shares this view, according to Baylor's 2008 findings.

"They divide the world by good and evil and appeal to people who are worried, concerned and scared," Froese says. "They respond to a powerful God guiding this country, and if we don't explicitly talk about (that) God, then we have the wrong God or no God at all."

•The Benevolent God. When President Obama says he is driven to live out his Christian faith in public service, or political satirist Stephen Colbert mentions God while testifying to Congress in favor of changing immigration laws, they're speaking of what the Baylor researchers call a Benevolent God. This God is engaged in our world and loves and supports us in caring for others, a vision shared by 22% of Americans, according to Baylor's findings.

"Rhetoric that talks about the righteous vs. the heathen doesn't appeal to them," Froese says. "Their God is a force for good who cares for all people, weeps at all conflicts and will comfort all."

Asked about the Baylor findings, Philip Yancey, author ofWhat Good Is God?, says he moved from the Authoritative God of his youth — "a scowling, super-policeman in the sky, waiting to smash someone having a good time" — to a "God like a doctor who has my best interest at heart, even if sometimes I don't like his diagnosis or prescriptions."

•The Critical God. The poor, the suffering and the exploited in this world often believe in a Critical God who keeps an eye on this world but delivers justice in the next, Bader says.

Bader says this view of God — held by 21% of Americans — was reflected in a sermon at a working-class neighborhood church the researchers visited in Rifle, Colo., in 2008. Pastor Del Whittington's theme at Open Door Church was " 'Wait until heaven, and accounts will be settled.' "

Bader says Whittington described how " 'our cars that are breaking down here will be chariots in heaven. Our empty bank accounts will be storehouses with the Lord.' "

•The Distant God. Though about 5% of Americans are atheists or agnostics, Baylor found that nearly one in four (24%) see a Distant God that booted up the universe, then left humanity alone.

This doesn't mean that such people have no religion. It's the dominant view of Jews and other followers of world religions and philosophies such as Buddhism or Hinduism, the Baylor research finds.

Be sure to read the rest of the article here.

If you have a few moments, you can go to the researchers' website and take an online quiz that will help you see the way you view God. Here is the link - http://www.thearda.com/whoisyourgod/index.asp There, you can take a text based quiz or an image based quiz about God's severity or ambivalence. It was these quizzes that the research team used to develop the Four Gods.

The research shows that the type of God people believe shapes how they see issues in the world. For instance, Sociologist Christopher Bader looked at evil in the world:

"When we talked about Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, the Authoritative God type was most likely to think God had a hand, directly punishing us for society's sinful ways," Bader says.

But believers in a Benevolent God "will focus on a fireman who escaped, or the people who rebuild homes, or the divine providence of someone missing a flight that crashed on 9/11," Bader says.

To someone who sees a Distant God, the 9/11 terror attacks amounted to a sign of man's inhumanity, not God's action or judgment, Bader says. And they see a storm as just a storm.

Believers in a Critical God say whatever happens now, "God will have the last word," Bader says.

Be sure to join us this Thursday night and tell us what kind of God you believe in. Do you believe in this God because of how you were raised, a personal experience, or because you reasoned it out? How does a belief in this type of God change you and your view of the world?

This Thusday night, 7pm at Short's Brewing, we will discuss Our Four Gods. Join us!


In order to live man must believe in that for which he lives.
- Huston Smith
unTapped is a conversation about faith and spirituality. There are many people frustrated by being forced to think of faith in the same old patterns, and would prefer to explore spirituality in different ways.

Anything goes here. No matter where you are or who you are, we want to hear from you. Feel free to join in the conversation!

You can also join us in person, every Thursday night at Short's Brewing Company in Downtown Bellaire, MI.