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Project Conversion Archives

Is God an Immersionist?

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In the world of faith, folks often point out the obvious fact that God does not belong to a particular creed, religion, race, or school of philosophy. This sentiment establishes the divine as one which transcends divisive terms of affiliation. […]

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Immersion in Relationships: Five Ways to Bring your Relationships to Life

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I did something last night with my wife that we haven’t done in a very long time… Okay, not from that far back, but it certainly feels that way. Last night, we had a date night. No kids, no blog, […]

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The Path of Immersion: An Introduction and How Entering the Path Leads to a Deeper Sense of Self

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Today marks my official declaration of fidelity and discipleship to the Path of Immersion. Along with that declaration, I also invite you to join me in whatever capacity feels the most suitable. The Path of Immersion is not one which demands […]

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Farewell, Project Conversion: The End of an Adventure

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When I converted to Christianity at the age of 15, I assumed the faith with a passionate resolve. Despite the positive instruction from my pastor and others, I (for reasons I cannot explain) transformed into a fiery evangelist, launching Christianity […]

The Strategy for living a Year as “The Disciple”

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Thank you for stopping by. Today I’ll share the overall strategy for “The Disciple: A Year Living as a Follower of Jesus.” First off, let’s go ahead and review what this new immersion project is not. “The Disciple” is not: […]

The Disciple: A Year Living as a 1st Century Follower of Jesus

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Oh no, not another immersion project! That’s what she said. No really, that’s what Heather said when the idea hit me like a punch in the gut on the way home from our family vacation earlier this month. Backstory… It’s […]

Are You Living Out Your Parents’ Religion?

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Religion is an important, if not central, strand in many American families. We see the traditional set-up all over the place and now that I’m something of a spiritual nomad, I have the privilege of an objective witness to the […]

Calvin and Hobbes: An American Upanishad?

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My wife Heather acts like she knows me. Maybe she’s seen the volumes of Calvin and Hobbes comics in my “book box” in the attic. Perhaps I’ve quoted a few lines or reminisced on fantasies over building disturbing snow monuments […]

Celebrating the Glory of the Sun

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Today (in the Northern Hemisphere) marks a time that goes by many names: Litha, Midsummer’s Eve, the Summer Solstice…and all point to the sun’s highest glory. Last year’s experience with Wicca made it exceedingly clear that I have a (to […]

Carrying One’s Cross: A Literal Meaning or Metaphor?

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According to this kid, it’s for real. Junior Garcia, a 19-year-old college student from Texas, decided in July of 2011 after a Christian youth group meeting to “…take up my cross. And I felt so strong in my heart. And […]

Part Two of Heather’s Guest Post: “How Religion Almost Ruined My Marriage.”

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Here is part two of my wife’s post carried over from yesterday. Enjoy and be sure to visit her blog as well for more! —— Let’s get some background info on my husband, Andrew. He is the grandson of a […]

Guest Post by my Wife on How Religion Nearly Ruined Our Marriage.

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The following post was written by my wife, Heather, for her blog www.upsidedownhomeschooling.com. Here you’ll get another perspective of our family life before Project Conversion began. Enjoy… ——- Growing up my family was not very involved in church. I was […]

If Your Destiny Doesn’t Scare The Hell Out of You, Then You Haven’t Found It.

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Yesterday’s post bothers me. Sometimes we don’t need a message that comforts or nourishes us, but one which blows our proverbial socks off. Sometimes we need our facades and illusions destroyed. That post did that for me, even though it […]

God’s Will: How to Discover One’s Place and Avoid Mistaken Identity

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Although I am no mechanic, I love watching machines work. The meshing of cogs, one influencing the other, with a power and synchronicity which shaped our modernity is mesmerizing. It also demonstrates the nature by which we humans (and other […]

Can We Understand the Holy Trinity by Contemplating Our Own Humanity?

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Today is Trinity Sunday, or more properly known as “The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity,” in the Roman Catholic Church. On this day, Catholics celebrate a feast day which honors the mystery and doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the […]

How Far Can Belief Really Take Us?

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When I was a kid, my mother told me that I could do anything I set my mind to as long as I believed in myself. Perhaps you grew up with the same mantra. In the United States, we commonly […]

Project Conversion Q & A Thursday (5/31)

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A few weeks ago, I asked members of the Project Conversion Facebook page to ask questions about, well, anything. There was such a good turnout that I believe we’ll make this a weekly date. Each Monday, I’ll make a call […]

Interview with Tarot Deck Artist, Adam Blodgett

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Every once in a while, I get the honor and privilege to help make a difference in someone’s life. Today is one of those days. Meet Mr. Adam Blodgett. A writer and graphic/web designer from Olympia, Washington, Blodgett is a […]

Women in Religion: Second-Class Believers?

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A member of the Project Conversion Facebook page (affectionately called the “Congregation“) recently wrote: “It is a fact that many women are verbally and physically abused yet many religions put the man over the woman and/or make it a sin […]

Faith by Fear: Converting in Fear of the Unknown.

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The past can be a dangerous place. Often magnified by the lens of the present, mole hills indeed become mountains and insignificant creatures become history’s monsters. Like quicksand or a Chinese finger trap, our past sinks its hooks into us […]

Is There a God? Reflections from the Unaffiliated.

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“Is there a God? If so, what’s he/she/it like?” “What do you believe about the divine?” “Is God one essence displaying itself in many forms?“ I get these perennial questions now and then and I assume it’s because of my […]

Attending Baha’i Study Circle: A Trip Down Memory Lane

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My phone rang around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, just as I had finished washing a sink full of dishes. I looked at the caller I.D. and smiled. I tapped the “answer” button and said, “Allah’u’Abha!” It was my Baha’i Mentor from […]

How Project Conversion Email Reaffirms My Purpose in Life

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The email around here since Project Conversion began in January of 2011 is an interesting place. A veritable Cracker-Jack box of emotionally laced messages, I never know what surprise will emerge each day. Sometimes people inform me that I’m heading […]

Mothers: Doing More Than Just the Laundry Since…

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Moms are kind of a big deal, so it’s no surprise that cultures around the world celebrate the blessing of motherhood in various ways.

Falling Off the Wagon: Taking a Hit of Hate.

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There are folks close to me with substance abuse problems. Painkillers, alcohol, you name it, and their addiction is a cage they both cling to and abhor. I see their lives collapsing around them as the addiction burns relationships, jobs, […]

Have Our Holy Places Become Obsolete?

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Is there a place you go where it feels like the entire cosmos channels through your body? Where the hair on the back of your neck stands just as your feet touch down on its surface? I had not one, […]

The Universe Lines Up: Vesak and Huge Moon Esbat

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It’s not often the religion nerd and science freak in me gets some love on the same day, but here we are. Today is a unique alignment of two events: Vesak, or Buddha Day, when many Buddhists all over the […]

Why Christians and Other Members of Faith Should Support Gay Rights

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Oh snap, it’s on. I love my home state of North Carolina, however just because I’m enamored by my swampy homeland, doesn’t mean we always agree. The North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (“Amendment One”) is up for vote in just […]

The New Evangelism: How Being Instead of Preaching Builds Heaven on Earth

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Every few weeks or so, I get an email that begins something like this: “I’m concerned that your journey through Project Conversion has led you down the path to Hell. Jesus said he was the only way to the Father. […]

According to my Wife, I was Brother Lawrence in a Former Life.

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My wife and I were lying in bed last night reading when she calmly says out of nowhere, “I think you were this guy in a former life.” Heather is a Christian and so not usually given to such “Eastern” […]

How Will Your Faith Benefit Someone Today?

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Seems like an odd question at first, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds one degree away from proselytization. But that isn’t really what we’re talking about, is it? Faith, belief, and religion are usually quite personal. Most of us are […]

Easter Sunday 2012: The Resurrection of Purpose.

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Last year I “met” a woman online through my adventures with Project Conversion. We’ll call her Jane. She is witty, extremely intelligent, enigmatic,  and has a strange interest in my psychological development through Project Conversion. She’s also in the middle […]

My Return After 40 Days.

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Howdy. When I returned home after 45 days of Marine Corps. Boot Camp, driving a car was fairly awkward. I never rode in a vehicle of any sort while on the “island” because we walked, marched, or ran everywhere. Upon […]

The Culmination: Entering the Desert of Lent.

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For the past week we’ve explored the theme of sexuality and gender roles within our spirituality, and it all began with a “visit” in the shower. After that, all I could think about was the coupling of male and forms/ideals. […]

Thinking About Sex, Understanding My Spirituality: The Role of Female

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I can’t speak for everyone, however given my various experiences last year–especially within Wicca and Catholicism–I cannot deny the power of the feminine aspect of the divine (and for our atheist friends, our human psyche). But what does this have […]

Thinking About Sex, Understanding My Spirituality: The Role of Male

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As promised, here is the second installment of this series. All these posts actually lead up toward my Lent post coming up this Wednesday. Today we’ll talk about the masculine nature of the divine. Tomorrow, the feminine. Then we’ll wrap […]

Developing an Immunity to Religion?

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A few weeks ago, I received an odd invitation. Even today, Heather and I still wrestle with what they said. I was asked in no uncertain terms, to become a Christian. In fact, it was suggested that the invitation could […]

Is This It? How Seemingly Dangerous Questions Strengthen Faith

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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I like playing on the edge of things: Riverbanks, mountain ledges, religious convention, the patience of others….But one place I enjoy the most is the edge of my own beliefs. Flirting with the […]

Dharma Lessons from a Newborn

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On January 19th, 2012, I became an uncle. Nathan was born a little over five pounds with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes. He seemed perfectly healthy. Except, he was born dead. My sister had a complicated pregnancy. I […]

Coaching Soccer (again) and the Conclusion of Purpose, Dharma, and Destiny

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That title is actually inaccurate. There is never a conclusion when it comes to exploring our PDD (Purpose, Dharma, and Destiny), so even though we bid the topic farewell, there is plenty of room to revisit and incorporate what we’ve […]

Whom or What Will You Reflect Today?

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The path given to me requires that I drop myself and become a mirror for those around me. I believe we find a form of this in many if not all faiths/philosophies. Some have taken my statements too far and […]

Drawing a Line in the Sand. Who/What is Andrew Bowen?

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A few days ago I asked why so many have left our group, why so many have stopped reading the posts. Understand that this is not about keeping up the numbers. My existence is now in service of others. What […]

To Shape Your Life, Become a River.

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Rivers are a dominant motif in my personal journey, so it’s no wonder I woke up Wednesday morning with them on my mind. In fact, of all my contemplations, rivers are probably my most frequent. So what’s the big deal? […]

Muhammad’s Calling: A Vision of Terror and Unavoidable Purpose.

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His is one of the most intense accounts of an encounter with the divine ever recorded. For years, Muhammad ibn Abdallah took his family on a spiritual retreat during the holy month of Ramadan to Mount Hira outside the city […]

Domestic Dharma: How Unchecked Personal Goals Threaten What Really Matters

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We’ve talked a lot lately about purpose, dharma, and destiny. This is what makes us who we are, what we’re designed for, and the sort of life we are meant to lead. In one post, Moses taught us how fear […]

Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Icon of Purpose, Dharma, and Destiny

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Today in America, we observe a national holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For some folks, it’s the end of a three-day weekend. For others, it’s a day of jealousy because they do not get a three-day weekend. For others […]

The Bhagavad Gita: How to Face Our Personal War Within

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Welcome to the second installment of our month-long series on “Purpose/Dharma/Destiny.” Today we’re talking about the two main characters of possibly the most famous piece of spiritual literature to rise out of India: the Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita means “Song […]

The Pain of Discovering Our Purpose. Lessons from Moses.

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Welcome to the first post of Project Conversion: Aftermath (PC/Aftermath). Now that you’ve spent a year watching me personally nosedive into various faiths of the world, we will now tackle some of life’s most challenging issues using scripture and wisdom […]

Showdown with the Temple: How Enlightenment and Purpose Never Arrive as Expected..

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I knew this day would come. My showdown with the River Temple has been on my mind since I abandoned it in September, because no matter how hard we try to avoid it, our destiny/fate/karma/purpose will always haunt us. The […]

It Is Finished: Reflections on a Year of Religious Immersion

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I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s festivities and that those of you who indulged (perhaps a little heavily) recover quickly. Here we are on the first day of a new year and I have no new religion to immerse […]

My Last Day with Catholicism. Our Last Day with Project Conversion.

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The first time I stepped into a Catholic church was November 30th of this year. It was the feast day of St. Andrew, and I was told that he was the first called of the disciples of Jesus. During the […]

The Eucharist: Symbolic or Reality?

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I saved the subject of the Eucharist for last because I’ve spent most of this month trying to wrap my mind around the concept (thanks Mentor Jason for being patient with me!). Honestly, it’s nearly as frustrating, amazing, and poetic […]

The Church, Huh, Good God. What is it Good For?

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Few organizations or groups are teased or scandalized like the Catholic Church. On the other hand, with 1.1 billion members of the Church (1/6th of the global population) which constitutes the largest faith community on the planet, I suppose it’s […]

The Fight for Life. A Catholic Perspective.

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We’ve all heard the jokes about Catholics and their policy on birth control/contraceptives. Even though I support this policy this month, it’s still a tough pill to swallow. Every time I think about the sanction against birth control, I get […]

The Protestant Reformation: A Divorce for Christianity

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With a split-up this epic, it’s a good thing kids or alimony wasn’t involved. The Protestant Reformation, as it is with many great stories of history, began with one character. In this case, a monk named Martin Luther. Most Christians […]

A Former Enemy of the Church Makes Room for Christ.

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My wife, Heather, is currently obsessed with a song by Kutless called “This is Christmas.” The lyrics suggest, as many Christian songs and clergy do around this time every year, that Christ is missing more and more from Christmas. Whatever […]

The Pope. Antichrist or Legitimate Leader of Christ’s Church?

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For years, I thought the pope was the antichrist. More accurately, I was told he was the antichrist and never actually looked into the matter myself. Looking back though, it’s funny that I even entertained the thought. After all, the […]

Gregorian Chant: Does it Still Have a Place in the Modern Church?

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In the recent shake-up of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) regarding the substitution of Latin from the liturgy, one is hard-pressed to find any old school Gregorian chanting in the Church today (outside of older, traditional churches). In an […]

Heather’s Voice: How Project Conversion has Forever Changed Our Family…

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Today’s post is written by Heather Bowen: How in the world could a year where some of the days seemed so incredibly long pass by so quickly?  Here we are with only 11 days left in 2011, and Project Conversion […]

Confession: Replacing Christ with a Middleman?

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No one likes a middleman. We constantly hear or see advertizements from merchants who “cut out the middleman” in order to save you money. Middlemen are also present within heavily bureaucratic systems (such as government) where one must cut through […]

The Sanctity of Doubt: A Thank You to Christopher Hitchens

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I was in the middle of writing a post about God and art when I discovered that Christopher Hitchens had died. The typing stopped and the reading began. Once upon a time, ol’ Hitch was my hero, along with the […]

Road Trip II: A Tour of Catholic Churches

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Jason, my Mentor this month, once explained the concept of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) by alluding to the notion that we humans are made in God’s image. He described how we ourselves are mind […]

Praying the Rosary, Understanding Christ

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I’ve got a thing for meditation/prayer beads. It all started in January when I began meditation on a string of 108 rudraksha beads, said to be sacred to Lord Shiva. Ever since, I’ve looked for them each month. Catholicism doesn’t […]

Advent: Welcoming Christ into the World

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Any of us with kids probably remember those last few weeks before our children were born. I was stressed out and excited with both of my girls (and it hasn’t let up yet). There was so much to do and […]

The First Ten Days: A Reflection on Being Catholic

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We are now ten days into our month of Catholicism (specifically Roman Catholicism), but as usual, it feels like a lifetime. I believe this feeling–this sense of being out of time with the rest of the world–comes from the intense […]

Hail Mary, Full of Grace…And Controversy.

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My wife, a fairly liberal Christian, is reading a novel called “My Son, the Savior” by Melody Carlson. The book is a fictional account of the Gospel and of Jesus’ life from Mary’s point of view. We get to see […]

Field Trip with my Mentor: Mepkin Abbey, South Carolina

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I love the monastic life. Ever since I stayed with the Buddhist monks at their monastery in Bolivia, North Carolina, I’ve contemplated their lifestyle, their values, practices, psychology, and devotion. In another life, I may have been or will become […]

Calling on the Communion of the Saints to Help with a Cold. Idolatry?

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Looks like I caught a nasty cold over the weekend. I rarely get sick, but when I do, I look/feel like death warmed over. You know the feeling: weakness, headaches, fatigue, sore…symptoms which inhibit an otherwise busy and vibrant daily […]

Laying Project Conversion at the Altar of my Marriage.

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My wife should have never married me. In fact, she should have said said no when I got particularly drunk on the night of September 23, 2003 and asked her out. I tried to break up with her, but she […]

Defining the Catholic Church. An Attempt to Pigeonhole 1/6th of Humanity

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What is the Catholic Church? Who is a Catholic? These are important questions, ones that I must understand as fully as possible if I am to successfully practice their faith this month. The first time we hear the term “catholic” […]

First Day as a Catholic, Last Month of the Year

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Good morning and welcome to my first day as a Catholic. This is also Project Conversion’s last month of the year. That statement seems impossible. Did we really make it this far? Are there really people who have followed me […]

My Last Day as a Jain

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Jainism. Wow, what a trip huh? This has not been the most popular month, however it is one of the most controversial. Simply put, it’s hard living as an ascetic, but twice as hard doing it while part of a […]

So, Why Not Jainism?

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The Jain philosophy is not very popular, according to my stats this month. Maybe folks just aren’t interested, or I’m doing a poor job in presenting this path. Perhaps it’s both. I’ve asked myself “why” all month, why this Jain […]

Did Jainism Help Shape the American Civil Rights Movement?

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The American Civil Rights movement during the mid 1950’s to early 70’s marked one of the most tumultuous periods of social change and unrest in American history. A wave of political and social conservatism consumed the national attention during the […]

Today, I Mourn for our Species

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I haven’t been a perfect Jain this month. I’ve slipped, given into temptation…I even enjoyed a little bit of grandma’s famous Thanksgiving cooking yesterday, but today, I’m proud to be a Jain and saddened by humanity. Last night, my wife […]

Fasting for Thanksgiving. A Jain Perspective

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Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. It wasn’t because of how grateful I was or that I could spend time with family. I loved Thanksgiving because it’s one of those times of year many Americans gorge themselves […]

Nature as Mentor. Can Nature Teach Us Spiritual Concepts?

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Yes, she can. Project Conversion relies on the kindness of strangers, people who volunteer their time and energy in teaching me the ways of their faith. These are called Mentors, however the community of believers otherwise known as the Congregation […]

Meditations on my Birthday.

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Yesterday was my 29th birthday (thanks to everyone who sent me your well-wishes!). I was supposed to kick back and relax, take it easy for the day, but for me there’s no such thing as absolute zero. There is no […]

What do Jains Worship if they have no God(s)?

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Worship is an act of reverence, of giving or acknowledging worth to something/someone beyond yourself. In this way, despite the fact that Jains do not have a central God(s), Jains offer worship to the 24 Tirthankaras. But the Tirthankaras were […]

Help Save the Jain Center of Greater Phoenix

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Every month, I look for an opportunity to give back and show my appreciation to my host faith for those 30-31 days. Today, I found a way for not only me, but for all of us to reach out and […]

How Killing an Ant Changed My Perspective.

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The Jain concept of ahimsa (non-injury) prevents one from doing any harm to our fellow sentient beings. While the monastic order (Sadhus and Sadhvis) go to great lengths and austerities to prevent harm upon others, householders are encouraged to observe […]

How I Faced Death and Why You Should Too.

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Yesterday, I asked the Congregation what they would do if they knew without a shadow of a doubt that they only had one more month to live. The answers were what one might expect. Spend more time with family, travel, […]

My Beloved Wife: Best Friend, Devoted Mother, and Temptress

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Practicing as a Jain ascetic this month, I took certain vows. The five most important being: Ahimsa (Non-injury) Always tell the truth Do not steal Celibacy Non-possession So far I’ve done pretty well. I even took on the practice of […]

Jains: Masters of the Fast

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Fasting, the act of abstaining from food, drink, or really anything else for a prescribed amount of time, is a time-honored practice in many faiths. In February, I fasted for a day after I found out about my Hindu Mentor’s […]

Animal Rights: A Jain Legacy

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“To kill any living being amounts to killing one’s self. Compassion to others is compassion to one’s own self. Therefore one should avoid violence like poison and thorn.” –Mahavira It’s no secret that Jain philosophy is big on ahimsa (non-injury), […]

Married…to a monk?

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Today’s post is by my wife, Heather, as a recap of the week. Enjoy.   Today marks the end of my first week of being married to a monk. Married to a monk…that doesn’t even make sense. Monks don’t get […]

Who Was Mahavira and What is a Tirthankara?

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Mahavira, like so many who change the world, was just a humble man. Born around 599 B.C.E at Kshatriyakund in what is now northeastern India, the man who would reintroduce the world to the teachings of the jina (one who […]

My Wife Snaps and Project Conversion Reaches the Edge…Or does it?

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Yesterday, after 10 months and 3 days, my wife snapped. Since many monastic Jains do not typically bathe and I have opted to observe the monastic vows this month, this means I would not bathe either. The idea stems from […]

Jain Philosophy and Way of Life

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The Jain laity makes up the vast majority of the faith’s numbers and is responsible for supporting the Sadhus/Sadhvis. Most of the world’s Jains live in various parts of India depending on their sect. What is important to note about […]

The Jain Monastic Life: Liberation or Bust.

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Depending on your source, there are between 4 and 10 million Jains in the world, making it one of the smallest of the world’s religions. Out of those numbers, only a small fraction become Sadhus or Sadhvis (monks and nuns, […]

My First Day as a Jain Monk

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According to legend, after Siddhartha Gautama (Lord Buddha) abandoned palace life in search of truth, he spent six years learning from many teachers and practicing harsh asceticism. In fact, his path of asceticism was so intense, that after years of […]

Samhain and My Last Day with Wicca

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Last night many Wiccans and Pagans alike celebrated Samhain, the last fall festival of the year when the God dies and travels to the Summerlands (thus life begins to fade from the land), and a new annual cycle begins. This […]

My Wiccan Mentor Comes to Town and I Meet My Spirit Guide.

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Oops, I did it again. This is when I wish I had a camera crew or producer following me around because yesterday was a once in a Project Conversion moment and– OH MY GODDESS I forgot to take pictures! So […]

The Trouble with Being a Pagan Today.

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At the beginning of the month, a few Pagans (particularly within the Wiccan community) issued me a list of hard questions. Was I willing to face discrimination for my new Wiccan personae? Could I stomach threats to take away my […]

Do Not Suffer a Witch to Live.

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Exodus 22:18 is one of the most infamous passages of scripture ever written. I’ve read several translations, slipped between the lines and context, even gone into the Torah and Talmud, and at the end of the day, it still plainly […]

My Little Black Book of Shadows

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They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are brand new. Others are passed down from generation to generation. You can find a few on bookstore shelves. Others are heavily guarded secrets. I’m talking about a Wiccan or Witch’s “Book […]

Magick: The Art of Influencing the Universe

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If prayer is communication with and supplication to divine forces, magick is the independent technique of influencing the world around us with or without the assistance of a divine being. This is why  some Pagans (particularly solitary Witches) are atheistic. […]

Helping People Calm Down About Wiccans

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Today should be interesting. We have some family friends–we’ll call them the Smiths–who have looked forward to this month for a long time. You see, Mr. Smith has a sister who’s getting married in December…to a self-proclaimed Wiccan! Scary stuff, […]

Hey Andrew! You Don’t LOOK Like a Wiccan…

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Last night after the kids’ soccer game, a family friend walked up to me and said, “Oh wow! You look weird not looking weird! You know, with the turban and the knife…” I suddenly felt self-conscious, as if I was […]

What Happens if I Die as a Wiccan?

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There’s a running joke among my close friends that after this year is over, once I die, I’ll have my bases covered for the afterlife. I hope the divine has as good a sense of humor as my friends… Every […]

The Yearly Sabbats: Celebrating Change

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Within many traditions, holidays and special dates often commemorate an event or a person. For example, Vesakha (Buddha Day) celebrates the life and actions of Lord Buddha. Christmas recognizes the birth of Jesus Christ (even though it is generally agreed […]

To Go Solitary or Join a Coven…

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I’ve done it a few ways so far this year: Totally alone, with a large group every week, occasional visits…But the question is, is it better alone, or with a group? Get your heads out of the gutter, folks. We […]

Dreaming of the Goddess

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In Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad and the Odyssey, we see one of the greatest interactions between the gods and humans in literature and lore. Of those interactions, one stands out in bold contrast to the rest: The goddess Athena […]

Making Magick with Music

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Part of Project Conversion’s mission is finding common threads which run through each faith. One of the greatest threads, is music. Name one religion without some form of music: Chants, hymns, mantras, remixes…go ahead, I’ll wait. Couldn’t find one, could you? Neither […]

A Bone to Pick with the Goddess

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When I was 14 I wanted a pair of pants so badly, I would do anything for them. I begged my mom fro them day and night. She didn’t particularly like how baggy they were or that they were associated with punks […]

Handcrafted Pentacles and Wiccans in Hiding

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A few days ago I made a pentacle necklace by hand. Remember, a pentacle is a five-pointed star set against a circle. Here is a photo of my necklace: Not too bad huh? I made this out of an old […]

What my Backyard Taught me about Wicca

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Yesterday, it happened. It happens every month: A glimpse of understanding, a moment of Satori when suddenly, I connect and chaos briefly resembles order before dispersing again. The first week of every month is about rituals and practices. Here is where […]

My Daily Devotions and Meditations to Honor the God and Goddess

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Merry meet and good morning! Today I’d like to share my process for daily devotions and meditations to honor the God and Goddess widely recognized in many Wiccan paths. Disclaimer: It’s become evident this month that a few folks don’t like […]

I Commune with Faeries. Well, if I can Find One…

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Nearly every faith I’ve explored so far this year has them: Creatures that often straddle the spiritual and physical realms of reality. In some cases, they remain exclusively in the spiritual world, never to be seen by humans. In others, […]

Shamanism: Playing with Fire and Getting Burned

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It was late July, 2003 and I had just moved out of the dorms and into my first apartment in college. My other roommates wouldn’t be there for another two weeks, so I had the whole four-bedroom apartment to myself. I […]

My Wiccan Altar

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Of all things I looked forward to this month, I probably geeked out over the altar the most. While Wiccan’s of a particular tradition might have similar features in their altars, this sacred space is much like a Wiccan’s spiritual fingerprint: No two are ever exactly […]

Andrew Bowen: Wiccan Edition

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Every month, I die and rise again. Like a Phoenix, my spirituality ignites every 30 days and a new faith rises from the ashes. This month, those ashes reconfigured into the path of Wicca. Merry Meet, Blessed Be, and welcome to […]

My Last Day as a Sikh

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I didn’t sleep well last night. Today is my last day as an honorary Sikh and I feel as if I’m floating between two worlds. We’ve talked about how jarring each transition is, but it’s especially difficult with a faith […]

When Lions Tremble: Sikhs Bullied in America

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Being bullied is Hell. It’s hoping the night passes more slowly so you can enjoy potential nightmares instead of the guaranteed monsters at school. It’s feeling as if every stare, gaze, and giggle from students in the hall and class […]

Transitions: When One Faith Bleeds into the Next

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I’ve already done this nine times…but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. This post is late because I’ve spent all morning–since those “ambrosial hours” of contemplation prescribed by Guru Nanak–thinking about it. The Transition. There are three more days left […]

Sikhism: The Love-Child of Islam and Hinduism?

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From the outside, it sure looks like this is the case: That Sikhi is a synchronization–an amalgam–between Hinduism and Islam. At first, that’s exactly what I thought, that the whole faith was like a rebellious child born from two warring […]

Seva: Serving God Through Creation

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One concept pervades virtually every faith I’ve encountered thus far during Project Conversion, and that is the idea of service. And not just any kind of service, but the raw, selfless kind. Within Sikhi, it is considered the highest act, and […]

How to Run from the Universe…and Fail.

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You cannot run from the universe and you cannot run from reality because according to Sikhi, God is the universe and reality. So why even try?  Ego. Now, I consult no more with my Ego, For, the Guru has warned that egoism is […]

A Sikh Wearing a Turban Walks Into an Airport…

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…And everyone does this: Man I miss those Godzilla movies. Seriously though, in our post-9/11 world, most of us are sensitive about anything that looks “different” than the understood norm–especially at airports or any mass transit location. Humans are hard-wired […]

Project Conversion: A Greedy Mistress?

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Yesterday was amazing. I woke up at 4:30 and, for the first time since July, I didn’t open my laptop or check my email on my phone for the entire day. In fact, I did nothing related to Project Conversion. And it […]

Sikh Visibility: The Fine Line Between Fearless and Cautious

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Every year during Halloween my parents do something that, until now, I never really understood. As the sun gracefully sets in the west and the sky burns with an orange hue, they bring in their black cat, Oreo. She does […]

Sikh Identity: A Fading Image?

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One of the most pervasive jokes about United States Marines is how neat and particular they are. Nowhere is this concept more pronounced than Basic Training. Everything must be just so: Your rack (bunk or bed) must be made to […]

The Dangers of Ritual

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My oldest daughter has a security blanket named “Pooh.” It’s actually a fitted bed sheet (what’s left of it) with a “Winnie the Pooh” print that went over her crib and she’s carried it around since she could crawl. Sometimes it’s […]

Kirtan: The Songs of the Sikhs

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Hands down, my favorite part of Marine Corps. Basic Training was drill. Performing rifle movements, marching patterns, singing cadences…and of all those things, the evening jog cadence with our Senior Drill Instructor is what I miss most. I still remember the […]

The Rebellion

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In Flann O’Brien’s literary masterpiece, At Swim-Two-Birds, the protagonist is a young writer whose own characters conspire against him in order to determine their own fates. The insurgency falls apart only after the young protagonist, at the end of the novel, completes […]

September 11th: An Interfaith Wake-up Call

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On September 11th, 2001, our world caught on fire. Everything we knew…our innocent concept of reality–was raped, pillaged, and burned. It was our Pearl Harbor, our “day of infamy,” the singular event that shaped my generation. Today I’ve asked you, […]

Birthday Parties, Soccer Games, and Renunciates

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Two very special events took place this week 1) We signed up my daughters to play soccer AND I volunteered as a coach, and 2) My youngest daughter’s birthday is today. She’s turning 6! She’s super excited and we’ll have […]

Sikh Women: Beauty, Valor, and Revolution.

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In 1499, hundreds of years before the full equality of women was established anywhere else, Guru Nanak said: “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through […]

Gatka: Martial Art of the Saint-Warrior Sikh

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The more I read about Sikh history and their martial evolution, the more geeked out I get. I mean, these guys (and gals) are seriously like the Jedi Knights of the religious world!               […]

The Sikh Gurus: One Light, Ten Vessels.

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There is a large calendar on my wall that I use to mark off the days for Project Conversion. Each night before bed I mark off the recently extinguished day and settle into bed. The next day, I rise before […]

The Gurdwara: House of the Guru.

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I’ve heard it translated a few ways: “House of the Guru,” “House of God”…either way, this is the base of communal and spiritual life for all Sikhs. Just about anywhere in the world you find a Sikh, rest assured there is […]

The Five K’s: Uniform of the Saint-Warrior

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I’m just going to come out and say it: Sikhs are bad-ass. Who else carries a blade or sword as an article of faith? Who else has a religion known for its peaceful disposition, yet has its own martial art (called […]

A Sikh in a Bible Study Group?

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First of all, my wife asked me to go along. Her church has small groups called “V-Groups” who meet every week and, she didn’t want to be the only person there without their significant other. Sikhs invite people of all […]

The Name is Singh, Andrew Singh

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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa. Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! (Khalsa belongs to God. Victory belongs to God!) Good morning and welcome to my first day as a Sikh. You’ll have to forgive the tardiness of this post because, as usual, I get virtually NO […]

Saying Goodbye to Islam

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Today is my last day as a Muslim. No more constantly checking the time for salat, no more reading/wrestling with passages from the Qur’an, no more “Salaam’s” or “Ramadan mubarak’s”, no more standing toe-to-toe/shoulder-to-shoulder in a line of men prostrating to […]

We Made It! Eid al-Fitr 2011

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High-five, congratulations, and Eid mubarak! Today millions of Muslims around the world celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan. If you are among those who observed Ramadan, you just exercised one of the most blessed times of the […]

Dear Muhammad…

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For the last month now I’ve nose-dived into Islam, the religion you introduced to the people of Arabia. It’s been a wild ride man, maybe not as much as your legendary Night Journey into Heaven, but wild all the same. […]

Going All Night For Laylat al-Qadr

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This post is late because I slept in after taking suhoor (pre-dawn meal) this morning. I slept in because I’m staying up all night for Laylat al-Qadr, or “The Night of Power/Decree.” Laylat al-Qadr is one of the most anticipated […]

9/11: The Plow for U.S. Islamic Growth?

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I have a near debilitating fear of needles. They are sharp, painful, and I still don’t understand why impaling myself is the best way to receive medication. The reality is that, in some cases, what’s good for us does not […]

Monthly Visit from the Universe

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It happened again, on Sunday the 21st, my monthly visit from the universe. Every month about this time I have some odd, transcendent experience that throws me for a loop. What gets me is that they are consistent in timing, […]

The Conversion/Reversion of Sister Sundus Michele

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Today I thought I’d shut up for a while and give the mic to someone else! Our post today is a conversion story by Congregation member Sundus Michele, and how she converted/reverted to a Muslim. ————- I was raised in a […]

Can Muslim Men Beat Their Wives?

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“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence […]

Iftar Dinner at the Masjid

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Islam, while indeed a personal faith, is more visibly communal–especially during the holy month of Ramadan. And if you plan on experiencing communal Islam only once, attend and iftar dinner at your local masjid. Here, you’ll get a taste of […]

I Want to be a Martyr, Islamic Style

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And you should too. Feeling philosophical around a campfire one night, a friend asked me, “What do you think is the best way to impact the most lives?” I thought for a moment, shrugged and replied, “Suicide bomber.” Martyrs come in all […]

Exercise During Ramadan: Suicide?

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Running is a part of my life, in fact, you might call it a part of my meditation routine. Like many athletes, I drift into a trance while jogging, running, or doing sprints. So when I became an honorary Muslim […]

Was Being a Baha’i or Latter-day Saint Blasphemy? Part 2

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You folks did an excellent job for this post and in case you haven’t already figured it out, your overwhelming response to “Part 1″ is “Part 2.” The variety of thought here on the matter of apostasy and blasphemy is so great […]

Was Being a Baha’i and Latter-day Saint Blasphemy? Part 1

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Social issues week, for those new to the Congregation, is when I face the challenges of each faith head-on. I spend the first two weeks getting comfortable with the faith and its people, and inshallah, its people also get comfortable […]

Hate Algebra? Thank the Muslims.

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Math, particularly algebra, was my worst subject in school. My blood pressure and tension rose every time I entered the classroom. Even in college the numbers and letters terrified me. I passed the classes, but barely. I remember sitting in […]

“Welcome Back Home,” the Muslim Brother Said

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On the surface, I stick out at Masjid (mosque) Omar Ibn Sayyid like a snowflake on coal in the predominately African-American congregation, but that’s where the differences end.     A man, whose name unfortunately escapes me now, walked up […]

No Christian or Jewish Friends for Muslims?

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I debated writing this post, which is why it’s so late in the day, but I have to get it off my chest. Sometimes these posts are just ways for me to work things out in my head, a way […]

The Many Names of Muhammad

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Statesman. Terrorist. Noble. Blood-thirsty. Warrior. Warlord. Pedophile. Ideal husband. Monster. Exemplar. Prophet. False prophet. Messenger of God. Harbinger of doom. Epileptic. Visionary. Illiterate. Gentile. I’ve heard all of these attributes and more for the man history calls, Muhammad. Like most […]

The Imperfect Stitch

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I was saying the isha prayer (the night prayer) two nights ago when I suddenly felt compelled to stop. My forehead and tip of my nose on the red leaf pattern of my prayer rug during prostrations, I slowly leaned back and settled on […]

The Hajj: A Journey of a Lifetime

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Many obstacles and limitations come against me during Project Conversion. One of those is visiting the holy places of each religion. Sometimes I have to remind myself that, while I am always welcomed to explore the religion, there are some […]

Ramadan: The Challenge

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Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar in which Muslims honor the fourth pillar of Islam: The Fast. The month of Ramadan begins at the first siting of the new moon for the month and ends on Eid ul-Fitr, […]

Splitting Hairs: Drama Over the Beard

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I shaved my head for Buddhism, no one complained. I painted my face with the tripundra for Hinduism and got strange looks at Wal-mart, they only chuckled. I created a fire hazard in the house with all my candles as […]

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is: Zakat

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Anytime folks combine money with religion, everyone in the room gets a little nervous. There’s always that social pressure–especially in environments where an offering plate is passed around. I was never a fan of the offering plate or the demands […]

The Islamic Way to Pray

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If there’s one thing my Muslim brothers and sisters have down, it’s prayer. For most greenhorn converts (or reverts, as Muslims call them), the only aspect of Islam more intimidating than the Arabic terms and phrases is the method of […]

The Day I Hated Islam…

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Two “firsts” happened on September 11th, 2001 as my college roommate and I watched those planes crash into the Twin Towers: I actually wanted to kill another human being. I met the religion of Islam. I was still a fire-and-brimstone Christian […]

The First Pillar of Islam: Faith

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When I was a kid I hardly ever believed my parents. “Andrew, don’t touch. It’s hot!” I touched it anyway and was burned. “Eat too much pizza and you’ll have a stomach ache.” I did it anyway and it turned […]

My First Day with Islam

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…And I catch a cold. Seriously, I get sick maybe once a year and it happens on the first day of Islam AND Ramadan? I barely got any sleep last night (which is typical for the first of any month […]

Latter-Day Saints: The Conclusion

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We are here again at the end of yet another month. Each one is radically different from the next, with new challenges, new lessons, and new family members. The end-of-month post is bitter-sweet, the one I dread the most. Let’s see how […]

Our Mother, Who Art In Heaven…

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Nope, that isn’t a misprint. In general, members of the LDS Church believe in the existence of a divine momma, however if you ever ask a member of the church about her, well… The concept of God the Father being […]

Saying Goodbye to my LDS Home

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Well, I promised I wouldn’t cry when I left my local Latter-day Saints home on Sunday and–it was tough–but I stayed strong. Months like July are rare for Project Conversion. Not only did I get a local faith community (the […]

Pioneer Day: The Cost of Religious Freedom

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Imagine a mob waiting to beat and expel you everywhere you go. Imagine fearing for your life, liberty, and family all in the name of faith. Imagine being hated, scorned, and ridiculed…all because of your faith. How long would that […]

For the Love of Missionaries

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If my heart and mind are clean sheets of glass for the year, my experience with each of Project Conversion’s Mentors is a unique fingerprint left upon the glass. No two are alike and each leaves an indelible mark upon my […]

Wanted: U.S. President. Mormons Need Not Apply.

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I began Project Conversion to combat ignorance and fear of the religious unknown we harbor for our neighbors. There is a chance for healing among the homes, streets, and neighborhoods where we live, but is there hope for religiously blind […]

The Testimony of Sister Laura Bradbury

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I would like to introduce Sister Laura Bradbury, an LDS member who volunteered to share her testimony and experience with the Church. Thank you for sharing with us, Sister Bradbury! —————– Hi there! My name is Laura Bradbury. I am […]

Marriage In The Temple…Members Only

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Growing up, my family lived on a few acres out in the country with a field we rented out on our right and a patch of woods on our left. The woods had a small slope on all sides, making it perfect for a fort. […]

Field Guide to Exploring Religion:

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Expect to get dirty… Yesterday’s post received a lot of tense comments–and rightfully so. Social Issues Week here at Project Conversion is always a test, like walking a tightrope, because there are times when it’s hard to present such issues […]

Multiple Wives: A Divine Right?

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When I turned 14 years old, I started working summers with my dad. He delivered bags of ice to the beach out of an 18-wheeler and, as it was with the Army, he spent a lot of time away from […]

Headin’ to the Temple.

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Temples are sacred places. We all have them in various shapes and forms. For some of us, they are the corporate office. To others, a dark, slithering river in southeastern North Carolina. Temples are the places where the veil between the […]

Reaching for Infinity

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I cannot shake what happened to me last Monday night. What’s strange is that, looking back, the experience–those simple words, “Good. Now keep going…only harder,” were a seed. I feel the tendrils of the roots from this event spreading through […]

The Word of Wisdom: An LDS Guide to Health

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…And also one of the hardest things accomplished this month. In a nutshell, the Word of Wisdom is a health guide for members of the LDS church. The Word of Wisdom is found in The Doctrine and Covenants (one of […]

Chillin’ with the Family

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I didn’t see my dad much growing up. He was an Army Ranger with the 82nd Airborne Division. Rangers “Lead the Way,” and the 82nd goes “All the Way,” so with American forces perpetually engaged in some operation around the […]

Interview with Arthur Hatton, Creator of Linescratchers

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Every once in a while, I get the opportunity to chat with the movers and shakers of each faith. This month I ran into Arthur Hatton, the creator of Linescratchers, the largest music blog and nexus for LDS musicians in the world.

Playing Chicken with the Missionaries.

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July is the only month so far where my Mentor(s) and members of their faith community actively solicit my conversion. It’s okay, I don’t mind, so please don’t bash my new friends and spiritual family. And although the first few […]

How to Restore a Gospel…

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I remember the day like it was 10 minutes ago. It was a hot, sunny day in August, right before the start of my senior year in high school. A mechanical roar echoed throughout the neighborhood. Something was rolling up our driveway. […]

Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

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The slander began about two weeks into June once people found out I would be an LDS member in July. “You know Mormon is only one letter away from ‘moron’?” “So you’re going to be a Mor-man…does that mean your […]

The Testimony of Sister Geddes.

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One unique aspect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that, among most if not all Christian branches, they do not have a paid clergy. Every leadership and priesthood position in the church is volunteer. This means all […]

Who Was Joseph Smith?

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While watching television a few weeks ago I saw a commercial for a television show about General Sherman, a Union general during the Civil War. General Sherman masterminded “Sherman’s March,” a slash and burn campaign which cut through Confederate Georgia. […]

Happy 4th of July!

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I dedicate this post to my country and those who, for the last 239 years, stand the line every day to protect the freedoms we enjoy. I come from a long and rich history of military service, so with every neon burst […]

The Sabbath Day

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“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” -Exodus 20: 8 Wow, that sounds familiar. Anyone remember my experience with Judaism in April? In the great Judeo-Christian tradition, Latter-day Saints keep the Sabbath on the seventh day of every week, namely […]

How to Fall. How to Rise.

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It’s my second day as an honorary Latter-day Saint, and I’ve already screwed up.  How often do we find ourselves on a spiritual high, when the world is ripe and ready for our pleasure, only for a storm to rain […]

Becoming Brother Bowen

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Every relationship thrives on trust. Within Christianity in general and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular, this trust, honesty, and integrity is not only paramount for a true relationship with Jesus Christ via repentance of sins, but also to the […]

Letter from a Teacher

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I have learned from many teachers and Mentors during Project Conversion thus far. One such teacher, Rev. Susan Ulrich, was my World Religions instructor during the 2011 Spring Semester at a local community college. She asked if she could write a guest […]

Faiths on the Fringe

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What are the chances that Fringe Month would actually reflect myself outside of faith? Andrew on the Fringe. I have made numerous discoveries, faced serious challenges, and I think we’ve grown stronger as a community through this month’s experiences. Thanks for hanging […]

Down to the River.

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For those of you who follow Project Conversion regularly, you know what the Lumber River is and why I visit. The river is my holy ground, a sanctuary, my spiritual forge… A black, winding, mirror. I’m going to the river […]

What If I Settled Down…?

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I love this Congregation. In fact, I love it so much that I’m considering getting t-shirts made. One of my favorite aspects of Project Conversion is how the community nourishes one another. This initiative has even motivated Congregation members like Lauren Elizabeth and Niki […]

Surgery and Prayer.

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Sleep wasn’t an option last night, but a gesture. You see, my daughter undergoes surgery in two hours to have her tonsils removed. I fear needles, blood, and anything hospital-related. My wife is a nurse and so even the low probability […]

Storytime: “The Siege”

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Once upon a time, I was a storyteller. All of our religious traditions use the power of fiction and metaphor to illustrate truth. Here is a short story I wrote last year called “The Siege”. I hope it gives you […]

Cults: Putting a Stereotype to Rest

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My wife, whom you all now know and love, recently joined a new church here in town. This church is what you would call “contemporary.” All this really means is that everything about the establishment–from the music, the dress code(there […]

Father’s Day

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The definition of a father is different for everyone. For some, he’s the guy who fixes things and protector of the home. To others, he’s master of the camping trip and killer of bedtime monsters. And to some, perhaps their […]

Project Conversion Lite

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Man these posts have been heavy lately, huh? I’m always up for some intense theological weight lifting, but every once in a while, it’s good to have a laugh. Today I decided to throw up a few good-humored religious images to […]

God on Trial

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I feel blasphemous just writing the title of this post, but it is June after all and this month we are occupying the fringe of religious thought. God on trial though…asking–no, demanding–the all-powerful, all-mighty creator of the universe to stand for […]

Our Congregation: A City on the Hill?

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…Or just a motley crew? What is a congregation anyway? Webster’s Dictionary states: 1) A: an assembly of persons; especially an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction. B: a religious community usually organized in a particular locality. I […]

Afterlife: End of the Ride?

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When I was a kid I spent more time at my paternal grandparent’s home than I did my own. I would sprint across my front yard with my mother looking on, and made my way toward my grandmother, who greeted […]

Alone on the Edge. Wanna Come?

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I just spent the last hour on the phone telling one of my best friends and Buddhist Mentor that I’m losing my mind. Best Friend: “What’s going on, man?” Andrew: “I’m having independent thought, and I’m going nuts.” Best Friend: “Well […]

Old-Time Medicine

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My plan this week was to focus on my Lumbee heritage. In order to kick off my research, I wanted to take my daughters to the local university museum of Lumbee culture. Turns out, that’s not happening. My oldest daughter […]

The Agony of Identity

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Who am I? I suppose an alternative name for June is “Identity.” All of us ask this question, to ourselves and others, at least once in our lives. This seemingly innocuous, simplistic question is fundamental, and yet produces some of […]

Project Conversion: Redux

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Good morning, Congregation. The last few weeks have been interesting, haven’t they? In fact, I think the project is getting better. We have become wiser, more candid, and shared more than ever before. That means something phenomenal is happening… Trust. Whenever I […]

Previous Posts

Another Blog To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Project Conversion. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Religion 101 Happy Reading!

posted 2:34:58pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Is God an Immersionist?
In the world of faith, folks often point out the obvious fact that God does not belong to a particular creed, religion, race, or school of philosophy. This sentiment establishes the divine as one which transcends divisive terms of affiliation. But I am here to announce that a brief exploration of

posted 7:00:59am Jul. 12, 2012 | read full post »

Immersion in Relationships: Five Ways to Bring your Relationships to Life
I did something last night with my wife that we haven't done in a very long time... Okay, not from that far back, but it certainly feels that way. Last night, we had a date night. N

posted 10:58:33am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

The Path of Immersion: An Introduction and How Entering the Path Leads to a Deeper Sense of Self
Today marks my official declaration of fidelity and discipleship to the Path of Immersion. Along with that declaration, I also invite you to join me in whatever capacity feels the most suitable. The Path of Immersion is not one which demands conversion, evangelism, worship, or exclusivity. Along th

posted 6:00:19am Jul. 09, 2012 | read full post »

Farewell, Project Conversion: The End of an Adventure
When I converted to Christianity at the age of 15, I assumed the faith with a passionate resolve. Despite the positive instruction from my pastor and others, I (for reasons I cannot explain) transformed into a fiery evangelist, launching Christianity at friends and strangers like salvos of religious

posted 12:49:25pm Jul. 05, 2012 | read full post »

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