Dr. Nash’s List of Religio-Spiritual Questions

These were some questions that Dr. Nash suggested the class respond to in their own way. The prompt was to select 1-3 questions and reflect…



Do you make a distinction between religion & spirituality? If yes, what is the difference for you? What is your own religious background? Do you still practice?

What larger belief about the meaning of your life gets you up in the morning and off to work, and off to face your responsibilities, day after day, especially when you don’t want to? What gives you the personal strength to carry on?

Is there a master plan to your life? Or is it all about blind chance?

Why is suffering so pervasive in the world? Why tsunamis? Why New Orleans flooding? Why political, religious, and nationalistic wars? Why earthquakes?

Why do some people call themselves “spiritual” rather than “religious”?

Do you think your actions make any real difference to anyone or anything in the larger scheme of things? If yes, why? If no, why not?

When’s the last time you had a conversation about religion or spirituality with a family member, a friend, a teacher, a counselor (choose one)? How would you describe the conversation? If you haven’t, why do you suppose you haven’t?

What would you say to this best-selling author, Christopher Hitchens, who made these comments: “Religion poisons everything.” “God is not great.” “Religion kills.”

How long do you think you would be able to talk intelligently about the particulars of their faiths with students who might represent such backgrounds as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, Judaism, Confucianism, or Taoism? Which one of these would you like to know more about?

Have you ever had any courses in high school that covered some of the world’s religions? Why or why not did this happen, do you suppose?

How would you describe the general religious or spiritual leanings of the people in your nuclear and/or extended family?

Would you be comfortable talking about religion and/or spirituality with someone you just met? Why or why not?

What do you think of the research in positive psychology that says that happiest people in the world are the most religious…by far?

What is it that turns you off the most about organized religion? What turns you on the most?

Can we be good, moral people without religion?

Quotes about the Breathe

The practice is simply this: keep coming back to your breath during the day. Just take a moment. This will give your mind a steadiness and your breath a gracefulness…. There’s so much to let go of, isn’t there? Your nostalgia and your regrets. Your fantasies and your fears. What you think you want instead of what is happening right now. Breathe. ~Rodney Yee, Yoga: The Poetry of the Body

What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places? ~Mary Oliver

The tone of musical instruments and our own voice facilitate deepening the resonance of our body-mind with the universal rhythms and wholeness of spirit. Yogic practices of rhythmic breath and devotion, chanting and singing, or other forms of gentle movement such as T’ai chi, promote integration…. As we align more closely with our own rhythm, serendipity is a frequent visitor as we resonate more closely with the rhythms of the universe. ~JoEllen Goertz Koerner, “Quantum Healing,” Healing Presence: The Essence of Nursing, 2011 (2nd edition)

There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity. ~Rumi

Day 1: No Sound, Just Breathe

[Caption: “Just Breathe” by Tao Wo retrieved from youtube.com]

Finally, the first day of the semester for our course, Religion, Spirituality, and Education. I mentioned in class that I was anxious. I was. It’s the anticipation of learning and growing with a new group of students. It gets me every semester. But as I walked to the classroom, I tried to walk it out. I just took a deep breath and knew that my breath, which I have breathed a thousand times again, was keeping me grounded.

As I entered the classroom, there was no sound, just breath. Each of us just breathing in and out. I noticed that when I entered the space, it reminded me of the times I arrived at church in the U.S. on late Saturday afternoons or early Sunday mornings. Each of you were quietly tending to your life, heads down, eyes either on your phone screens or just simply gazing out ahead of you. But  you know what? We were all breathing. Breathing the same air together—independently, yet together. So if you were feeling anxious like I was, remember your breath. Return to it.