Will the rise of progressive and secular churches fill a growing spiritual void?

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Photo by Amaury Gutierrez on Unsplash

Like many people born in the 1990s, I have a fraught relationship with religion. My father was raised “Jewish-ish,” and my mom calls herself a “recovering Baptist.” Growing up, we celebrated Chanukah only when we could find enough tea lights for the menorah, and I attended an all-religions Sunday school where Jesus songs got a refresh to include the likes of Buddha and Allah (think: “Buddha loves me, this I know, for the Sutras tell me so”).

This eclectic upbringing has led me to try a variety of spiritual offerings as an adult — Shabbat services, meditation retreats, Catholic Mass and even a self-help program called Landmark Forum — in search of one that feels right. …

But what does it want to hear?

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Photo courtesy of Flickr (Creative Commons)

It started with a photo. A floral arrangement, to be precise — wild flowers and leafy sprigs stuffed haphazardly into a bouquet that screamed, “You could do this yourself, but you won’t,” in a way that seemed specifically designed to fit into my Instagram feed. Were it not for the tiny “sponsored” tag, I never would have given it a second glance.

“I was just talking about needing flowers for the party next week,” I muttered.

Then I stopped. I hadn’t just been talking about needing flowers for a party next week; I had been talking about needing flowers exactly like this. …

Harassment on the internet takes many forms, but this one can be particularly scary

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Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

On December 8, 2017, Katie Bates’s phone buzzed as she sat in her car about to walk into Trader Joe’s. “There’s a video about you going around,” the text read. “You need to watch it right now.”

As someone who plays Magic: The Gathering (a card game from the ’90s that still has a significant cult following), Bates has become a frequent subject of online bullying. She’s often vocal about the need to get more women in the game, and just one hour before the video posted, she had published an article about harassment in the community.

The video posted about her involved a male Magic player who was angry that she’d called him a bully. He mocked her article, calling her a “bitch” and “trash.” Not nice words, sure, but she wasn’t too worried—that is, until she saw the comments. There someone had published her real name (she wrote under a pseudonym online). Another posted a photo of a gun. One guy even wrote that he lived close to her and thought he had seen her around. …


Zoe Schiffer

Freelance reporter, MA student @StanfordJournalism, former @digitaldems, @Uber, @UCBerkeley

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