The Religious Misunderstanding


The Religious Misunderstanding

When I was a child, I faithfully repeated “I believe in the communion of saints,” as I imagined a lot of godly (dead) people receiving Holy Communion. Later, when I learned that communion means a close and intimate relationship and that saint refers to a (dead) person who has been “properly baptized,” I dismissed it all as nonsense. I only got interested in investigating the Communion of Saints when my son Aaron died. The impulse came from a Benedictine monk in Spain.

On November 8, a year and four months after Aaron had died of sudden cardiac arrest, I was in the Basilica of Montserrat, close to Barcelona, Spain. When I saw a monk go into the confessional, the idea came to me to join him. Not to confess anything, but to cry with a captured audience.

And cry I did. I cried that my only child had died; I cried that I could not bear to live without him; I cried that life was meaningless and that I wanted to die. The Benedictine monk made no attempt to console me with the traditional platitudes, but sprang up, left the confessional, hugged me fiercely, and said with sure authority:

“Oh, Señora! How very difficult. Your only child to die so quickly. So fast. Without warning. So difficult. But Jesus tells us that he is still here. Your son is still here and you still have a relationship with him. A VITAL relationship. Right now. Your son is not a fleck of dust. He is not just gone. He is here. You are to have a VITAL relationship with him here until you are called. Your work is to become aware of that relationship with your son and develop it – spirit to spirit. This is the message of Jesus.”

“It is?” was all I could say. I had heard about Jesus all my life, but, most certainly, I had never heard this.

Many Christian traditions do not agree with the monk's interpretation about the message of Jesus. In fact, many Christian traditions propagate a fear of developing relationships with the so-called dead. Where does this fear come from?

I suggest that it can be traced to material realism. What is material realism? It is a scientific theory whose underlying assumption is that everything in our world, including consciousness, is a result of matter acting on matter. In simple words, this theory states that consciousness is a result of the activity of our material brains. That is, matter (a brain) produces consciousness.

Although quite controversial when it first made its appearance, material realism is now such a part of our everyday view of the world that most of us are unaware that we have absorbed its most basic tenants as fact, when they are merely assumptions embedded in a theory as to how the world works.

Why is this information particularly important for those who call themselves religious? Because, way deep down inside, most church leaders are unconsciously afraid that any investigation into survival of consciousness beyond death of the body will destroy their parishioners’ hopes of an after-life.

This fear manifests as an all-too-common insistence on BELIEF without questioning of whatever the particular church dogma is. This insistence is then often saddled with a subtle, or not so subtle, implication that investigation of church dogma is offensive to God, or worse – it is a punishable transgression.

Church leaders call this fearful adherence to dogma “faith,” but this is a misunderstood use of the term. FAITH is NOT belief. FAITH is knowing. And as we have long been told – the key to all knowing is to SEEK.

What would seeking bring to the religious?

The information that the current scientific model of how our world works not only rejects the notion that the brain produces consciousness, but validates the ancient spiritual idea that everything in this world, including matter (brain) is a result of the activity of consciousness. This change of perspective makes all the difference in the universe when it comes to working to understand how a continued relationship with the so-called dead is more than possible.


Each of us must SEEK to acquire truth about death, for ourselves. This is a process, and it requires hard work, an inquiring mind and a committed effort. The process of acquiring truth about death used to be called nurturing spiritual growth. Today, it is most often called furthering the evolution of consciousness. And evolving consciousness/growing spiritually is what we are all here to do.

Do not settle for a belief in the communion of saints when you can know it to be true.