Monday, 12 March 2012 00:00 GFP Columnist - Basil Venitis
The Vatican's official website has suffered an attack by Anonymous, cutting off access by users for several hours. Italian media outlets reported that the website,, became unresponsive around mid-afternoon local time.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed that had been the object of an attack. Anonymous was attacking the Vatican to protest the execution of heretics and the burning of books during the Inquisition and more recently the sexual abuse of children by priests.

In 1966 John Lennon claimed the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Lennon said: Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.

Lennon uttered those fateful words at the height of Beatlemania. The British Invasion happened to also coincide with the decline of Christianity, especially in England, and especially amongst the younger generations. The mass hysteria of Beatlemania was analogous to religious ecstasy. Many fans truly saw the Beatles as musical messiahs. John, Paul, George, and Ringo reported that fans would bring sick people to their concerts, in the belief that the band had a divine healing presence.

Spirituality is the search for God, an ultimate reality, a transcendent dimension of the world, an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his being, or the deepest values and meanings by which people live. Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It encompasses belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world. Spirituality is more personalized, less structured, more open to new ideas, and more pluralistic than religion.

Spirituality is not related to religion. Spirituality and religion lock horns! Many people define themselves as spiritual but not religious. Spirituals believe in the existence of many different spiritual paths, emphasizing the importance of finding one's own individual path to spirituality. Most people identify themselves as spiritual but not religious. Religion is a memeplex organized by churches, whereas spirituality is defined as an internal individual search.

God is a vision of the highest values of truth, justice, love, and goodness toward which we strive. In this sense, God is a standard against which to measure ourselves and our achievements. God reminds us of the relativity and limitations of our own ideas. God serves as a corrective to our biases and a basis for critical reflection. By bringing together our highest ideals in a single symbol, God provides a focus for personal devotion or communal worship.

We experience God as love, light, power, and wisdom. The God we pray to is both transcendent and immanent, a part of us but also greater than us. Sometimes we experience God as a light that comes to us in the darkness. This light emanates intense love and compassion and leaves us feeling joyous and connected to all of creation. Other times, we simply hear God's guidance as thoughts. It seems similar to a nudge or sometimes a whisper. This guidance usually comes suddenly and clearly, and it can arrive while we are deep in prayer or simply going about our business of the day.

Stung by myriad charges of clergy sexual abuse, corruption, orgies, and cover-up that reach the pope, patriarchs, and archbishops, churches face a crisis of empty pews and empty coffers. Churches need to address their own failures, acknowledge their own guilt, ask for forgiveness, and heal as a family. Apostates of Christianity outnumber converts by four-to-one.

Image Courtesy of - St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, Italy. - Soren Breiting 

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