I write this preface in the wake of horrific terrorist attacks, having written the book and its introduction before. It occurred to me that some readers might wonder, How can this author be so critical of organized religion, even while thousands of people gather to it? He must have written the book before the world changed.

But the world has not changed. The attacks are more evidence of a chronic condition. I wrote the book during the chronic condition. I did, however, re-read the manuscript in light of this latest evidence––and I didn’t change anything. In fact, the book is now more relevant than ever.

In my introduction, I write that people are leaving religious institutions en masse. Now, it is true, some are returning to church. This movement should not be seen as a sudden endorsement of organized religion or church creeds, but of God. It’s God that people want. This is good; it is evidence of a collective, spiritual longing. But it’s bad in another way because it shows how people instinctively associate God with organized religion and church buildings.

Organized religion can offer hugs and handshakes, but it can’t answer the big questions––and that’s what people have these days. Any real answers, if the system even attempts them, are sabotaged by disturbing contradictions. These contradictions become obvious any time truth (or honest questioning) invades the stronghold of tradition.

I predict that, as the hammer blows of life continue to fall and the questions become deeper and bolder, the people who returned to church will remember why they left, and those who started going for the first time will ask, This is it?

For the honest seeker, the longing for God will stand against the waves of change, while the reliance on the organized structure will wane. The institution will invite new and more gnawing suspicions. Then will come the inevitable question: Is it possible to quit church without quitting God?

As human beings, we want assurance. We want spiritual assurance for ourselves, for our families, for the world. This, the nominal church cannot give, for out of one side of its mouth comes grace, out of the other, damnation.

You are about to taste something completely different.

My introduction remains true, if not in letter, then in spirit.

Copyright 2002-2006 by Martin Zender.  All Rights Reserved