Although polls claim most Americans believe in God, when these interviewees explained their beliefs regarding transcendence, it looked quite different. It was striking that interviewees, even though demographically different, nevertheless raised common points which they understood to be essential to traditional Western theism. Many things they associated with traditional God imagery—such as masculinity and divine involvement—were pointedly rejected. Instead of these views, for them transcendence often became a non-conscious non-interventionist sacred “plug-in” force, with the power always “on.” This was widely embraced as their understanding of something larger than themselves. Many interviewees understood themselves to have divine potential, some even saying “I am God” or seeing themselves as “God-in-training.” Also striking was how many experimented with monistic, pantheistic, and/or Gnostic ideas. If interviewees lifted up specific historic individuals from any tradition, these figures were seen not as savior but as a spiritual guide or realized master.
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