KAMISCHKE: Independent spiritual thinking in Grand Haven

Rather than scorning C3 Exchange and Ian Lawton, both deserve praise for making C3 the only independent-thinking spiritual organization in the Tri-Cities.
Sep 6, 2013


I can imagine two groups likely to disagree with my assessment: those who feel that C3 is not unique in its independent thinking and, therefore, should not be singled out for praise; and those who feel that so-called independent thinking is wrongheaded, so no praise is warranted.

To the first group, I ask that they make themselves known; I’d like to know more about you. To the second group, I direct the rest of this column.

What are the people of C3 doing to elicit such public disapproval from so many? Foremost is that C3 often challenges conventional religious doctrine while seeking new ways to understand the human condition. This leads to a diversity of spiritual views with none being labeled as the ultimate truth.

Outside of C3, questioning certain Christian doctrine for many is a religious and social taboo. Blind faith is admired, while real inquiry and rationality at best are cast as impious and at worst as Satan’s work.

What’s interesting is that mainstream Christians also doubt and question, perhaps without realizing it. Today, the vast majority of Catholics have used birth control with minimal guilt despite their church's admonition against it. The sacrament of marriage rarely requires a wife’s pledge of obedience to her husband. Every prosperous person I know ignores the pronouncement that his or her chance of entering heaven is less than a camel going through a needle's eye. Few, if any, of us sell our possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Jesus — even vows of poverty bear no resemblance to the real thing.

Thankfully, we ignore Paul’s edict for slaves to obey their earthly master. We no longer ask the village to stone our disobedient children. No one believes in unicorns despite the Bible’s references to them. And no one thinks that if we dig a hole deep enough we’ll reach hell, or build a tower high enough and we’ll reach heaven.

Christians have not disengaged their brains. They know it makes no sense to continue slavery, the secondary status of women, or having a large family that one cannot afford. Over the centuries, science has conflicted with literal church doctrine regarding the creation story, evolution, the age of the earth, etc.; and, in each case, science continues to find more evidence to support its claims, not less.

With little dissonance, most Christians ignore areas of settled orthodoxy that make no sense or are morally questionable, and heed those areas that seem just and reasonable.

Protestantism started with knowledge. The printing press allowed access to the Bible in one’s native language, enabling Luther, Calvin, Wesley and others to insist that the church allow the laity to read the Bible for themselves, to have unfiltered knowledge. Everyone has benefited from this achievement. Sadly, however, praise continues to be directed at those who express no doubt or curiosity, calling them true believers, while using Doubting Thomas as a counterexample.

Christ’s progressive and wonderful worldview is pervasive at C3. Even though the Golden Rule is almost universal among world religions, Christianity focuses on it as few have. Treating the least of our neighbors as we would treat Christ, turning the other cheek, forgiving those who have done us harm, and many others teachings have profound significance.

Yet, one doesn’t need to be a Christian to see the truth and value of these moral standards. One doesn’t need the carrot of heaven or the stick of hell to induce good people to act rightly. It is not a person’s belief in Christ that sets the good apart from the bad, but the actions and intentions of the actor. Christ pointed to the Samaritan as an exemplar — an outsider, yet the embodiment of goodness.

By the way, despite the different approach, there is a sizable group at C3 whose beliefs are very traditional and who would easily fit within any congregation in town. These people come to C3, in part, because inquiry and doubt are not seen as disrespectful, and their personal beliefs are accepted.

C3 recently held a compassion fair (open to the public) a few Sundays ago. Thirty-six booths were set up by members of the C3 community to share the work of organizations to which they belong. It ranged from opening libraries in the inner city, to restoring of lakes suffering from invasive species, to hospice care. Good people doing good things.

How should C3 be treated in this community? It’s simple: Ask yourself how you would like to be treated, and then treat C3 and Ian Lawton that way. It’s the standard for all good people.

— Tribune community columnist Dick Kamischke is a member of C3 Exchange, but he's expressing his personal views in this column.




What a terrible piece of bigotry. Obviously you do not want anyone to believe anything outside of your narrow views. Just because people choose to live differently than you they should not be ridiculed and persecuted.

Throw away your bigotry and closed mindedness and understand that the views of others have a role in society too.


Oh geez. Not this again.


I just wasted 30 seconds of my life reading this crap that I'll never get back.

Now I have a headache and its beer time.........


C3 has changed my life and made me a better person, how could that be wrong or evil? I applaud Mr. Kamischke for his honesty and courage. Ian Lawton and all the members of C3 are a group of wonderful people with huge hearts. Thank you C3.


Praise the lord, ya'll are born again.



Christopher, I don't understand how stating one's beliefs is the same as not wanting anyone to believe anything differently. I also don't agree that Mr. Kamishcke has ridiculed or persecuted anyone at all. Did we read the same article? Please be more specific about your claims that Mr. Kamishcke is narrow minded and a bigot.....?

ghresident, you also wasted more than 30 seconds by posting a totally unnecessary comment. Enjoy your beer.


It was more than necessary, enjoy your cult.


Wonderful article, Mr. kamischke. Thanks for sharing a bit of what C3 is...


The minions are back.


Was it the beer that brought your humor, ghresident??


No the Redd's Apple Ale wasn't doin' the trick. Had to switch over to Jim Beams Devil's Cut.

deuce liti

You: "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual."

Me: "I'm not honest, but I find you interesting."


To turn the other cheek was not a passive act; rather, one of active resistance. Google it.

green garden gate

What was this column in response to? Has C3 been called out on something?


I am proud to be a member of C3 Exchange. We value compassion. We value inquiry. We value exchange of ideas. We value community engagement. We value social and economic justice. Or better perhaps: these are my values, and I see them reflected and explored every Sunday at C3.


I have one commit and my reply will be the same as this comment. Therefore, if you want to dispute and disagree with the Bible...be extremely fearful of the Lord. Let it be known neighbor that I am released of your chose if you so choose to not to believe the Bible as I have given you the truth... God's Word! Please read
Exodus 20 which, is God's Law.
The Ten Commandments
"And God Spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you our of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them: for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."

Above is the first two commandments. Continue to read Exodus 20. These are the God's Words.


Hey Lisakh, I hope you don't eat shrimp, crab, clams, or lobster -

“These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is detestable to you." Leviticus 11:9-12

And I hope you don't dare open your mouth in church -

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches." 1 Corinthians 14:34

And I hope you always wear a hat -

"If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off." 1 Corinthians 11:6

And finally, I'm guessing you have quite the assemblage of slaves -

"However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way." Leviticus 25:44-46


Really Lisa, I would suggest maybe proof reading what you intend to post prior to actually hitting the "save" button. Please share with us how anything "you" wrote makes sense.

"I have one commit and my reply will be the same as this comment."

What does this mean exactly?

"Let it be known neighbor that I am released of your chose if you so choose to not to believe the Bible as I have given you the truth..."

Really, are you kidding me; try to make some sense of what you post.


ru, its just the ramblings from the few minions trying to protect their cult leader and followers.

First Rhem openly accepted homosexuals, fooled around then got booted, Lawton pulled the cross for whatever stupid reason?

The congregation dropped to an all time low and had to rent space to keep their cult going since they were loosing their beloved church.

Lawton decided to leave cuz he's afraid of gun related violence in America. Yet in Australia the guns per person and gun related violence is almost the same as us here in the good ol USA

If this isn't a cult I don't know what it is, reminds me of these wackjobs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i...


The writer obviously does not understand scripture and so chooses to point out what is felt to be error, don't waste your time trying to convice the blind, deaf and ignorant, God will reveal himself to all in his time, until then let the confused and conceited ramble on, all you can do is pray for those who will not hear and show them patient compassion as Christ would.


How very superior Mr. Kamischke seems! It is totally narrow minded to assume that someone who chooses to follow the tenants of an established religion is not an independent thinker. Perhaps that person merely finds solace in ritual - per Joseph Campbell. Perhaps fellowship is behind his or her church attendance. Perhaps true belief drives this person. That does not mean that this individual cannot or does not think independently.
People at C3 seem to take pride in being so very much more compassionate and worldly than all the rest of us. If they wish to float around in some kind of religious limbo, fine. I am sure they do some good, and I am sure there are some great people who attend this "spiritual organization." But, if one knows anything about history, one has to remember the independent thinking of Martin Luther, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards - and countless other so-called mainstream Christians.
Remember, too, the social activism of the Cathlolics throughout 20th century history.
I only hope that, if C3 can survive, its members choose a leader who is in touch with this community, and who is not driven by ego.


SO well-stated, Dick. C3 is just a group of people intent on love, peace, joy & justice. Although I am not a Christian in the traditional sense, I certainly embrace many of its teachings, the most important of which is, "For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" The prejudice and ridicule directed at C3, especially by those professing this same creed, is obviously contrary to it, and sad to see.
To theQuin, your same point was made in the editorial: "mainstream Christians also doubt and question,""Christians have not disengaged their brains," etc. The point was that independent thinking has always been a part of Christianity, as Jesus modeled, but, unfortunately, so has narrow-mindedness & prejudice, which he did not.
Re: your last comment, it is a challenge for the leader of any spiritual community to find the balance between supporting the beliefs and wants of their congregation and being true to their own evolving perspective. This challenge is especially great in a community that requires no adherence to specific doctrine and encourages independent thought. I do not see what you see in regard to ego, only someone being true to his personal journey and encouraging others to do the same.


Love your neighbor as yourself. This even an atheist can get behind. Dick, as far as "protestantism started with knowledge?" Really??? Would love to hear your thinking behind that statement.


"I am the chillinest fool in the swimming pool". - Kid Rock. That is all.


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.