Paris: “The subject I talk about most is human authenticity.”
4780 Mission Gorge Place, San Diego
Pastor: Patti Paris
Born: New York City, NY
Formation: City University, New York City; Holmes Institute, Encinitas
Years Ordained: 7
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend preparing your talks?
Pastor Patti Paris: The faith tradition I am affiliated with, Centers for Spiritual Living, is a science of mind and spirit, and they have a monthly magazine called The Science of Mind, which has large subscription numbers. We use those monthly themes that the magazine has for our weekly talks. My themes are set a year in advance. So my talk titles simply support those themes. I would say I have my talks down six months in advance. I start preparing the talks weeks in advance with thinking and research. It’s a long, drawn-out process.
SDR: What’s your favorite theme on which to talk?
PP: Spiritual growth. People are looking for tools to enhance their experience of life. I like to talk about that. It’s the most beneficial. We call ourselves a center for practical spirituality; so I think the subject I talk about the most is human authenticity – to have the courage and vulnerability to be our highest and best selves.
SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PP: Peace on earth, if you want the big picture. We all want peace. Let’s play nicely with each other, can we, for a while? Wouldn‘t that be lovely! On a small-scale level, I look at the Pew research and see that people are abandoning spirituality and organized religion in droves. It’s interesting to see how, across all faith traditions, there is this mass exodus in terms of of attendance. I don’t think that’s a mass exodus [from] personal spirituality; I just see it as no longer affiliating with a particular religious tradition. Is the country becoming more secular in nature? Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean people are abandoning spirituality – it’s just becoming more private and personal. That’s where Centers for Spiritual Living can actually be a great advantage to a lot of people.
SDR: Why Centers for Spiritual Living?
PP: Centers for Spiritual Living is a Christian-based organization. It was founded back during the Transcendentalist period, and Centers for Spiritual Living is really new thought and ancient wisdom. It goes back to the Essenes and Gnostics, to Stoicism, and the ancient Greeks. It has original American roots as well, among the Transcendentalists of the upper northeast (Emerson, Thoreau, etc.). They really began the New Thought movement in this country, and what I like about it is that it’s interfaith. The Centers for Spiritual Living founder, Ernest Holmes, said we are shorn of dogma and dualism. We were the only 20th (and now 21st) century organized religion in the world that recognizes the truths that run through all religions. That’s what attracted me – that interfaith quality it has.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PP: I think heaven and hell are states of consciousness while we’re living. When you ask where you go – what is the “you” you are talking about? After that, my question to that would be, “Is that an important question to us as a people?” A more important question to ask is, “How well do we live now?” But as for what happens after we die, I don’t know – I don’t think anyone knows. We have a belief that comforts us one way or another. The important question as humans is about how well we live.