You have not come anywhere near offending me. I appreciate your clarity of argument. I certainly take a mystical approach. For me the intellect is in service of the heart, and it can illuminate what is close to us, useful to us. So there is a difference between using intellect, or reason (which originally meant intellect plus spiritual insight) to try to figure out reality, and using it to comprehend your experience of it. How can we know whether the unicorn we imagine has its own life? How do we know whether the unicorn we think we imagine is imaginary? Last night I found myself in a complex dream. Had I imagined ('dreamed') it all? Was I participating in a reality that had its own independent existence with a population that had their own existence? I can suppose many things to be true, based on previous knowledge and beliefs. I can take a philosophically skeptical position and find that I cannot be conclude anything safely. My sense is that I live in a vastly complex reality. I know unicorns and Santa exist in what I would call an imaginal state. Do either have physical historic existence? I do not think so. At present I see no benefit in engaging with the belief that both exist. So I do not "believe" in Santa, unicorns or the tooth fairy as an active self-serving state of mind. The thing about ritual is often a matter of engaging with the imputed actuality of an agency so that working with it becomes operative - able to generate results in the aspect of reality in which there is a concern. So a religious ritual can be sentimental rather than a clear expression of intent and will. The other thing, with all rituals, is that you are not the only agent with a vision and intent. Sometimes a ritual will work only because other agents are involved, or they allow what you are doing to work. Sometimes a ritual will work because you are canny enough not to perform it the chance of success is highest. Here is my point - it is rarely reason is the driver of an action here. My natural inclination is to what is commonly called animism - and this supposes that reality is comprised of interconnections that are more relational than mechanical/rational. Our primary operating mode is not, and cannot be, reason based. It is almost always primarily heart/intuition. If you consider somebody you love and are close to, what you know of them and how you relate to them is not reason-based. The you consider the amount of rational knowledge possible to you in terms of their physical presence you use virtually none of it. How much does their head weigh? What is the volume of their left foot? And so on. Much of the information you can't get unless you kill them. The information we rely on is sloppy, imprecise and probably factually wrong. Please don't get me wrong. I esteem reason highly - in its place. When we can reason love (strange how we have no science for probably the most important thing in the world) I may be persuaded to change my position. I am almost persuaded that reason's primary function is to enable us to talk to ourselves in a way that impresses us, and which convinces us that we are smarter than we actually are. Others have said that it is through reason that we become conscious of what our soul communicates to us - and there is something in that too. Back to RS and his faith. There isn't and can't be a single thing we call Christianity. It is a complex thing that is a filter between an individual and their sense of the divine or sacred. It is not a concrete noun, but a slippery, imprecise and rough indication of an idea we all kinda get something off (think blind men and the elephant). There are fundamental problems with Christian dogma and theology at a gross social or cultural level. But Christian practice is not a uniform expression. Rupert is right to see the connection between the Hindu and the Christian mystics. He is right to see the benefits of community and communion. He is right to elect to ignore the intellectual problems with certain content and rely upon the poetic and mythic potential. But I couldn't do that. I was raised in a Northern Irish Protestant family with an approach to religion that was so abusive and offensive I could imagine no prospect of reconciliation. If I engage with Christianity on a head level there is no peace between us. If I engage it on a heart level I struggle to forgive the sins against the core teachings. I have to shift gear entirely into a mystical domain to allow me to be at peace with it. I am with Alex in my objections to dogma and theology. But he and I and others like us are on a different mission to Rupert and others like him - in that our aversion and their peace is a personal journey that does not detract from our shared aspirations and goals.