The mission of the Hillside Source is to support, inspire, and nourish the spiritual life of the individual in the 21st Century through a range of resources, including audio recordings of Sunday services, daily “Positive Thoughts,” short articles and commentaries on different aspects of spiritual living, and links to more in-depth analyses and scholarship on contemporary topics with spiritual implications. You will also find reflections on daily spiritual practice and ways of maintaining mental and physical well being as natural components of a spiritual life.
Our approach draws on ideas and practices from the world’s spiritual traditions (both Eastern and Western culture) that include perennial philosophy and New Thought. Since very ancient times, religion and spirituality have been associated with creative expression: art, music, poetry, story, dance and more, and so we offer the creative realm as another spiritual resource. We are invested in the unfolding future of 21st Century spirituality through a partial scholarship and grant program to further study and express contemporary spirituality and its relationship to the creative arts.
The Hillside Source presents the idea that every individual has his/her/its own connection to the spiritual underpinning of life. Even though life has but one Source, God being the traditional term for that Source, life produces individuals--each distinct and unique. Therefore, though we share countless commonalities and are ultimately interdependent, there are distinctions in how we find and express the Transcendent. Life is one; paths are infinite. The resources available here may well focus on what we generally have in common but with room and encouragement for you to discover what is distinctly you. We hope this is a space where you can find inspiration and insight to nourish your unique spiritual path.
The Hillside Source is dependent on charitable donations as a project of a church designated as a 501c3 tax-exempt religious organizations.
This site does not sell advertising space.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do you mean by “21st-century spirituality?” Isn’t the Spirit timeless?
A: We won’t really know the answer to that until we look back across the span of time in the 22nd century! The phrase implies that our collective understanding and practices of spirituality and religion are changing as a result of rapid and immense changes in human life. Those changes include explosive population growth, unprecedented technological development and dramatic environmental shifts. History shows us that religion is impacted by upheavals in civilizations, intellectual insight, and new discoveries that bring cultural changes over time. Religion and spiritual practices have in turn wielded powerful influence over all these aspects of human life. So there is a dynamic between spirituality and periods of large social change. Social scientists can now track trends and shifts as they occur and inform us, but 100 years can bring unimagined change. Although the spiritual realm may indeed be timeless (there are contradictory views), to live a spiritual life as a human being means awareness of and adaptation to a world that ancient religious people did not live in. That doesn’t mean that they have nothing to offer us; we build on the experience of the past, but we also must adapt to an unfolding future.
Q: What about God? Isn’t God is more than a “traditional term” for the Source of life?
A: God is more than anything we can name. In the words of philosopher Alan Anderson, “God is everything there is and then some.” Sometimes to expand our awareness of the spiritual, it’s useful to use other words that help us step out of the boundaries of traditional ideas. That is why some people refer to a nebulous concept of “The Universe,” or we may refer to the “Transcendent.” Or to move past the idea of a male God and patriarch, some invoke, “Divine Mother.” Or to quote Joseph Campbell, “God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.” Spirituality holds the possibility for all these ideas and more.
Q: For me, spirituality is about Love, not ideas, no matter what century we are in. Do I really need to know more?
A: Ah, let’s get to the heart of things, yes. What inspires us to Love? You don’t need to know more in order to feel love. But love can be an elusive thing, now you feel it, now you don’t. If you over think it, truly it can disappear. It teaches us by the experience of it. Art, music, poetry stir our emotions, bypass our ideas, and awaken our hearts. That’s why this website would be incomplete without offering material on the creative arts. A sense of the sacred can come from the world of nature, arising from our awe and wonder of life around us. That feeling is from the heart of things too, so perhaps we can encourage you to experience nature in new ways as well. Devotional practices can open our hearts also--spiritual practice is more than just ideas. Hopefully you will find something on this site that inspires you to Love and carries you through times when love seems to have disappeared. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “There is no remedy for love, but to love more.” That’s an idea worth contemplating.
Q: Is the point of the site to recruit members to your church?
A: No. We are not missionaries in the sense of being called to convert people or expand a congregation. We do hope to be of spiritual service and think that our resources meet a spiritual need for the times in which we live--not for everyone, but for some, enough to make the project worthwhile.
Q: Isn’t religion what restrains us so that we live good lives? If everyone was free to follow their “unique path” there would be no morality at all! There would be chaos.
A: All or nothing thinking usually gets us into trouble, so let’s break it down. Spiritual freedom begins with freedom of belief, not total freedom of action. Society has legal structures and ethical codes of conduct that serve as both restraining and protective forces to prevent “chaos.” As members of that society we are legally liable for our actions. Even though we are individuals, spiritually we discover that our survival and well being is interwoven with the survival and well being of others. It doesn’t make sense to pursue our interests without taking into account the bigger picture of interrelatedness and interdependency.
Morality is our internal and personal sense of what is right and what is wrong, shaped by many factors, not just belief. The origin of the world “religion” from its Latin roots has sparked many ideas of it’s meaning. The Latin root “ligare” meant to bind, to tie down, but it also has the idea of “tying together” or connecting. The “re” is like re-do, or re-turn, doing again. So the word contains both the idea of being bound, or restrained, as well as the idea of “re-connecting.” Religion can be a restraining force on human behavior, but it also opens the idea of returning and reconnecting the Divine or the Source of life. Claiming spiritual freedom is about our capacity to re-connect to the spiritual aspect of who we are. That re-connection allows us to access a deeper wisdom and intelligence that guides us and we learn to trust it.
In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates asks, “And what is good Phaedrus? And what is not good? Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?” Biblical scripture echoes Plato in an assurance, “... the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.” (Deuter. 30:14)
You might be interested in the following article in our Philosopher's Alcove section: "Is There Such a Thing as Selflessness?"
Q: Much of the “upheaval” of our times seems more related to politics than religion. Does this site have any political agenda?
A: No. We are a church that does not sponsor political events nor do we enter into political debate. We do however encourage positive participation in life as both a spiritual practice and as a way of expressing your values as an individual. For some people participation in politics and social activism is their way. We present the idea that life is a whole. Even though we are distinct individuals, from a spiritual perspective, we also function within a whole, as Oneness. Dismissing or rejecting any part of the whole does damage to the functioning of the part. This is not limited to just the world of the human being, but extends to the unity of life in its entirety. So life is profoundly inclusive.
Q: Who are the contributors to the site? Is there a way to post my comments?
A: The initial material on this site is written by the two founding ministers of Hillside Community Church, former Senior Minister Dr. Larry Morris (now deceased) and current Minister, Dr. Susan Nettleton. You can read about them here.
There are others who contribute the time, computer skills, ideas, inspiration and support that are always needed to build a resource site. Over time, additional material will be added and invited contributors will be introduced. We do not at this time have a way for you to post comments. However, you can email comments, questions, or your experiences to us here. By emailing us, you automatically give us permission to post your email if it is determined to be relevant to the purpose of the project and useful to other visitors to the site. If you do not want any portion of your email to be posted, please specifically say so.