Dominican program explores, expands lay spirituality

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- As a student at Aquinas College in the 1980s, David Lincoln was on track to become a priest. While those pastoral aspirations were later rerouted, Lincoln still wanted to serve God in the world.

“I started to see the role of the laity was becoming incredibly important, and that’s when I felt a different calling and felt at home with that calling,” said Lincoln, now 43.

He started going to various churches around the Grand Rapids area, but “for some reason I did not feel I was being adequately fed.”

Religion actually does aid happiness, professor says

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) The perception that people unfettered by religion are happier than those who regularly attend church is false, an economist says.

"People who believe in no moral constraints on activities have less happiness," said Arthur Brooks, professor of business and government policy at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, during a lecture series sponsored by the Acton Institute.

Compared to "secularists" -- whom Brooks defined as those who attend religious services once a year or not at all -- people who faithfully practice their religion make life easier for the rest of us.

Those who attend religious services at least once a week commit fewer crimes, are less likely to divorce, and are more likely to donate to nonreligious causes, said Brooks, author of the recently released "Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America -- and How We Can Get More of It."

Their willingness to give to the common good benefits everyone, Brooks added. "If you honestly have beliefs, if you have values and adhere to them, that will give you peace," he said.