The 1977 film Oh God! was not widely regarded as epic movie-making. In fact, it might be best known for proving that singer John Denver was not much of an actor. But for a 17-year-old Jim Rogers, it was life-changing.
Oh God! portrayed what Rogers was seeing in the movie of his own life and the world around him.
"It made me begin to think that it made sense, based on my observations of the world, that there may be no active hand of God directing this movie — that he kicked it off and that it is up to us now," Rogers said. "That's the essence of humanism."
In looking for an appropriate label for his beliefs, Rogers settled on "Christian humanism," even though many people on both sides of the fence would find much to quarrel with.
But Rogers is not interested in quarreling. Though he comes from a family laced with Southern Baptist church members and clergy — with a few Presbyterians sprinkled in — he still senses the occasional concern for his soul.
This is Rogers' description of those conversations:
"Me: I don't believe in hell.
"Family member (aghast): Then why would anyone ever be good and not do evil?
"Me: Because fear of eternal damnation is way down on the list of reasons to not do evil.
"Family member: I will pray for your soul tonight."
All in all, Rogers comes from a family that is quite tolerant.
"My dad said, don't believe everything you read. We had some free thinkers in the family, and they gave me space. My mom is a very non-judgmental person."
Oh God! wasn't the only broadcast that influenced him. He also found like-mindedness in Bill Moyers' conversations with author Joseph Campbell and made into a video series, The Power of Myth. The conversations were discussions between the two men about world mythology, literature and religion in the lives of people. Moyers called the conversations with Campbell some of the most powerful interviews he ever did. Moyers said in 2011, "To this day, people stop me on the street and say: That interview changed my life."
Rogers called seeing those interviews "a second reinforcing moment."
It might seem incongruous for a Christian humanist to attend church, but Rogers does. He has found a place where he can maintain his beliefs and also fulfill the need for a spiritual experience.
Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Lexington allows him to be part of the fellowship of a Christian congregation as well as enjoy the music, prayer, meditation, Scripture and lessons the church offers. "People go to church for different reasons," he says. "I go to be inspired more than to worship."
That congregation has been a good fit for his wife and family because, as he said, "they have a big tent. We're not going to bicker over dogma."
Rogers and his wife attend regularly with their three children.
As Rogers sees it, "People are wired differently. I just wasn't wired as a spiritual person — I'm more from the head than the heart. I think God understands me."