Last Sunday, my husband was reading to me from the newspaper... A big article called "God, religion, athiesm 'So what?' That's what many say." It made me kind of sad.
I'm not a big pusher of religion. I prefer to let my actions speak for me. When someone asks for prayers for someone or something, I oblige and do so without embarrassment. It's no secret that I have recently "returned to the fold" by rejoining the church I grew up in and take an active interest and role in being a parishoner there. But I'm not out to convert the world. I try to make a difference in my own little corner and hope that a movement of kindness and support will move out from there.
This article, however, tells me that the rest of the world is going the other way.
Some stats from the article:
* 44% told the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey they spend no time seeking "eternal wisdom," and 19% said, "It's useless to search for meaning."
* 46% told a 2011 survey by Nashville-ased evangelical research agency LifeWay Research they never wonder whether they will go to heaven.
* 28% told LifeWay, "It's not a major priority in my life to find my deeper purpose," and 18% scoffed at the idea that God has a purpose or plan for everyone.
* 6.3% of Americans turned up on Pew Forum's 2007 Religious Landscape Survey as totally secular - unconnected to God or a higher power or any religious identity and willing to say religion is not important in their lives.
How sad. I'm not sure which of these statements bothers me the most. I suppose the one that bothers me the least is the question of heaven. That is something people just have to find out for themselves when the time comes because there is no way to know if there even IS a heaven. That would be a faith thing and faith is a very individual concept.
I don't believe in religion. It is not a thing in and of itself. Religion is a way to express and explore faith, community, the possibilites of a higher power and a coping mechanism for dealing with the uncertainties of life and what comes after it. What religion a person chooses is entirely up to them. I choose to be an Episcopalian for a couple of reasons: One, it's where I grew up and where I'm comfortable and Two, it doesn't tell me what to believe. There is a reason it is called the "Thinking Man's Church." While being closely related to Catholicism, it allows people to think for themselves and doesn't dictate who you should be, how you should act, or whether or not you're going to heaven, hell, purgatory, or into the body of a roach.
Perhaps the most disturbing of those statements would be the first and the last. Both indicate a disconnect between people and God - or even with each other. "It's useless to search for meaning." What a scary thought! Why be here at all if there is no meaning? On what do these people base their concept of happiness? How much money they have? How much stuff they have? The number of lovers or their ability to hold their liquor? When things are really bad, how do they rise above it and find the will to continue? One must think that nothing really bad has happened to these people - yet.
That day will come though. A child dies. Layoffs or firings happen. Spouses leave. Parents need help. A small cell grows uncontrolled within the body and threatens their very lives.
What will they do then? Money doesn't solve everything. Willpower can't cure cancer. Diving into a bottle causes even more problems. And a lack of connection with other people or the superficial one that comes with a lack of spirituality can't be relied on when serious help is needed.
This is where spirituality (and yes, religion) comes in. It provides a link within yourself to something bigger than yourself. Something that comforts. Something that heals. Something that surrounds you with love when there is nothing else. It builds you up and enables you to continue. That something is God. Or the Higher Power. Allah. Jehovah. And you can see Him in action through the people who surround you as part of your spiritual connection.
I have to wonder what that nearly half of the population thinks about or strives for or even cares about. It isn't you and me, that's for sure. And I suspect they don't care much about themselves either, in the long run.
A friend of mine, who happens to also be an Episcopal priest, posted this on Facebook. I can't disagree with it... food for thought.