I’ve not had much time for blogging — I blame my wife! What started out as a weekend of repainting the living/dining rooms has devolved in to a full scale basement remodel. I’m seriously wondering if she’s testing my love for her or if she’s just trying to kill me…
A friend of mine shared an article by Michael Gerson on Facebook today entitled: “An America that is losing faith with religion.” Not that this is breaking news – we’ve been tracking polls from Gallup to Pew over the years that clearly show “religion” is losing ground every year in America. [See the Rise of the Nones…]
I responded to the post with the following — again, nothing incredibly new…
I think the “beginning of the end” for American religion can be traced to the politicizing of faith. Gerson pegs the decline in the 1990’s, but it really began in the 1970’s when evangelicals threw their support to Reagan and the Republican party. All the negativity of politics sticks like stink on the religious institutions that back them – hand in hand.
As Americans recoil from the shadiness of our political figures and institutions, they cannot separate out their ministers, pastors, churches from the rest of the garbage. The only way churches can save themselves is to retreat back to an apolitical position – a spiritual refuge from the secularism that should be driving policy and politics. They took a strategic gamble that they could pull off a Christian theocracy and they’ve lost.
One of the funny consequences of this is that – by and large – our Nones are not irreligious, or at least without faith. It’s not like they all flocked to atheism or agnosticism — they’ve instead created their own version of “god” that suits their unique spiritual needs – with the only doctrine and/or dogma they bring in from either past experiences/prejudices, etc., minus a preacher dictating what is sinful today, or tomorrow…I find the entire thing fascinating It truly is the end of religion, which should be viewed as a positive thing; however, nature abhors a vacuum, and I’m curious as to what ends up filling the void…
I’ve written previously on this idea of creating your own personal god as a substitute for the deity of the bible — you know, the one worshiped by the Westboro Baptists (I’ll say this much for them — as despised as they are by the rank and file Christian – they follow that book to the T!).
I went further to describe what it would take to make me believe in such a biblical god, but from the perspective that that god — Yahweh — actually existed. But I never looked at it from the perspective of if I created god in my own image – or at least, fashioned a god I’d like to worship, what would that god look like?
After all, people are doing this more and more every day! They’ll tell you about the god they believe in and how he’s nothing like the monster their churches described. Oh no, their god is all about love – he loves gay people, he’s not reigning down terror on countries that allow homosexuals to marry or that just don’t believe in him. But…if you’ve ever actually read the bible and your concept of god and/or Christianity is grounded in that faith, then you’ve created your own personal god – because that ain’t Yahweh!
When I look at the world and see millions of people suffering from starvation, genocide, disease, cancer, random acts of violence, war, pestilence, etc., I have (and had) difficulty imagining an active deity that is involved in our condition (not to mention our lives). If such a deity was actively engaged in the world while that level of torment was taking place – then he deserves to be called a sadist! Maligned rather than worshiped!
When I look at the vastness of the universe, I can’t help but think that if there was a single all powerful deity overseeing all the activity within his domain, he’d be far more engaged in watching supernovas and imploding stars (after all, there’s a helluva lot more stars in the universe than there are people on earth!) So all things being equal, I could see a hand of god (so to speak) at play in the universe, but “my god” isn’t like your god – he’s not about love (for you or anyone else), he doesn’t require worship or fealty to stroke his ego, he’s just sitting back watching his chemistry (or physics) experiment unfolding. He’s about as concerned about what’s happening on earth as he is with what’s taking place right now on Kepler 22b (which is to say – he’s not…).
He doesn’t know me, what I’m thinking, nor is he keeping a list of the naughty and nice people, separating souls for eternal damnation or reward. We are, after all, just stardust – and if my god exists, that’s how I’m connected to him, and to you… 🙂