Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"So What?"--- Really?

For some reason, and it's difficult to explain, this morning's piece in USA Today (which has become a frequent source lately since it lands in the driveway five days out of seven) entitled, "God, religion, atheism 'So what?' That's what many say" was really kinda upsetting to me. My spiritual journey in a nutshell: lifelong dissident Catholic; ordained deacon; out of the Church for myriad reasons since August 2010.

But still, to read that "So what?" characterizes the attitude of a growing number of people about matters spiritual is distressing. Apparently there are quite a few in this category, and judging my own family, both immediate and extended, and Susan's, too, that's pretty much the prevailing attitude. I cannot determine that many of those we are closest to and know best care about spirituality or even wonder about it. Maybe I do them all a disservice, and if so, I'm certainly sorry. But so it seems to me.

Here are some numbers:
  • 44 percent told one survey they spend no time at all seeking "eternal wisdom"--a pretty lousy phrase, I think, but there it is
  • 19 percent say "looking for meaning" is "useless."
  • Another survey finds 46 percent who never wonder whether they will go to heaven
Well, okay, on this one, I haven't got much of a problem. I don't wonder about it at all myself. Heaven is a specifically Christian concept, and so is the notion--derived from Scripture and expanded and expounded by centuries of theology and Church pronouncements--of "earning" a way there or forfeiting your place there by your actions is at best problematical and at worst, silly. I tend towards the silly side. Why? Because the whole concept anthropomorphizes God into a crabby and totally unreasonable perfectionist who contradicts himself at every turn by first creating humankind in his own image, according to Scripture, then instilling it with appetites, proclivities, bad genes, and drives that ultimately cause it to fail his rather exacting code of behavior which must be followed to get into heaven. The other alternative is hell where you go if your behavior doesn't measure up to the said exacting code. Yet the Christian God is a god of love. Hmmm.
  • Same survey found 28 percent who say finding a "deeper purpose" in the their life is not a priority
  • 18 percent of those surveyed scoffed at the notion that God has a plan or purpose for everyone.
Does this mean that 72 percent are intent at some significant level on finding a deeper purpose in their lives? What does "priority" mean in this context? What about the 10 percent between the seekers and the scoffers? Are they seeking a deeper purpose but only sometimes or without much fervor? Sorry, I digress.
  • 6.3 percent of Americans are totally secular, "unconnected to God or a higher power or any religious identity and willing to say religion is not important in their lives."
This figure is from Pew Forum's 2007 Religious Landscape Survey; it seems really low to me.

In fact, this has turned into quite a little essay, so I'll have to take it up again tomorrow. Right now I'm tired, and the subject really deserves closer attention than I've got to give it right now.
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