Religion in our culture

One of the fundamental maxims of getting along in our culture is–never talk religion and politics. The idea is you’re sure to start a fight. So many of us tend to keep mum about our faith.

Still, growing up in the U.S. I have always believed most of my countrymen do have a faith. In my lifetime, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer people of my acquaintance who regularly attend services. This morning’s CBS Early Show cited a Newsweek Magazine story, reporting a study that concluded 15% of Americans claim no religious affiliation. This is up from 8% in 1990.

Now, the article is focused mostly on the issue of whether America can still be considered a Christian nation. Even though I am a Christian, this doesn’t trouble me. I have great respect for other faiths and I worry that a single-minded Christianity that belittles other faiths will prevent Americans as a people from ever finding peace among ourselves, let alone with other nations and cultures.

On the other hand, I do believe spirituality is an important part of human existence. While I understand the view of those who claim they feel closer to God out in nature, or meditating on their own, or through some other solitary pursuit, I think they’re missing something. It is in coming together with other humans that we most clearly see the face of God. I don’t mean joining with humans to say–“Yay, us. We don’t need God.” I’m thinking of joining with others to recognize a spiritual force greater than any human.

I happen to believe in a loving God who gives us the power to love each other and to be the best people we can be. I’m still working on that myself–it is a lifelong process. I hope Americans, as a people, can find that spiritual center again. Not an uncompromising dogma, but true spiritual growth that helps us reach out to other people.

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