Friday, April 27, 2012

religious nightmare

I guess it's some sort of archetype nightmare, dreaming that you're walking down the high school hall, headed for a history test when you suddenly realize you haven't studied for it. A variation might include the fact that you didn't have any clothes on.

Maybe another dreamland archetype is the scenario in which you feel deeply committed to something and are addressing an audience. You muster all your heart and all your commitment ... and suddenly the audience is just laughing. They find your most deeply-held view irrelevant and worse, silly.

Watching the Bill Moyers show the other night, there was a fellow named Ross Douthat arguing that Christians are dropping the ball in the face of and evolving society. To Douthat's mind, if I got it right, Christians should be willing to step up to the plate and draw moral lines in the sand. Instead of remaining silent, they should stand four-square for the rules and regs and faith that their religious persuasions thrust upon them. Douthat described himself as a Catholic and he described do-little-or-nothing Christians as "heretics."

I could sympathize (if not agree) with Douthat's line of reasoning, but it did put me in mind of some embarrassing nightmare: What if there were a war and nobody came? What if there were a religion and nobody believed it? What if all the heart-felt conviction and proselytizing just left your audience yawning ... or possibly snickering?

I don't suppose it's going to happen anytime soon, but I have a sense that the sales pitch of Christianity is losing its grip and savor. More people are "spiritual" and fewer are Christian in this most Christian of countries. Perhaps the audience has moved on and what was once an assumption that could be seen in the white spires on every street corner was now ... not exactly bad or stupid ... just not particularly relevant... a small, neurotic, yappy dog behind a white picket fence in some suburban neighborhood. Sure, the white hot love or disdain might raise its head here or there, but otherwise ... well, perhaps the nightmare is not so much a nightmare as it is a quiet and implacable reality.

What if there were heretics as far as the eye could see, but the religion on which heresy depends had simply blown away in the wind?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Adam

    Here is a TED talk by Alain de Botton, that speaks, at least in part, to the points made in the penultimate paragraph of the above post:

    I hope that it is of some interest to you.

    Good wishes