Thursday, July 21, 2005

Secular Religious (part 2)

As the pews fill up on any Sunday morning there is an air of anticipation as the minister begins his assent to the front of the congregation. Silence rips through the previous whispers of greeting as all eyes fix themselves upon the minister in Sunday dress and ministerial zeal. Then, as his mouth begins to open to pronounce utterances of faith filled lessons to live life according to the good the eyes of many gloss over as visions of shopping lists and sports team rankings fill the empty space between the auditory receptacles of the average space filler in any pew of any church in any land.

Why is this person here?

It never ceases to amaze me to see the many people who go to church and are not really there. The instance of out of body experiences should be a matter of study among some congregations. Between the kids eating cheetoes and playing with their toy firetrucks and the eyes of some closed in bliss-filled slumber it is fully distracting to those are attempting to immerse themselves in the act of worship. This is what I mean by the secular religious. This group of people seem to believe that if they are physically in a pew then they are some how fulfilling their duty, obligation etc to the Divine. However, what is missed by this lot is that worship is fundamentally a disposition it is a turning to with the whole mind, soul and heart to the Creator in adoration and worship and thanksgiving for the many gifts and blessings that each of us receive on a daily basis - including the opportunity to breath.

Frequently I meet true secularists that while they believe in God they do not believe in religion because of the what they call the "hypocrites." I believe that this is a fair criticism of churchgoers. However, I think that what is lost on most is that there is a distinction between those who are religious and those who are secular religious and among those who we are discussing I am confident that one can find that the majority of hypocracy resides in the secular religious. To some this may seem like a harsh criticism but it is truly a documentable phenomenon.

If one is to observe the way in which a secular religious lives their lives it is marked by a few specific items. The first item is that they know nothing but the 1,2,3 basics of their faith thus making any discussion they have about their religion trite and nonsensical. The second is that if pressed about their beliefs it can be found that they ascribe more to the beliefs of American Idol than that of their religion. As a person that I know says, "Really my religion is football." The third point is that they completely separate the rest of their lives from what they do on Sunday. This last point is the key to understanding their hypocrisy. It is like claiming one is a combat vet when they spent the war sipping cognac in New Haven.

When considering and interacting with this class of people I am filled with frustration at their lack of rationality. I have never understood why these people continue to attend their regularly scheduled services and still maintain that their faith has nothing to do with their lives when in fact that is the whole point of their faith - to form their lives. Some would claim that these are the only persons in the pews that can think for themselves (free thinkers if you will). However it seems that for these individuals their faith is an emotional response while the balance of their lives take up the rational functions of their soul. If this be the truth and their faith is stricktly united to their emotional instability then it is no wonder why they hold the position that has just been under discussion. Then, if this be so, the divorce of faith and reason in modernity and post modernity is essentially the central cause of these irreligious religious.


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