I have been on Twitter this morning and following the Tweets of Alec Couros as usual and I followed his links as usual which lead me to Joseph Hack's blog and and an article called ipod Religion. Not only did Alec post a link to the blog but then he tweeted, "But in thinking about this, how do ppl currently choose "religion", do they rly "choose"? Is it not most likely ur born into belief systems?" Well my mind got working and what follows started as a comment on Joseph's blog but evolved into something I thought more appropriate for my own blog. To make sense of what I write you really need to visit the links in this introductin first.
Interesting questions raised by the article and as I respond to this my conscience is challenging me about my own non-attendance in church today, but I'll have to resolve that issue in my own conscience.
I do no give modern media any more power in the changes that are happening to people and their faith today, rather I think it is just an extension of what has been happening through the last half of the 20th century and maybe even earlier. After all, I think the Beatles can be given some credit too as they were singing about "No Religion" long before the ipod and easy access to the internet; I believe they had quite the influence on the parents and grandparents of kids today. And to just single out the Beatles is unfair because there have been many other forces in the media that have presented images and ideas that are contrary to Christian beliefs and teachings. Organized religion has been challenged by the diversity of ideas for quite some time and in our part of the world (the west) organized religion has lost its political power to punish those who question. Remember the Church once considered those who believed the world to be round to be among the worst of sinners. We have progressed as a people to be more tolerant, but it has come with some costs to those who wish to preserve insitutions as they were.
Young people are continuing to evolve in their thinking and belief systems and if it looks like teens are seeking answers and experimenting with other faiths, is it really any different than it was when I was a skeptical teen in the 70's questioning the Catholic faith that I was "forced" to attend to.
Yes people are not attending to their faith the way they once did, yet it seems to me that spirituality is alive and well. It just doesn't look like it did centuries ago; I'm not sure that's a bad thing either. I am a Catholic but as a young adult I drifted away from Church; was it I didn't believe or is it something many young people go through? I think many young people are struggling to find themselves in an increasingly complex and multi-cultural world. Should we blame technology or should we blame learning? For me it goes back to an essentially spiritual question, "What is our purpose here on earth anyway?"
As I have grown older (I'm in my 40's), I have become much more aware of my own spirituality and now I usually attend the Catholic church in my community and I regularly take a turn with doing a reading. Does it mean I am practicing the faith the way Christ intended? Does anyone really know that answer. Many believe they do, but I know the church I attend has been molded by people with their interpretations of what Christ taught based on stories that have been passed down. I am educated enough to know that man has twisted the words to meet their own perceptions and have used the words of the bible to create laws and rules that suit their own purposes. I am also educated enough to know I need spiritualism of some form; it bonds me with a community, it comforts me when my mind is tormented with the fears and apprehensions of being mortal, and it defines a way of living that does not harm my fellow man (not to be confused with the fact that the Catholic Church has had members who have done harmuful things to people in the name of God).
I think the fact that young people can find information about other religions so easily is a positive thing; it is allowing them to explore their own beliefs. I believe we can learn from other cultures and all religions which can only help eliminate some of the ignorance of others that lead to such horrific events like the Holocaust. Those who think their belief system is right and should not change are similar to the Luddites who smashed machinery during the industrial revolution. Not all change is good, but some is and change is inevitable.
Anyway, I've recorded some of my thoughts on a topic I do not normally speak out loud about because of its sensitive nature. I trust those who read these words understand that this is me making sense of the world the way I see it and in no way is it intended to be judgemental of others or the way they see the world. Thanks Joseph and Alec for taking me down this road.