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"When people stop believing in something, the danger is
not that they will
Spirituality in America
America is generally thought to be among the most religious nations in the Western world. We Americans are often portrayed as people who believe in God, pray often, and teach our children to do the same. All true, PARADE'S national poll on spirituality confirms.
But our faith is also far more complex than these stereotypes. PARADE'S survey reveals a nation looking heavenward—but with its feet firmly planted on the ground of modern life. Spiritually speaking, Americans are a very practical people, moderate and tolerant in ways that would have astonished our grandparents.
Our nation was built on a foundation of strong faith, and in some respects, that hasn't changed. In fact, 69% of Americans believe in God, 77% pray outside of religious services, and 75% believe it's a parent's responsibility to give children a religious upbringing. But even though 45% of respondents called themselves religious, 50% said they rarely or never attend worship services.
More than a quarter (27%) of respondents said they don't practice any kind of religion. As books with titles like God is Not Great and The God Delusion have climbed the best-seller lists in recent years, sociologists have speculated about a new atheism in the U.S. No such thing, according to PARADE'S survey—only 5% of respondents didn't believe in God, 7% weren't sure about the existence of God, and 12% didn't believe in an afterlife.
What Americans are doing today is separating spirituality from religion, with many people disavowing organized practice altogether while privately maintaining some form of worship. The old terms—"atheist" and "agnostic"—are no longer catch-alls for everyone outside traditional belief. In fact, 24% of respondents put themselves into a whole new category: "spiritual but not religious."
That phrase means different things to different people. Some may be members of traditional religions but want to signal that they aren't legalistic or rigid. At the other end of the spectrum, "spiritual but not religious" can apply to someone who has combined diverse beliefs and practices into a personal faith that fits no standard definition.
How Spiritual Are We?, Wicker, Christine, Parade, 2009, Oct 04
The above passage helps set part of the tone of this www.ifiseeu.com site in two distinct ways: 1) there is good reason to dissever oneself from organized religion and the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic paradigm of god—the European contingent of Western culture generally has been ahead of the American in this decoupling from organized religion and church-going, and 2) the relevant context of these trends is also that there is a widespread acceptance that truth is either relative—you have yours and I have mine—or that truth is unattainable and therefore one cannot reasonably undertake a vigorous campaign to arrive at it. To do so, one is automatically labeled as being presumptuous, arrogant, unbalanced, a fanatic or nut case.
In paragraph 4, one should add the book: Harris, Sam, The End of Faith, W.W. Norton & Company, New York & London, 2004
While reading the percentages in paragraph 3 above, one wonders to whom the other 8% pray. Some indefinable agency or mystical force unrelated to anything we would call god? This is further evidence of the miasma of mushy thinking and blurred terminology usage, namely:
There are so many diverse religions, theologies, paradigms, dogmas and doctrines, and the terminology is so indistinct and diffuse in what it signifies that meaningful dialogue with the goal of clarifying truth is all but impossible. Again, those that try are generally "shouted" down in various ways. They are accused of being religiose, out of touch if they persist.
Of course, all this takes place in an oppressive atmosphere replete with denial, pretension, hypocrisy, the blatant arrogance of ignorance, insecurity, and false religious programming and conditioning, so that most people "know" better than to even talk about what should be most important to us. Defensiveness and latent anger so often quickly come to the forefront in these conversations. When I ask, "Wouldn't it be more spiritually mature of us to challenge our beliefs and belief system, rather than impulsively and emotionally defend them?", most people agree. But just try to mount a reasoned challenge, and see what happens!
Whatever else one can say about spirituality in America, one can't say that it is delivering peace, fulfillment and contentment or helping us face reality better. At the very least a whopping 12% (the percentage has increased by 50% since 2000) of Americans are alcoholics, and we now have an opioid epidemic as well. Not to mention the rising use of marijuana for surcease of angst and/or "recreation". The vast majority of Americans rely on a diet of drugs, alcohol, TV, overindulgence, pornography, etc., for their their escape mechanisms. And our spiritual leaders decry all of this yet blame the people for being weak, corrupt and faithless, never once considering that it is the failure of their religions and the emptiness of their doctrines that may be more to blame than anything else.
Finally, given that hypocrisy at its most fundamental level means a lack of judgment, unclear and uncritical thinking, most "spiritual" people are little different than being merely mystical hypocrites. No wonder most people are convinced of the futility of sorting it all out. And still no one believes that "the truth will set you free!"