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When people stop believing in something, the danger is not that they will
believe in nothing, but rather that they will believe
in anything. - Chesterton
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
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
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
In paragraph 4, one should add the book: Harris, Sam, The End of Faith, W.W.
Norton & Company, New York & London, 2004, and it should be added
that about 42% in the USA have wound up in a different religious environment
than that in which they were born.
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:
The term "god" is used interchangeably with
"creator". A creator has design and production capability and CAN be
a God but doesn't have to be, whereas the term God implies perfect
goodness for the human race.
The term "atheist" has been pushed beyond its
original meaning, which originally meant "without theism". People are surprised when I show them based on
original meanings that you can believe in a deity or creator while
being an "atheist". The technically correct term for not believing
in a deity would be "a-deism" or "a-deist".
The term "worship" has been confused with rites, ceremonies,
rituals, and religious services rather than giving credit for the
sustenance and enhancement of life.
The term "faith" is used to signify a general set of
held dogmas and doctrines even though in the Koine Greek there is
just one root translated to both "faith" and "belief", and
implies sincere choice and not just doctrinal conditioning. Nowadays,
faith usually just means a leap taken in the dark and belief means
little more than a holding onto an opinion, knowledge, or one's
programming. The word "faith" has been pushed out of it's original
The term "legalism" now refers to being just overly
concerned with the law rather than referring to the whole idea of
God giving us codified laws that we are expected to at least
acknowledge as justifiable or at least to try to obey (while we are
doomed to failure).
The term "religious" has essentially replaced
the term "religiose" and is often
effectively deemed to be a pejorative, even though the original
meaning of "religion" meant "a binding together again with logic".
The term "spiritual", as evidenced by the above
article passage, has DEVOLVED into meaning at best being concerned with
non-mundane matters, and at worst: concerned with mystical matters. It
SHOULD relate more to being intellectually responsible.
The term "prayer" has all but devolved into
"begging" instead of just talking to God, and by this understanding
the poker players in a tournament are "praying" when they plead "One
time, baby, just one time!" for a favorable card to be dealt.
The term "love" has taken on so many diverse
meanings and usages–feeling, attraction, desire, need, pleasure,
sex, obsession, moral obligation–, that almost no one even uses it
for its basic and legitimate meaning: fulfilling valid needs and desires.
The term "soul" has long ago been confused with the
general person, and at the same time is used to point to a mystical
incorporeal entity, instead of being restricted to refer to the
psyche of the person and the concomitant pattern of their life. Its Greek
counterpart, psyche, primarily referred to the makeup and content of a persons life.
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, off balance and out of touch if they persist.
Of course, all this takes place in an oppressive
atmosphere replete with denial, pretension, hypocrisy, the blatant arrogance
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 being a puppet or actor, with personal judgment relinquished to
a script or some other person's strings–lack of critical 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!"
Do we need a fresh