... Rev. Mary Joseph, pastor of Pathways, a United Church-affiliated "progressive Christian community" open to anyone interested in the thought and teachings of Jesus. "This is a fairly religious country, with a huge Christian base. But many people resent the element of judgment in fundamentalist churches." A lot of it, Joseph concurs, flows from the same severe stance on sexual matters -- abortion and homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, premarital sex and birth control -- that did so much to empty the mainstream churches in the first place. But there's another element as well, she adds: "People interested in alternative spiritual ways feel harshly judged and unwelcome too, like all those Christians who are interested in Buddhist meditation."
Cry me a fucking river!
I'm sure that if I got out more I'd encounter people to this day who say, "Jesus loves you." I hear all kinds of rubbish from others, and I suspect Christians will tell me more of the same in Christian cliches. The society we have made is one based on falsity of feeling and thought. That extends to religion. Why would Christians take responsibility for their own actions and their own being if others don't? Christians are inexcusable in that they should, by being Christians, know better if they know their religion.
"Jesus loves me." The point is lost on me. I think there is no point. I think the point one wishes to make is that Christians are loving, sharing-caring types who are non-judgemental, kind and nice, soft and welcoming. Good for them. But what about Jesus? What about God? What about the religion? If we need feel-good therapy, then indeed we can go to a Buddhist monastery or a New Age weekend retreat to build up our self-esteem; but religion, I think, has nothing to do with being loved, it being not about me but about God. And were I judged, harshly or not, it is religion and God at work.
I do encounter, even in my isolation here, the phrase, "apostate church." That church might well be all about me and my sensitivities. That would be a church I know nothing about me, and one I would not care to know. The church of "Jesus Loves Dag" is a church I would call my mirror. I could like that. I am not a harsh judge of my own character. My mirror loves me. One of these days I'll even clean off the picture of Cary Grant that hangs over it. But I'm not ever going to some damned church that offers me jazz vespers and hugs at the doorway. Nor will I darken the doorway of a church that ponders " the thought and teachings of Jesus."
The following story is probably meant to give a lift to Christians concerned that their religion is dwindling in Canada, to show that it really isn't, and that Jesus loves us all.
Peter Mullen writes of Pelagius in Faking It: The Sentimentalisation of Modern Society. I have written elsewhere in a different context on Pelagius, and will therefore refrain from further muddying these waters. Mulllen's point is well taken, regardless, and for those who wish to know more I would suggest a read through. For now, this aticle from McLean's should suffice.
Maclean's Poll 2006: Praise the Lord and call the psychic
It turns out God is alive and well in Canada. So are angels, heaven, and ESP
But as Bibby's series of public opinion surveys shows, a funny thing happened on the way to an atheist Canada: rumours of Christianity's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Eighty-one per cent of Canadians believe in God, and two-thirds of us that Jesus Christ is His divine son. Belief in angels, heaven and (to a lesser extent) hell, is almost as prevalent. Crunch Bibby's 2005 numbers how you will -- based on age, on weekly or monthly visits, on denomination -- and the attendance decline not only levels off but shows a turn toward growth since 2000.
Just as it was the decline in attendance among Catholics that drove down the national attendance rate, it is the recent 10 per cent increase in Catholic church-going outside Quebec that has seen those numbers turn around. The uptick makes Bibby think Canada could be in for a "significant revitalization of organized religion." Especially since research indicates that perhaps two-thirds of the 16 per cent-strong No Religion group will "re-identify" with their birth faiths as they seek rites of passage relating to marriage, children, and death.
In a result that will seem, in the post-9/11 climate, both unsurprising and somewhat alarming, 18 per cent of respondents are uneasy in the presence of a Muslim. But this is hardly evidence of the much-feared anti-Islamic backlash. Canadians save their real suspicion for born-again Christians: 31 per cent of us are unhappy merely to meet one. (Jews, presumably viewed as more of an ethnic than a religious group, disturb only five per cent of Canadians.)
It's hard to guess what images formed in respondents' minds when they were given such stereotypical labels. In the case of born-again Christians, the current U.S. administration is so deeply unpopular here -- among secular Canadians as much for its religiosity as its policies -- that the image may well have been of President George W. Bush. That in itself would have been enough to spike the negative numbers upwards. But almost 80 per cent of Canadians, according to the 2001 census, identify themselves as Christian, and that means unease about born-agains comes from within the faith as well. It's reasonable to conclude that some of the negative attitude toward fundamentalists, Christians and Muslims both, comes from hostility towards fire-and-brimstone religion. And that's never more true than when people fear a political agenda: the proposed introduction of sharia law in Ontario, for instance, or restrictions on abortion or same-sex marriage.
"That 31 per cent number doesn't surprise me at all," comments Rev. Mary Joseph, pastor of Pathways, a United Church-affiliated "progressive Christian community" open to anyone interested in the thought and teachings of Jesus. "This is a fairly religious country, with a huge Christian base. But many people resent the element of judgment in fundamentalist churches." A lot of it, Joseph concurs, flows from the same severe stance on sexual matters -- abortion and homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, premarital sex and birth control -- that did so much to empty the mainstream churches in the first place. But there's another element as well, she adds: "People interested in alternative spiritual ways feel harshly judged and unwelcome too, like all those Christians who are interested in Buddhist meditation."
... A third of us believe in astrology, and more than half (57 per cent) are fairly sure ESP exists. Two-thirds think there's life after death, more than believe in either heaven or hell. Slightly more than 31 per cent consider it likely that we can communicate with the dead, although 46 per cent think we can do so with the spirit world. It seems a glaring contradiction that the number of people who believe we can communicate with spirits is 50 per cent greater than those who think we can talk to the dead -- especially since millions of Christians pray daily to saints, all of whom are dead....