Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Spirituality in America - Newsweek 8-29-05

Newsweek cover 8-29-05In August Newsweek magazine published an issue with a major series of articles about Spirituality in America. Although not every story was about ecstatic experiences, the articles were united by the theme of the personal nature of the experiences of God.

The main article began with a reminder of the Good Friday in 1966 when the cover of Time magazine asked the question “Is God Dead?” The answer to that three-word query depends on what question one hears. The obvious (to me) Christian answer is that in Jesus Christ God experienced death, but that God is eternal, always alive, and the source of life for all. My answer would only be a tangential answer to the question being asked by the articles in that edition of Time magazine, which were about whether the idea of God had become irrelevant to people living in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

The news reported in Newsweek is that God is not irrelevant for Americans at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century. I expect that it will be difficult for many people to read these articles as if they are talking about news. We are too close to the topic of the story, and even the many statistics offered in chart after chart only help us find where we are on the map of experiences of God by people across America.

The religious landscape has become more diverse since 1966. The wrap-up article by Martin Marty about the American spiritual journey referred to the publication fifty years ago of Protestant-Catholic-Jew by Will Herberg. The spiritual landscape has certainly become more diverse over fifty years, and one of the other articles describes the growth of Muslim faith communities. Marty also points out that “most people pursue their search in traditional sanctuaries, though often in untraditional ways.” He also says that one of the paths of the American Spiritual journey “takes the spiritual-minded into activism.” Along that line another of the articles in the issue discusses the development of Eco-Christianity, a development in very traditional churches guided by the principle that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

Where is your spiritual journey taking you? Are you feeling called by God to express your faith in specific acts of service or advocacy? If so, are you willing to share what you are hearing from God with the rest of your present faith community?

Do you feel a sense of connection to your church family along with a need to worship differently? The fact that your faith community seems to be doing things the way they've always done things before does not prevent them from trying some new things. If you are feeling a need for a different kind of worship, are you willing to share what you are hearing from God with the rest of your present faith community?

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