Was reading an excerpt from Barack Obama's memoir "The Audacity of Hope" published in the latest Time. Obama makes the argument that the nation's divided not by gender or by party-affiliation, but "between those who attend church regularly and those who don't." I don't agree with him that Christianity's grown, but putting that aside for now, I found this part interesting:
"There are various explanations for this trend [growth of Christianity], from the skill of evangelicals in marketing religion to the charisma of their leaders. But their success also points to a hunger for the product they are selling, a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause. Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds--dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office...--and coming to the realization that something is missing. They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness are not enough. They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives, something that will relieve a chronic loneliness or lift them above the exhausting, relentless toll of daily life. They need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them--that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway toward nothingness."
The husband and I were discussing religion just yesterday, and this is exactly what I was trying to say, though hardly so well. Religion fills a void in people's lives, a need for spirituality. Like Obama's mother told him, it's "an expression of human culture... just one of the many ways--and not necessarily the best way--that man attempted to control the unknowable."
To me, in the best sense, religion helps us feel our immortality. We are all immortal because the only life we'll ever know is this one. Religion helps some of us reach beyond ourselves to touch, be for a few wondrously transcendent moments at one, at peace with humans, the earth, moon and stars, the skies above, the whole world.
Me, I find religion in nature, the touch of the wind, the rustling of leaves, the magic of a snowflake, the crash of the waves. Then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils...