I am frequently asked, "Why the widespread departure from organized religion?"
I have thought long and hard about this and, for those of you who follow my blogs with the Huffington Post and the articles I write for the Washington Post and BeliefNet.com, as well as my own books, you know I've written extensively about this.
I Have Thought Much About This...
While scores have left the church and scores more will leave in the coming years, I understand their reasons perhaps better than most. Many of their disappointments and frustrations I, too, have felt. I have chosen to stay, however, and work inside that world, as I do in the world within which we all live, to fulfill my personal life purpose which is: "To create a more conscious, compassionate, and charitable world." When it comes to the widespread departure from organized religion, however, (which is just a polite way of saying the "Church" - although it is true, there is a falling away from organized religion in general, too, and in many places) but I think one of the reasons for the rapidity of the departure is explained by the Internet itself.
The Internet: "A New Worldwide Congregation of Likeminded
While certainly not the cause, the internet has created a world wide web of interconnectedness, making it possible for the millions of people who have for centuries quietly questioned much of the madness they encountered in organized religion to almost suddenly, with the help of the internet, discover they are not the only ones who've wondered about, as well as quietly resisted, the insanity in so much of what is called Christianity. Is this good? Well, it depends on whether you're and insider or an outsider. Those inside organized religion are terrified at what's happening inside their world...to their world. They are scrambling for answers. Most of their conclusions, however, at least heretofore, have been just plain wrong, or misguided, or designed only to lay the blame for the deterioration of the Church on those who have left and are leaving.
Consequently, they have only succeeded in making matters worse for themselves. A few of them have been wise enough to ask, "Could there be something that's wrong with us?" and they have wisely called upon people committed to help them navigate toward a new vision of the church. If it isn't clear to you by now, get clear about this one thing: the Church you and I grew up within is gone. Admittedly, remnants of it will remain here and there until the white-haired folks who cling to their memories finally die off. And, they will disappear. Some young, unwise leaders will try, as many of them are doing even now, to rearrange the deck chairs, hoping against hope that their resistance will keep the Titanic from sinking. At long last, they, too, will disappear.
Float Free, My Friends
Meanwhile, if you're an outsider, you know this already. But I would caution you not rejoice in it, although I know what it's like to feel as if payback is finally coming. In so many ways, however, it is sad to see the ship sink. It is for me, anyway. But do not any of you forget, there are lifeboats all around. And, inside these little boats all across the sea called the World Wide Web, there are gatherings of the sacred survivors and seekers who are deeply devoted...not to resurrecting the Titanic...but to the preservation of what was once that which was important to them in the church - real community, real connectedness - naturally - to God, to each other, real compassion for the poor, and a real desire to help make the world "a more conscious, compassionate, and charitable place."
Know this, these boat people will remain true to their calling; they will maintain their relationship to the sacred; and, they talk to each other and learn from each other, even from other religions, as they drift along in little lifeboats called "The Internet." Float free, my spiritual friends. You deserve some calm seas of sacredness. The Sacred is there, too.
If you find the things I write about the spiritual life to be meaningful to you, would you share them with your family and friends? Visit my website www.SteveMcSwain.com too for more like what you've just read. Walk with God. But then, of course, you do. How could you not? You were born to do so.