I haven’t written in a while because I have been thinking about the current world situation. From a spiritual perspective, we seem to be in a period of moral bankruptcy stemming from all moral questions being profoundly oversimplified. The cause of that reductionism is neither on the left or the right alone. Rather, it’s everywhere. At the risk of oversimplifying the issue myself, I will wade in.
Popular theology has, since the rise of the religious right in the middle of the last century, been focused almost exclusively on genitals. What seems to matter is what we believe about sexuality and reproduction. At the same time, the right tends to put much more emphasis on what people believe than on how they act. In Christian circles this is completely misguided since Jesus never once told us to believe in him, only to follow him. We act as if we will encounter St. Peter immediately after we die and he will then administer a final exam that will determine our final destination. That belief doesn’t really have the effect of leading people to study what they claim to believe, sadly. Instead they compile a short list of the things they don’t do with their genitals, those things being just about all they hear from their churches.
What about the other issues? What about lying, cheating, stealing, compassion and charity, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick? For a society that seems obsessed with multi-tasking, we do very little of it in our spiritual and moral lives. We have been so convinced that all our moral imperatives are genital that we behave like insufferable bastards and believe we are doing God’s will. If we reflect for just a moment, it’s not too hard to see how we got here. In one hand we wave the Ten Commandments and seek to post them everywhere while in the other hand we break all of them, and more. How do we avoid seeing our hypocrisy? We avoid it by donning blinders and refusing to look at it.
Religion and spirituality aren’t here to make you wealthy, help you avoid the consequences of your actions, provide justification for your reprehensible behavior, or prepare you for the ultimate entrance exam. They exist to make us better people. Notice I didn’t say more successful people, wealthier people, people who drive better cars, or any other such nonsense. I said better people. The fact that many of us have no idea what qualifies anyone as a better person is the most ringing indictment of popular religion and spirituality we could find.