Mixed messages: choose your own
Highlands TodayChange is not always good. Queen Victoria's bloomers verified that. Over 82 years the royal lady expanded from a youthful 20-inch waist to the 56-inch middle on display at Kensington Palace. I've often thought, staring into the sad gaze of someone's ancestors hanging in Cracker Barrel, "Ah, they never knew they would end up like this."
Published: November 12, 2009
Published: November 12, 2009
Parade magazine's "Spirituality Poll," completed by 1,051 respondents May 8-12, 2009, indicates more Americans are describing themselves as "spiritual but not religious." Author Christine Wicker interprets this as "moderate and tolerant in ways that would have astonished our grandparents." Many of these "spiritual" folks base their beliefs on customs, traditions and holidays. Fear of God, as well as connection to places of worship, has no place in their theology. Good or bad change?
Wicker says Americans show a "practical outlook" as to religion's place. Parade's poll found only 12 percent believe their religion the one true faith, 12 percent said no religion has validity, and 59 percent said all religions are valid. In previous economic downturns, more Americans turned to religious services. In 2009, the reverse is happening. Good or bad change?
In his column "Career Cycles," Joe Hodowanes often writes about "flameout." He describes a person who stops growing and tries to bluff his way along.
Spiritually speaking, there's a whole lot of bluffing going on.
When "Secret Lives of Women" aired August 2009 on WE television, Carol Kent told her story. Her son, devoutly religious, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, shot and killed his wife's ex-husband. He is serving a life sentence. Out of shame and despair Kent founded Speak Up For Hope, an agency helping prison inmates and their families. She says: "When we begin to be real, that is the most freeing experience we can have."
Opportunities to "get real" are increasing. The Nov. 5 killing at Fort Hood illustrates our absurd focus on political correctness. Ignoring warning signs, we refuse plain speech. Dr. Phil, America's sweetheart psychiatrist, went berserk on Larry King Live over the suggestion that Maj. Nidal Hassan's Islamic leanings influenced his deed. Neutral spirituality, "moderate and tolerant," is spilling over into every area of our lives.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad is not a madman. He knows exactly what he believes: that he is preparing the way for the Islamic Messiah. He believes his way is the only way. His government equals his religion. He won't pretend "all religions are valid."
Neither will the Christian God: "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exodus 34:14 NIV). Without apology, He insists on being present in every part of our lives. That is his definition of "practical."
Parade's poll embodies the mixed messages of this hour in history. If we continue to make our own minds our god instead of turning to The Mind, we will believe ourselves enlightened even as we plunge into greater darkness. Choose either one book, the Bible, one God, known through Jesus Christ, or all the rest. That message is plain.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com