So I took the morning off today. My kindergartner had his first official music program at school–a very cute Thanksgiving program. Yep, I had to be there! He’s such a ham.
Luckily for me, the program ended at a reasonable time, giving me some much needed “alone time”. Of course I ended up at Barnes & Noble, where else would I go? I grabbed a Pumpkin Spice Latte and started wandering. Went to listen to samples of Josh Groban’s Christmas CD (ick, sorry, it was not at all what I wanted!) and then decided to peruse the shelves. After reviewing some Stephen King (can you believe I haven’t read “Skeleton Key” yet?) and Anne Rice (I came seriously close to buying the first book in her “Sleeping Beauty” series), I stumbled upon a book called “Religious Literacy” by Stephen Prothero. His book laments that the United States is arguably one of the most religiously devout nations, whose citizens know shockingly little about the tenants of their faith. He presented a quick “Religious IQ” test which he said his own college students failed miserably. (If I find it online somewhere, I will post it.)
But he raised some very important concerns, like how almost nobody involved in global politics has advisers well-versed in the religions of other nations; how Waco could have ended better had the FBI better understood what Koresh’s followers believed; and how national governmental policies are often shaped by gross misunderstandings of the Bible, in spite of the so-called “separation of church and state” (which exists nowhere in the Constitution, by the way). He made some points about the state of religious understanding that I found somewhat disturbing, like how many people didn’t realize that Madonna (the singer) was named after somebody (like, um, Mary?) or that Jesus (not Billy Graham!) gave the Sermon on the Mount (yes, that’s in the Bible). Looking at some of this information, I actually started to understand why some atheists and agnostics get kind of worried about things like the Religious Right! If I could have stayed at B&N all day and read the rest of that book, I would have. I may just have to buy it next week.
Which brings me to the title of this post, and how I need a vacation. Not only because my show is over (hooray!), but because I so want to just physically remove myself from my life for a while. No work, no friends, no family, no computers (gasp!), no mundane tasks of life and living. I would gladly lock myself in a room with a bottle of water (or…wine?) and a loaf of bread and just read, breathe, and ponder. I could lose myself within my own mind, introduce myself to new thoughts and ideas, and let them mold me, change me. On my drive home after what little reading I did this morning, I couldn’t help but think of things like “The Secret” and how it’s supposedly Big News that there are transcendental forces at work in the universe. For goodness’ sake, even the Bible doesn’t cover everything there is to know in existence, and one can easily see how misunderstood and ignored it is.
What about the rest of the knowledge that’s out there to find? Why doesn’t anyone search for that? And if we as Christians are supposed to be spreading the Good News of God in Christ, why doesn’t anybody know what the story is? Why has the meaning of God become so distilled–at least in Christianity–into something like “God Is Love”? While this may be true, this is not the end–it’s hardly the beginning! Could it be that those of us with what one might call religious fervor are ourselves bringing about the demise of religious belief, simply because we cannot or will not examine all it means to be a child of God?
There are so many questions unasked, let alone answered.
I need more time!