Wednesday, April 7, 2021

See you in church ... oops, no I won’t

Belief + Doubt = Sanity, by Barbara Kruger (Hirshhorn Museum)

     On May 11, 1833, “Chicago’s first reformer,” Rev. Jeremiah Porter, arrived here to find “a wide, wet prairie, as far as the eye could reach, on a muddy river winding south over a sand-bar to the Lake with a few scattered dwellings.”
     The Presbyterian minister also found, to his horror, a priest, John M. I. St. Cyr, who arrived 10 days earlier, and got busy raising a Catholic church, St. Mary’s, at State and Lake.
     Not one to accept fate passively, Rev. Porter knelt beside St. Mary’s late at night and prayed for its destruction. Setting the tone for interdenominational relations for centuries to come.
     That prayed-for doom has been slow in arriving. But a milestone was sailed past last week, as the Gallup Poll reported that for the first time in its 80-year history of prodding the American soul, most people in this country don’t belong to a religious congregation.
     Only 47%t of Americans are members of a church, mosque or synagogue. In 1999, it was 70%.
     That figure will only dwindle, since, like using a handkerchief, regularly sliding your keister into a pew is an elderly practice. The Gallup Poll found 66% of those born before 1946 belong to a congregation, but only 36% of millennials do.
     The press is supposed to be the dread Beast, dancing around the bonfires of pagan secular humanism. But the story barely made a ripple.
     Could all those naysayers be right? Does the media really ignore good news?
     Is the decline of organized religion good news? Scratch any act of meanness, cruelty or spite and half the time you’ll find a religious person nodding vigorously, explaining how his big imaginary friend in the sky demands acting in an otherwise indefensible manner. Look at all the evil that faith has endorsed and it’s hard not to view religion as an engine of suffering, like disease.

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  1. Sometimes it seems that as more people become normal the craziness of the true believers increases, like there is the same amount of religiosity out there but it’s getting concentrated in fewer brains.

  2. This was, of course, a big deal among the Founding Fathers.
    "Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused
    by differences of sentiments in religion are the most inveterate, and ought
    most to be deprecated." George Washington

    "In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty." Thomas Jefferson

    And about the conformity of thinking religion demands De Tocqueville had this to say: "The effect of the tyranny of the majority in America is to trace a formidable circle around thought. I know of no country in which there is less independence of spirit and true freedom of expression than in America."


    1. 3 pertinent selections from the mish-mash book. Nice, Tom.

    2. Years ago, perhaps before you discovered EGD, Tom would often include germane quotations from a wide variety of sources with his comments. When asked how he always seemed to have an appropriate selection for whatever Neil's topic was, he told us that he had compiled his own compendium of noteworthy passages or quotes over time as he discovered them, and that he called the notebook in which he recorded them his mish-mash book.

  3. The sooner religion & its absurd beliefs go away, the better off we will all be.

  4. To me, organized religion occurs when superstitious behavior meets mob mentality.
    However, as Neil points out, sometimes it does great things... other times, not so much.
    I believe in the one commandment: Don't hurt anything.


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