A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Civic Religion

Our school recently had Faith Day. It's a chance for the religious groups on campus to discuss their views on central religious questions in a panel with other groups. The school paper spoke of interfaith dialogue, but it was 17 evangelical groups and a few others.

The liberal protestant group I worked with, was one of the others. There was little attempt to reach out to non Christian groups. It was exclusively run by a few conservative pastors who hired a conservative pastor as the key note speaker.

I think some changes are needed in this event for next year. But listening to, primarily students, speak of their faith was informative. In particular evangelicals, because it is neither the lofty ideals some imagine nor the scarry conservative views others would imagine.

If I could incapsulate their views it would be this: the universe is benevolent, God is looking after them whether it's with finals or a mate, the cultural values one learns in rural Illinois are self evident truths that the local religious groups help re-enforce and support.

Christianity, operates much like any civic religion, to bless our daily activities, and support the values of the community. Evangelicalism is the default religion of society, so much so that even in college it's hard to see how other views could hold plausibility for these students.

An example was the way the catholic and other mainline speakers used the same language, having many times the exact same answers as evangelical groups, even when some knowledge of their respective traditions would suggest a different answer was required.

I do think faith involves a tension with the society, it should problematize things as they are, and that is not happening. The focus on one's importance in the world shouldn't be the basis of any religion, but I'm starting to think it's the key for religion's success today.

A monotheism that doesn't call you to anything more, that does not call you to something beyond yourself, whether dressed in the garb of orthodoxy, "bible truths", etc misses the point of monotheism. And with that, much good that religion can offer is blocked.

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