No reasonable person can deny that Christianity is imploding. Attendance at worship service has been in decline for decades. By 2024, predictions are than less that ten percent of Americans will attend church on a regular basis. That’s not a failure of Americans, it’s a failure of church itself. That failure, I would like to suggest, isn’t a failure of tradition but rather a failure of religion. Back in the 1970s, Christian evangelicalism abandoned religion in search of political power. They still claimed to be a religion, but the truth is that religion never thrives when it crawls into bed with politicians. Instead, it capitulates its truth in exchange for power. That was true when Constantine declared Christianity the religion of the empire, and it’s true today. We have had one hundred and seventy years of people who claim to be literalists redefining words to match their agenda. If you doubt that, just look at the Vice President of the United States claiming to be the wounded party because his wife works for a school that openly endorses hatred. My, how far we have fallen.
I would like to propose that the only way to more forward in to look back. We need to strip away the thousands of years of doctrine that every religion is buried under and seek the truths that have been obscured by ego and the thirst for temporal power in the name of God. We need to ascertain whatever truths we can – both literal and mythical – and move forward from there, starting with common ground shared by all the great traditions. Here are some starters:
- Killing other human beings is wrong. It doesn’t matter what the motivation is, and it doesn’t matter what kind of clothes we wear while doing it. There may be times that we find it unavoidable, but that doesn’t make it right.
- Discrimination is wrong, no matter what justification might be offered.
- There is nothing about natural bodily processes that is dirty, though it’s good to take a shower on a regular basis.
- There is nothing anyone can do with their genitals that God is the least bit concerned about, as long as all parties are consenting and nobody gets hurt.
- As a corollary to the above, each person’s body is their own, including their reproductive choices, and nobody else has the right to interfere in those choices.
This post is the beginning of an ongoing series in which I hope to lay a framework for creating something new, yet familiar; something that both respects tradition and breathes life into it; and something that is strong enough to allow reform and renewal on a constant basis. Your feedback is welcome!