Chuck Bino: Blame the message, messenger or recipient?
In Andrea Jackson’s letter of Dec. 28, “Religion in America is Devotion to Lip Service,” he implies that spirituality and religious practice preclude good people doing bad things, that slavery and displacing Indians means religion doesn’t work, that putting God on a coin at the same time was hypocrisy.
“There is a decline of religious influence in America. Perhaps it’s because the cultural bigotry inherent in religion makes it incapable of accessing spirituality,” Jackson says responding to Bill Michal’s Dec. 16 letter. “The religious solution he (Michal) offers is just as impotent.”
Perhaps it is the follower’s imperfection, his impotent response to the religious message that doesn’t seem to work.
In “There is no political solution to spiritual problems” Michal says “The blame rests squarely at the feet of God’s people.” In my interpretation, Michal believes that the so-called believers or pseudo religious are more responsible for our problems, while Jackson blames established religions. Interestingly, both think we’ve gone down the wrong course as a society. Who to blame?
If two conditions coexist or occur at similar times, it does not “prove” that one is cause for the other. It may simply be that one helps set the stage, and is only a contributing factor. Several components may be involved. Yet, we still don’t see how Jackson’s use of cultural bigotry, nationalism and worship of an “elitist God” adds to our understanding.
There is an undeniable decline of formal religious practices, indicated by the lack of church attendance. Young adults and our youth seem to be absent from church activities. Also, there is a decline of the “formal family,” a place where initial exposure to discipline, moral and religious practice normally begins. Consider the substantial increase in births to unmarried minority women. Then, witness the drastic increases in dependency or “slavery” to the federal government’s numerous assistance” programs. Do these correlate?
The father figure/husband has been replaced by the government in the form of financial “support” for everything from food, health insurance, to housing. Is it any wonder that many women don’t find husbands or family environments necessary before bearing children? There is no longer a social “stigma or scarlet letter” that accompanies single motherhood.
A consequence of that missing fatherhood is the lack of children’s discipline training. Might there be a correlation between these things and the booming incidence of gang violence, black on black crimes, and despair in our inner cities?
There is also a promotion of class warfare by our government in the form of an “envy of those who succeed” and a need to punish success by increased taxation. It remains an expectation with government that those who “have” continue supporting those who have not. Does anyone see a growing relationship between lack of personal responsibility, lack of family structure and discipline and growing government enabling? Where is Jackson on these visible, less spiritual contributing factors?
Lastly, many will insist that one does not “access” spirituality as Jackson suggests, but cultivates, nurtures and reinforces it in himself and his family. That can only happen if “spirituality” is allowed to be an example from the start, before the tentacles of secularity under the guise of enlightenment in public schools take place. One solution, then, may be in improved family structures. Yet, there is no school for effective parenting. Michal is correct that government can’t nurture the spiritual needs of the family, merely replace them. Andrea Jackson may be correct about individuals who pay only spiritual lip service.
We may all be accomplices by omission or commission to setting and then ignoring the societal “stage.”
Chuck Bino lives in High Point with his wife, Sue, after technical and management careers in manufacturing and retail. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.