Posts Tagged ‘Church’

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Fruitcake: The Greatest Gift of All

December 18, 2009

I sat down recently to write a letter, vouching for the character of someone I love.  Trying as best I could to explain to a complete and total stranger what a wonderful person she is.  And, it was difficult.  Not because she’s not one of the kindest and sweetest people I know, because she is … but because … well, where’s the proof?  What has she done? What are the works, sacrifices, offerings, etc. that would serve as testimonies to the goodness of her heart?

It doesn’t do much good to offer “she just is … trust me, I know her” as an explanation.   This man is looking for proof of her goodness – and a great many people testifying to it is a statement and a bit of proof in and of itself, I suppose.  That said, I hope a sackful the size of Santa’s shows up on this stranger’s doorstep.  He’s a very, very important person in her life right now, after all … and will have a profound impact on her future very, very soon.

In the meantime, all she can hope for is that she’s made a profound enough impact on the lives of enough people that that bag full of letters shows up.  That, within them, are stories and memories that are convincing.  That show more than a lifetime of the best intentions.   And, I think it will.

All of this brought me to this question … what if it was me?  What if I were dependent upon all of those I count as friends and family to write a letter, vouching for my character? Explaining who it is I am?

Would I, in good conscience, even be  able to ask them for one?  Would I really want to know who they thought I was? Would they have to search their souls, calendars or picture books for hours to recall an example of love and/or goodness? Would they be able to fill a page with anything convincing?

And, to take that one step further, if you’re someone who claims to love Christ, have your actions reflected that love?  That commitment? What kind of sacrifices have you made on His behalf, for others? What kind of things have you done that have had a profound impact on the lives of others?

In Christ’s court, a list of works/deeds – proof of your love, if you will – won’t be required.  He knows your heart.

A stranger on the other hand … ? Well, he doesn’t.  And the only tangible proof of its goodness is what its produced … its fruit (or, this being the holiday season, fruitcake, of course).

Would others have any on hand to send along on your behalf?

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Number of Christians in America Continues to Shrink

March 9, 2009

And we just can’t seem to understand why our country slips further and further into darkness …  Really?  It seems fairly obvious to me, though, I’m what is commonly referred to these days as one of those “right-wing, evangelical, conservative wackos”, so what do I know, right? 

atheist-ghost-buster_thumbnail2The further we get from God – and the priciples upon which this country was founded – the bleaker and more frightening things become.  I really don’t see the correlation between our nation’s (moral) decline and the growth in Godlessness as coincidence … and, as those numbers have mirrored each other for the better part of 60 years now, I’m not sure how anyone else can, either.  Can anyone argue that this country is a much more frightening place to live than it was even 20 years ago?

Anyhow, as we venture deeper and deeper into what may be  – at least potentially – one of the darkest periods in our nation’s history … a time when more and more people are entrusting their lives to the government than to God, we read the following:

 

More Americans Say They Have No Religion

Monday, March 09, 2009

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

“No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state,” the study’s authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren’t Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

The study also found signs of a growing influence of churches that either don’t belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group.

Respondents who called themselves “non-denominational Christian” grew from 0.1 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent last year. Congregations that most often use the term are megachurches considered “seeker sensitive.” They use rock style music and less structured prayer to attract people who don’t usually attend church. Researchers also found a small increase in those who prefer being called evangelical or born-again, rather than claim membership in a denomination.

 

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

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