Thursday, March 20, 2008

Some thoughts about religion

The Manic Mommies had an interesting, albeit unplanned, discussion about religion this week on their podcast. They were talking about trying to find the right church that fits into their family's lifestyle, i.e. that the services are held at the right time, that the children's education classes fit into what they need, etc. It was very interesting for me -- as a Jewish person -- listening to a Catholic and a Congregationalist talk about these issues.

I think what was most enlightening for me was how -- as the Mommies described it, in their experience -- "going to church" seems to be completely divorced from the rest of their lives. It's something that they do, on Sunday mornings, and they see it as a time of reflection, etc. But neither church nor their religion seems to impact the rest of their lives very much.

For me, being Jewish is a huge part of my life. I think about it every day, from dropping my kid off at his Jewish day school, to checking to calendar to see what's happening at our synagogue (we are there several days per week, on average, for services, meetings, classes, holiday celebrations, etc.) , to discussions with my dad about some religious issue, to reading something about Judaism in the newspaper, in a book, online, etc. It's all-encompassing. It's not just something I do once a week when we go to religious services.

I guess what's fascinating is how perhaps it's a function of being Christian in this society versus being Jewish means that you don't need to spend as much time thinking about your Christianity since the society supports that as a norm (as you can see from this chart, about 75% of Americans identify as Christian). And if you are going to be a part of a different religion, such as Judaism, that is such a minority, you really have to focus on it much more consciously.

Or maybe part of it is that Judaism is a culture as well as a religion, while Christianity is part and parcel of the American culture.

As Erin would say: "fascinating."


Anonymous said...

As a Christian, I would say that I wish more people were interested in combining their "church lives" and "real lives." I wish the church wasn't empty all week; if things were going on I'd be there. I wish people felt it was important to cultivate relationships with people from church. I wish it wasn't like pulling teeth to convince people to go have lunch after church. I REALLY wish people would attend the church closest to them, so that when you try to make friends with people from church it wasn't a game of "who actually lives close enough to hang out with."

That would be nice.

nachtwache said...

It is sad when the Christian aspect is relegated to one day a week. For some people it's more of a tradition or habit than real faith.
Our church ( evangelical) has home groups, bible studies, children's and adult programs during the week. Pretty much every day of the week there is something one can be involved in. People do get together socially, do lunch after church or go for coffee during the week. During church babies can be cared for in the nursery, older children have Sunday school, in age groups; all facilitated by volunteers from the congregation.
Even with all that, for some people it doesn't go deeper than belonging to a social club and they're not interested in maybe having to sacrifice something for the good of the church, society, for their faith. Part of it is that becoming a person after God's own heart doesn't happen overnight, it's a growing process. Our faith is supposed to impact our every day life, be present outside the church walls as well, influence life choices, moral convictions and ideally change us into loving, compassionate people, who always put God first.
Not easy.
Being a minority would make a big difference. In countries where Christians are persecuted, you don't get Sunday only Christians. If your life is on the line, you'll have to be completely convinced of your faith, because that faith will cost you.
Having it so good and easy makes for a lot of superficial adherents who never go any deeper.
In Revelations it says that God prefers Christians to be hot or cold, if we're lukewarm, He'll spit us out.
I have to work on making God first in my life and I'm far from being as I should be.