I have my own struggles with religion and faith and what exactly it all means. I think that’s healthy. I think not questioning your beliefs is what leads to hidebound thinking and intolerance. One of the things I constantly question is the way faith is portrayed in a ‘modern’ light. I feel uncomfortable with the rock-band services held in church basements where everyone knows the words to modern Christian ballads.
A part of this discomfort comes from my first experience with such a service. One of my high school friends, Cortney, took me to her church one Wednesday night. Everyone was really excited and happy to see each other, and the pastor seemed nice. He gave a good lesson about not becoming to attached to possessions, which I firmly agree with. Then they had the planned stuff-bashing. Everyone was supposed to bring something to ‘give up’, and they brought it forward to destroy it with hammers, scissors, and knives. The idea was that all that bashing would really help you let go of some of your stuff. It got really emotional and people cried about being to attached to things. Even guys cried. Cortney confessed to me later that she’d brought a couple of CDs she didn’t really like.
I just remember being annoyed and offended by the whole thing. The crying was ridiculous. Most people were only pretending to ‘get the point’ and were just having a little destructive fun. And even if everyone was really as emotionally involved as they seemed, why were we wasting all these goods by destroying them? Shouldn’t we be donating this stuff to the poor, or getting some use out of it? I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t preach for us to burn all our worldly goods in a fit of emotional angst.
The recent Roman Catholic ‘World Youth Day’ in Sydney strikes me as in the same vein. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your faith, and yes, it’s great that as Christians people are embracing new technology as well as sharing their faith. Still, somehow, a text from the pope reading “The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles and gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! – BXVI” doesn’t seem all that inspiring. And the excitement and actions of such a large gathering trouble me. I worry about mob mentality, in particular in a spiritual context. I worry that expanding technology detracts from the search for inner truth and self-awareness, rather than adding to it.
Ultimately, I have no wish to disparage anyone else’s attempt to come to an understanding of the world. Still, I wonder how many of us really examine our own attempts, really evaluate them on a daily basis. I cannot judge – I will leave that to someone else. Still, I worry about it.