Day 24: Name three things in the world today that impact your own spiritual community or spiritual practices.
I started this post once before, and by the time I stopped to breathe, I had a 10-paragraph-long explanation of how Christians and Jews thought about each other, and I hadn’t gotten one finished thought yet. Wisely, I think, I trashed the whole thing and concentrated on something else. So now I’m going to try again. But this time, I think I’m going to write about what impacts any person of faith. This is still an academic answer, and I feel it fair to let you know that from the start.
Being a person of faith in the human world in 2012 is not really an easy thing, if you are at all interested in what is happening outside of your own faith. Let’s get the obvious one out-of-the-way: religious hysteria. It is 2012, after all.
The Mayan civilization flourished between 250 C.E. and 900 C.E. They had been around for a lot longer than that, but during those years, they built their largest cities and their most impressive pyramids, which often had astronomical observatories on the flat tops. Follow this link for a detailed description of Mayan history and culture. The Maya were particularly interested in the workings of the cosmos, predicted eclipses that are happening now, and kept intricate calendars. It is the Mayas’ long count calendar which is affecting the world now, and particularly impacting the lives of many people of faith.
The end of the Mayan long count calendar falls on December 21, 2012. This is actually the third time the end of the long count has come. Many in the world, including such mass media as the History Channel, and the National Geographic Channel, and others like them, insist on talking about the end of the calendar as the end of the world. Many Christians believe that this date somehow coincides with the Book of Revelations in the Bible — a book written by John of Patmos as an allegory about the conflict between Israel and Rome. Almost from the beginning, Christians have interpreted this book as literal, and now they have a date on which to pin the event. This tendency toward Armageddon-ism affects anyone who must come in contact with its believers, often either convincing them, or strengthening their belief that the Armageddon-ists are mistaken. As time goes by, and we get closer to the date, I expect we may see more cult-like behavior, certainly more religious hysteria, and perhaps even affects of these behaviors on politics, economics, and the very functioning of society.
Whew! The other two are very short! I promise!
In addition to the first situation, the world also face increasing nationalization, which may well result in countries in conflict. A combination of religious fervor and nationalism lies at the heart of the world of terrorism in our time. In addition, nationalism amongst some Americans, combined with greed for oil, keeps the United States in a costly, bloody war far from its own borders, which affects the world’s people in ways economic, social, and psychological.
Thirdly, there exists, in American society at least, but I think around the world, an attitude of ennui combined with a tendency toward refusal to take responsibility for one’s own actions. Many American high school graduates stay at home, or depend on their parents’ help to manage day-to-day survival, while at the same time alcohol use is up, along with sex at younger ages, more casual sex in younger grades, and neglect for sexual protection, safety, and pregnancy prevention. In addition, underage alcohol and drug use is a continuing problem in the U.S., as is heavy drinking by young adults, both in and out of college. (Source: http://www.adolescent-substance-abuse.com/statistics-drug-abuse.html)
People of faith are at risk of the effects of religious hysteria, unreasoning nationalism, and the boredom and lack of responsibility rife within our society. A hard time to be a thinking believer of any faith.