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Last night thinking about what I wrote yesterday it occurred to me that the missing piece is religion. It's a funny thing for a confirmed atheist for me to suggest, but even I can see some good in organised religion.
I wrote a lot yesterday. In the end the words just poured from me in an impassioned torrent. I was late going to dinner because I couldn't let it go and the words kept coming. In the evening after I returned from dinner and was watching the TV I kept going back in my mind to what I had written. Somehow I felt it before I thought it, that what was missing in todays society is a spiritual element.
What we don't have, but need, is belief in something larger than ourselves and beyond our complete understanding. It doesn't need to be sacred, but it needs to have substance enough that we turn from the shallow distractions of our culture today towards something more timeless and universal, feel the quickening of belief stir in our soul. Soul, now there's a good word, and in a sense that is what I mean – we have lost our soul and need regain it.
Religion is the obvious choice, though it isn't for me – but then I have belief already, just in other things. Religion asks people to humble themselves before something mightier and holier than their ordinary selves. It suggests meaning and purpose of more substance than the daily distractive exertions of ordinary life.
It's quite a turnaround for me. What need was there to believe in something invented for the purpose I would think. I believed that religion was a crutch, an invitation to believe without consideration, and too often an hypocrisy where so-called God fearing absolved themselves of the daily sins they committed against others. I still have reason to believe that. But I understand to the need for religion. If there were no religions then they would be created regardless because there is something in men's souls that craves a mystical belief in deeper meaning. We can't be here alone? This must mean something?
The turn-around goes further. There is need for good old fashioned Christian values. Even I, by birth Christian, but not belief, have lived by (most) of the strictures of the church. They underpin a civilised society. Strip away the pretensions and the corrupted theology of most religions and there is something worth believing in, and living by. I wonder if in these fast days that some of those old fashioned values have been lost or compromised. We need them back.
I remain an atheist. I still cannot believe in God, though it might be nice to think there was one. Regardless I understand why society needs those beliefs no matter what stripe. Without them we run the risk of being nothing more than a modern day Gomorrah.