Thursday, April 19, 2018

Are We Salvageable?

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I missed most of the Easter Sunday NBC production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” but I’ve been watching segments on YouTube and have been so moved by Sara Bareilles’ rendition of “I don’t know how to love him.” You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3WRA0wSWDg&list=RDU3WRA0wSWDg.

The production’s ratings were “a little shy of miraculous” for such a program in early April, says the periodical AdAge, and Bareilles undoubtedly deserves much of the credit.

She plays Mary Magdalene, portrayed in the production as a reformed prostitute. Actually, there’s no evidence in the Bible that that was the case. It is thought to be a confusion that arose in the medieval church.

Strong, Independent Woman
Instead, scripture scholars view Magdalene as “a strong, independent woman who supported Jesus financially and spiritually.” The “prostitute” view, of course, makes a better story, but the misunderstanding does nothing to take away from the performance. And Jesus certainly encountered and empathized with prostitutes, according to the Bible.

Bareilles is so human, so vulnerable, so conflicted about her relationship with Jesus, exhibiting emotions with which modern people can easily relate. That is evident especially in this last verse of the song in which she doesn’t know whether a relationship with Jesus would be about ordinary human love or something much more. 

Yet, if he said he loved me
I'd be lost. I'd be frightened
I couldn't cope, just couldn't cope
I'd turn my head, I'd back away
I wouldn't want to know
He scares me so
I want him so
I love him so


Bareilles’ rendition of “Everything’s Alright” is equally moving. Whether you accept that Jesus is God or not, it focuses on the question of how to deal with God, who is like us and so unlike us.

But lyrics meant to comfort Jesus also attempt to domesticate him, turn him away from his mission, help him conform and be “like everybody else.”

Try not to get worried
Try not to turn onto
Problems that upset you
Well, don't you know
Everything's all right
Yes, Everything's fine
And we want you to sleep well tonight
Let the world turn without you tonight
If we try we'll get by
So forget all about us tonight


It’s evident from reading the gospels that Jesus’ disciples were at a loss in knowing how to deal with Jesus, who was obviously much more than an ordinary itinerant rabbi. The apostle, Peter – a simple fisherman – was especially confused. He comes off as decidedly impulsive, bringing to mind the 18th century poet Alexander Pope’s line, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

The incident now referred to as “the transfiguration” describes a scene in which Jesus takes selected disciples, including Peter, to a “high mountain,” where Jesus’ face “shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.”

Foot squarely in mouth
In the midst of what was described as a particularly mystical experience, Peter places his foot squarely in his mouth. “Lord, it is good that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Some Scripture scholars believe the transfiguration occurred at the time of the Hebrews’ Feast of Booths, commemorating their dwelling in booths for seven days as described in the Book of Leviticus.)

But before Peter finished speaking, according to the gospel account, “a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved son…listen to him.”

In another gospel story, Peter shows his impulsiveness when told that the man walking on water toward the disciples’ boat was Jesus. Peter immediately jumped in the water to get to Jesus, having to be saved from drowning.

To me, the apostles are the perfect bunch to represent us humans. They lacked thoughtfulness, were cowardly, sought titles and privilege and ultimately betrayed Jesus. Yet, for Jesus, they were salvageable.


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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Why I Write This Blog

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I’m coming up on my 250th blog since I began publishing them five years ago.

I’m sure many people who see them on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, or receive a notice of them each week by e-mail, wonder why I do it. After all, religion is about as popular as taxes, something that’s on the mind of many of us this time of year.

Many people consider religion a personal matter, not to be discussed in polite society. This has, to some extent, been the case as long as I can remember, but nothing like today. In today’s society, discussing religion is as close as you can get to taboo.

So why do I write them?

Well, there are personal reasons, a hint of which can be found in the bio on my blogger home page. Having been a priest and a journalist, I have training and experience that lend themselves to writing such a blog. I suppose I’ve thought, “If I don’t write about the faith I’ve struggled to nourish all my life, who will?”

Always questioned his faith
“Ah,” some might think, “this guy used to be a priest, so he would naturally defend religion and faith.” Not necessarily. I consider myself a skeptic, someone who has always questioned his faith. Contrary to what many who know me may believe, my doubts have at times outweighed my belief.

But I also believe that writing this blog has become a way to continue what I started as a priest but because of current church law, haven’t been able to continue in the same way. (I don’t fault the church, by the way. It was my choice to leave the priesthood, although I do hope for a change in who can be a priest. I especially favor that role for women.)

I also write the blog because I understand and empathize with my fellow skeptics who struggle to embrace God and religion. I respect whatever decisions they make about these topics but hope my weekly offerings can help frame the issues and help them make rational and heartfelt decisions.

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And I write the blog because I have the impression that many of the people who reject, or are indifferent to, God and religion do so for rather flimsy reasons. Studies show that huge numbers of Americans are ignorant about theology, including the theology of their own - or their former - faith.

I’m no expert, but I try to read a lot on a variety of topics, including religion and theology. And when I do, I think that I’m doing so for readers who would like to be better informed but are slowed by the hectic pace of modern life, their own fears and anxieties or other reasons.

I believe the climate of opinion influencing disbelief and disinterest in religion is obvious. In novels, especially about crime or espionage, which I occasionally read, there’s almost always a presumption that “nobody still believes in religion.” No reasons are ever given. No rational arguments are made. It often simply appears to be a matter of the author making sure his readers know he’s “current.”

But the influence of books on public opinion is negligible compared to that of TV, at least before the age of social media (which mostly ignores God and religion). And in my opinion, no shows had more influence over people’s beliefs and practices, at least of those now in their 30s and 40s, than Seinfeld and Friends.

Seinfeld, which ruled TV between 1989 and 1998, is “widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms ever made,” according to Wikipedia. And all 10 seasons of Friends, on the tube from 1994 to 2004, “ranked within the top ten of the final television season ratings, ultimately reaching the no. 1 spot in its eighth season.”

How to be liberated
These shows, and copycats, showed young people of the time “how to be modern, liberated people.” The plots were often based on the characters’ sexual tensions and rarely included any reference to God or religion. The not-so-subtle message: Unlike your parents and grandparents, you don’t need God or the “restrictions” of religion in your lives.

These shows didn’t make these societal changes single-handedly, but they are, in my view, largely responsible. And they’re even more responsible for the sexual revolution, in which religion barely fired a shot.

I have the impression that many people today wouldn’t embrace religion for the same reason they wouldn’t wear wide-legged jeans, eat mostly meat and potatoes, or if female, wear their hair in a bun. In other words, there’s not much thought given to such an important decision. I hope I’m wrong.

And I hope my weekly blogs inject a bit of thoughtfulness – no matter how small - into this scenario. I believe many people, including those who consider themselves completely “secular,” having no apparent interest in God or religion, at times long for God and the help religion can provide.

I write these blogs for them, even though few of them may actually read them. I appreciate other readers, but honestly, you’re just along for the ride.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Is This All There Is? (Bernice, nearly 100 and mostly blind, provides an answer.)

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In his weekly column, America Magazine editor Matt Malone writes about visiting, as a young Jesuit novice, a woman named Bernice in a hospital in Boston.

Nearly 100, Bernice had been in the geriatric ward for years because she had nowhere else to go. She no longer spoke aloud and was mostly blind, but was always smiling. In Bernice’s early days on the ward, nurses told Malone, “she was known for her folksy wisdom and quiet piety, which she generously shared with her fellow patients.”

Malone asked a nurse who was particularly close to Bernice why Bernice always seemed happy.

“Bernice knows Jesus,” the nurse replied, then with more emphasis, “Bernice. Knows. Jesus.”

A Much Deeper Kind of Knowing
When I read this, I thought, “Wow, she knows Jesus like you would know the person next door or the woman who works in the next cubicle.” But, of course, the nurse was talking about a much deeper kind of knowing, maybe like you know your children or your spouse, but even deeper than that, even more personal and “spiritual.”

Some people would simply say that Bernice is delusional, that Jesus has been dead for 2,000 years and that her “friendship” with him is simply a matter of magical thinking.

That’s a presumption with which I can’t agree. But it brings us squarely to the nature of faith, the principal topic of this blog. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I have frequently expressed my opinion that faith is mainly a relationship to God and others. But it’s also a way of knowing, distinct from science – as literature, art and music are – but no less reasonable.

Faith, like a plant, comes in seed form and you generally spend a lifetime nurturing it. To have faith, you have to accept uncertainty, just as you accept it in every other area of life. And you need persistence and patience.

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“Faith is not easy,” writes Malone. “It is just easier than the alternative.”

So if uncertainty isn’t the great enemy of faith, what is?

"Fear,” says Malone. “It is the fear, known or unknown, that this world is ultimately all there is, that there is no life beyond the here and now.”

Her faith freed Bernice from this fear. It also allowed her to be free of the walls of her hospital room, her near-blindness and all of her many deprivations. Could that be what Jesus meant when he said, “The truth will set you free?”

There’s a really meaningful song from Colombia called “Los Caminos de la Vida,” or “The Roads of Life.” Here are the lyrics, in Spanish for those of you who speak it, and the English translation.

Los caminos de la vida no son como yo pensaba
Como los imaginaba, no son como yo creía.
Los caminos de la vida son muy difícil de andarlos
Difícil de caminarlos, yo no encuentro la salida.

The roads of life aren’t what I thought they would be.
They’re not what I imagined, not what I believed them to be.
The roads of life are very hard to travel,
Hard to walk, and I haven’t found my way.

The song is an expression of disillusionment, one of the most common of feelings for many adults, sometimes leading to depression and even suicide. At some point, many people ask the question, “Is this all there is?” And no answer satisfies.

Makes Sense of an Otherwise Senseless World
Faith is the definitive answer. A relationship to God makes all the difference. It provides an anchor. It makes sense of an otherwise senseless world in which hopes, dreams and ambitions are swallowed by death.

Of course, you might say. You fear death so you make up an afterlife. How honest is that? But is it any less honest than rejecting faith as a way of knowing mostly because many others are doing so, or ignoring the question of God and insisting that life is meaningless?

Malone ends his essay by imagining how Bernice may have expressed to him the choice between faith and the fear that results from giving up on the search for God.

“Choose faith,” Matthew, she tells him. “Life is hard. And there ain’t no sense in makin’ it any harder than it needs to be.” 



   

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Peace That Is Attainable

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First, Happy Easter!

It’s hard for a Christian believer to ignore Easter, arguably the most important feast day for Christians. But I know that for many people who are searching for God – and this would, perhaps, include many people of faith - belief in Jesus’ resurrection is hard to accept.

Acquisition of faith is a process, sometimes a long one, so I don’t feel obliged to deal with faith in the resurrection in this blog. But I want to write about something that Jesus is recorded as saying upon greeting his disciples after his resurrection, according to the author of the Gospel of John.

In the penultimate chapter of John’s gospel, the author describes the scene. His disciples had been hiding out, the gospel says, “for fear of the Jews.” Their leader had been executed, after all, and no one knew if the authorities would now come after his disciples.

Frustrated, disillusioned and disappointed
Besides, the disciples were undoubtedly frustrated, disillusioned and disappointed over the apparent demise of the one in whom they had placed their hopes that – as Luke’s gospel describes it – “he would be the one to redeem Israel.”

But without any additional information about time or place, John’s gospel says, “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” Then he says it again, and again; three times in only seven verses of the gospel.

Why did Jesus use this manner of greeting and why did the author of the gospel choose to repeat it so often? Jesus undoubtedly knew of his disciples’ suffering, their fear, their disillusionment, and he didn’t want them to be anxious. He was reassuring them, bolstering their faith in him.

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To me, the author of the gospel was sending a powerful message to early Christians and to all who are searching for God. Many of us may have feelings about the search that are similar to those of the disciples. We may grow disillusioned about not finding the answers we’re looking for (Could we be looking for the wrong answers in the wrong places?) We may be anxious about the search, despairing of ever having a grasp on faith after years of trying.

“Peace be with you,” says Jesus.

Faith, or lack of it, is not meant to be a source of anxiety. Faith, even in incremental amounts, brings peace and joy, and all of us have some measure of faith – even those with great doubt. Jesus, after all, in several parables says that people have faith “a hundredfold” and several lesser amounts.

But what is this “peace?” Some believe it’s merely the absence of conflict. Others immediately think of the conflict among nations, or conflict in families. But there is a “biblical” meaning of peace and it’s probably what the author of John had in mind.

“Peace,” according to John L. McKenzie’s Dictionary of the Bible, “is the fruit of spiritual-mindedness. …Peace is communion with God. …It is also a state of interior calm and of harmonious relations….”

The Apostle Paul, in his Letter to the Philippians, assures his readers that if they’re faithful in prayer, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” will keep them faithful. That implies that peace, like faith, is a gift and is derived from faith. Peace, seems to me, also results from trust in God, which, like faith, is a challenge for most of us.

Not private and selfish
This kind of peace, this interior peace that comes from a serious search for God, isn't just a private, selfish pursuit, however. It results in advocacy for non-violence. It’s a pretty sure bet that a person who is violent, who sees violence as the best and normal way to solve problems, lacks inner peace. Adversely, it’s probable that the person who has inner peace rejects violence.

Thomas Merton, the famous Trappist monk who was a writer, theologian and mystic, illustrates the point.

“I make monastic silence a protest against the lies of politicians, propagandists and agitators, and when I speak it is to deny that my faith and my Church can ever seriously be aligned with these forces of injustice and destruction.

“...“If I say no to all these secular forces, I also say yes to all that is good in the world and in humanity. I say yes to all that is beautiful in nature... I say yes to all the men and women who are my brothers and sisters in the world.”

On this Easter of 2018, I join in that “yes” and add for all those searching for God, “Peace be with you.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Ultimate Unifying View of Life

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A recent article on the web page of National Public Radio contained these sentences:

“We now know that all extant living creatures derive from a single common ancestor, called LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor.” All living creatures, the article continued, are linked to this single-celled creature, what it calls “the root of the tree of life.” And LUCA, it is believed, existed some four billion years ago.

“It's hard to think of a more unifying view of life,” the author adds.

Actually, it’s not hard, at least for people of faith and those searching for God. How about God as author of life? How about God as father/mother of all, making us brothers and sisters? 

Something That Divides
But, of course, many see faith as something that divides and causes strife and even violence. Recent history has plenty of examples. Murders and church bombings of Coptic Christians in Egypt; violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar; the centuries-long violence between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland (most recently in Northern Ireland) are good examples.

And this is not just history. A project of the Pew Research Center paints a troubling picture of a rising tide of intolerance and government restrictions on religion, motivated in large part by animosity toward people of religions other than those of the people in power. The report cites evidence, including "crimes, malicious acts and violence motivated by religious hatred or bias, as well as increased government interference with worship or other religious practices." 

But does this violence really result from religion? What a religion teaches and how adherents understand and practice it are two different things. Despite how some believers behave, the doctrines and leaders of most religions - including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and the eastern religions – promote non-violence. And the vast majority of people of faith embrace peace.

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But back to the introduction to this blog. We may  argue with the sentence, “It’s hard to think of a more unifying view of life” because if you include faith as a way of knowing, God would be a much more unifying view. The Judeo-Christian tradition, at least, teaches that God is parent and we are his/her children, making us all brothers and sisters.

Faith is primarily a relationship, but also a way of knowing, though our society tends to ignore that way of looking at faith. If we’re not taught, it’s at least implied in school - and especially university classes - that what can’t be tested and proven scientifically doesn’t exist.

And for many, faith is believing and lack of faith is not believing; that is, it’s a matter of the intellectual acceptance of God. But to paraphrase Jesus, even the stones “believe,” and that’s not nearly enough.

Many people have a problem with religion because there are so many questions it is unable to answer: What evidence is there that God, or any non-material entity, exists? How can one have confidence in the authenticity and infallibility of the Bible when there are so many internal contradictions and “miracles” that are impossible for modern people to accept? How can God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Religion has answers to these questions, but not answers that everyone is willing to accept. There is evidence, for instance, for God’s existence – the need for a first cause, the witness of millions throughout history, the authenticity of the Bible, the universal search for God through all ages and nearly all cultures.

More, Not Less, Credible
The Bible’s internal contradictions make it more, not less, credible because it means that the authors and afterwards, the organizers of the Bible, were not trying to harmonize their efforts. As for the bad things that happen, the alternative to that is a controlling God who doesn’t allow humans to be evil, reject him/her or make mistakes. Besides, God’s idea of good and evil is obviously different from ours.

Yes, there’s evidence, but it’s not indisputable, and it must be supported by faith, a spiritual gift that, generally, people must seek.

But is there any human enterprise that supplies all the answers? Science, for instance, can’t say what preceded the Big Bang, what brought the universe into existence, where the boundaries of the universe are or why there is something instead of nothing.

Unlike science and other human pursuits, religion is not primarily about finding answers but about helping us find God, make God relevant to our lives and understand our real relationship to others. That understanding makes it, in my view, the ultimate “unifying view of life.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Does Faith Breed Mediocrity?

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Among the interesting people I covered as medical/science writer for The Des Moines Register was Patricia Clare Sullivan, alias “Attila the Nun.”

Her obituary was in the newspaper recently. She died in Florida at age 89, having left the Sisters of Mercy of Omaha about the time she retired as president and CEO of Mercy Hospital in 1993.

I don’t know who gave her the alias “Attila,” but I personally experienced two sides of her: the tough business person – which undoubtedly accounts for the alias - and the gentle, compassionate nun who, even as CEO, regularly visited patients. According to the obituary, she was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Leadership Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. She also was inducted into the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

What is certain is that she was an accomplished, serious business person while being a person of faith. And she wasn’t alone in this respect. Another remarkable woman whom I covered was Sister Catherine Dunn, who retired in 2006 from the presidency of Clarke University (formerly Clarke College) in Dubuque. She was a member of the board of directors of several companies and organizations and was the first female chairperson of the Iowa Transportation Commission.

Among the Few Female CEOs
Either of these women, I’m convinced, could have run just about any major corporation. In fact, it occurred to me back in the 1980s that there were about six Catholic hospitals in Iowa, all of which were headed by nuns who were at the time among the few female heads of major corporate employers. That’s interesting for a church that many consider to be less than enthusiastic about the role of women in leadership.

The point of this blog is that the faith of these women, and of millions of other people, didn’t get in the way of their extraordinary contributions to society and human progress. Indeed, history is filled with the accomplishments of religious people in the “secular” world.

Apart from people like Jesus, who are in a category by themselves, many people of faith have contributed greatly to human progress. They include Galileo, Michelangelo, J.S. Bach, Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven, Thomas Jefferson, J.R.R. Tolkien, and scientists like Copernicus, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, and Gregor Mendel.

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Ok, you might say, but these are people who have been dead a long time. And they lived in a time when the natural world couldn’t be explained without God. Things have changed. Faith and modernity don’t mix.

Then how about Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and former director of the US  National Human Genome Research Institute; Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic priest who was first to propose the Big Bang theory; Wernher von Braun, one of the most important rocket developers and champions of space exploration; William G. Pollard, Anglican priest who worked on the Manhattan Project and for years served as the executive director of Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies; John Gurdon, co-winner of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and Antony Hewish, British astronomer who won the Nobel Prize for Physics?

Some people believe that because religion professes belief in the afterlife, believers aren’t concerned about excelling in this one – in the sciences, the arts, business and technology, for instance. The lists of people above show that’s not true.

Faith Means Doing Your Best
But this doesn’t just apply to famous people. Faith should not breed mediocrity. People searching for God should know that in the Christian tradition, at least, faith means doing your best to make the world into God’s image. Here’s what “The Church in the Modern World,” a document of the Second Vatican Council – the three-year meeting of Catholic bishops held in the early 1960’s – has to say on the subject.

“For while providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society. They can justly consider that by their labor they are unfolding the Creator's work … and are contributing by their personal industry to the realization in history of the divine plan.

“Hence it is clear that (people) are not deterred by the Christian message from building up the world, or impelled to neglect the welfare of their fellows, but that they are rather more stringently bound to do these very things.”







   








Thursday, March 8, 2018

Searching for God, Ignoring the Issues?

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I have at times teased my life-long friend, Fr. Gerald Waris, about the time in the late 60s when he fled from the front door of an irate resident of the north side of Kansas City who drove him away with a broom.

We were in the seminary at the time, and volunteered to go with a group of seminarians to that area of Kansas City, not known for its tolerance of people of color. We knocked on doors to get petitions signed for a proposed Fair Housing act.  

I was on one side of the street and Gerald on the other when I saw him running from a front porch. He was the only one to have fled violence, as far as I know, but all of us encountered hostility from residents opposed to fair housing for people of color.

A couple of years later, in April 1968, shortly after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., Kansas City became one of 37 cities in the United States to be the subject of rioting. It was sparked when the police department tear-gassed student protesters outside city hall. Subsequent rioting resulted in the arrest of over one hundred adults, left five dead and at least twenty admitted to hospitals.

The Kerner Report
That same year, President Johnson appointed Otto Kerner, then governor of Illinois, to form a commission to determine the cause of the riots and try to prevent a recurrence. Called the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, it simply became known as the Kerner Report.

“The report became an instant bestseller,” according to Wikipedia, “and over two million Americans bought copies of the 426-page document. Its finding was that the riots resulted from black frustration at lack of economic opportunity.” The report's most famous passage warned, "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white - separate and unequal."

A new study building on the Kerner Report, called Healing Our Divided Society: Investing in America Fifty Years after the Kerner Report, notes that poverty and the inequality gap between white America and Americans who are black, brown and Native American have increased.

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The gains children of color made when efforts continued to desegregate schools in the 60s began to reverse by 1988, according to the National Public Radio (NPR) web site. “…In 1988, almost half of all students of color went to majority-white schools. Today that number has plummeted to 20 percent. Poverty is such a problem, the study concluded, that if it is not mitigated, America's very democracy is threatened.”

These data would produce a yawn in many people. Others would say, “This is political and has no place in a blog about faith and religion.” I disagree. This post is not about politics, but about Christian values - the same values to which so many Christians appeal when talking about abortion or assisted suicide. And people searching for God, it seems to me, can’t ignore the issues.

Faith, after all, is not just a matter of belief. It’s principally a matter of relationships, between us and God and between each other. In other words, the search for God begins with our attitude toward, and treatment of, others.

People searching for God who ignore or oppose efforts to create a more just society, where people of all colors and beliefs have equal opportunity, are on the wrong road, in my opinion. You simply can’t separate social justice issues from the search for God because, besides prayer and study to bolster belief, the search for God means becoming more God-like.

Some would say that such efforts are strategies in class warfare, pitting the rich against the poor, and that inequality is a staple of history that will always be with us. That later part may be true, but it’s also a convenient way to avoid our obligations toward the poor which nearly all religions, including Christianity, demand.

Nothing to Fear
As for class warfare, if it exists in the U.S., the rich have already vanquished the poor and middle class so have nothing to fear from advocates of equality. Liberal or conservative? Democrat or Republican? When it comes to caring for others, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that people searching for God show that they’re serious by advocating for people who need help.

The new study shows that doing nothing has proven ineffective in improving the lives of our fellow citizens. People searching for God should advocate for the poor, especially poor people of color, at every opportunity. This would include advocating for more and better mental health programs, addiction prevention and treatment, and employment and training opportunities. (In my experience, people who say that the poor are poor because of their own incompetence or laziness know very few poor people.)

For people searching in the Christian tradition, it’s mandatory. Christian love can’t be abstract and vague but evident in concrete action.

"A new command I give you,” said Jesus in the Gospel of John. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."