Maybe I use the wrong word.
Because, for many people, the word church carries a negative connotation.
For them, it means rigid and narrow-minded and rules and…
You fill in the blank.
Maybe I should say, “What good is a community of faith?”
A group of people who, with some intentionality, put themselves in a position to reminded regularly of values like compassion and kindness and justice and generosity.
What got me thinking about this was an Op-Ed piece by David Brooks in today’s New York Times (http://nyti.ms/w6sA29). His column is a reflection on the research and writing of James Q. Wilson, an eminent social scientist, who recently passed away. Brooks highlights an essay written by Wilson entitled The Rediscovery of Character. Here is a small portion of what Brooks wrote:
“[Wilson] did not believe that virtue was inculcated by prayers in schools. It was habituated by practicing good manners, by being dependable, punctual and responsible day by day. Wilson lived in an individualistic age, but he emphasized that character was formed in groups.”
Character was formed in groups…
It is the communities of which I am apart that serve as that reminder of the values that not only shape me as an individual, but which provide the framework that holds the larger community together. Values like kindness and responsibility and respect and compassion. The very values that, at their best, our religious communities seek to nurture day-in and day-out. Is it just coincidence that as participation in organized religion declines that we also are experiencing the social fabric around us fraying?
There are multiple reasons…
Many of the valid…
For people turning away from organized religion and I understand that.
But, with that, I think we have lost something of value.
Something that helps us sustain the communities in which we live and hold onto that which we say that we value.