In Christianity After Religion Diana Butler Bass tries to analyze the trend in developed countries in which people are drifting away from the mainline religious faiths and proclaiming that they are “spiritual but not religious”. You have probably heard: church attendance is way down and no one seems to know what to do. Is this the way things happen every five hundred years?
“Conventional, comforting Christianity has failed. It does not work. For the churches that insist on preaching it, the jig is up. We cannot go back…” That’s the picture she gives. In fact, her sub-title for the book is The End of Church and the Birth of A New Spiritual Awakening.
Choice seems to be the culprit. If you can choose between forty kinds of breakfast cereal and five hundred TV channels, why not choose a spirituality or religion which suits you?
Bass has done a good job of outlining the tensions between spirituality and religion and has assembled all the pertinent history and statistics. Her conclusion is to do more of the same but with more attention to ecumenism in all forms. She has offered nothing new.
Nowhere in the book is there mention of cosmology, a topic which has produced, in the past forty years, the most profound, rapid and dynamic changes in our consciousness since the Copernican revolution. In the period for which Bass gives statistics about church affiliation and attendance, humans have begun to understand the Big Bang, and the origins of the world and our Universe. The old story of Adam and Eve no longer satisfies our yearning to know who we are and why we are present in the Universe.
The New Story of the origin of the Universe provides a much more fascinating narrative about the origin of human consciousness, love and our role of reflecting the Creator’s purpose. It is a scary story for us because it requires a new interpretation of redemption and salvation but one which opens the human mind to the vast Universe instead of confining us to earthly concerns.
Where to start? Check out The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. This website has more than enough links to satisfy the most curious explorer…for a start!