What do you think when you see these people in their acts of worship? Do you think they are basically good people, they do no harm, they have every right to believe what they choose, who am I to judge? Do you simply think they are loons, addicts or deluded freaks who need help? Or do you think that the world would better off without religion which causes so much conflict?
I was taught from an early age to reject Christianity. The lessons were subtle. From my formative years I was told Christianity nested amongst a number of religions – not so. I learned that religions are control mechanisms – true. I was certainly not taught that beliefs, whatever they may be, formed the cornerstone of life, the worldview through which my decisions were filtered.
My father and mother went to a family service once a month at Bassett Church Southampton. There was nothing in the narrative at home to support this routine trip to church which I remember as being dull and inconvenient. While growing there was no indication that Jesus had any influence over my parents’ life. At school Christianity was equally compartmentalized into the religious realm. We were subjected to morning assembly, passionless prayers and each term a visited the local church to sing incomprehensible hymns, repeat turgid liturgy and hear dull preaching.
Is it any wonder that I, my sibling, and most of my peers went on to worship other things? For me my object of worship tended to be, success, wealth and beauty, for females, it tended to be family, husband and children. Many are paying the price of misery or addiction for following these destructive paths to their final resting place.
We know the world’s screwed up. Efforts to sort out our mess routinely fail, we are each a phone call away from despair, of hearing of death or the final straw as a bad marriage collapses. Last month a US Marine Colonel’s wife shot her seventeen year old daughter in the head when she was sitting in the front of her SUV, then went home to shoot her son in the head:
I am beginning to get it. I am reading the story of Hosea as told by Francine Rivers in her book Redeeming Love. In it we read of Sarah, who after a brief idyllic childhood until around the age of seven and finds herself in the possession of a man called Duke who repeatedly rapes her. The way she was groomed, ensnared, manipulated and abused, mirrors the behavior of men I know to this day. This story of a woman hardened by the world in which she learns to survive resonates with so many women I know. At what stage are we to see that it is hopeless trying to live a life disconnected from the source of love, redemption and reconciliation?