Saturday, July 2, 2011
Faith, the Future and 2011
This article will be all over the place, since the topic is the possibilities of the future instead of precise judgments in the present with such uncertainty assailing us. Belief Blog consulted 11 different contributors, with a 12th extra chiming in a bit late, each bringing something to the table as to what 2011’s potential for faith is. Let’s try to boil these down to categories instead of each individual story.
Selena Fox, who I referenced when speaking on Christine O’Donnell’s alleged connections to witchcraft and Wicca, predicted that more Wiccans will become involved in interfaith dialogue, which would certainly line up with a previous prediction by both Steve Wohlberg, author of Hour of the Witch and Marla Alupoaicei, co author of Generation Hex (http://shatteredparadigm.blogspot.com/2008/09/wicca-will-be-3rd-largest-religion-in.html) that Wicca will become the third largest religion in the U.S. It doesn’t seem unlikely, though one wonders what would count as a Wiccan under this notion. Also, David Silverman, head of American Atheists, thinks that coming out as an atheist might be considered cool in 2011, or as some people put it, accepted. This seems a bit more difficult to believe, though America has at least allowed an atheist in Congress, which is a step in the right direction towards a sense of cooperation. In relation to atheism in the U.S., there is the notion in the wake of the Christmas billboard and bus advertisement wars between atheists and theists that there will be a call to ally both believers and non believers in God under a common good of human flourishing. Orson Scott Card, popular science fiction Mormon author, thinks that Mike Huckabee, noted for his anti Mormon statements in the 2008 campaigns, might have to change his tone if he wants to win over the Mormons that stand in some opposition to his nomination for 2012 in contrast to Mitt Romney, a popular Republican nominee as well in 2008. And one can hope that the prediction concerning GLBT dialogue with religion will come to fruition, with the recent repeal on some level of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the military.
Concerning Muslims, we have a suggestion that Muslim/Jew dialogue may become more proactive from a moderate Muslim perspective, more than likely in America to start with. Without getting into the issues of the Middle East and the state of Israel, there will instead be more focus on common ground and a sense of spiritual community that exists between them. Also, there will probably be an upsurge of advocates for religious pluralism as an issue for the 2012 presidential race, such as from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, in the face of the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy that still seems to kindle hatred and vitriol towards Muslims. And the Park51 controversy will hopefully be little more than a minority griping about supposed insults to their sensitivities, most people seeing the bridge-building potential of a community center with Muslim undertones with New York’s religious diversity. Not to mention by this point people have probably realized that it’s just a passing memory in the back of one’s mind, since it’s going to be hidden behind all the buildings between it and the memorial actually being built at Ground Zero.
And since the Christian majority of the country always seems to feel various levels of frustration and fear, there are predictions surrounding their development. The Tea Party and religious conservatives of various stripes will no doubt be pressuring Republicans to remain consistent to the party agenda, particularly fiscal responsibility and cultural conservativism. And with the increase in attacks on Christian churches in the Middle East, the coining of the term “Christianophobia” will start competing for space with “Islamaphobia”, which was a strong buzzword in 2010. And with people feeling like the U.S. is becoming less like their ideal “Christian nation”, evangelicals, along with triumphalists and dominionists of the Christian variety, will focus their efforts in a more radical direction, which one Christian author notes might steer more people away from the conservative flavor of Christianity and into the liberal threads that exist. In short, Christianity can be said to be going through a radical transition phase of one side accepting their potential loss of influence in some sense in an increasingly diverse religious culture and those that will continue to push for more influence that they think they deserve with the infection of historical revisionism in favor of Christianity further polluting their minds.
And what is most common in terms of predictions for 2011 is actually not far from my birthday. May 21, 2011 has been predicted by one Harold Camping to be the date for the oft spoken about Rapture, where all the good Christians will be teleported somewhere while all the bad people like me will stick around for about 7 years or so suffering at the hands of some Antichrist, from what I recall. Ironically, though, Mr. Camping had predicted the end of days 16 years or so ago, to happen on September 6th, 1994. Not unlike the Great Disappointment in 1844, people hoped for Judgment Day and were sorely disappointed; though I wonder how many people were so willing to sell all their possessions and otherwise separate themselves from the profane world in the hopes of whatever is promised in scriptures. I find more agreement with most Christians on this topic, contrasting with my common ground to the minority of Christians on celebrating Jesus’ supposed birthday. It is said in scriptures by Jesus himself that only God knows the day or the hour when the final judgment and rapture will occur (Matthew 24: 36, Mark 13:32). I won’t even get into details about how the Rapture doctrine was only formalized in the late 1700s; but suffice it to say, eschatology in Christianity has probably been one of the more contentious aspects next to soteriology. In layman’s terms, the only thing that gets people more mad at each other than whether one group will go to heaven or hell is when God’s judgment will actually happen.
So here’s hoping I’ll still be celebrating my 24th year when the date comes. Until next time, Namaste and aloha.