Touched by a Myth
by The Liberator (Ordained Minister of the ULC)
Can it be true that 70% of Americans believe in angels? According to Martha Williamson, the producer of the television program Touched By An Angel, the statistic is correct.
After thinking about it, I would not dare argue the authenticity of that statistic. I would not argue with 36% of Americans who say that God has spoken to them. Even 43% of Americans who regularly attend religious services would not be questioned by me.
However, by combining all of those statistics it allows me to ask some important questions concerning the larger American mindscape.
First of all, 70% of Americans believe in something they never have seen or sensed in any way--angels. The only reason why they believe in angels is because someone told them it was true. Is this a sign of unquestioned faith or unbridled ignorance?
36% of Americans claim that God has spoken to them. The percentage fails to provide much insight but it still concerns me. Did God speak to them as a burning bush or as a longhaired, sandal wearing, Jewish-looking fellow? What did God say to them? "You better brush your teeth before bedtime," is one thought but "Al Gore is the anti-Christ" is quite another message. Exactly what was God telling them?
He certainly did not tell them to go to church. Only 43% of Americans attend Church daily. Do too few people practice what they preach or are churches out of touch with Americans? It could mean that Americans are out of touch with spiritualism.
Going beyond all of these possibilities, let us face some harsh truths. There are contradictory forces that appear to be working against each other. Our school systems attempt to teach our youths the value of reason. Mathematics, science, English and other subjects all contain rational, predictable components. Churches, our spiritual centers, instill a different set of values. They tell us how important it is to help one another. Churches provide us with a deep sense of ethics and caring.
Churches and school systems do appear to be at cross purposes to the general public, but are they? They are both educational and necessary features of an advanced culture. Nevertheless, Americans perceive these forces as contradictory when in fact they are complimentary. The result of the misinterpretation of the church/school dynamic makes itself evident in many forms.
There are those among us who plan their whole lives based on myths. These people develop complete codes of ethics from the same fantastical stories. It makes these people believe in leaders who claim to benefit from devine conference with the almighty one. Consequently, these people can be made to act irresponsibly or think ridiculously.
Contrastly, there are those among us who use their powers of reason to do despicable acts. Creating biochemical hazards, unnecessarily using military forces, and testing animals are just some of the accomplishments that uncontrolled reason can credit to itself. There are as many people who practice faith to a fault as there are who use reason to a fault.
Upon closer examination of the two opposite forces, they do not seem to be so opposite in their impact. As Americans continue to feel compelled to choose from one or the other ways of existing, we will continue to have telephone psychics, horoscope writers, palmreaders, and tele-evangelists to help us make crucial decisions. We will also suffer from air toxins, radiation poison, nuclear threats, ... at the hands of rationalists.
Once again, a balance of opposites should be made internally mandatory.
Dreams without the notion of reality is just as dangerous
as a strong dose of reality without a dream.
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