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Knowledge & News
Thought provoking topics and series, necessary news and information.
Out of Fashion
Initially, I wasn’t sure how to respond to the recently published Pew Research regarding the decline of Christianity in the United States. I read over their findings and then skimmed them a few more times after that. Then I decided to give the recent stream of responses on this very blog a perusal. Members of Collective have acknowledged a generational blame game and shined a light on an epidemic decline in American institutions, while others still emphasized their own experiences of yearning that aren’t reflected in what takes shape as mainstream Christianity. Each post pinged at something I had felt or generally feel about experiencing religion and life in general. So, in my own way, I’m going to push forward with an assortment of ideas and hopefully make something of them along the way.
This week we explored water's ability to suspend us (and our stories), which brings us to a place where transformation is possible. We drew connections with the way our community's practice of meditation offers similar gifts. We engaged in reflection and practice through song, word, silence, readings, conversation, Eucharist and more.
Unpacking the Term “Religious None”
This week’s headlines:
Christians drop, ‘nones’ soar…
Christianity faces sharp decline…
Number of Christians in US is Declining
Christianity in decline and atheism on the rise
Over the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably come across headlines like these.
The Pew Research Center recently released their 2014 Religious Landscape Study, which revealed a shift in the way individuals in the United States articulate their religious identity. The percentage and overall number of people who choose to self-identify as Christian is decreasing. Some claim the exclusive theology of the religious right is to blame. Others state that all religion—conservative or liberal—is simply becoming less enticing to people of all generations.
In my undergraduate career I studied both Political Science and Religious Studies. Both of these are subjects we are told are impolite to discuss at the dinner table, so it thrills me to be able to discuss them both in a blog post without having to worry about table manners.
The Call of God
I am a member of the Orlando Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, a body more commonly known as the Quakers. I have been a Quaker all of my life. For about 20 years of my life, however, I was a member of a Presbyterian Church, instead of a Quaker meeting. I joined the Presbyterian Church because, at that time, I did not find among Quakers enough emphasis on Jesus. After 20 years, I left the Presbyterian Church because I did not find among its members enough emphasis on the Divine. I returned to membership in a Quaker Meeting. I now recognize that I am the “moving target.”
What a blast to get to gather with no agenda. We allowed conversations to occur naturally, or simply to say nothing and look at the ocean together. There's something powerful about joy, play, food... and not forcing it. Many of us met a few new friends, and got to grow closer with the friends we knew. We got to express gratitude for the life we have, the beauty of the world we live in (the ocean in close proximity), the unexpected surf, the delicious food and the hands that prepared it, and the extravagantly generous family who opened their home to us and welcomed us with a hospitality that can't be overstated. What a great Sunday!
The Rise of the “Nones”
Another study showing us statistics to reinforce what we already know. Institutional Christianity in the United States is failing, and its ranks are thinning. The numbers don’t lie.
The Pew research study showing the increase in “nones” has distressing implications for the Christian community. Many churches lament the rise of immorality and cultural relativism as parallel to decrease in religious practice, often seeking to condemn opposing establishments, governmental or academic, for de-spiritualizing young people. But the problem appears to run deeper than that, as people from across socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, privileged and unprivileged, leave churches even in the Bible Belt heart of the evangelical world.
Other Responses in the "Losing / Finding Faith" Series
Below: A sarcastic email between Baby Boomer and Millennial generations in response to the latest Pew Research Center report. Disclaimer: Both parties enjoy hearty debate of generational and political differences. May be mildly offensive to some readers.
Is it the end of faith community in the age of declining religion, faith affiliation, and nominal definition? Or, is this a new beginning?
The Pew Research Center published results for a recent survey which found that religion in general, and Christianity specifically, is dropping in the U.S. Roughly 23 percent of all respondents (Up 6% from 2007) claimed no religion, while those claiming Christianity fell 8% from 2007.
At the end of last year, Collective hosted a number of Sunday night Services where we explored the deeper meanings, calls to action, and spiritual underpinnings of the music we find to be sacred, and which has become a part of our communal life and practice. Adopting the VH1 Storytellers format, we made the music the focal point of our services, narrating, reflecting and engaging practices before and after these songs that shape us. We're thrilled to release this first video following Mike's recent departure. Enjoy the video and the full transcript of his reflection below. Thanks to North Avenue Studios for capturing these songs in the life of Collective, and to the haunted house band for always haunting us in just the ways we need.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.