If I may, I'd like to offer perhaps a bit broader, if not a more lasting, perspective on Brandon Loomis' version of the reality of and reasons for church in our midst.
All the facts and figures quoted in his column are no doubt accurate and true. However, without really digging into the data very far it immediately begins to feel like it's really not quite the whole story. I wouldn't go so far as to call his perspective a half-truth, but that it might define or explain the whole of our meaning and reason for being here certainly finds it lacking. While Brandon's orientation to his own personal spiritual responsibilities and the book he quotes careful explanations of the religiosity, or lack of, in our culture, the most important aspects he delved into seemed to have been glanced over at best, and at worst certainly presented in a less than objective way.
Perhaps the more important questions Brandon might have asked are, "Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? And what is the ultimate meaning of it all?" His take on the priorities and motivations in our lives does a good and telling job of defining the rugged individualism and the development of self in present-day Western culture. These are good and necessary human endeavors.
But a deeper question remains. What end do these human qualities serve? To what degree are we all really and ultimately bonded as a society and a species? Do the pinnacles of success at one end of the stratum have a beneficial effect for all? Can we really call our individualism a success if those who really do breathe the same air and drink the same water don't quite judge their success and failures by quite so lofty an ideal?
It seems, when you really flesh out the gist of Brandon's message and the seeming intent of the book he used as a reference, you see there's a clearer and more beneficial message begging to be heard.
I think that message may be, in its simplest form, that all these most important questions about life explain ever so gently that it's not about you, rugged individualism notwithstanding.
And as important as that realization may be, another more simple and foundational question ignored by philosophies like Brandon's is, what if there's more?
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