Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Religious identity

Friday's Wall Street Journal reported on an apparent upswing in children who are becoming more religiously devout than their parents ("Religion's Generation Gap," W1). Among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, there are more cited cases of children embracing faiths that their parents had ignored or forsaken. Nobody seems to be able to cite an statistics that hold water, but they do point to a raft of new books that market to that audience, with titles like But My Parents Aren't Saved! and What Do You Mean You Can't Eat Meat In My House?

Even I am starting to get a little tired of the so-called news stories on the re-emergence of religion in modern culture. It seems like these same stories have been running for the last ten years. An astonished secular media keeps looking at America and saying, "Gosh, so many religious people," like it was big news. When are they going to accept that's here for good? On the back of Yoga Journal, an advertisement quips, "Yoga is a fad. We give it another 6000 years, tops."

The media are now (correctly, I think) looking at religion more as a source of identity than as a wellspring of truth. They see young people becoming devout and consider it a part of teenage rebellion and a quest to find a durable self-image. That has always been the role of organized religion, though -- to define a way of life and provide a ready-made answer to the questions of "Who am I?", "Why am I here?" and "What should I be doing?" It's just that now people are more conscious of that whole process. And while the answers may change, the questions never go out of style.



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