The Role of Church

Most people, everywhere in the world, are raised to believe in some form of God. Therefore, the most common answer to the question of “Am I alone?” is a resounding “No!” This is usually brought about by a faith-based belief system taught by their family, community, clan or church. For many of us, however, the God of the churches is an impersonal god; a deity closely guarded by the doctrine of the religious institutions. That is where the question “Am I alone?” becomes more challenging. If we feel that God is theirs and not ours, we may feel cut off from the Spirit of God. For the people who may still believe in God but are not so sure about their inherited religion, they may give an answer to the “Am I alone?” question as “sometimes” or “not sure.” This is a typical response in America today: We continue to believe in spiritual powers but are skeptical that God listens to every one of us, individually. Finally, others will forcefully reject all institutional teaching and simply accept the human reality that surrounds them.

What is clear in the range of answers to the question “Am I alone?” is that there is no single answer. And in a democratic, free and global society this fact rings more clearly each day. Within the global village that exists in almost any American town, there is, no doubt, a wide range of divergent belief systems: Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostics and more. Even among the devoutly affiliated, you would be hard pressed to find people side by side in the same pew who would answer the question, “Am I alone?” the same.

It is one of the great tragedies of our day that so few of us feel connected to a Spirit greater than our own—a power greater than our human will of self-determination. Indeed, in the everyday world of modern life it is hard to feel the presence of Spirit. Many philosophers, scholars and poets have speculated on the lack of presence of God in modern life. Some have suggested that science killed God, or that modern politics separated church and state, thus diminishing God’s role in civic life. Others feel that modern technology has separated people from the rural, agrarian lives where people felt that God provided for their needs with a bountiful harvest. Clearly, in the 21st century, maintaining “the faith” has evolved from being an obligation to being a choice.

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