(as if that were an insult)
I refer you, gentle reader, to a program on the only national broadcast system I consider relevant today- you just knew I was going to say “NPR”.
From an interview on “The Story” with Dick Gordon and his guest Barbara Allen:
Dick: I think that organized religion, in almost every faith, capitalizes on all that [uncertainty]. Where there is uncertainty, the church offers certainty and will fill in all those blanks for you
Barbara: That’s right. The fastest growing churches today are the ones that will give you all the answers. They’ll even have their own bowling league, I mean you can really join a church and be there every night. And they’ll tell you how to vote and how to spend your money, how to raise your children. And those are the fastest growing churches. I think it’s because of the chaos of the world and I think people are drawn to anybody who seems to have all the answers.
I just don’t see it as having integrity, with how things really are. Ultimately we’re each responsible for our own decisions, and to do something just because somebody has told you to do it, somewhere in your life that’s going to fall apart.
Keep in mind this is from a woman of faith. Most of the interview with her is about how she left an extra-specially nutty evangelical church in her search for a truth that actually worked for her, but this statement really hits home.
I have been good friends with people who absolutely love their churches, precisely because of the certainty they provide. The church I have in mind specifically is obsessed with giving the impression that it’s all one big happy family, and that its adherents finally have access to all the answers. The big happy family thing’s a thin sham but you won’t get the adherents to admit it.
Once I was talking to a gal who told me she’d left catholicism partly because too many of the answers its doctrines provide are simply “we don’t know”. She was so relieved to find a church that had an answer for Everything.
I asked her if it bothered her that all those “certain” answers were bullshit, and she sidestepped the question.
So much for a quest for “truth”, that was not what she was seeking. She was after certainty and she got it, and that made her happy.
I dunno man, I’d rather be certain that I don’t know everything (and never risk being proven wrong) than convince myself that I have all the answers but live in fear of being told that I do not.