Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Conservative denominations grow - Liberal ones wither

Hey, I get to plug Slate back after their kind mention early on.

Yes, another diamond in the rough that is Slate. Judith Shulevitz has a great write up in Slate
The Power of the Mustard Seed - Why strict churches are strong.

This deserves a careful reading from both the Left and the Right. You don't have to agree with all she says to see that she is on to something. Here is a quick look.

What does the pious person get in return for all of his or her time and effort? A church full of passionate members; a community of people deeply involved in one another's lives and more willing than most to come to one another's aid; a peer group of knowledgeable souls who speak the same language (or languages), are moved by the same texts, and cherish the same dreams. Religion is a " 'commodity' that people produce collectively," says Iannaccone. "My religious satisfaction thus depends both on my 'inputs' and those of others." If a rich and textured spiritual experience is what you seek, then a storefront Holy Roller church or an Orthodox shtiebl is a better fit than a suburban church made up of distracted, ambitious people who can barely manage to find a morning free for Sunday services, let alone several evenings a week for text study and volunteer work. ...

... if strictness, judiciously enforced, provides an advantage in the spiritual marketplace, then it makes sense that America, one of the few countries with no state religion and a truly open market in religion, should be home to so many varieties of fundamentalism and orthodoxy. The explosive growth of conservative Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and the slow decline of more genteel denominations such as Episcopalianism may well represent not the triumph of reactionary forces, but the natural outcome of religious competition.

Hat tip Diocese of Brandon - The Anglican Church of Canada .... of all places.

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