The first person I asked my about religious change in America over the last 50 years was Dorothy Davis. Dorothy is an interesting woman I wrote about in March 2011 (http://allevenson.wordpress.com/people/doris-davis-walking-across-america/)
Dorothy retired after a conventional career and decided to enter the priesthood. She chose not a traditional Christian priesthood but something that represented one of the evolutionary tendrils of traditional religion.
Dorothy’s response was, “the rise of spirituality.” Her perspective is that without abandoning the monotheistic roots or the fundamental commandments of old time religion, people were examining the dogma of the Bible. Incorporating the fruits of their own considered study into a personal belief system.
I do not hear Dorothy’s ideas as confrontational to the religious establishment. Her observations were reflected in many of the comments posted in response to the question of religion. Comments that indicated some were further outbound than others, some confirming their core beliefs were close to their origins.
Although many blog responders referred to the rise of fundamentalism, all referred to it with alarm.
Not so with everyone I met on the road. Not long after my encounter with Dorothy, I met a young man who was hitchhiking in Arizona. During the time he rode with me, he told me he’d been born again at the age of fourteen, twenty-five years before.
His saw the decline of morality and the rise of sin, including lawlessness, disrespect for God’s law, and disregard for the rights of the unborn. When I asked what all this meant, he was quick to respond, “It signals the coming of the Anti-Christ.”
Nephew Eric pointed out that he sees what is happening in the realm of religion as inseparable from what is happening in the political arena: fundamentalists in both have allied ad their political clout has increased. It seems to me both are exploiting one another, and I wonder which group approached the other first.
No one mentioned that there has been a parallel movement in the Middle East, and it could be argued they both began to take hold in the ‘70s. The fundamentalists of Islam fought against moderation in their government.
Can the case be made that fundamentalist wing of religion in America and the most vocal of the political conservatives have more in common with their counterparts in the Middle East than they do with their opposites here at home?
And this brings us to the next question. How has the political landscape changed in this country in your lifetime?