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  • Why Religion Should Stop Trying to Be 'Relevant'

    Why Religion Should Stop Trying to Be 'Relevant'

    It's been painful...


    Daniel Lattier | January 21, 2016











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    “Religion is redundant and irrelevant,” declared famed atheist Richard Dawkins in a debate three years ago.
    Dawkins’ opinion is shared by many others today, some of whom make up Intellectual Takeout’s Facebook audience. In an effort to combat the spread of this attitude, in addition to increased secularization and an aging membership, America’s Christian churches have tried very hard to make themselves relevant.
    And it’s been painful. From ugly church buildings to guitar worship services to lame social gatherings, churches’ efforts to be relevant have seemingly produced the opposite result—akin to the effect that a dad produces on his children when he tries to act “cool.” A religion that seeks to be relevant usually reveals just how irrelevant it’s become.






    Here are two reasons why Christian churches in America—if they’re interested in surviving—might be well-served to ditch the effort to be “relevant”:

    1) “Relevant” is a fickle concept.
    As philosopher Josef Pieper points out in In Search of the Sacred, what’s supposedly relevant to a society is constantly shifting and undergoing alteration. Sometimes it refers to what people want, which can be unnecessary or shallow. Sometimes it refers to what people need, which can at the same time be unappealing to them.
    Interestingly, what’s often considered “relevant” by society is usually what is in fact fringe. The most “relevant” are the “trendsetters”, those who by definition are ahead of the curve in what is considered fashionable and desirable. Staying “relevant” in this sense of the term requires speed and flexibility. The problem is that most churches are further behind the curve than other societal institutions and business, and slower to reverse course. Their efforts to be relevant are thus usually stunted and doomed to failure.

    2) In religion, people are seeking something “other.”
    There was a highly-read Washington Post piece last year titled “Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church ‘cool.’” In it, the author criticized the abortive efforts of churches to try to be hip, and pointed to statistics that show most young people prefer churches that are “classic” in appearance.
    Despite the proliferation of mundane church buildings and services in recent decades, it seems that the desire for a clear distinction between the “sacred” and the “profane” still courses through most people’s blood. Etymologically, the term sacred means something that is “set apart” for the purposes of worship. Profane, on the other hand, is from the Latin for “in front of the temple,” and was used to designate the activities and aesthetics that were more properly kept outside of a sacred space.
    As some of you may have noticed, Hollywood still appreciates this distinction. You’ll notice that when they portray the Catholic Church in movies, they’ll often show priests speaking in Latin and hearing confessions according to the old style—which still happens today, though it’s rare. Why does Hollywood resort to these earlier customs? Because they’re more mysterious and thus aesthetically appealing to audiences; because they typify the sacred rather than the profane.
    Paradoxically, the means by which the Christian church grew in the first centuries was by being “irrelevant.” As sociologist Rodney Stark argues, Christianity spread in large part by caring for and ministering to those whom society had discarded—the poor, the widows, the orphans. Others claim a role for the witness of martyrs, those who preferred to die for their faith rather than bend to the demands of the secular world and its leaders. As the ancient saying goes, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
    Many churches today are still searching for a magic formula or program that will make them appear more relevant in the eyes of society. But perhaps it is by becoming more irrelevant in the eyes of the world that religion today has a shot at being relevant.

  • #2

    Comment


    • #3
      E
      "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

      Comment


      • #4
        Examples of Christians attempting to be somewhere else.
        "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

        Comment


        • #5
          "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

          Comment


          • #6
            "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

            Comment


            • #7
              Healthcare and food supplies by Believers attempting to avoid being relevant. Yes...let's get rid of the demonic religious people attempting to live somewhere else?!
              "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

              Comment


              • #8
                I am tired of Atheists and Agnostics sqawking like a woman on her period about how bad religion is. While Christians are out in the community sharing the Gospel and helping people with food and shelter Atheists and Agnostics are too busy trying to show all of this stuff really doesn't exist..........after all....... we all know humans want to help humans all the time with needs because we are not selfish by nature. Oh No.............. we always love our fellow man and look out for his best interest over hours. Wait.......... What Athiests and agnostics are helping feed people? Shelter people? Love people? Oh, FIdel Castro? Does he really love people? He shows more contempt for anyone then he does any care.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DEADn View Post
                  I am tired of Atheists and Agnostics sqawking like a woman on her period about how bad religion is. While Christians are out in the community sharing the Gospel and helping people with food and shelter Atheists and Agnostics are too busy trying to show all of this stuff really doesn't exist..........after all....... we all know humans want to help humans all the time with needs because we are not selfish by nature. Oh No.............. we always love our fellow man and look out for his best interest over hours. Wait.......... What Athiests and agnostics are helping feed people? Shelter people? Love people? Oh, FIdel Castro? Does he really love people? He shows more contempt for anyone then he does any care.
                  Preach it!
                  "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have been verbally attacked by Atheists on Twitter the last few days because of my faith in God though Jesus. Now, if these guys would spend that amount of energy doing something in their community for the common good just imagine what would happen. Well, that won't happen because sin looks after its own and their own anger blinds them to the needs of their community.

                    So Atheists.........what have you done that can put a Christian work to absolute shame in regards to your fellow man as an organization or as an individual? It must be tough to hate Christians and the Christian way.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Not lying to the masses and speculating about what you cannot prove and do not know is a nice start.

                      I don't think anyone has an issue with good deeds, positive people and rational right minded people like you and mfc

                      People take issue with anyone of any group who flat out makes up bullshit i.e.: Mike Murdock and the list goes on
                      People who segregate other denominations claiming they will not go to heaven unless they believe like them
                      People who take advantage of the not so intelligent and the poor with word of faith lies
                      And we could go on and on and on

                      Doesn't matter if they call themselves Christian or otherwise
                      It's swindling and evil

                      Atheists make just as big of claims with their no God exists claims so they can't be taken to serious, they cannot know that.

                      It's the abuse of the weak, lies to ignorant and arrogant claims that people have had an issue with.

                      With so much truth, absolutes and guarantees should be awfully easy to unify and have 1 God/Jesus focused religion with no denominations that contradict one another.
                      If the sick can be healed and the poor get flat screen tvs for tithing 20 bucks
                      Shouldn't be much of an issue.

                      How about ignore atheists
                      Screw em
                      Keep leading by example and stay calm and believe what your heart tells you is true.

                      Patience, love and kindness trump all no matter who the opposition is and what the actual absolute truth really is.


                      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michael_Edwards
                        even atheisists will call upon God in there final hour and God will judge whether it is too late for them..
                        but when it comes to good deeds and community service most of those "Christian" or "Catholic" charities keep 80% of the money while giving only 20% to the people who need it... also there are some websites using God's name to steal 100% of the profit and give nothing to community
                        that is why I do not give to charities unless I'm rich and looking for a tax deduction anyway...I taketh the money from thy pocket and give to those who need it as they show me.
                        You sound like someone looking for a reason to not give or volunteer his time. You make a good skeptic.
                        "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DEADn View Post
                          I am tired of Atheists and Agnostics sqawking like a woman on her period about how bad religion is. While Christians are out in the community sharing the Gospel and helping people with food and shelter Atheists and Agnostics are too busy trying to show all of this stuff really doesn't exist..........after all....... we all know humans want to help humans all the time with needs because we are not selfish by nature. Oh No.............. we always love our fellow man and look out for his best interest over hours. Wait.......... What Athiests and agnostics are helping feed people? Shelter people? Love people? Oh, FIdel Castro? Does he really love people? He shows more contempt for anyone then he does any care.
                          You are better than that. Come on...

                          A Big List of Atheist Charities

                          I found a website recently called “conservapedia,” which calls itself “The Trustworthy Encyclopedia,” and then proposes some of the most ridiculous nonsense I have ever heard about atheists and their lack of charity, plus numerous other pieces of garbage. They had some nasty things to say about just about anyone who is not a Christian religious zealot, and according to their front page, Justin Bieber is against abortion for rape victims and both he and some footballer called Tim Tebow are both only here on earth after their mothers refused abortions.
                          I honestly thought I had come across all the religious hate sites, but this one takes the biscuit. Their front page is something to behold. I refuse to link to their page, but they seem to be young earth creationists with a vengeance. Some wonderful “Bon Mots,” such as “The stench of evolutionism,”and “Richard Dawkins a Skunk” sit alongside headlines like these:
                          • Secular France suffers another humiliation. Moody’s Investor Service strips France of triple-A credit rating.

                          • America heads over the fiscal cliff. Again.


                          The fact that these two are sitting right above each other tell me these people will never listen to reason. Anyway, I found this site while I was looking for some information about the Dalai Lama (they seem upset at how hard Buddhists are to convert) and was shocked at the vitriol. One of the more entertaining things I found was the fact that “Twinkies are the latest casualty of the Democrat mindset.”
                          But – one thing stood out, which was an article they had on there about – well, for want of a better way of putting it – how much more generous religious people are than atheists when it comes to charitable giving. It is s pretty poor quality article, with very little actual facts, and the main purpose seems to be to denigrate atheists. This is a typical quote:
                          The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults.
                          Leaving aside the fact that – as far as I can tell – most Christian charity work is a sort of by-product of Evangelical “spreading the word,” and many American Christians refuse to give to charities such as Planned Parenthood, this seems a little skewed. In any case, I though it would be a good idea to try and set the record straight by looking at some positive aspects of humanism/atheism/godlessness, by creating a list of atheist and secular charities who do work with no ulterior motives. So – without further ado, and these are in no particular order. Nor do you need to sign up as a practicing atheist to reap the benefits.
                          Atheist, Secular or Freethinking Charities List

                          KIVA
                          We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
                          Planned Parenthood USA

                          Planned Parenthood International
                          We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.
                          Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
                          MSF’s work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people in crisis regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas.
                          Donors Choose
                          DonorsChoose.org engages the public in public schools by giving people a simple, accountable and personal way to address educational inequity. We envision a nation where children in every community have the tools and experiences needed for an excellent education.
                          Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
                          (n.b – perhaps a little vested interest if you consider spreading reason a vested interest)
                          The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.
                          Foundation Beyond Belief
                          (n.b. another vested interest if you consider demonstrating humanist generosity a vested interest)
                          Foundation Beyond Belief is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation created to focus, encourage and demonstrate humanist generosity and compassion. We select and feature five charitable organizations per quarter, one in each of the following cause areas:
                          • Education
                          • Poverty and Health
                          • Human Rights
                          • The Natural World
                          • Challenge the Gap (charities based in other worldviews)

                          Kansas City Atheist Coalition
                          The Kansas City Atheist Coalition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization. Our mission is to advance atheism through activism, philanthropy, education and the cultivation of a positive secular community.
                          The American Red Cross
                          The humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross connects us to people and communities across the nation and around the world. The common bonds of humanity and compassion unite us together, not just in the face of emergencies and disasters, but in helping our neighbors every day.
                          Direct Relief International
                          Direct Relief was established in 1948 and is nonsectarian, nongovernmental, and apolitical. All the programs are provided in a non-discriminatory manner, without regard to political affiliation, religious belief, or ethnic identity.
                          The American Humanist Association
                          Humanist Charities, an adjunct of the American Humanist Association, specializes in benevolent aid and action to further the health and welfare of humankind. Its purpose includes applying uniquely humanist approaches to those in need and directing the generosity of American humanists to worthy disaster relief and development projects around the world.
                          Partners in Health
                          When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services. Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.
                          UNICEF
                          UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. That makes us unique among world organizations, and unique among those working with the young.
                          American Civil Liberties Union
                          The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
                          British Humanist Association
                          The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
                          Oxfam
                          Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty.
                          Now, I am certain there are more atheist charities around and if I missed any, please add a comment with a link. But – I think this reasonably dispels the notion that there are little or no atheists giving time and money to charitable works. One could even say that (I am not going to) atheists are more generous because they are not obliged to do so. I have deliberately left out any charities with potential to be classed as “anti-religion,” – with the exception of Planned Parenthood.I guess some of these could more be called secular rather than openly atheist, but they are all non-religious.
                          It is a little disturbing to see attacks on atheists for lack of giving, and a few articles recently have been in the news to help dispel this notion even further.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Lou. I like your post because it's an admittance of skeptic relevancy. Another words, you're attempting to compete on the same playing field that Christians have been playing on for Centuries which is sacrifice and service for the underprivileged. In essence, you just admitted that Believers are relevant by comparing skeptic virtue which parallels Christian agencies.

                            Another words, by your definition, skeptics are able to be just as relevant as any Christian. Great Post! I too think skeptics can be as relevant as Christians in a community. I applaud you guys!
                            Last edited by mfcruncher; April 22nd, 2016, 04:08 AM.
                            "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              And here's the kicker which always seems to escape you guys. Motivation doesn't make a person irrelevant to a recipient receiving a gift. They're just glad to be getting it. It's only skeptics with a hardon and religious zealots that get hung up on motivations.
                              "I'm tired of always being right. It gives me an unfair advantage when I debate Alemannic German speaking trolls."

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