For Immediate Release: Oestia Launches Outreach Project to Deal With the Problem of the Hardcore Unchurched

by admin on June 15, 2011

June 4, 2011

Oestia is taking aim at a generally recognized problem — the large number of the “unchurched,” through an outreach program. While we haven’t researched the statistics, and we wouldn’t trust them if we had, let us simply speculate that church-affiliated people enjoy higher rates of employment, lower rates of alcoholism and substance abuse, lowered feelings of alienation, and a general sense of well-adaptedness as compared with their faithless opposite numbers.  But we’re doing more than treating symptoms here.  People without a religion are missing out on the right to engage in religious speech that enjoys enhanced constitutional protection, and are also missing out on the right to indulge in idiosyncratic ritualistic activities such as are protected under RFRA, the Religious Freedom Reformation Act of 1993, that for example allows some Brazilian religionists to imbibe psychedelics without violating federal law.  So we need to fix this.  But there’s a rub.  Faith. Or let us say, the lack thereof. The hardcore unchurched are precisely those who won’t place their faith in any doctrine, guru, belief system, or self-improvement rap.

They haven’t got that “God-shaped hole” at the center of their being that allows followers of say, Jesus, to be “fishers of men.” No place to set the hook.

Are you faith-challenged?  Unwilling to swallow dogma, doctrine, however hallowed by the centuries, however recommended by your friends at Whole Foods?

Assuming you are not in a foxhole, haven’t committed a disgusting act, have no hangover, have had your breakfast and coffee, is your basic attitude, “What’s faith got to do with it?”

And if so, I’m with you.  Faith is dangerous.  Heaven’s Gate, purple kool-aid, suicide bombers.  I’m not to tryin’ to scare ya’, but it sure scares me.  ‘Cause where do
you draw the line?  Saul the Prosecutor, with a dose of faith, became Paul the Apostle, and he explained the magic potion that made possible the transformation as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Sounds like a financial derivative to me, but at least you don’t have to die to find out Goldman Sachs’ promises are worthless, and you know, maybe you invest more wisely next time.  But by the time you get to see if St. Paul was right, it’s way too late to switch your bet.  Now Pascal, a mathematician, said that faith in God is a good bet, because even if there is no God, no Heaven, and in fact, just nothing, then you’ve lost nothing. And if you’re right, then it’s an eternity of joy, not to mention avoiding damnation.  But I gotta quibble with the idea that an investment of faith is worth nothing.  Because what faith swallows up is your capacity to investigate, reason, and reach a sense of certainty about the object of your inquiry.  Of course, faithists will tell you that you can never find answers to the questions that really matter, like “who am I?” and “where did my beautiful loved one go when they died?”  Well first off, I’m not going to take their advice about what I can figure out about my own identity, thank you very much, and second, even if the “where we go when we die” question can’t be answered by reason, the plethora of contradictory answers provided by faithists defeats the possibility of seriously accepting any of them.  You might as well pick a random playing card, draw the number two, and decide that after you die you’ll have two more lives.  In fact I think I’ll patent that religious concept and make a fortune in Vegas.  We’ll call it the Church of Double or Nothing.  (I’ll use Pascal’s argument as my backup.)

Some people argue there’s no spiritual life without faith, but Oestians are taking that argument to the woodshed for a good strapping. What will emerge will be a spiritual doctrine worthy of the thinking person.

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