Losing our religion

The Australian carried an interesting opinion piece, written by Pamela Bone, yesterday.

Pamela is a Melbourne writer who believes that we would all be a lot better off without religion. She makes some good points.

She is tired of being treated like a second class citizen by many people who claim to be religious because she doesn’t hold to their beliefs. “Non-religious people are fed up with all the talk about the emptiness, the barrenness and lack of meaning in “secular society”. It may surprise religious people to learn that our lives are not empty. Some people might need to believe in an afterlife in order to find meaning in this one; others don’t. Some might need to believe in a creator in order to be awed by the majesty of nature; others don’t. Some might believe in something higher than themselves and call it God; others believe in something higher than themselves and call it humanity or nature. It makes no difference to how morally they behave. Everything good in religion can be had without religion.”

I can’t agree with everything Pamela says but she raises an interesting point. Do those of us who call ourselves Christians really believe that everyone, apart from us, lead second rate lives? Do we believe that anyone who doesn’t claim to have a connection with God is morally bankrupt?

I have known Christians who have been morally corrupt and non-religious people who have held to extremely high standards. I’ve also known the reverse to be true in some cases. If you’re someone who has felt the sting of Christians looking down on you for your lack of belief please accept my apology. That’s not the message of Christianity and it’s certainly not what the Bible teaches. I’m no more worthy than any other person on the planet and I’m extremely grateful that God is willing to accept me. I have no right to look down on or accuse others.

Atheism is on the rise.

The God Delusion, a book championing the cause of the new wave of atheism, by Richard Dawkins, is just one of the books mentioned in Pamela’s article. She talks about a range of very popular books promoting an atheistic world view. Atheism is on the rise in the western world and while the majority of people would still claim a belief in God, we need to ask why people are turning away from faith.

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we tackled the recent resurgence of atheism. Ross talked about the origins of atheism and suggested that the church was largely to blame for turning hearts against God. We also talked about Pamela Bone’s article in the Australian. If you’d like to listen to our discussion you can click here. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to listen to our chat. If you want to download the file and listen to it later just right click the link and save.

In the end, I do believe that God and faith add a dimension to my life that it wouldn’t otherwise have. I believe that we were created by God and operate best when we’re connected with him and seeking to follow his direction for our lives.

I believe that non-religious people can be extremely moral but my preference is to know and adhere to moral absolutes that have been put in place by the one who created this world. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else but it does give me tremendous purpose.

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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Work versus family

If it’s all about balance there must be a lot of unbalanced people around.

We watched the Adam Sandler DVD Click a couple of nights ago. It’s a great movie about getting the balance right between work and family. Sandler’s character realises a little too late that while he might say that family comes first and that his long working hours are about providing for his loved ones, the reality is quite different.

How do you go with balancing work and family?

This article by Daniel Danahoo at News.com.au says that one in three Australian workers admits they’re not spending enough time with their family. I would imagine the percentage would be a lot higher if all those surveyed were honest. Relationships Australia is quoted as saying that almost 90 per cent of people believe that work is threatening their home life.

Danahoo points to rising costs and ‘too-high mortgages’ as being among the reasons that work life is taking over family life. With mobile phones and the internet we’re often still working when we get home. We’ve lost the ability to focus our attention with our family.

One of the final paragraphs of the article is very telling when it asks, “Is paid work that important? On our death beds, will we be surrounded by work colleagues, will we be glad for all the unpaid overtime we put in?”

If we know the problem is so serious, why don’t we do anything about it?

Maybe part of the reason is that we’ve bought into the bigger and more is better idea. We want to buy homes we can’t afford and fill them with gadgets and stuff we don’t need. Our pay packets might allow us to buy a super sized flat screen TV, mobile phones for everyone in the house right down to the dog, Playstations and so much more but is it all really adding to our quality of life?

We say we ‘need’ to work longer hours top provide for our families but what is it that our families really need? Food, shelter, love – all the rest is just trimmings. I’m not against the trimmings – I like having ‘stuff’ too – but we need to know what’s essential so that we stop sacrificing it for trimmings that we don’t really need and can’t afford.

We’ve chosen to be a one car family. We’ve chosen for me to work in a relatively low paying job that doesn’t require me to work a 60 or 80 hour week. We’ve chosen for Pauline to only take a few hours of paid work each week. We’ve chosen to put family first. We can’t afford the latest and greatest of everything but that’s not what’s important to us. I’m not saying we have the balance exactly right but we’re making decisions that are tipping the balance in the right direction.

Downsizing

I know it’s a dirty word in most circles but when prices go up and belts get tightened, why do we always think about working more instead of downsizing?

Downshifting Downunder is an organisation supporting people who want to live simpler, richer lives. They refuse to buy the lie that we need the latest and greatest ‘must haves’ to lead a fulfilling life. On the front page of their website they say “A majority of Australians could afford to escape the rat race by downshifting economically, enhancing happiness & social capital, while reducing consumption and environmental damage.”

What would life look like if we really did decide to put our family and our relationships first? What would happen if we were willing to accept that there are some things – things that many people would consider essential – which are far less important than society tells us they are?

It’s time to start asking ourselves questions. What are the most important priorities in our lives? Do our lifestyles reflect those priorities? What are we doing in 2007 to bring back a little balance?

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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