Pew’s latest study on religion in America is a window into RenGen spirituality. Religious affiliation is waning in America. However, “There is a sizeable number of Americans who are not affiliated with any particular religious group but who nonetheless have religious beliefs or engage in a variety of religious practices,” the study said. Among the “unaffiliated,” only about a quarter identified themselves as non-believers (atheists or agnostics). The remaining three-quarters were those who reported “nothing in particular” when asked about their religious affiliation.
So, people are still believers and practicing some form of spiritual practice, just not in traditional ways. Very RenGen.
You see, the decline of established religions and the rise of new spiritual practices is what happens as part of a culture’s rebirth. This is because organized religions help the faithful cope with life. The practice of that religion gives people solace. It also shapes communities in real ways.
When I think about my own upbringing where schools, hospitals, and social services all sprang from my religion, I see how that infrastructure helped people live better lives.
But times have changed, drastically. Now, people seem to need something else, and the faith they were raised in lacks meaning. It was in a climate such as this that Martin Luther made history. He redefined how people communed with their God, essentially cutting out the self-empowered middle men. Obviously, people must have been yearning for new meaning or they wouldn’t have followed him into the Protestant Reformation. Pew’s study tracks the emergence of a similar shift.
This is what it looks like right before a renaissance.
Photo courtesy of Marshall Simmons