WHY WE WORSHIP: THE CULTURE BEHIND RELIGION

Close-up of Hands

“Why do we need it.”


religion

As a child I would go to church with my mother and watch how people would worship. And there was something of interest the way people would extend their hands up to the heavens. And it dawned on me what people were doing. It is a form of submission and asking for help. But why were people begging for help?

Religion is one of those debates that get started as with politics that there is no real answer to in life. It is the dealing with people and their faith base, and that’s that. But why do people worship to God? What is it that makes people place their hands up. It is the one thing that all religions have in common. The need to look upward.

congregation

The meeting places of where we go to worship is quite exquisite. These regal style buildings that have paintings and glass sculptures of Jesus Christ. And every church mirrors that of old world Europe. The pews where people sit are all directed forward to hear the pastor speak. And the organs which jute into the air carrying the sounds of the piano playing.

And then there are the people who come in droves to hear the words of the bible spoken to them through the mouth of a pastor/priest. That coming together in this one place has a very fraternal/sorority feel. We all have this one group, one belief, one moral code, moving forward.

disappearing rapidly

 Living in New York City, I was watching the news where a lot of churches have been closing their doors. Problem is, is that the rising rent is pushing them out and members are not coming into the house. That means once a generation ages no one is replacing them. So what happens, the doors close. So are we seeing that now?

Are we seeing a dwindling down of the culture that has been around for so may centuries? Maybe, just maybe we might be living through the end of an era.


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MERRY XMAS: WHAT DOES TODAY MEAN TO YOU

 

Christmas wishing card

“Seasons Greetings.”


Today is Christmas, which is arguably the biggest holiday in America. A day where families across the country sit in their living rooms and open gifts. In addition to gifts, there will be dinners, movies being watched, and sports on television. Now let me ask you, what does today mean to you? Is Christmas a day for gift giving, or is today the day for you to reflect on all the good things that have happened thus far in your life? Because as with the gift giving, there are people across the country without the ability to buy gifts for loved ones. Not only purchasing gifts, some won’t even have a meal for themselves to consume. Yet if you look throughout the history of Christmas, giving gifts have been something new on this holiday. For the longest people made their gifts for each other. There was more thought that went into buying gifts.

So why is everything about buying the best gift today? Is it that the true spirit of Christmas has been lost? Or is it that Christmas has evolved like everything else in society? Maybe this is the evolution of Christmas. Because as I walked the streets of New York, you could barely see the sidewalk below you there were so many feet walking these streets this holiday season. Everyone was in the Christmas spirit. Now notice I said the Christmas spirit. A lot of people don’t view this type of shopping as the Christmas spirit. They view it as nothing more than another snatch and grab. A more greed and shallow driven holiday that was meant for sharing love and religious sentiment. But like I said before, everything in our society evolves, even our holidays. So what will the future of our Christmas season look like as time progress.

In the end, we all have our different interpretations for what today means. When I was a child, my sister and I received gifts and talked amongst ourselves. Then later on, we would go to my great grandmother’s house for dinner. But since everyone have grown and gotten married, time is now split between so many different families there isn’t this big family dinner. But as far as the celebration of Christmas, who knows, it might go back to its roots as life becomes more expensive in America.


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A DWINDLING CONGREGATION: THE DRASTIC DECLINE OF THE BLACK CHURCH

Image result for black church

“What we were for so long is dying so fast.”


 

As a young child growing up, I attended church with my mother and two sisters every single Sunday. Since becoming an adult I attend less, not because of religious belief, but because of my job. Working everyday is a must, not just for me, but most Americans. Yet this topic is not about most Americans, but a certain segment of the country that has held on to the Christian faith for a very long time. And that segment of America is the Black community. You see, I went to church every Sunday, but my mother and her sisters went not only every Sunday, but they went to church services during the week. And for my grandparents, they went so much, it could have been easily misleading into thinking they were working in the church as a second job. So why did I choose to talk about the topic of the Black community and the church?

Well, for me, I live in New York City, and recently on the news, I have been hearing how the Black churches across the five boroughs have been closing their doors. One of which, the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn just celebrated 100 years of service. But they are concerned that due to high rent because of gentrification and dwindling members attending, they are in fear of closing their doors as well. Their church has gone from 1,300 members down to just 75 people coming to church on Sundays. Now you think to yourself, the Black church was more than just a place of congregated for church. The church for the community was a place which held most of our meetings that were orchestrated by civil rights leaders during the movement. There they discussed agendas for upcoming marches, sit-ins, and any other show of resistance against the oppression we as Black people faced during that time period.

Now, what has been the haven for our social justice and worship is now closing doors. But not just closing their doors citywide, but nationwide. Well, what is happening to the numbers of Black membership? One of the reasons for dwindling numbers is why I don’t attend: employment. Work is so hard to come by in our society today, so every chance you get to work, you do so. Some may take it as you not showing enough time for God, but you are put into a position in which you have to work. Making ends meet is so important, that missing any day is crucial to survival. And with so many of us as Black people still below the poverty level, you can’t expect your parishioners to just take off of work. Yet, is that the only reason, no.

Another reason for the decline in the Black church is due to relationships becoming fragmented in the community. What do I mean by relationships, I mean Black men and women. Going to church in the Black community was a family tradition. But now, with single parent households and mothers trying to carry the load of the family, sometimes she is just too stressed to get her kids ready for Sunday service. Another connection with respect to relationships is the rising interracial marriages. Black people are marrying outside our ethnicity, and those relationships are taking on new beliefs of their spouse or not attending church at all. And still, there more reasons why churches in the Black community are closing.

There is also a rise in the number of Black people leaving the Christian faith and converting to other religious, or not believing at all. That’s right, believe it or not, Atheism is on the rise, even in the Black community. A community that has been deeply rooted in God that even non-believers believe just in case God exist. But why has the belief decline throughout the community. One aspect is in regards to the way church has been centered toward believing that God watches over households where children reside. Yet so many of these households are the main homes that struggle to survive. Another connection to the loss of belief is the same reason for many other groups leaving the church: scientific proofs. The smarter man get the harder man has in believing in divine intervention and the afterlife.

In the end, there are so many reasons why Black churches have diminished, but only a few stick out the most. Scary as it may seem, you might see the nonexistence of the Black church in America. Does that mean Black people are losing faith in life and themselves? No, but as a man who grew up in the Black church, if I live to be my mother’s age, the transformations that our community will take on could be drastic.


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IN THE LAST DAYS: WHY IS RELIGION DYING OFF IN SOCIETY

Grayscale Photo of Church

“Rapidly going away.”


As a young man growing up in a Christian household, I can tell you all sorts of stories of the important role Christianity played in my upbringing. But there is something taking hold in society that generations did not see coming. And that is that religion is rapidly dying out in our society. What is it attributed to? In my opinion, the reason for religion taking such a plunge has a lot to do with the advancements in science. The more we understand about ourselves in relation to the planet, the more religion takes a deep fall. In the past, we knew little about the planet in which we reside. But now that we are starting to know more and more, the less religion is serving a purpose. Are there any other reasons for the shift in religion declining?

Another reason for the sharp decline has to do with the level of terrorism in the world. Terrorism today are faith based initiatives that require people to have the faith of what they are doing is right. Whether you believe it or not, if all you need is to believe and make a decision without having to fact check with anyone else, it creates problems. Meaning, in my heart of hearts I feel that the bible dictates one aspect of life, and effect your life according to my belief. That causes people to stray away from religion because there is no intervention of any kind. You’re taught that a house in which children reside won’t go without food or be harmed. Yet that in itself has been proven wrong. So now, people of religion have found themselves in a tough position where they have to address things that take place. Why? Because a young demographic is starting to get turned off by the idea of religion.

Well then, will we eventually see a time where people have come to an understanding that this is it? Or, will people take on new beliefs that will replace the ones we have today? Because at the rate we’re going in the present tense, the three majors (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) are at risk of falling. And it’s not people form the outside that’s causing the problems. It’s the people on the inside that have religion in jeopardy of falling off. See, in the end, man’s intellectual capital is climbing, yet the religion is lagging behind. A major reason that has not been expressed yet, for the decline, is religion never changes. In an ever changing civilization, something that does not change is always at risk in an evolving landscape.


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REVISIONIST BIBLICAL HISTORY: LET’S ASSUME THAT THE BIBLE WAS USED FOR NON-RELIGIOUS INTENT

bible, blur, Christ

“Guide to life, not to preservation for death.”


The Christian bible has been pondered over for centuries regarding its authenticity in society. The believers say that it is the words of prophets and God; while skeptics say it was merely man. And that man created this as a template in how to live your life on Earth. And that’s what brings me to the topic for today. What if the Christian bible was just that in society? What if it were just a template in how to live your life? That would mean that all the miracles were just more imagery that is supposed to serve as something else in our lives. And what is that something else? Because the bible was written to be unchanged, and is supposed to last for the life of humanity.

But how does a book last for the life of humanity, when humanity in itself is constantly changing. So let’s explore the idea of what life is like for the bible as just a template in how to live your life. That would mean the miracles weren’t true and neither is the notion that we’re created in God’s likeness. Which would further go on to mean that Earth was not created in seven days. Does that devalue the meaning of the bible any less? Could people still believe if that were the case? And does that mean life as we know it for people is over because this is it? And that’s what clouds people’s minds on this topic, is what does life hold for me?

Is that something that people who were the scholars understood about the past? Maybe they knew that man needed something to believe in that was much higher than themselves to define their lives. Because humanity is just as fragile as any other creature. Only problem is that humans are given a conscious. And with that conscious we have the ability to make what we feel are rational decisions. And another aspect of that rational mind is knowing and understanding that we all will die one day; our mortality. Knowing and understanding that this is it for us in life, and nothing else. So here one day and gone the next, not experiencing any real fulfillment out of life. And here is where belief becomes strong in a deity.

Not being able to come to terms with not mainly your ending, but your existing. We hold on to religion because it does in part gives us the reason to exist. We say, “Without God, where would I be.” “Or you’re never alone when God is near.” But how is it that in a world of so many people are we alone and no one to depend on. So the idea of the bible serving as a non-religious text, but more so just a basic moral code, still creates disconnect. Because the moral code is fine and all, but what about the living. We have something in us that goes far back in the DNA chain that makes us who we are, that is the reason we tend to be alone, not like other people, or ignore another person’s existence. And yet we need that friendship and companionship.

See, in the end, I don’t see religion going away. And when I say religion, we think about the major religions. I mean a new religion, or one growing in popularity that is already here, yet small may not go away. People are always searching for something outside of self. It’s something that both believers and non-believers both agree on. Once we feel know we know all there is to know about us as a human species, you’re now interested in something greater. Greater than you, me, this Earth we live on, and beyond.


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SINS: ARE THEY REAL OR ARE THEY DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO WHO WE ARE

Image result for sin

“A look into yourself.”


Most of us are familiar with the seven deadly sins. The cardinal sins that would most definitely banish man to hell. They are pride, lust, greed, sloth, gluttony, envy, and wrath. And at least once in our lives we have come across one of these sins, if not all of the sins. But what I want to know regarding these sins is are they real, or just deeper insights into man. Was there something man knew about ourselves in the past, that is only being magnified in the world today? Because life was quite local in the days of early Christianity. So how did man know so much about us? But human nature is a universal characteristic. How do these sins tell us who we really are in life?

In the case pride, one carries an excessive sense of accomplishment. They are quite boastful in what they have achieved, almost to an intoxicating level. They Related imagenot only have to let others know, but they also have to accumulate tangibles as a means of showing themselves off to the world as well. But, don’t we all have some form of pride? Pride is the satisfaction you get out of winning a race. Pride is the fulfillment you get when you lose weight. And pride is the gratification you get when receiving a gift from someone close to you. So why is pride such a cardinal sin? Because pride is only a problem when it takes over your life. Or, it becomes a sin the moment you have allowed your pride to turn into hubris.

Well, what about lust; lusting is a sin. But how much lust is bad and how much lust is good. See, I lust, but to what degree makes it a sin? Is this lust going to lead down a road that will hurt me in the end? Or is the lust the yearning and wanting I get from seeing a box of chocolates. You see, lust is yet another Related imageambiguous sin that only becomes problematic once it grips you where you can’t shake it loose. Lusting over strawberries is different than lusting over a woman I might see on a job. Because those strawberries will satisfy my hunger pains and keep me until I consume a meal. That women might get me fired if it goes too far.

Next comes greed, which is the need to want something in excess where it leads to selfishness and control. Well is it wrong; once again, it’s all in context. Wanting to make a lot of money to leave for your descendants so they are not thrown into Image result for greedpoverty is greed. Why because you are taking more than you need. Yet, is it really sin if you are trying to protect family. Difficult to say considering money is a tough topic. Anyone that makes a lot of money, yet reworks their portfolio to make more can be seen as greedy. But true greed is taking more than you need for the sake of having. There is no use for it, you just don’t want anyone else to have it.

Then there is envy; which is the longing to have something that someone else possesses. Yet another sin that can be both bad and good. For example, I grew up in a poor household. I often wanted the lives of friends I had went to school with as an adolescent. But in the bible that can be seen as sin. Or is it really a sin? I Image result for envydidn’t wish to be them, just had a desire to have more than barely surviving. And that is the difference between the good envy and bad envy. Sinful envy is you have it, I want it, I’m going to get it if I have to take it from you. There is nothing wrong with seeing someone with something you want and don’t have; it’s human nature. Yet, there are limits to how far you can go before it’s a sin.

So let’s continue on down to sloth. The lazy and the indolent. Those who sit back and want everyone else to do their dirty work without putting in an effort. They let themselves go by the waist side. From their home life to their outer appearance; Related imagenothing is kept together. Then there is the good sloth which is, being tired. You work all day and sometimes don’t want to clean or move. You are not of sin because you have a legitimate reason for not getting up and making a move. But this is what we describe as taking a load off. Resting until you get up to make moves, which is sloth on a low level. Sloth on a high level is trouncing around in filth; almost in comparison to a pig.

Image result for gluttonAnd of course we all know gluttony. The overindulgence in eating, almost to the point it will cause you to develop an ailment. There is a difference between eating to live and eating just to eat. Eating to eat leads to health problems; while eating to live keeps you in line with having good health. And of course from time to time you indulge, yet you never veer off course too much. So as to not be led too far astray where you have hit the point of no return.

 

And last but not least, wrath, which is that strong wanting to punish someone. That inner hurt you feel that someone else must feel in the moment. Now wrath is tricky because is there ever a time to want to dole out punishment without sin? And the answer is yes. In the case of being a parent, the wrath is often brought down and is justified. Not only in biblical text, but even among non-denominational people. But when you want someone to feel pain because of your Image result for wrath sinown internal struggles, then you become the true face that is wrath. See, in the end, all seven sins not only are of biblical context, but they say something about us all. Interestingly enough, you can’t go through life without having one or more seven sin qualities. But it’s not having these sins, but more so an excessive sin trait that becomes problematic. Because that is the point where you start to lose control.


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