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Survey: One Quarter of Americans Could Claim ‘No Religion’ in 20 Years
September 22, 2009
By Dan Gilgoff, religion writer for U.S. News & World Report

If current trends continue, a quarter of Americans are likely to claim “no religion” in 20 years, according to a survey out today by Trinity College. Americans who identify with no religious tradition currently comprise 15 percent of the country, representing the fastest growing segment of the national religious landscape.

While the numbers portend a dramatic change for the American religious scene—”religious nones” accounted for just 8 percent of the population in 1990—the United States is not poised adopt the anti-religious posture of much of secularized Europe.

That’s because American religious nones tend to be religious skeptics as opposed to outright atheists. Fewer than ten percent of those identifying with no religious tradition call themselves atheists or hold atheistic beliefs, according to the new study.

“American nones are kind of agnostic and deistic, so it’s a very American kind of skepticism,” says Barry Kosmin, director of Trinity’s Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. “It’s a kind of religious indifference that’s not hostile to religion the way they are in France. Franklin and Jefferson would have recognized these people.”

The new study found that, in addition to seeing relatively strong retention numbers, American nones are quickly gaining new members. “Twenty-two percent of the youngest cohort of adults self-identify as nones and they will become tomorrow’s parents,” according to the report. “If current trends continue and cohorts of non-religious young people replace older religious people, the likely outcome is that in two decades the nones could account for around one-quarter of the American population.”

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Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson

How many kazillions of words have been written about home in books, poems, songs and plays.
How many variations of themes are attached to home: leaving home, missing home, yearning and burning to get back home, hating home, loving home, no home, many homes, remembering home.
Home is where the heart is but, sadly, you can’t go home again can you? It’s just not going to stay the same, anymore than you are.
Got to thinking about home after coming across a blurb about Marilynne Robinson, one of the best of the best of contemporary writers of fiction.
Preachers love her, of course, because her novels about small-town life in her Iowa contain just bucketloads of theological and spiritual depths and insights. Her novel Gilead, about an aging pastor from a long line of pastors, won the Pulitzer.
Anyone who appreciates incredibly beautiful prose and storytelling skills appreciates Robinson’s abilities to get right into a character’s head and psyche and sensibilities.
Here’s a wonderfully descriptive excerpt from her novel Home, which may make you nostalgic for your old home, or maybe your parents’ or grandparents’ home place:

“Home to stay, Glory! Yes!” her father said, and her heart sank. He attempted a twinkle of joy at this thought, but his eyes were damp with commiseration. “To stay for a while this time!” he amended, and took her bag from her, first shifting his cane to his weaker hand. Dear God, she thought, dear God in heaven. So began and ended all her prayers these days, which were really cries of amazement. How could her father be so frail? And how could he be so recklessly intent on satisfying his notions of gentlemanliness, hanging his cane on the railing of the stairs so he could, dear God, carry her bag up to her room? But he did it, and then he stood by the door, collecting himself.

“This is the nicest room. According to Mrs. Blank.” He indicated the windows. “Cross ventilation. I don’t know. They all seem nice to me.” He laughed. “Well, it’s a good house.” The house embodied for him the general blessedness of his life, which was manifest, really indisputable. And which he never failed to acknowledge, especially when it stood over against particular sorrow. Even more frequently after their mother died he spoke of the house as if it were an old wife, beautiful for every comfort it had offered, every grace, through all the long years. It was a beauty that would not be apparent to every eye. It was too tall for the neighborhood, with a flat face and a flattened roof and peaked brows over the windows. “Italianate,” her father said, but that was a guess, or a rationalization. In any case, it managed to look both austere and pretentious despite the porch her father had had built on the front of it to accommodate the local taste for socializing in the hot summer evenings, and which had become overgrown by an immense bramble of trumpet vines. It was a good house, her father said, meaning that it had a gracious heart however awkward its appearance. And now the gardens and the shrubbery were disheveled, as he must have known, though he rarely ventured beyond the porch.

Not that they had been especially presentable even while the house was in its prime. Hide-and-seek had seen to that, and croquet and badminton and baseball. “Such times you had!” her father said, as if the present slight desolation were confetti and candy wrappers left after the passing of some glorious parade. And there was the oak tree in front of the house, much older than the neighborhood or the town, which made rubble of the pavement at its foot and flung its imponderable branches out over the road and across the yard, branches whose girths were greater than the trunk of any ordinary tree. There was a torsion in its body that made it look like a giant dervish to them. Their father said if they could see as God can, in geological time, they would see it leap out of the ground and turn in the sun and spread its arms and bask in the joys of being an oak tree in Iowa. There had once been four swings suspended from those branches, announcing to the world the fruitfulness of their household. The oak tree flourished still, and of course there had been and there were the apple and cherry and apricot trees, the lilacs and trumpet vines and the day lilies. A few of her mother’s irises managed to bloom. At Easter she and her sisters could still bring in armfuls of flowers, and their father’s eyes would glitter with tears and he would say, “Ah yes, yes,” as if they had brought some memento, these flowers only a pleasant reminder of flowers.

Excerpted from Home by Marilynne Robinson. Copyright (c) 2008 by Marilynne Robinson. Published in September 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux LLC. All rights reserved.
songs, plays For contemporary fiction that’s deeply serious, beautiful and especially spiritual, few writers can match up with Marilynne Robinson.

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Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby!

Yes, those who tapped into jitterbuggingforjesus.com today had a number of special treats.
Let us review:
We started off with a posting about our main man and musical mystic Dave Matthews, who gave an interesting Q&A interview to CNN in which he spoke his mind about racism, the shabby state of journalism (and he was absolutely right-on about it!) and–eeks!–socialism.
And, as an extra added bonus, we managed to get in a little cheap shot at Sarah Palin into this posting! the good Lord will forgive us we’re sure, and anyway–Sarah Palin probably really DOES spit in the woods, not unlike a bear.
Like a bear, she probably spits anywhere anytime she feels the urge!
Anyway, we followed up with numerous postings observing International Day of Prayer for Peace because it’s our belief there’s no shortage of obsession with war and not enough obsession with the biblical vision of peace.
We also had a beautiful photograph of a pair of birds providing for their young, and, finally, a posting about two of our favorite cool guys of the world, the President and David Letterman.
You never know what you’re going to get at jitterbuggingforjesus.com, the blog site that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possibly (probably!) alienating whole towns, cities and villages–the blog site that will bring Rush Limbaugh to his knees with humility, which will throw him into shock, of course, since humility is a foreign concept to him.
Speaking of David Letterman, the only time we’ve ever known Rush to be stifled to the extent of being at a total loss for words was when he appeared on Dave’s show and Dave promptly asked him, “Do you ever wake up some mornings and look in the mirror and say to yourself, ‘Boy! What a gas-bag I am!?
That was Rush’s one and only appearance on Dave.
Rush hasn’t been back on since.
We think we’ve said enough.

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Monday, September 21, 2009
The Associated Press
NEW YORK – Add this one to the presidential collection: the heart-shaped potato.
By the time Barack Obama came on stage to the taping of the “Late Show” on Monday, host David Letterman had offered up 10 reasons why in the world the president had agreed to do it.
Among Letterman’s theories: Obama said yes without thinking about it, or as Letterman put it, “Like Bush did with Iraq.”
But Obama had other ideas. It turns out he was listening when Letterman had bantered with a woman in the audience who brought – yes – a potato in the shape of a heart to the show.
Obama told Letterman: “The main reason I’m here? I want to see that heart-shaped potato.”
The woman tossed the potato to Letterman.
She agreed to let Obama keep it. Said the president: “This is remarkable.”
Obama also had his most irreverent answer yet on the question of whether some of the vitriolic reaction to his health care plan is driven at least partly by racism.
“First of all, I think it’s important to realize that I was actually black before the election,” Obama said to huge laughs from Letterman and the audience.
Responded Letterman: “How long have you been a black man?”

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candles

Affirmation of faith
We believe that there will not always be darkness
for the people who live in pain and sorrow,
through injustice, marginalization, discrimination or the stigma of HIV/Aids,
because Christ is light.

We believe that people will not always live apart hostile to one another,
separated by hatred or bitterness, by cultural or ideological differences,
by their social or economic situation, by creed, race or sexual orientation,
because Christ is reconciliation.

We believe that the doors will not always be shut to life,
that the walls restricting freedom and dignity will fall down
and that all forms of violence and oppression will be overcome,
because Christ is peace.

We believe that there will not always be tables that are empty while others are laden with food,
because the table of creation is for all,
because the fruits of the earth are for everybody to be fairly shared,
because Christ is the sun of justice.

We believe that water will no longer be polluted,
and that there will be enough so that no one will be thirsty.
We believe that rivers will not be private property and nobody will fence off springs,
and that ice will still be eternal and rain a sacred blessing,
because Christ is pure and transparent.

We believe that one day the wolf will no longer want to kill the lamb
and that the creatures will be able to play without fearing the serpents of abuse,
of deceit, of neglect, of kidnapping, of malnutrition and of indifference,
because Christ entered into creation.

We believe that a free and just earth,
where it is possible to live together in harmony,
where everyone will have space and opportunity,
is not a distant dream but a near reality.
We believe that another world is possible
because Christ has come to the world to make it new.

Confession
O God of peace, you know us from before we were formed in our mother’s womb.
Forgive us when we only have good intentions and do not commit ourselves
to concrete action for peace and justice.
Grant that our actions and our words may always promote peace.

O God of justice, you judge our human race with mercy.
Forgive us when we allow your image in us to be marred as we remain passive in face of so
much violence and exclusion.
Grant that our actions and our words may always promote peace.

O God of love, you have created humankind to be one great family.
Forgive our inability to be reconciled with others, both our dear ones and our enemies.
Grant that our actions and our words may always promote peace.

O God of grace, you have given us the gift of speech to be an instrument for change.
Forgive us for the times when we have spoken too hastily without thinking of the
consequences, or have remained silent out of fear or indifference.
Grant that our actions and our words may always promote peace.

O God of life, you have placed us on this earth to tend and watch over it. Forgive us if we
have failed to care for your world, to protect nature, the home you have given us, the home of
our ancestors and of our descendants. Help us to promote life and seek peace.
Grant that our actions and our words may always promote peace.

Prayer of intercession
Lord, we pray for
Peace for those who weep in silence
Peace for those who cannot speak
Peace when all hope seems to disappear.

In the midst of rage, of violence and disappointment,
In the midst of wars and destruction of the earth,
Lord, show us your light in the darkness.

Lord, we pray for
Peace for those who raise their voices to demand it,
Peace when there are many who do not wish to hear of it,
Peace as we find the way to justice.

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espanolEvery gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
*** U.S. President and World War II winner Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower
April 16, 1953

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