Adler 2005

Adler 2005 - In
Search
of
the
Spiritual
...

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Unformatted text preview: In
Search
of
the
Spiritual
 Jerry
Adler
2005
 
 MOVE
OVER,
POLITICS.
AMERICANS
ARE
LOOKING
FOR
PERSONAL,
ECSTATIC
 EXPERIENCES
OF
GOD,
AND,
ACCORDING
TO
OUR
POLL,
THEY
DON'T
MUCH
CARE
 WHAT
THE
NEIGHBORS
ARE
DOING.
 
 The
1960s
did
not
penetrate
very
deeply
into
the
small
towns
of
the
Quaboag
Valley
 of
central
Massachusetts.
Even
so,
Father
Thomas
Keating,
the
abbot
of
St.
Joseph's
 Abbey,
couldn't
help
noticing
the
attraction
that
the
exotic
religious
practices
of
the
 East
held
for
many
young
Roman
Catholics.
To
him,
as
a
Trappist
monk,
meditation
 was
second
nature.
He
invited
the
great
Zen
master
Roshi
Sasaki
to
lead
retreats
at
 the
abbey.
And
surely,
he
thought,
there
must
be
a
precedent
within
the
church
for
 making
such
simple
but
powerful
spiritual
techniques
available
to
laypeople.
His
 Trappist
brother
Father
William
Meninger
found
it
in
one
day
in
1974,
in
a
dusty
 copy
of
a
14th‐century
guide
to
contemplative
meditation,
"The
Cloud
of
 Unknowing."
Drawing
on
that
work,
as
well
as
the
writings
of
the
contemplatives
 Saint
John
of
the
Cross
and
Saint
Teresa
of
Avila,
the
two
monks
began
teaching
a
 form
of
Christian
meditation
that
grew
into
the
worldwide
phenomenon
known
as
 centering
prayer.
Twice
a
day
for
20
minutes,
practitioners
find
a
quiet
place
to
sit
 with
their
eyes
closed
and
surrender
their
minds
to
God.
In
more
than
a
dozen
 books
and
in
speeches
and
retreats
that
have
attracted
tens
of
thousands,
Keating
 has
spread
the
word
to
a
world
of
"hungry
people,
looking
for
a
deeper
relationship
 with
God."
 
 For
most
of
history,
that's
exactly
what
most
people
have
been
looking
for.
But
only
 a
generation
ago
it
appeared
from
some
vantage
points,
such
as
midtown
 Manhattan,
that
Americans
were
on
their
way
to
turning
their
backs
on
God.
In
 sepulchral
black
and
red,
the
cover
of
Time
magazine
dated
April
8,
1966‐‐Good
 Friday‐‐introduced
millions
of
readers
to
existential
anguish
with
the
question
Is
 God
Dead?
If
he
was,
the
likely
culprit
was
science,
whose
triumph
was
deemed
so
 complete
that
"what
cannot
be
known
[by
scientific
methods]
seems
uninteresting,
 unreal."
Nobody
would
write
such
an
article
now,
in
an
era
of
round‐the‐clock
 televangelism
and
official
presidential
displays
of
Christian
piety.
Even
more
 remarkable
today
is
the
article's
obsession
with
the
experience
of
a
handful
of
the
 most
prestigious
Protestant
denominations.
No
one
looked
for
God
in
the
 Pentecostal
churches
of
East
Los
Angeles
or
among
the
backwoods
Baptists
of
 Arkansas.
Muslims
earned
no
notice,
nor
did
American
Hindus
or
Buddhists,
except
 for
a
passage
that
raised
the
alarming
prospect
of
seekers'
"desperately"
turning
to
 "psychiatry,
Zen
or
drugs."
 
 History
records
that
the
vanguard
of
angst‐ridden
intellectuals
in
Time,
struggling
to
 imagine
God
as
a
cloud
of
gas
in
the
far
reaches
of
the
galaxy,
never
did
sweep
the
 nation.
What
was
dying
in
1966
was
a
well‐meaning
but
arid
theology
born
of
 rationalism:
a
wavering
trumpet
call
for
ethical
behavior,
a
search
for
meaning
in
a
 letter
to
the
editorin
favor
of
civil
rights.
What
would
be
born
in
its
stead,
in
a
cycle
 of
renewal
that
has
played
itself
out
many
times
since
the
Temple
of
Solomon,
was
a
 passion
for
an
immediate,
transcendent
experience
of
God.
And
a
uniquely
American
 acceptance
of
the
amazingly
diverse
paths
people
have
taken
to
find
it.
NEWSWEEK
 set
out
to
map
this
new
topography
of
faith,
visiting
storefront
churches
in
Brooklyn
 and
mosques
in
Los
Angeles,
an
environmental
Christian
activist
in
West
Virginia
 and
a
Catholic
college
in
Ohio‐‐talking
to
Americans
of
all
creeds,
and
none,
about
 their
spiritual
journeys.
A
major
poll,
commissioned
jointly
with
Beliefnet.com,
 reveals
a
breadth
of
tolerance
and
curiosity
virtually
across
the
religious
spectrum.
 And
everywhere
we
looked,
a
flowering
of
spirituality:
in
the
hollering,
swooning,
 foot‐stomping
services
of
the
new
wave
of
Pentecostals;
in
Catholic
churches
where
 worshipers
pass
the
small
hours
of
the
night
alone
contemplating
the
eucharist,
and
 among
Jews
who
are
seeking
God
in
the
mystical
thickets
of
Kabbalah.
Also,
in
the
 rebirth
of
Pagan
religions
that
look
for
God
in
the
wonders
of
the
natural
world;
in
 Zen
and
innumerable
other
threads
of
Buddhism,
whose
followers
seek
 enlightenment
through
meditation
and
prayer,
and
in
the
efforts
of
American
 Muslims
to
achieve
a
more
God‐centered
Islam.
And,
for
that
matter,
at
the
Church
 of
the
Holy
Communion,
described
by
the
Rev.
Gary
Jones
as
"a
proper
Episcopal
 church
in
one
of
the
wealthiest
parts
of
Memphis,"
where
increasingly
"personal
 experience
is
at
the
heart
of
much
of
what
we
do."
A
few
years
ago
Jones
added
a
 Sunday‐evening
service
that
has
evolved
into
a
blend
of
Celtic
evensong
with
 communion.
Congregants
were
invited
to
make
a
sign
of
the
cross
with
holy
water.
 Jones
was
relieved
when
this
innovation
quickly
won
acceptance.
"We
thought
 people
would
be
embarrassed,"
he
says.
 
 Whatever
is
going
on
here,
it's
not
an
explosion
of
people
going
to
church.
The
great
 public
manifestations
of
religiosity
in
America
today‐‐the
megachurches
seating
 8,000
worshipers
at
one
service,
the
emergence
of
evangelical
preachers
as
political
 power
brokers‐‐haven't
been
reflected
in
increased
attendance
at
services.
Of
1,004
 respondents
to
the
NEWSWEEK/Beliefnet
Poll,
45
percent
said
they
attend
worship
 services
weekly,
virtually
identical
to
the
figure
(44
percent)
in
a
Gallup
poll
cited
by
 Time
in
1966.
Then
as
now,
however,
there
is
probably
a
fair
amount
of
wishful
 thinking
in
those
figures;
researchers
who
have
done
actual
head
counts
in
churches
 think
the
figure
is
probably
more
like
20
percent.
There
has
been
a
particular
falloff
 in
attendance
by
African‐Americans,
for
whom
the
church
is
no
longer
the
only
 respectable
avenue
of
social
advancement,
according
to
Darren
Sherkat,
a
 sociologist
at
Southern
Illinois
University.
The
fastest‐growing
category
on
surveys
 that
ask
people
to
give
their
religious
affiliation,
says
Patricia
O'Connell
Killen
of
 Pacific
Lutheran
University
in
Tacoma,
Wash.,
is
"none."
But
"spirituality,"
the
 impulse
to
seek
communion
with
the
Divine,
is
thriving.
The
NEWSWEEK/Beliefnet
 Poll
found
that
more
Americans,
especially
those
younger
than
60,
described
 themselves
as
"spiritual"
(79
percent)
than
"religious"
(64
percent).
Almost
two
 thirds
of
Americans
say
they
pray
every
day,
and
nearly
a
third
meditate.
 
 These
figures
tell
you
more
about
what
Americans
care
about
than
a
10,000‐foot‐ high
monument
to
the
Ten
Commandments.
"You
can
know
all
about
God,"
says
 Tony
Campolo,
a
prominent
evangelist,
"but
the
question
is,
do
you
know
God?
You
 can
have
solid
theology
and
be
orthodox
to
the
core,
but
have
you
experienced
God
 in
your
own
life?"
In
the
broadest
sense,
Campolo
says,
the
Christian
believer
and
 the
New
Age
acolyte
are
on
the
same
mission:
"We
are
looking
for
transcendence
in
 the
midst
of
the
mundane."
And
what
could
be
more
mundane
than
politics?
 Seventy‐five
percent
say
that
a
"very
important"
reason
for
their
faith
is
to
"forge
a
 personal
relationship
with
God"‐‐not
fighting
political
battles.
 
 Today,
then,
the
real
spiritual
quest
is
not
to
put
another
conservative
on
the
 Supreme
Court,
or
to
get
creation
science
into
the
schools.
If
you
experience
God
 directly,
your
faith
is
not
going
to
hinge
on
whether
natural
selection
could
have
 produced
the
flagellum
of
a
bacterium.
If
you
feel
God
within
you,
then
the
 important
question
is
settled;
the
rest
is
details.
 
 As
diverse
as
America
itself
are
the
ways
in
which
Americans
seek
spiritual
 enlightenment.
One
of
the
unexpected
results
of
the
immigration
reform
of
1965
 was
its
effect
on
American
religiosity.
Even
Christian
immigrants
brought
with
them
 unfamiliar
practices
and
beliefs,
planting
on
American
soil
branches
of
the
True
 Jesus
Church
(from
China)
or
the
Zairean
Kimbangu
Church.
Beliefnet,
the
religious
 Web
site,
sends
out
more
than
8
million
daily
e‐mails
of
spiritual
wisdom
in
various
 flavors
to
more
than
5
million
subscribers.
Generic
"inspiration"
is
most
popular
 (2.4
million),
followed
by
the
Bible
(1.6
million),
but
there
are
460,000
subscribers
 to
the
Buddhist
thought
of
the
day,
313,000
Torah
devotees,
268,000
subscribers
to
 Daily
Muslim
Wisdom
(and
236,000
who
get
the
Spiritual
Weight
Loss
message).
 Even
nature‐worshiping
Pagans
are
divided
into
a
mind‐boggling
panoply
of
sects,
 including
Wicca,
Druidism,
Pantheism,
Animism,
Teutonic
Paganism,
the
God
of
 Spirituality
Folk
and,
in
case
you
can't
find
one
to
suit
you
on
that
list,
Eclectic
 Paganism.
 
 Along
with
diversity
has
come
a
degree
of
inclusiveness
that
would
have
 scandalized
an
earlier
generation.
According
to
the
NEWSWEEK/Beliefnet
Poll,
eight
 in
10
Americans‐‐including
68
percent
of
evangelicals‐‐believe
that
more
than
one
 faith
can
be
a
path
to
salvation,
which
is
most
likely
not
what
they
were
taught
in
 Sunday
school.
One
out
of
five
respondents
said
he
had
switched
religions
as
an
 adult.
 
 This
is
not
surprising
in
the
united
States,
which
for
much
of
its
history
was
a
 spiritual
hothouse
in
which
Methodism,
Mormonism,
Adventism,
Christian
Science,
 Jehovah's
Witnesses
and
the
Nation
of
Islam
all
took
root
and
flourished.
In
America
 even
atheists
are
spiritualists,
searching
for
meaning
in
parapsychology
and
near‐ death
experiences.
There
is
a
streak
in
the
United
States
of
relying
on
what
Pacific
 Lutheran's
Killen
calls
"individual
visceral
experience"
to
validate
religious
ideas.
 American
faiths
have
long
been
characterized
by
creativity
and
individualism.
 "That's
their
secret
to
success,"
says
Alan
Wolfe,
director
of
the
Boisi
Center
for
 Religion
and
American
Public
Life
at
Boston
College.
"Rather
than
being
about
a
god
 who
commands
you,
it's
about
finding
a
religion
that
empowers
you."
 
 Empowerment
is
at
the
heart
of
Pentecostalism,
which
has
burgeoned
from
a
single
 Spirit‐touched
believer
at
a
Kansas
Bible
school
at
the
turn
of
the
last
century
to
30
 million
adherents
in
America
and
more
than
half
a
billion
worldwide.
Marching
 under
the
Pentecostal
banner
is
a
host
of
denominations
whose
names
roll
off
the
 tongue
like
a
voice
from
heaven:
Church
of
God,
International
Church
of
the
Four‐ square
Gospel,
International
Pentecostal
Holiness
Church,
the
Assemblies
of
God.
 Among
them
is
a
tiny
Brooklyn
storefront
church
whose
sign
grandly
proclaims
the
 Cathedral
of
Deliverance.
This
is
where
43‐year‐old
Ron
Cox,
who
left
his
mother's
 large
Southern
Baptist
church
in
his
teens,
now
lives
and
works
as
an
assistant
to
 the
bishop,
Steven
Wagnon.
He
tried
Hinduism,
but
it
failed
to
move
him;
looked
into
 Buddhism,
but
lost
interest
when
a
Buddhist
couldn't
tell
him
the
meaning
of
her
 chant.
But
one
summer
night
recently,
guided
by
the
voice
of
God
to
a
Pentecostal
 revival
in
full‐throated
swing,
he
was
transfixed
by
the
sight
of
worshipers
so
moved
 by
the
Holy
Spirit
that
they
were
jumping,
shouting
and
falling
to
the
floor
in
a
faint.
 Soon
he,
too,
was
experiencing
the
ecstasy
of
the
Holy
Spirit.
Once,
it
seemed
to
lift
 him
right
out
of
his
body:
 
 "I
felt
the
Spirit
come
upon
me,
and
it
was
an
overwhelming
presence.
It
was
bliss.
I
 thought
only
10
or
15
minutes
had
passed,
but
three
hours
had
gone
by.
And
I
 remember
just
shouting,
'Hallelujah,
hallelujah,
hallelujah!'
"
 
 The
bliss
Cox
felt
was
mingled
with
awe‐‐the
Holy
Spirit
was
inside
his
very
own
 body.
That
helps
explain
Pentecostalism's
historical
appeal
to
the
poor
and
 marginalized:
rural
Southerners,
African‐Americans
and,
more
recently,
Hispanics
 and
other
immigrants.
It
is
burgeoning
in
the
developing
world.
"For
people
who
 feel
overlooked,
it
provides
a
sense
that
you're
a
very
important
person,"
observes
 Harvey
Cox
of
the
Harvard
Divinity
School.
By
the
same
token,
people
with
social
 aspirations
preferred
other
churches,
but
nowadays
Pentecostalism‐‐the
faith
of
 former
attorney
general
John
Ashcroft‐‐has
lost
its
stigma
as
a
religion
of
the
poor.
 And
elements
of
Pentecostal
worship
are
invading
other
denominations,
a
change
 that
coincided
with
the
introduction
of
arena‐style
screens
in
churches,
replacing
 hymnals
and
freeing
up
people's
hands
to
clap
and
wave.
Naturally,
there
is
some
 attenuation
as
you
move
up
the
socioeconomic
scale.
Babbling
in
foreign‐sounding
 "tongues"
turns
into
discreet
murmurs
of
affirmation.
"An
atmosphere
that
is
 joyous,
ecstatic
and
emotionally
expressive
is
appearing
in
all
kinds
of
churches
 now,"
says
Harvard's
Cox,
"even
if
it's
not
labeled
Pentecostal."
 
 Empowerment
requires
intensity
of
effort;
Americans
like
the
idea
of
taking
 responsibility
for
their
own
souls.
This
may
be
why
Buddhism‐‐a
religion
without
a
 personal
god
and
only
a
few
broad
ethical
precepts‐‐has
made
such
inroads
in
the
 American
imagination.
"People
are
looking
for
transformative
experience,
not
just
a
 new
creed
or
dogma,"
says
Surya
Das,
a
U.S.‐born
Tibetan
lama
whose
spiritual
 journey
began
in
1970,
when
he
was
a
student
from
New
York's
Long
Island
named
 Jeffrey
Miller.
"The
Ten
Commandments
and
Sermon
on
the
Mount
are
already
 there."
In
most
Buddhist
countries,
and
among
immigrants
in
America,
the
role
of
 the
layperson
is
to
support
the
monks
in
their
lives
of
contemplation.
But
American
 converts
want
to
do
their
own
contemplating.
Stephen
Cope,
who
attended
 Episcopal
divinity
school
but
later
trained
as
a
psychotherapist,
dropped
into
a
 meditation
center
in
Cambridge,
Mass.,
one
day
and
soon
found
himself
spending
six
 hours
every
Sunday
sitting
and
walking
in
silent
contemplation.
Then
he
added
yoga
 to
his
routine,
which
he
happily
describes
as
"like
gasoline
on
fire"
when
it
comes
to
 igniting
a
meditative
state.
And
the
great
thing
is,
he
still
attends
his
Episcopal
 church‐‐a
perfect
example
of
the
new
American
spirituality,
with
a
thirst
for
 transcendence
too
powerful
to
be
met
by
just
one
religion.
 
 People
like
that
could
become
panentheists,
too‐‐a
new
term
for
people
who
believe
 in
the
divinity
of
the
natural
universe
(like
the
better‐known
Pantheists),
but
also
 postulate
an
intelligent
being
or
force
behind
it.
To
Bridgette
O'Brien,
a
32‐year‐old
 student
in
the
recently
created
Ph.D.
program
in
Religion
and
Nature
at
the
 University
of
Florida,
"the
divine
is
something
significant
in
terms
of
the
energy
that
 pervades
the
natural
world
at
large."
Her
worship
consists
of
composting,
recycling
 and
daily
five‐mile
runs;
she
describes
herself
as
"the
person
that
picks
the
 earthworms
off
the
sidewalk
after
the
rain
to
make
sure
they
don't
get
stepped
on."
 Those
seeking
a
more
structured
nature‐based
religion
have
many
choices,
 including
several
branches
of
Druidism.
"I
talk
to
my
ancestors,
the
spirits
of
nature
 and
other
deities
on
a
regular
basis,"
says
Isaac
Bonewits,
a
55‐year‐old
New
Yorker
 who
founded
one
of
the
best‐known
Druid
orders.
Wicca,
the
largest
Pagan
sect,
 with
an
elaborate
calendar
of
seasonal
holidays
and
rituals,
is
popular
enough
to
 demand
its
own
military
chaplains.
Un‐fortunately
from
the
political
standpoint,
 Wiccans
refer
to
themselves
as
"witches,"
although
they
do
not,
in
fact,
worship
 Satan.
This
confusion
led
President
Bush,
when
he
was
Texas
governor,
to
urge
the
 Army
to
reconsider
allowing
Wiccan
rites
at
a
military
base,
with
the
comment
"I
 don't
think
witchcraft
is
a
religion."
 
 Unlike
Buddhists,
Catholics
cannot
take
sole
responsibility
for
their
souls;
they
need
 the
sacraments
of
the
church
to
be
saved.
But
they,
too,
have
experienced
a
 flowering
of
spirituality,
especially
among
the
"John
Paul
II
Catholics,"
who
were
 energized
by
the
late
pope's
call
for
a
new
outpouring
of
the
Holy
Spirit.
Since
it
 arrived
in
the
United
States
in
1957,
the
"cursillo"
movement
has
initiated
more
 than
a
half‐million
American
Catholics
into
the
techniques
for
seeking
a
direct
 communion
with
God.
Cursillo,
which
means
"short
course,"
involves
a
three‐day
 retreat
of
silent
contemplation
and
lectures
that
lean
heavily
on
the
spiritual
 vocabulary
of
evangelism.
Also
on
the
rise
is
the
Adoration
of
the
Eucharist:
shifts
of
 silent
prayer,
sometimes
round
the
clock,
before
the
consecrated
host
in
an
 otherwise
empty
church.
(You
can
do
the
same
thing
over
the
Internet;
one
site
says
 it
received
2.5
million
hits
in
a
year
for
its
unchanging
Webcam
image
of
an
altar
and
 a
monstrance.)
"It's
been
surprisingly
popular,"
says
Robert
Kloska,
director
of
 campus
ministry
at
Holy
Cross
College
in
Indiana.
"You
wouldn't
think
in
modern
 society
there's
such
a
yearning
for
silence
and
mysticism,
but
there
is."
 
 Kloska
is
less
enthusiastic
about
the
other
manifestation
of
spirituality
he
sees
on
 campus,
an
affinity
for
"high‐energy,
almost
charismatic
prayer
and
worship."
 Catholic
Charismatic
Renewal,
which
got
its
start
in
1967
when
a
Duquesne
 University
group
on
a
weekend
retreat
felt
a
visitation
by
the
Holy
Spirit,
now
runs
 thousands
of
prayer
groups
in
the
United
States,
where
worshipers
may
speak
in
 tongues
or
collapse
in
laughter
or
tears.
"Young
people
got
tired
of
hearing
that
once
 upon
a
time
people
experienced
God
directly,"
says
historian
Martin
E.
Marty
of
the
 University
of
Chicago.
"They
want
it
to
happen
for
themselves.
They
don't
want
to
 hear
that
Joan
of
Arc
had
a
vision.
They
want
to
have
a
vision."
It's
a
little
more
 problematic
when
the
Holy
Spirit
visits
during
a
regular
mass.
Clayton
Ebsch,
a
 retired
technician,
was
enthusiastic
when
a
charismatic
priest
took
over
Precious
 Blood
Parish
in
Stephenson,
Mich.,
even
after
some
of
his
friends
left
for
more‐ traditional
parishes.
Still,
he
found
that
speaking
in
tongues
didn't
come
naturally.
 "It
was
just
unfamiliar,
speaking
gibberish
and
jibber‐jabbering,"
he
says,
although
 he
sees
one
virtue
in
it:
"It
humbles
you."
 
 The
Vatican
seems
ambivalent
about
these
developments.
On
the
one
hand,
the
 church
wants
to
keep
the
allegiance
of
adherents
who
have
been
deserting
to
 evangelical
and
Pentecostal
churches.
Three
quarters
of
Hispanic
immigrants
to
the
 United
States
are
Catholic,
but
the
figure
drops
to
about
half
by
the
third
generation
 in
America.
On
the
other
hand,
the
raison
d'etre
of
the
church
is
to
mediate
between
 the
faithful
and
God.
The
future
Pope
Benedict
XVI
summed
up
the
Vatican's
attitude
 back
in
1983,
when
he
wrote
of
the
relationship
between
"personal
experience
and
 the
common
faith
of
the
Church."
Both
are
important,
he
said:
"a
dogmatic
faith
 unsupported
by
personal
experience
remains
empty;
mere
personal
experience
 unrelated
to
the
faith
of
the
Church
remains
blind."
In
simpler
terms:
Let's
not
get
 carried
away
here.
Emotions
come
and
go,
but
the
mass
endures.
 
 The
quest
for
spiritual
union
with
God
is
as
old
as
mankind
itself,
uniting
the
ancient
 desert
tribes
of
Mesopotamia
with
the
Christian
hermits
on
their
mountaintops
with
 American
pop
singers
at
the
Kabbalah
Centre
in
Los
Angeles,
poring
over
the
 esoteric
wisdom
encoded
in
early
Jewish
texts.
And
who
can
begrudge
it
to
them?
 Well,
David
Blumenthal
of
Emory
University's
Institute
for
Jewish
Studies,
for
one.
 His
view
of
the
aspiring
scholar
Madonna
is
that
"anyone
who
claims
to
be
a
 Kabbalist
and
then
sings
in
public
largely
in
the
nude
is
hardly
a
Kabbalist."
The
 mystical
impulse
in
Judaism‐‐kept
alive
for
centuries
by
the
tiny,
fervent
band
of
 Hasidim,
but
long
overshadowed
in
America
by
the
dominance
of
the
rational,
 decorous
Conservative
movement‐‐is
reasserting
itself.
The
founding
text
of
 Kabbalah,
the
Zohar,
conveys
the
message
that
God's
power
depends
on
humanity's
 actions.
God
needs
our
worship.
"It's
the
same
impulse
behind
Zen
Buddhism,
 Tibetan
masters,
Hopi
Indians,"
says
Arthur
Green,
rector
of
the
rabbinical
school
at
 Hebrew
College
in
Boston.
"The
ancient
esoteric
traditions
might
have
something
to
 teach
us
about
living
in
this
age."
Even
at
Hebrew
Union
College,
a
citadel
of
Reform
 Judaism,
provost
Norman
Cohen
admits
that
"what
the
Kabbalah
can
teach
us‐‐how
 to
have
a
relationship
with
God‐‐has
to
be
treated
seriously."
 
 The
Hasidim
pray
ecstatically;
they
dance
with
the
Torah;
they
fast
to
achieve
a
 higher
spiritual
state,
and
they
drink
wine
for
the
same
reason.
With
their
 distinctive
black
frock
coats
and
curly
sideburns,
they
are
a
visible
and
growing
 presence
in
New
York
and
some
other
cities.
Orthodox
Judaism,
of
which
they
are
a
 branch,
is
on
the
rise
among
young
Jews
who
trade
Friday‐night
dances
and
shrimp
 egg
foo
yung
for
a
more
intense
religious
experience.
Orthodox
Rabbi
Irving
 Greenberg
calls
the
phenomenon
"Jews
by
choice,"
reflecting
the
reality
that
Jewish
 practice
is
no
longer
a
tribal
imperative.
In
a
world
in
which
practically
every
 religion
has
its
own
cable‐TV
channel,
to
step
inside
a
synagogue
becomes
an
 existential
choice.
"To
me,
that
is
the
revolution
of
our
time,
and
I
don't
mean
just
 Judaism,"
Greenberg
says.
 
 In
fact,
the
same
issue
is
very
much
on
the
minds
of
America's
Muslims.
Forced
to
 define
themselves
in
the
face
of
an
alien‐‐and,
in
recent
years,
sometimes
hostile‐‐ majority,
the
second
generation
especially
has
turned
increasingly
observant.
Unlike
 their
parents,
they
may
attend
mosque
several
times
a
week
and
pray
five
times
a
 day,
anywhere
they
can
unroll
a
prayer
mat.
It
has
not
been
lost
on
them
that
the
 way
to
fit
in
in
present‐day
America
is
to
be
religious.
"When
our
parents
came
here
 in
the
1960s
or
'70s
there
was
a
pro‐secular
culture,"
explains
Yusuf
Hussein,
22,
 who
was
born
in
Somalia
but
came
to
southern
California
as
a
teenager.
"For
us,
 being
a
Muslim
is
the
way
to
forge
our
own
identity,
to
move
forward,
to
be
 modern."
 
 Islam
emphasizes
the
unity
of
all
believers,
so
American‐born
Muslims
are
shedding
 the
cultural
accouterments
of
the
many
countries
from
which
their
parents
came,
or
 the
political
freight
of
African‐American
converts.
They
are
intent
on
forging
a
purer
 and
more
spiritual
religion.
"It's
easier
being
Muslim
and
African‐American
than
just
 being
African,"
says
Imam
Saadiq
Saafir,
60,
whose
journey
took
him
from
 Christianity
to
the
Nation
of
Islam
and
then
to
orthodox
Sunni
Islam.
Muslims
pray
 to
God
without
the
intervention
of
a
priest
or
a
religious
hierarchy;
he
is
never
 farther
away
than
the
Qur'an,
which
is
the
direct
and
unmediated
word
of
Allah.
 "There
are
many
ways
to
be
spiritual,"
says
Megan
Wyatt,
a
blond
Ohioan
who
 converted
to
Islam
three
years
ago.
"People
find
it
in
yoga.
For
me,
becoming
a
 Muslim
gave
me
the
ultimate
connection
to
God."
 
 So,
a
generation
after
the
question
was
posed,
we
can
certainly
answer
that
God
 seems
very
much
alive
in
the
hearts
of
those
who
seek
him.
We
have
come
a
long
 way,
it
would
appear,
from
that
dark
year
when
the
young
Catholic
philosopher
 Michael
Novak
was
quoted
in
Time,
saying,
"If,
occasionally,
I
raise
my
heart
in
 prayer,
it
is
to
no
God
I
can
see,
or
hear,
or
feel."
To
make
the
point,
we
gave
Novak,
 who
is
now
72
and
among
the
most
distinguished
theologians
in
America,
the
 chance
to
correct
the
record
on
his
youthful
despair.
And
he
replied
that
God
is
as
 far
away
as
he's
ever
been.
Religious
revivals
are
always
exuberant
and
filled
with
 spirit,
he
says,
but
the
true
measure
of
faith
is
in
adversity
and
despair,
when
God
 doesn't
show
up
in
every
blade
of
grass
or
storefront
church.
"That's
when
the
true
 nature
of
belief
comes
out,"
he
says.
"Joy
is
appropriate
to
the
beginnings
of
your
 faith.
But
sooner
or
later
somebody
will
get
cancer,
or
your
best
friends
will
betray
 you.
That's
when
you
will
be
tested."
 
 So
let
us
say
together:
Hallelujah!
Praise
the
Lord!
Sh'ma
Yisrael.
Allahu
Akbar.
Om.
 And
store
up
the
light
against
the
darkness.
 ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2010 for the course SOC 1305 taught by Professor Mueller during the Fall '08 term at Baylor.

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