I am reading ‘A History of the American People’ by Paul Johnson. I like American History because it gives me insight into how our country developed. My interests vary but I am reminded, when the text turns to religion, that religion has most often been a force which involved itself in politics. In early America there was diversity in religion but the diversity was in the religion of Christianity. This diversity still exists, yet as America has evolved and other religions have found a home in America, the diversity of religion has widened and become the diversity of religions. Of course, for the most part, we don’t think in terms of the different religions that are in America now because Christianity, in one form or another, holds the majority and is most vocal. Reading of the macrocasm, leads me to reflect on the microcasm; my town and surrounding areas.
In the town where I reside, the only religion recognized is Christianity and the predominant mindset is Protestant. There is a strong Catholic community but it is small compared to the Protestants. I would venture to say that most of the Catholics in my town are either Syrians or have roots in Acadian ancestry. A mere 15 miles south of where I live (located in the same parish) the religious and cultural atmosphere changes. The community to my south is where my mother was born and grew up. She was an Acadian in a staunch Catholic household. The majority to my south are Catholic and most are Acadians or decended from Acadians. Therefore, although my view is small in terms of the religions that exist on the planet Earth, it is interesting in terms of the various forms of Christianity that I am exposed to in such a small area. In this respect, the atmosphere, in a sense, mimics the religious atmosphere that surrounded those who inhabited America in its’ infancy.
As I reflect on religion and politics, one thing that has changed since I grew up in the area, is the switching of party alliance. The area is solidly republican now as opposed to it being solidly democrat in the past. When I first moved back, I was surprised at the change of attitude because with the political switch there is a noticable switch in attitude. What I see as an ‘outsider’ of sorts is a diminished empathy for those less fortunate. Misfortune is attributed to a fault possessed by the unfortunate; a choice made which carries the responsibilty to accept their misfortune. On the contrary, I see the problem as stemming from culturaI habits that span generations and a lack of education. What disturbs me is that rather than helping the weakest link (the unfortunate) which is how politics and religion functioned in my area of the world when I was growing up, there is an attitude of resentment toward the unfortunate. I have even heard the misfortune defined as punishment by God. Somehow the trend of aligning misfortune to ungodliness and prosperity (money) to godliness horrifies me. It is archaic, in a sense. It is like living in a time when disease was aligned with a punishment that the universe bestowed on those who were not living ‘right.’
So I try to rise above my environment. Sometimes, I succeed and sometimes I get rather outdone with the mindset. Then, there are times when I just let the world be as the world is. I forget, relax. and enjoy the fact that I am alive. So tonight, I will let my eyes melt with my telescope, and I will smile at the ‘fingernail’ moon. We are only specks in a vast universe, eh?