Culturally Christian

There was an interesting article that ran in the Toronto Globe & Mail recently, summarizing the current dialogue around the subject of “neurotheology” and the notion of a biological predisposition that we humans have to belief in God or a high spirit. In other words, faith is literally in our DNA. But, while that subject is a fascinating one, the part of the article that caught my attention for the purpose of this article, was the following section, about Dr. Phil Zuckerman’s research on populations in Sweden and Denmark.

He observes both countries are: “…affluent places where non-believers count for 80 per cent of the population. His research found that, rather than being hostile to religion, non-believers in those countries tended to express indifference or to call themselves ‘cultural Christians’ because they still participated in many rites – baptism, marriages, funerals and holidays – linked to the national church.” You can read more about these research findings in Zuckerman’s book Society without God.

To some extent, I think the United States is another example of a society where there is a large population that is culturally Christian. The rising, post-WW II affluence that we have gained, further guaranteed by the Great Society mandates of the 1960s, have made values taught by Christ and the church part of our country’s heritage and social operating system, so to speak.

It wasn’t always that way. And, it’s interesting to hear from voices that lived during the times when the United States’ prosperity and leadership place in the world wasn’t always so obvious. This week (and month), we are very pleased to offer the comments of Pastor Merle Franke, who was born in the shadow of WW I and lived through the Great Depression.

Pastor Merle’s comments offer us all a bridge for understanding how much our current and future generations owe to the generations before us. They built their lives, and ultimately much of our country’s governance, based upon “an assurance of things hoped for; a conviction of things unseen” – in other words, a personal and shared faith in a higher power, on which we should base all aspects of society.

We hope you enjoy Merle’s reflections. And, in a quick end-note, I want to thank my son Andrew (in the picture with me, enjoying a recent birthday brunch) for his work on the video series we’ve been bringing to you so far this year.

We couldn’t have done it without his film editing wizardy!

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