Rampant Tribalism

With it being such a sad and dreary morning, I decided to stick closer to home by attending a local church service.  For the first time in the handful of times I’d been in attendance, I actually enjoyed the entire Service.  There was a relatively young pastor officiating who was dropping things and bungling a few readings, which made him all the more human as well as delightful.

His sermon was short and sweet, but meaningfully straight to the point.  While watching and listening to him, I said a little prayer that he wouldn’t become polluted by those overly-rigid  rules of our organized religions.

The music was above average, but unfortunately the attendance appeared to be low which reminded me once again how main-line American religions are under assault by the evangelical movement that has spread across our Nation.  Now don’t get me wrong, because I believe everyone has the right to attend any religious gathering they see fit, but what I don’t like is the overt proselytizing that’s taking place within those groups to where they’re in your face to the point of embarrassment.

Can you imagine what would’ve happened to someone doing that say 30 years ago?  They’d for sure be considered religious freaks belonging to some underground sect.  I’m sure many of you’ve forgotten or perhaps weren’t even born when James Jones went on a killing spree in Jonestown Guyana back in November of 1978.  I can’t remember for sure how many of his followers died, but I believe there were close to a thousand.

Watching the news clips and reading those in-depth articles about that so-called religious community haunted me for months.  I just couldn’t get my brain wrapped around the whole idea of all those people following one man’s rules and beliefs to the letter.  If you’re of a much younger age, or possibly have forgotten much of what happened, do take a little time to do your own research on James Jones and his rise to a near absolute spiritual and temporal power.

Since all of that happened over 40 years ago, you’ll start drawing comparisons to certain religious communities in our times, having as their heads exceptionally rigid and overly-controlling philosophies regarding what is acceptable as well as what’s to be expected from their  flocks. I’ve personally heard a few hair-raising stories regarding such demands.

After this morning’s church Service, I ran into a well known whom I haven’t had a good chat with for a very long time, so I decided to ask him if he’d like to go for coffee somewhere.  We ended up at Jitters Coffee House which was busier than I’d expected on such a rainy and cold Sunday morning.

We talked about nearly everything from politics, religion, families, and most likely everything else that came to mind.  As we were leaving, I was reminded how good it is for us all to openly share our thoughts with those who are willing to understand, and above all, to freely share their own thoughts, troubles, joys, and desires.  Too many people in today’s society are overly-fearful of sharing their thoughts with others, and perhaps that’s why there’s such rampant tribalism in our world.

When looking at today’s two main political parties, you’ll rarely if ever find much bi-partisan thinking.  You are to follow the beliefs of this tribe or that one, and the crossing of political borders is the sure makings of a political suicide.  I mentioned to my friend this morning that if we don’t have a return of bi-partisan leadership, our democracy will no longer be able to work in the best interest of our country as a whole, and that makes me exceptionally sad, and all the more concerned.

Tonight’s one-liner is:  All great things are simple in a democracy, and many can be expressed in a single word:  freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, and hope.

Joe Chodur

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