A friend of mine sent me a quote this week that I finally tracked down in a piece by Ross Douthat on the Atlantic Monthly web site. The post is entitled "Theology has Consequences" and the discussion is about the "new religion" of America. Some scholars, such as Christian Smith, have deemed the beliefs of many of Americas young people as "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."
Here are the central tenants of this point of view. Perhaps we could call this the five pillars of niceness:
1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth."
2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."
3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."
4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."
5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
It really makes me want to watch Oprah, Joel Osteen and not think at all about human nature, hope and a God worthy of worship. I might as well read those five things and start worshiping my own good self. Hey, maybe that is the point. The Douthat piece is worth your time...if you are not watching Oprah that is.