Does religion have an image problem?
Some people of an anti-religion sentiment flat out deny the possibility that this character transformation could be the result of a divine influence in operation, an indication that spirituality and goodness are in fact present and, like the first signs of light in the morning, revealing more of one’s true nature.
But others are open to considering what motivates people to discover and assimilate a higher nature. Spiritual rather than material causation seems, to many of them, to be at the root of this awakening, and it’s the kind of refreshing and illuminating change they want to experience more of.
Do these few examples of a growing interest in religion call into question the larger trend-data from recent surveys? Not necessarily. They remind me that while the tendency might be to buy-in to the popular perception that religion’s influence is diminishing, that’s not the full picture.
When experiences like those of my friends and others come into notice, it’s apparent there’s much more going on below the surface-image. We shouldn’t underestimate the spiritual influence that’s quietly changing hearts and minds and what that has the potential to do. People who see themselves in a new light are then likely to see and treat others in a new way.
Although you’ll not find the word religion used anywhere in the Old Testament of the Bible, there’s no shortage of references to light. Still, you can’t help feeling, from the first verses in Genesis, that the light that comes from God - that God saw as good and that extinguishes darkness - is what religion, at its best, was meant to guide us to. It’s the illumination in human consciousness that comes with spiritual discoveries.
Some might see only glimmers of that light these days and conclude we’re heading into twilight. Others, like my friends, see such glimmers and have a different impression. They’re convinced something profoundly good is going on. It’s the beginning of a new day.