What Does Religion Do For People?
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," waxing philosophical until your brain sparkles and shines! It's the soft cloth and the elbow grease that really make a difference.
I am back substitute teaching at the Vo-Tech, and darned glad to have a job in this "economic downturn." (Funny, it looks like a recession/depression to me.)
Yesterday I covered for a teacher who I was in for long-term last year. The subject: World History. The topic of the day: World religions.
This school has a little task they call "Do Now," that the students are supposed to complete when they enter the room. Yesterday's "Do Now" question (supplied by the missing teacher, not me) was: "What does religion do for people?"
After the students write out a written response, the teacher is supposed to ask the question again and gather voluntary answers from the class.
So, after asking how many of them went to church at least a few times a year (smattering of hands), I said, "What does religion do for people?"
Most freshmen-aged kids are not eager to speak up in a classroom. But it was early in the day when a student said, "Religion soothes you."
Religion soothes you.
Okay, Karl Marx, maybe it is the opiate of the people, but if you're in pain you need an opiate. So religion soothes you.
It is perhaps a tad too soothing to think there's some Higher Power out there who has already decided how your life is going to go -- or who you think will fix every little bump in the road for you. But to me (and to this student, perhaps), the feeling that Higher Powers exist is soothing.
To me, meditating on the divine and all goodness is soothing.
You could argue that even the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center found their religion soothing. They thought they were going on to some heaven of some kind. So, what soothes one person might be dangerous to another.
That's where we hope some common sense will prevail. Some set of rules of decency.
Rules. That was the other, more common response at the school to the question, "What does religion do for people?"
You. You along the road. Must have a code that you can live by. If none of the codes you're aware of suit you, consult the bored gods. They have theirs -- some quite good ones, in fact.
MERLIN IN ABSENTIA OF BERKELEY SPRINGS