Religion & Choices

starbucks_choicesTry ordering a cup of coffee today and hear what happens.  It’s not easy.

Decaf or regular, black, ground, roasted or blended, whole, two-percent, skim, soy, and in some places, organic milk. gluten free, sugar or not?   Cappuccino, mocha, latte or eight other names I can’t pronounce.  Small, medium or large?  If you’re experienced you’d just say, “I would like a vanilla latte made with skim milk, two shots of espresso, with whip cream on it. Oh and I’d like that in a tall size.”

Religion has been reduced to a cup of coffee.  The varieties of religion, times of services, the music served, the sermons heard, the kind of folks surrounding you, the “how much push for money,” the educational needs of your kids for you to be in “this church” all add up to a cup of anxiety-driven caffeine.

These are the days when choices abound when it comes to beliefs and values.  Some give up their parent’s church simply because of that. Beliefs and values.  Others may stay in that church simply because of, well, that.  The Biblical Joshua addresses all the people: “If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.”

If you are challenging yourself and questioning what is important to you then I applaud and will walk with you the whole way.  If it’s simply convenience and comfort for you than enjoy your coffee cup and church of your choice.

The present crop of U.S. Bishops use the term “individualistic” a lot these days. A part of religion definition is conformity but true membership needs to be a conscious decision.  I’m not sure of the bishops’ context unless they means being selfish, otherwise they are off.  To be an “individual” is the goal of every human life.  If you’re 40 years old and in a Catholic Church because mom taught you that, then there’s plenty of fire exists.  The sacrament of Confirmation is still given way too early (8th grade or high school junior) while mom’s words are still clearly heard.  It is not the faith of the family that is transmitted but the family’s faith.  And that needs to be owned by each person in her or his own way and time.

Are our lives of Jacob’s choosing or is it God’s granting?  Or perhaps a little of each?

All churches have a kernel of truth within them if they stand the test of time.  I don’t know any pagans but I’ve grown to appreciate pagans who were (and are) not who we define them to be.  Their connection with the earth and something beyond themselves is the forerunner of every decent church that exists.

Typing away at this, I’m sitting on my porch with my laptop and the rain is falling.  Yet I’m wondering what a supposed “pagan” would be doing about now.  Most likely kneeling in thanksgiving for the gods sending this needed rain?  Knowing that gods exist because there is rain?  Grateful to be in shelter during rains like this?  I don’t know what that means because I’m a Catholic and live in a semi-safe home.  The Catholic Church has borrowed every pagan gesture and action available and simply added “Jesus” to it and that makes it now true and right.  The Lutherans have much to share even if they say they are the “one true church” which Catholics already have copyrighted.

Jesus says, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father.”  As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.  Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?   You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

I love it when people who tell me that they’re confused, unsure or doubting about their faith.  It is never that I will solve their confusion but I encourage it.  Be confused.  Doubt is a gift from the gods.  Unsure means that you’re a thinking individual (there’s that word again) and questioning this or that to help you decide the “this or that” in your life.  Be a wondering person about the “this’s and that’s of life.”  Wonder away and never settle down.  Wonder until you see the white light and then wonder no more.  The rain helps the earth whether it comes to us from the “One True God” or the “gods.”  The Jews wisely taught us that all questions only lead to other questions and then other questions until you settle with what you’re looking for but still not be absolutely sure.

I don’t want to stand and preach to a bunch of Catholics who bought Catholicism “hook, line and sinker.”  I want to stand in front of a bunch of them who’ll wrestle with me about choosing and then enjoying a strong cup of coffee; black.”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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1 Response to Religion & Choices

  1. Pingback: Fr. Joe’s Homily: Religion & Choices | Saint Sebastian

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