great indian leader mahatma gandhi W r i t i n g

great indian leader mahatma gandhi W r i t i n g

I’m working on a writing case study and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

In paragraph 12, the author points out that “it is estimated that 60 percent of young people over the age of 16 will disconnect from their church.” This means that the majority of young people in our country will, at some future point, no longer be regular churchgoers and may stop attending church completely. The author offers one opinion for why she thinks this is happening: “It is a sign of more and more people questioning, wondering, and being disappointed with the experience of organized religion.”

But the reasons for why our country is becoming “less religious,” or, at least appearing to be less religious, are many. Along with expressing your own opinions, do some research on this topic and write an essay about why so many younger Americans are no longer interested in church. Typing “Why young people are leaving the church” into a search engine will give you a wealth of information to consider for your essay. Present 3-4 solid reasons for why so many younger Americans are moving away from organized religion. Your thesis sentence could be as simple as: “There are four specific reasons for why so many young people in our country no longer attend church.”

In your conclusion, you might consider posing a question or stating an opinion about what this may mean for the future of organized religion in our country.

My Personal FaithTanya Savory

Preview

When I was a child, my brother and I often stayed at our grandparents’ tiny apartment in Pennsylvania for a week or so during the summers. Prior to our arrival, my grandmother did everything she could think of to make sure our stay would be perfect. She put candy in little containers everywhere and bought cheap comic books for us. She made a huge jar of bubble mixture out of dish soap and created “magic bubble wands” out of old hangers. As I grew older, I came to realize that my grandparents were poor, though I would never have guessed it back then.

Every evening before bedtime, I’d sit out on the small front porch with my grandmother and blow soap bubbles. Sometimes the evening summer breeze would blow the bubbles back to us, and they would land on my cheek with a tiny pop. I’d screech with laughter and my grandmother would sometimes say, “That’s a whisper from Jesus.” “What’s he whispering about?” I’d ask. “Good deeds and joy,” she’d respond with a smile.

I never really wondered why my grandmother said that; I just assumed she was right. I was six years old, and Jesus was a rather vague but nice spirit/person/being that supposedly looked out for me. When I read about Casper the Friendly Ghost in the cheap comic books, I thought Jesus must be something like that. A picture of Jesus (the one with his hair flowing and a gold light shining on him) hung in my grandmother’s tiny kitchen. Another one hung over the bed where I slept. There was even a very small one on a stand next to the tub. That’s weird to think about now, though it seemed rather comforting back then.

When my grandmother wasn’t cooking or doing something for someone else, she read the Bible. My dad, her only child, said it was the only book she had ever read all the way through. And she had read it many times over. Grandmother lived by what she read. The Golden Rule wasn’t just a pleasant thing to say, to my grandmother it was a serious rule that must be considered before all actions. Long before What Would Jesus Do? showed up on bumper stickers and tee shirts, my grandmother wondered that daily, possibly hourly. And so, she loved, rejoiced, avoided judgment of others, gave everything she could, spoke thoughtfully and gently, and lived simply. She tried her best to follow the examples of Jesus. In other words, she was a Christian in the truest sense, brimming with those whispered good deeds and joy.

I never knew exactly why my dad decided to become a minister, but I’m sure it had a lot to do with his mother. He was very close to her, and he knew that his being a preacher would make her proud and happy–and it did. Perhaps he was moved and impressed by how much the Bible had shaped his mother’s life in awesome ways. But did my dad become a minister because he was such a true believer? I don’t think so. He doubted and questioned and struggled even as he preached and built a congregation. I know he prayed, but I think he wondered if his prayers were really heard. Even so, my brother and I were instructed to say prayers before going to sleep, and like most children, we were dutiful to God in much the same way we were dutiful about brushing our teeth. We did what we were told without questioning the deeper implications of brushing teeth or praying.

When members of my dad’s congregation burned a cross in our front yard after Dad preached a sermon about racial equality in 1966, he went from questioning to disheartened. And when they began threatening my dad and then our family, he went from disheartened to angry. Who were these “Christians” who used their religion to hate and judge? Within two years, my dad quit the ministry. Our family went to a different church in town now and then, but now and then became less and less until it became never. By the time I was a teenager, religion was a murky and mostly-ignored area of my life. Because my parents had become wary of overly-religious people, I became wary too. Reconciling my very religious yet very wonderful grandmother was a complicated problem. So, like religion, I ignored it.

For many years, I mostly skimmed along on the very outer edges of religion. Church, faith, prayer–those were things for other people. This feeling was further reinforced by coming to terms with being gay and discovering that many Christians wouldn’t want me in their churches anyway. In their eyes, I was a sinner and headed straight to hell. By this time, my grandmother had died, but I wondered what she would have thought. Would this nonjudgmental and endlessly kind woman with pictures of Jesus in nearly every room turn her back on me too? The thought of it put me at even greater odds with “religious people.” Eventually, I pretty much just shut the door to that room of thought altogether. I held on to a vague belief in God, though I wasn’t really convinced that God might not like me. Religion faded into an unsettling nothingness.

Then my dad got cancer. In his final months of life, my dad struggled quietly. He knew he was going to die, and all the doubts, questions, and conflicted feelings about his faith seemed to suddenly roll over him like tremendous waves. One evening, I walked into his hospital room and he was reading the Bible. He put it down, looking almost apologetic. “I just have questions, things unanswered. I wonder…” he said in way of an unneeded explanation. Two weeks later, my dad died, and I was overwhelmed with things unanswered. I wondered…Was Dad in heaven? Does heaven even exist? Is he simply gone, returned to dust? Was God mad at Dad for losing his faith? What should I do? What would Jesus do? Who was Jesus anyway?

In the seventeen years since my father died, I’ve reconciled how I feel about many of these questions, though I haven’t definitively answered any of them. I guess I’m what you would call a questioning skeptic when it comes to my personal view of religion. It would be nice to think that all my grandparents and my dad are in “a better place,” though the biblical definitions of how one is admitted to heaven are strange and troubling to me. The God I’ve come to accept is probably neither mad at my dad nor shaking his/her head at me. Though I can’t be absolutely positive about any of that. I have friends who assure me that I can be positive. But how do they know? Are they simply hoping that’s true for the sake of their own eternity?

And what about Jesus? When I was ten years old, I merrily sang along to the hymns about Holy Ghosts and the Son of God, walking on water, miracles, and Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. But all of that seems a little sketchy and unfathomable to me now. It seems that many of us believe the Bible’s story of the life of Jesus only because we’ve always been told we had to believe it, much in the same way that, as children, we’re told we have to say please and thank you and behave ourselves. But religion isn’t manners or rules. It’s complicated and personal.

And, like my father, I’m often dismayed by people who are the most vocally and prominently “Christian.” It is so often the most religious who use their religion to judge, hate, and deny others, all the while presenting themselves as superior and saved because they are “believers.” The great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi once commented that so many Christians are so unlike Christ. Truly, it is hard to understand how some people who proudly announce that they center their faith around a man who was the essence of love, peace, joy, kindness, humility, and acceptance can be so totally the opposite of that essence.

Clearly, I’m not alone in the way I feel. Today, weekly church attendance is at an all-time low, and the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christian continues to decline. It is estimated that 60 percent of young people over the age of 16 will disconnect from their church. Naturally, there are the self-righteous churchgoers who shake their fingers and warn that this is a sign of moral decay in our country. I’m more inclined to think that it is a sign of more and more people questioning, wondering, and being disappointed with the experience of organized religion.

But beyond all the grey areas, disappointments, and questions, there is still a thread of comfort and certainty for me. It’s a thread that winds all the way back to my grandmother so many years ago. I think of her knitting, always knitting, things for “the poor children” or speaking kindly to total strangers or being endlessly patient in all situations (the time I decided to paint pictures on the walls with nail polish comes to mind). When I consider that her character and heart was based upon what she read again and again about Jesus, it gives me faith in faith. It is real. It can work.

In my day-to-day life, I remain uncertain about who Jesus really was–the Holy Son who could make wine out of water or simply an amazing man whose love and words inspired people in incredible ways. But I am certain, thanks to my grandmother, that trying to follow what Jesus taught and said is a good thing. I have no doubt that my grandmother’s faith made loving her neighbors as herself immensely easier for her than it is for me.

I’ll never have a picture in my bathroom of Jesus or read the Bible twenty times. I may never feel comfortable calling myself a Christian. But I do have a sense of what’s important in life for all of us, regardless of our varying degrees of faith and belief–good deeds and joy.