Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Throwaway Religion

In spite of overflowing landfills and a growing emphasis on the need to recycle, we still tend to live in a disposable, throwaway culture. If something no longer works, we do not fix it. We throw it away and buy a new one. In fact, it is often less expensive to replace a broken item than to pay the cost of repairing it. Even worse is when something still performs the function for which it was designed, but when a newer version offers upgrades and features the older model did not have, we buy the latest model and toss out the old one, even though the old one worked perfectly fine.

Are faith, religion and spirituality any different? Do we invest in repairing what is broken or simply toss it out and start over? Do we throw away what seems old and outdated so that we can replace it with the latest fashion trends in faith traditions?

I realize I am ruminating of existential things, ethereal ideas and concepts rather than physical consumer items, but ponder I must. Recently seeing a faded and dusty framed copy of DaVinci’s Last Supper thrown out with the trash is what has ignited my brooding. The sight caused me to reflect upon the disposable nature of our contemporary religious convictions, or lack of. While there is certainly nothing sacrilegious about throwing away something like a reproduction of DaVinci’s Last Supper, the sight of this framed print next to trashcan on the street seemed like a metaphor of contemporary devotion, or lack of, to mystery.

I wondered if the former owner of this DaVinci print grew tired of the faith it represented and dumped it along with their beliefs. On the other hand, perhaps they disposed of it and replaced it with a print of Dali’s Last Supper, or a framed photo of the Dali Lama or Mecca. Maybe they simply moved out of the apartment, left the print behind, and the property owner was the one to trash the print when the cleaned up the mess left behind. There is a story behind that print that I do not know and will never know. There are also stories associated with aging, declining, decaying, dying, churches that begging to be told and to teach us their lessons.

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