Sunday, October 20, 2013

Churches and Other Cohesive Groups

I will not be making it to church this morning.  I'm moving slowly after several late nights, one after another (socializing with old friends, picking my spouse up at the airport after he arrived on one of the last flights in).  I knew that getting to the 9:45 service would be almost impossible; our 11:00 service is a breast cancer awareness service, and I'm happy to miss that.

I sense the irony of deciding to miss church while listening to this week's broadcast of On Being.  David Sloan Wilson, a biologist, is thinking about evolution in different ways, and he offered this nugget: 

"I think the most important thing to say about approaching religion from an evolutionary perspective is that you can take the entire tool kit that is used in biology and apply it almost without change to the study of religion. I think that there's a growing consensus among my colleagues that, for the most part, most enduring religions are impressively good at creating communities of people that function well as groups. That's why it's possible for an atheist such as myself to be, in a sense, awestruck and inspired by religion because it is so good at forming groups of people into cooperative units.
I want to know how it works even though I'm an atheist because I would like other meaning systems to work that well, secular meaning systems to work that well. I have a commitment to be a scientist, so therefore I subscribe to methodological naturalism, but I admire religions for the positive that they do. And, of course, it's part of the whole theory that I'm also aware that there's a dark side to religion. In fact, several dark sides, as there is with all functional groups."

It's an interesting show; go here to listen, to read the transcript, and/or to find other resources.
I feel slightly guilty, but more tired than anything else.  I want to see my church friends, but I'm tired.    I'll be back at church next Sunday--it's Reformation Sunday after all.   Will I be attending the various services in the area that will be offered because the Bishop is in town?  I'm unsure, but I doubt that I will.   On Thursday, the night of the first service, I expect that I will choose to go to spin class rather than go to worship.  It's a different community, but the same components that make religious groups successful can also make exercise classes cohesive.  But I do feel strange about preferring to go to my spin community rather than my Lutheran community.

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