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OpEd: No religion — and not a lot of sense

When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.

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Washington Post On Faith editor, wife of Watergate-famed editor Ben Bradlee, leading DC socialite Sally Quinn says she can put very effective hexes on people. She says she augments her self-proclaimed psychic powers by trying a new religion every month, and "I...swim with my evil eye bracelet."

‘I’m spiritual but not religious”: Our secular elites love to utter the phrase. But don’t assume it means something harmless like “I don’t go to church, but I love hot Yoga.” Washington socialite par excellence Sally Quinn let the cat out of the bag on a New York visit last week.

Quinn appeared on a New School panel on the topic “I’m Not Religious, I’m Spiritual.” She spoke of her upbringing: “What we really believed in and practiced was voodoo, psychic phenomenon, Scottish mysticism, palm reading, astrology, seances, and ghosts. . . Those things were my true religion, aside from dances. Aunt Ruth was psychic, my aunt Maggie was psychic, and I’m psychic.”

Mind you, this is a Washington Post columnist, famous for her parties hosting the Washington elite, claiming to be, well, a witch.

For, as she went on: “We actually put hexes on people and they really worked. It was actually really scary and I finally stopped when my brother . . . told me I had to cut it out because it would come back at me three times.”

This lends fresh perspective to Quinn’s routine smirking at the traditionally religious in her On Faith column. ...

Quinn is hardly alone in her disdain. New York Times columnist Charles Blow had to apologize last spring after tweeting of Mitt Romney, “Stick that in your magic underwear,” a snide take on Mormons’ sacred undergarments. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell last year ranted on-air, comparing the Christian God to “a malicious torturer and mass murderer beyond Hitler’s wildest dreams.”

These esteemed members of the cultural elite clearly think the world will be a happier place when Americans no longer, to borrow a phrase, “cling to guns or religion.”

But Quinn’s remarks raise the awkward question of what replaces religion — especially given the new Pew Report, which shows that a whopping one in five Americans has no religious affiliation.

As Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center told me, these spiritual-not-religious types “believe in flexidoxy. They like a little spirituality, a little authority but not too much. It’s a consumer-driven model where you pick and choose what you like.”

But it’s hardly what most Americans are looking for, even in worldly New York City.

Tony Carnes of the group A Journey Through NYC Religions notes that there are almost 200 evangelical churches in Manhattan below 125th Street, and 40 percent of them opened since 2000.

The growth in New Agey stuff, he says, is negligible. He mentions a Wiccan group on Staten Island that came there after losing a “magic war” to another Wiccan crew in Salem, Mass.

Meanwhile, polling by the Baylor Institute for the Study of Religion suggests that Quinn is pretty typical of the irreligious. In 2008, Baylor asked a series of questions like Do dreams foretell the future? Can the living communicate with the dead? Are Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster real?

Almost a third of those who never attend a religious institution expressed strong belief in these things, versus just 8 percent of people who attended more than once a week.

Similarly, Pew found that the unaffiliated were slightly more likely than the general public to report having been in the presence of a ghost.

It all prompts Cromartie to cite the old G.K. Chesterton line: “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.”

 

For the full article see the NY Post.

6 Responses to “OpEd: No religion — and not a lot of sense” Leave a reply ›

  • Like this OpEd.

  • Sally Quinn makes some very interesting remarks in her presentation, which are not addressed in the essay.

    1] Around 4 min and 30 seconds of the video, Sally Quinn speaks of seeing the scrapbooks of photos made by her father as a result of his work during WWII in liberating Dachau. Quinn says of this experience when she was about 5 years old, that as soon as she looked at these photos, she lost all her childhood faith and became an atheist - "When I saw those photographs, I knew there could be no god. ...."

    2] Around 6 min and 10 seconds of the video, Quinn says that of all the people she has interviewed for her blog On Faith, no one has ever given her an acceptable answer for why there is suffering in the world.

    Having failed to address these questions, this essay is unhelpful, to say the least.

  • She expects an answer to the question of why there is so much suffering in the world: because of what people do. She needs to reflect upon her own life to get this answer. We create the suffering. Not sure if she'll ever see this, but this is what it comes down to: free will, humans choose to do what we do.

  • Are there more videos from that conference?

  • Yes, a huge file to upload. Maybe we will upload some other good bits.

  • interesting sociological finding, and consistent with other such research, though most people would not realize it given what we usually hear about the alleged relationship between religion and superstition . . .

    "In 2008, Baylor asked a series of questions like Do dreams foretell the future? Can the living communicate with the dead? Are Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster real? Almost a third of those who never attend a religious institution expressed strong belief in these things, versus just 8 percent of people who attended more than once a week.

    Similarly, Pew found that the unaffiliated were slightly more likely than the general public to report having been in the presence of a ghost."

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