There is tremendous confusion over the authority of religion. Gay marriage is now legal in the United States after a long and bitter culture battle. ISIS is a serious threat, making religion seem uniquely accommodating to extremism and hence an unfortunate institution altogether. Scripture is constantly under scrutiny by those looking to either smear it or use it to smear others as hypocrites. Religion finds itself on the run, except mainly for a Pope that resonates with many for championing the causes of the poor and disadvantaged. Religion did also put some points on the board this year in the aftermath of the South Carolina church massacre. Religious faith seems to have overcome hatred there through the saving power of forgiveness. But the broader takeaway seems to be that the way forward is to recognize that everything we find good in religion is already present in one political ideology or another. All of this widespread irreverence toward our civilization’s great seers and truth-tellers is remarkable. Who among us is prepared to replicate their achievements, and usher in the next great epoch? Who among us even tries to understand their messages?
This lifetime is not going to be enough to learn everything I want to learn, no matter how many years I get. Nor, for that matter, will it be long enough for me to grow in spirit and character as far as I would like. But my dissatisfaction with the amount of time I have in this world is offset by my growing conviction that this world is in many ways perfect for me. If there is another life, I hope that at least another segment or two of it can be spent back here.
I think I’ve learned more staring at my first-born child these last two weeks than I ever would have imagined. I can’t say what exactly I’ve learned, but looking at her has been the most illuminating experience I think I have ever had without the aid of words.