I am currently reading the book: Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. The author of the book is the Reverend Father James Martin, SJ. Father Martin is a Jesuit Priest, editor at America Magazine, and Chaplin of The Colbert Report. In the book, Father Martin tries to discourage people from only viewing religion and spirituality as deadly serious and stoic institutions. He believes that we should view them as places that can provide us great joy and happiness. This book has been a wonderful breath of fresh air for me and has assisted in my own reflection of my spiritual life. I am beginning to view religion and spirituality with a much more joyous eye.
But as I am reading this book, a number of questions continue to pop into my head. The main question being: “Why does today’s society view religion and spirituality in a negative light?” 2011 was a turbulently year for me personally. A close friend of mine died early in the year, and there were some other things that happened that I will not get into here. But one of the main things that helped me get through the rough patches was my spiritual belief. When I tell this to other people, I sometimes get the look of “oh you’re one of those crazy religious people that hate everything that isn’t your religion.” I wish I would of responded back to these looks, but most of the time I did not.
I’m a religious person. So what. For me, it has been a great source of comfort, joy, and now laughter. Why view this as a negative. With the current state of the world, war, disease, hopelessness, major socioeconomic differences, etc. religion and spirituality can be a great social tool to help us improve the world. We religious people need to be brave enough to stand up for our beliefs and help put a stop to this stigma of, if you are religious you do not believe in science, or you think everyone is going to hell unless they are apart of your religion. At the heart of most major religions is love and peace. Now that is something that we should strive for.