by CHARLES M. BLOW
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a report on Wednesday that is bound to stir conversation about the increasingly complicated cacophony of spirituality in America ‚ÄĒ a mash-up of traditional faiths, fantasy and mythology.
Entitled ‚ÄúMany Americans Mix Multiple Faiths,‚ÄĚ the report points out that many Americans are now choosing to ‚Äúblend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs‚ÄĚ and that ‚Äúsizable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups‚ÄĚ said that they have had supernatural experiences, like encountering ghosts.
For the first time in 47 years of polling, the number of Americans who said that they have had a religious or mystical experience, which the question defined as a ‚Äúmoment of sudden religious insight or awakening,‚ÄĚ was greater than those who said that they had not.
(Question: Does the first time I saw Michael Jackson‚Äôs ‚ÄúThriller‚ÄĚ video count?)
Twenty percent of Protestants and 28 percent of Catholics said they believe in reincarnation, which flies in the face of Christianity‚Äôs rapture scenario. Furthermore, about the same percentages said they believe in astrology, yoga as a spiritual practice and the idea that there is ‚Äúspiritual energy‚ÄĚ pulsing from things like ‚Äúmountains, trees or crystals.‚ÄĚ Uh-oh. Someone‚Äôs God is going to be jealous.
Surprisingly, in some cases, those who identified themselves as Christian were more likely to believe these things than those who were unaffiliated. (It should be noted that unaffiliated is not the same as nonbeliever. Many are spiritual people who simply haven‚Äôt found the right church, synagogue, mosque, coven, Ouija board club, or whatever.)
Furthermore, 16 percent of Protestants and 17 percent of Catholics said that they believe that some people can use the ‚Äúevil eye‚ÄĚ to ‚Äúcast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen.‚ÄĚ I have to say that based on the looks my mother used to shoot me when I was misbehaving, that evil eye thing might have legs.
Since 1996, the percentage of Americans who said that they have been in the presence of a ghost has doubled from 9 percent to 18 percent, and the percentage who said that they were in touch with someone who was dead has increased by nearly two thirds, rising from 18 percent to 29 percent.
For those keeping political score, Democrats were almost twice as likely to believe in ghosts and to consult fortune-tellers than were Republicans, and the Democrats were 71 percent more likely to believe that they were in touch with the dead. Please hold the Barack-Obama-as-the-ghost-of-Jimmy-Carter jokes. Heard them all.
The report is further evidence that Americans continue to cobble together Mr. Potato Head-like spiritual identities from a hodgepodge of beliefs ‚ÄĒ bending dogmas to suit them instead of bending themselves to fit a dogma. And this appears to be leading to more spirituality, not less. Cue the harps, and the sitars, and the tablas, and the whale music.
Once again the bullet is proud to present New York Times Columnist & nationally known commentator Charles M. Blow with several hundred words of blistering political commentary: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”