Karl Marx, who would’ve made a great shopping mall Santa, said “religion is the opiate (actually, “opium”) of the masses,” seeing it as a fabricated device that comforted naïve, ignorant common folk. Marx’s 19th century Communist theories were thoroughly discredited in the 20th century, but somehow he still has credibility among those insulated from reality enough to still think he was onto something.
Communists are atheists for good reason. They need to destroy the moral framework of a society in order to impose their system, and this means repudiating God. And they did, rejecting God’s guidance and implementing a system that eliminated freedom and individual rights. It impoverished entire populations and killed millions around the world.
But it couldn’t kill the thirst for God. Trying to deny man’s need for a higher power is a fool’s errand. Even if people aren’t Christian they still have a God-shaped hole in their hearts and seek ways to fill it with something that provides peace, understanding and hope. In the spirit of Herr Marx, our skeptical culture has tried to marginalize and discredit Christianity, leaving people to seek answers elsewhere. They don’t have to look far for options.
Books, seminars and websites with enticing hooks claim to fill the void. Surf the web and you’ll find promises to “shift you into a new magical awareness of your life,””learn the secrets of how our souls work,” give you “a profound understanding of the deepest forces of your essence,” “make you the captain of your subconscious mind,” take you “to a shining place of candid self-realization,” teach “healing that aligns you with the vibration of money,” get the “happiness which is your birthright,” find “the enchanted path of enlightenment,” and “romance the God I AM within.” Graduates of the last program will have a particularly interesting discussion with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.
Practitioners offer psychic, numerological, “energy pattern” and astrological readings. Some sell self-hypnosis, Feng Shui, meditation and life coaching help. There’s probably a fortune teller with a crystal ball out there too.
See any similarities between them? First, they charge handsomely for their advice. Capitalist sages see the opportunity to fill a need and make a buck. But secondly - and more importantly - they all focus inwardly on the self, as if we have the capacity within ourselves to reach spiritual fulfillment. If this were true, mankind would have figured out which therapies worked and weeded out the imposters long ago.
The problem is they’re all imposters.
Unlike followers of the guru du jour, Christians understand their own weakneses and imperfections, know the source of their strength is outside of themselves, and that it comes from God. When a society practices the lessons taught by Jesus, the result is personal responsibility, sensible decision-making and a moral framework that discourages the rampant social dysfunctions we see today. Our politically correct culture dismisses God just like Marx did, and we're drifting into chaos because of it.
“Spirituality for sale” schemes only misdirect the attention of those who really need Christian faith. And by distracting people one at a time, they impede a return to the Christian values our society profoundly needs.
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