Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Harold Keller / L’Observateur / March 15, 2000

I have read that there are over 480,000 churches in America. In the RiverParishes alone, we have more than 100. One would think that America andour communities should be in good shape, spiritually. According to anational survey, maybe we should think again.

Recently, Alyssa Milano, a young actress, shared her thoughts on the subject of religion. Specifically, she was quoted in USA Today as saying:”the religions that held up 50 years ago, don’t hold up for the younger kids today. They want something new to believe in.”Keep in mind that Ms. Milano is only 27 years old. It’s impossible for her toreally know what it was like 50 years ago. Being 65 years of age, I havethe advantage of knowing how it was.

Believe me, Alyssa, the younger generation has found other things to believe in. They believe in entertainment. That’s right. They have foundother things more interesting. In a humanist society, they believe andenjoy only things that will satisfy the human side – the flesh.

Television is a good example. Their music is sacred to them. Sex, illegaldrugs and alcohol are a big part of many of their young lives. Sports havebecome a god for many participants and fans.

No, Alyssa, you’re wrong. The young people of today don’t need somethingnew to believe in. They’ve found many things to take the place of God. Theydo have religions. They religiously seek the pleasures of this world. Theyare obsessed with self-gratification. If it looks good, or feels good, do it.The sad part about the moral decline in our country can be blamed (in my opinion) directly to the condition of the church in this once-great nation.

A poll, taken two weeks before Ms. Milano’s statement, showed thatspirituality in the U.S. runs wide, not deep. In simple terms, we believe inGod, but choose not to serve or obey Him. The poll showed that 76 percentof the people interviewed thought of spirituality more in a personal and individual sense, rather than of organized religion and their doctrine.

(That’s good news, because the majority has a desire to have a personal relationship with Jesus.)The poll also showed that 53 percent of the people seek solutions to personal problems from within themselves – their own strength. Less thanhalf attend religious services.

A newspaper article by Bruce Nolan stated that according to the country’s leading pollster on the role of religion in American life, Americans’ growing hunger for meaning and richness beyond the material goods in their lives continues unabated, and still often leads to self-invented, pick-and-choose personal spirituality only partly shaped by the great faith traditions.

What does all this mean? It means that people, both young and old, are searching for the truth. Our young people especially are looking forsomething real. They are tired of gimmicks to get their attention. Theyhave become immune to “feel-good” services. They want something real.Jesus is alive and well today! He is real! Maybe it’s time we start sharing the Good News as it was presented – simple and real.

Ms. Milano, young people don’t need something new. They need something2,000 years old – a relationship with their true liberator, Jesus.

HAROLD KELLER is affiliated with the Get High on Life religious motivational group.

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