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    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Attendance in heaven



    Attendance as a criterion of desire seems right.

    Noting the decline began in 1950 means that beyond Catholics, the decline started well before Vatican 2.

    That could mean that culture was moving downward anyway for some reasons, and that Vatican 2 was the trigger for Catholics, not the main reason for empty churches.

    It reminds me of the common public notion that we are all going to heaven. Yet how comfortable would we all be in heaven's environment of worship, if we do not feel comfortable worshiping here on earth?

    And to put a finer point on it, how comfortable would we be so close to God, if we do not strive to seek God in truth here on earth?

    For serious Catholics, that means realizing, and then constantly testing, that the Church does indeed contain the fullness of salvation through knowing the real Jesus.

    And for serious non-Catholic Christians, it means believing that their church, or personal knowledge, instead contains the fullness of salvation through their knowing of Jesus.

    Anyway, it's the seeking of closeness to God here and now that would seem to portend our eventual joy in being with God in the after. It wouldn't seem right to force anyone to heaven if they wouldn't enjoy such a thing forever.

    And this would be resonant with sin's definition as being apart from God in a particular action. As God has no part in sin, then whether the sinner knows he is sinning or not, sinful actions are still apart from God. A knowlegable sin is a further bad thing, but the sin itself, even though the person may be ignorant of it, is still something that God and heaven has no part in.

    A person comfortable in sin would likely be uncomfortable in heaven.

    So when the numbers go down for seekers, as they did from 1950 to 1990, yet our impression that we are all going to heaven goes up at the same time, it would seem that the public definition of heaven may be all that is wrong with this picture.

    Heaven perhaps does not after all contain nice people like ourselves, accompanied by our nice pets and relatives, singing birds and dewy mornings. That would be a place for everybody.

    Heaven may contain only those children who wish to be close to God forever. So much so that they even enjoy worshiping Him here while still on Earth. And in seeking to be ever closer while on earth, look for the fullness of salvation where it may be found.

    link

    Durham, NC -- Despite various claims that Americans are becoming either more or less religious, attendance at weekly religious services in the United States has been essentially constant since 1990, according to a recent study by a University of Maryland professor of sociology and a Duke University professor of sociology, religion and divinity.

    In a study published in the September issue of Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Maryland professor Stanley Presser and Duke professor Mark Chaves write, “However one reads the evidence about trends between World War II and 1990, we currently live in a time of stability.” Chaves said that short-term increases in attendance at religious services following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were not sustained, and that the proliferation of mega-churches has not led to overall gains in attendance.

    Presser and Chaves say evidence from previous studies suggests that attendance declined from 1950 to 1990, but was stable for some time before 1950.


    This study is significant, Chaves said, because “it shows that we live in a time of neither religious revival nor dramatic decline. These results also suggest that the main pattern of religious change may be periods of stability punctuated by times of transition, not steady trends in one direction or the other.”

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