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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More surveys

Tis the season, I guess. The latest survey from the Pew Research Center has to do with religion (as you'd expect with a name like Pew). It seems that people in the northern states, especially New England, are the least religious in the country, or at least most negative on the four statements of the survey (Religon is very important in my life; I attend religious services at least once a week; I pray at least once a day; I believe in God with absolute certainty). There may be many reasons for this but I'm more interested in what might be taking religion's place. With Maine (and Massachusetts) right down there at the bottom of the lists, I feel qualified to speculate:
  • Drinking. The fine glow from a gin-and-tonic or Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy replaces a Christmas Eve service or a successful exit from the confessional. And hangovers are definitely Calvinistic.
  • Red Sox. Long, boring hours punctuated by little bursts of energy, just like church.
  • Law and Order reruns, especially SVU. Daily reminders of dark nights of the soul.
  • The Sunday newspaper. How convenient that it's delivered just in time to preclude church attendance! And lately the two even dwindle together.
  • Money. Getting it makes you feel either saved or damned. Ditto on spending it.
  • Alternative energy. The number of creeds and postulants and factions is rivalled only by the number of schisms in Protestantism. Each time the world will be saved.
  • Nature. The only thing worth believing any more? But what a thing! Is there anything so salutary as Penobscot Bay on a bright, late-August morning? So cleansing as snow-shoeing in dense woods? So holy as a pointed fir leaning over a pink granite ledge? God should be proud of us here in the North.

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