I live in Europe now. Here, there are more Atheists than religious people. In fact, it's quite alarming how many avowed Atheists occupy the highest levels of government; (see newly-elected Labour Leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for examples).
In the circles that I move in during my doctorate studies here, I seldom meet like-minded people with my own faith. Concealment is virtually impossible. Any alumni of BYU when asked about where they have studied ostensibly lets the cat out of the bag about what faith they practice. This is not an imposition. I had an inkling that this would be the result of attending an institution run by the Church Education System.
I am not a religiously extroverted individual. I play my cards close to my chest, I listen, observe the other players and, if the time or circumstance feels right, I divulge. I am cognizant of the dangers of chucking my pearls before the proverbial swine, so this might explain my reluctance. I am not ashamed of my faith, but just wary about whom I share it with. I mean, I doubt if Michelangelo would've invited people to use his paintings as napkins or a doormat. For 33 years I've developed a spiritual masterpiece for my soul, and I get reticent about sharing it with everyone.
With this in mind, I am, I guess, more globally minded than I've ever been. It is hard to just quietly observe the world falling to moral pieces and not say anything. The world seems to be on a progressive trajectory, advancing thought and thinking in ways never before imagined. If Richard Dawkins is right about his theory of how thoughts and ideas (otherwise known as Memes) develop and propagate commensurate with Darwin's Theory of Evolution, then perhaps this idea of 'religion' in all its permutations is destined indeed, like the homosapian's vestigial tail for the past.
A dominating world-view is that religion has been and still continues to be the prime mover for all wars, all atrocities, and the main impediment for global peace.
Mention the efficacy of Christianity today, and you're deluged with sordid tales of the medieval atrocities of half a dozen Crusades throughout the Middle East, David Koresh, Jim Jones, the scourge on American society of the seemingly Fundamentalist agenda of the Christian-Right, and the billions of dollars tied up in pending litigation and out-of-court settlements from pedophile priests.
The prevailing sentiment with religion is that it is indeed a vestigial tail, a remnant of an underdeveloped, inferior system of values that humankind embraced for thousands of years, and just not the sort of stuff relevant anymore in the 21st century.
The age of the revered, religious intellectual are gone. No one is embracing any 21st century C.S. Lewis's anymore. We've replaced them with vociferating Atheistic fantasy writers like Philip Pullman who, it can be trusted, will not be appropriating any Christian symbolism in his novels.
The tide has turned. The world has spoken. Christianity is on the ropes. The smell of victory is still in the nostrils of our Middle East enemies who can boast followers, regardless of how our media demonizes their reasons, who are prepared to die for their beliefs. That kind of religious fervor deserves a special kind of respect; one that Christianity cannot command or engender amongst its own purported followers.
No. The real problem with the world is that Christianity doesn't stand up tall enough, doesn't do enough, and hasn't really earned the right to make demands on the world and how they're perceived. For too long Christian-living took things for granted and failed to respond to the dangers of immorality, the disintegration of the family and marriage, and has been slowly sinking into the quicksand of irrelevancy.
I'm beginning to think Ebenezer Scrooge might not have been all that wrong in his disdain for Christmas (for very different reasons). I'm "humbugging" Christmas for the well-observed sentiment that it's no longer about Christ. This is why, before a single present was opened on Christmas Day, my family read in the New Testament about the Nativity.
Anyone in disagreement about Christianity being in decline need only look around during this last Christmas and ask themselves if any major networks paid any attention to the birth of Christ. I wasn't in the United States for the Christmas holiday, but I can tell you that here in England..Frosty the Snowman got more air time than the Savior.
So, the world goes one way, and Christianity must, to survive, not adapt until we are fully assimilated and eventually indistinguishable. If you're a Darwinian sympathist, then perhaps you can agree that Chimpanzees remained Chimpanzees on the evolutionary scale because, despite occupying the same geographical region in Africa as other hominids, they just decided, for one reason or another, to stay the way they are. And, millions of years later, they're still here. Resilient, and determined, willing to throw their feces at their more developed hominid counterparts at your local zoo.
I don't subscribe to the above stated Darwinian view, but I only make mention of it because as human beings we have reason and rationality. We can make choices, suppress appetites and thereby have more control and dominion over the lives we lead.
If you're Christian, do something about it. I'm writing this precisely because it no longer feels right to stand idly by while the world laughs at Christianity and toasts its impending demise. In 2011, fight the good fight. If you don't, please don't complain while the world throws feces at you.