The trouble with secular society

Administrative assistant at Chico State University and graduate of CSU with a degree in literature

I would like to respond to Michael McCarthy [ “Putting God on a billboard,” Guest comment, May 2], wherein he refutes the idea of using billboards to post the “word of God.” Mr. McCarthy complains that the Bible’s harsh words in the Old Testament reek of man; however, we don’t understand God, and therefore how can we understand His word?

While some parts of the Bible may be hard to swallow, that is hardly substantial reasoning for discounting it altogether. I think that man reeks of man, which is why we need something greater than ourselves to pull us from the sludge mill of secular society.

The two greatest commandments in the Bible are, first, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and, second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) These commandments don’t sound like the doctrine of man at all.

The secular world breeds a man of greed, consumed with thoughts of sex, pride and foolish accomplishments. Jesus teaches forgiveness, vulnerability, respect, compassion and, most of all, humility. The spiritual man, who devotes himself to the teachings of Jesus, will exude the greatest image of strength and maturity humanly possible.

Billboards have been used almost solely for the purpose of business advertisements. Couldn’t that be labeled as secular dogma that is being jammed down our throats? We are bombarded with advertisements so much that we sing them until they lull us to sleep. Instead of singing, “Thank you Jesus for loving me,” we’re singing the latest ditties for Coca-Cola and Toys R Us.

“Muslims all acknowledge the very same sets of laws in their doctrines as the Bible does,” and yet, “what good has it done? They are still at war.” They may just be doing exactly what Mr. McCarthy has done; that is, extracted a few angry verses from the Bible and built his supporting arguments up around them.

If you really want to know what good it has done, go to a church and ask people why they believe. Many of those people were brought to their knees by a cruel and dispassionate world. Giving their hearts to Jesus saved them from becoming hard and bitter, closed off from giving and receiving anything kind and loving. These people did not find “God expressed in everything,” they found it in Jesus, in the Bible, and in the fruit of their fellow believers’ lives.

Religious orthodoxy has been decimated by the common misconception that religion is equivalent to obstinacy and stagnation. However, true spirituality, the act of having faith without physical proof, requires exactly the opposite: a fertile open mind so that one can grasp at the cloak of understanding so far beyond our reach and grow out of that experience.

I think Mr. McCarthy’s opinion is shared by so many people; it is much more acceptable to live a life devoid of spirituality than to admit that you pray to God for strength each and every day. Many men would more readily admit spending their weekend evenings at a strip club than they would admit spending Sunday morning praising the Lord. It’s acceptable for a religious cynic to air out his negative opinions publicly, but it’s not OK for a sign to be erected that says, "Love your neighbor as yourself."