Souled out

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Do you ever wonder about the fundamental nature of things? This Filet of Soul feature that Scott Reeves and I do lends itself to such thoughts. I find myself scoping out new varieties of religious experience daily, noting churches and temples and gatherings and conversations virtually everywhere I go.

It’s a peculiar headspace, really. The more I see, the less I feel like I know. Not know, exactly, more like understand. I think it’s safe to say, with more than 50 different samples of religious experience, I haven’t begun to scratch the surface, but at least I can see the surface from here. This is a peculiar life we lead, with such a large part of our collective psyche coming from the media and worldly things, the popular consumption of which seems so diametrically opposed to the pursuit of spirituality, religion or simple understanding. And yet, people can participate in pop life and spirituality, either or neither, and still be a perfectly decent human being.

That opposition of pop culture and spirituality strikes me as a metaphor for the differences among the religions. For example, Muslims and Christians have distinctly different traditions and styles of worship, but both attempt to teach people how to better get along in a society. The problems arise when the universal tenet of tolerance gets perverted into a segregated, closed society—like the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Texas. And yet, that society eschewed secular temptations like television while legitimizing crimes that society finds repugnant.

Last night, I enjoyed Hamburger Sunday dinner at a neighbor’s house. We joined hands for “Grace” before we ate. I think I could legitimately write a Filet of Soul about that moment. But doesn’t it strike you as interesting that spirituality can exist in a secular society, but it takes a segregated religious society, like the Yearning For Zion Ranch, to entrench evil?