I love the Dalai Lama. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to see him and hear him speak in what was a very small venue a few years ago in my home town. As he is a major spiritual leader I am clearly not alone, in liking His Holiness, but was surprised to discover that 757,625 other people “like” the Dalai Lama on his Facebook page. It turns out that’s almost twice as many people as the 478,722 who have “friended” God on his page.
Upon further investigation, 2,300 folks are fans of the Buddah, and of course
Jesus has a page, but hasn’t nearly the fan base I would have suspected, while over 3 million people have friended the I love Allah page. Why, even Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science has a page boasting 224 friends.
Clearly, there’s a little something for everyone on the Internet. It made me wonder about the effect that the internet has had on religion. I have to assume that the global access to theology has to have contributed to an increase in pluralism of faith. Has it made us more tolerant, more open and accepting, or has it just given us another venue to bumpersticker, if you will, our own set of beliefs.
I read somewhere, recently, that of people who consider themselves to be “church goers,” 40% have actively shopped around for a new church, as opposed to what was originally a teeny percentage of folks who would ever consider doing so.
Is it about finding the “right” religion, though, or are we, as Americans (because I cannot make assertions about other cultures), just becoming perhaps a little more spiritual. As more of us are exposed to more faiths, more holy leaders, more points of view, thanks to our cyber lives, are we realizing that somewhere in the middle of all of these doctrines is, indeed, a universal truth which we all can access and agree upon?
“I believe an important distinction can be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with faith in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another. Spirituality I take to be concerned with qualities of the human spirit, love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, that bring happiness both to self and others. “ (HHDL)