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Weezer

CAN WE RESTORE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY?

Question

I'm not exactly sure how to present this, and it may be somewhat disjointed, but will give it a try.  One of the things I missed after leaving religion was the sense of community with fellow church members, and having things in common with people where ever we went.  Back then community meant face to face interaction.  I grew up in a rural area and as a kid we didn't get a television until I was 14, or a telephone until I was 16.  Church and school activities were where most of our socialization came from, and provided "community".  And although there was a lot of B.S. that came with the religion, overall it served a purpose with our socialization.  

 

Today I believe one of society's big problems is a lack of community, (sense of belonging), empathy, and healthy socialization of youth, and the dwindling of church membership and attendance contributes to that.  We are loosing a sense of "we", and an institution for socialization.  In a way we have become self absorbed narcissist, and the resulting disrespect and division are eating at society. 

 

I joined the American Humanist Association (AHA) and identify with their tenants.  If you haven't done so, I encourage you to take a look at the organization.  When joining them you get a bumper/window  sticker saying, "I BELIEVE IN GOOD," which I now display in my back window.  They  promote, and I agree that we need, broad (liberal) educations, science and rational thinking to save ourselves from ourselves,  but of course conservative religions have joined the rich and powerful to fight that idea like crazy.  

 

Now to my question.  Are there ways we can rebuild a sense of community, and replace superstitious religions with organizations that value education and rational thinking?  Maybe piggyback on the "church" concept?  Have "congregations" called, CITIZENS FOR RATIONAL THINKING.   CITIZENS FOR GOOD.  CHURCH OF GOOD. ETC.  I agree religions with infallible deities are nothing more than superstitions, but something is needed to replace the overall  socialization we got with traditional church attendance.  I realize some groups were, and are toxic, but many mainstream groups have been benign, and encouraged decent living.  There is some good with the bad.  AHA encourages developing local groups, but it is not a big push, and they are few and far between.

 

Could more be done?  Is this pie in the sky thinking?  Has corporate America and  technology taken us past human to human, face to face contact, and the desire for community?  A concern for "we".  If so, what lies ahead?  Our "me-ism" and lack of face to face communication is crippling communication skills,  and the resulting isolation contributes to lack of empathy,  which increases disrespect for each other, and is a form of cancer on society.

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I think the loss of community is a trend affecting the whole of society, in America, at least.  We don't know our neighbors like previous generations knew theirs, there's no loyalty between employer and employee like there used to be, even friendships are becoming more of an online experience than real life.  Folks now just "keep to themselves."

 

It seems different in other countries I've visited; and even though I'm not the most sociable person in the world myself, I feel a sense of loss about it.

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I found, with the bigger mega-church type facilities, that you still failed to get that socialisation. You turn up as if it were a concert, find your seat and watch the show. Upon finishing everyone jumps in their cars and heads home. Simply too many people to get interaction, that came more from the other clubs, events and activities advertised through the church. It still always came down to the individuals making the choice to engage in post-church gatherings. Those choices are available regardless of the church, but much less in your face and therefore require people to reach out on their own. 

 

For youth, most socialisation should come via school and after school activities. Parents need to give a damn, and that is something you can never force. With my 4 year old we take her to dance class or gymnastics, and talk to other parents from her kindy to arrange weekend play dates. It would be so easy to stick her in front of the TV all weekend so I'm free to do whatever I want, but putting her development first matters more than my thoughts of being lazy. 

Kids learn from their parents so lazy parents make lazy kids, angry/violent parents make angry kids and uninvolved/disinterested parents make disinterested kids. 

 

I think schools should push their activities both to kids and parents, and make sure they have options for all types of people. Sports, esports, dancing, singing, music, debate teams, etc. The kids should be excited and be expected to pick one choice, and taking lists home to their parents with any times, costs and descriptions clearly outlined. As parents we should be approaching the school to volunteer our time to help make this happen. 

 

I would love to see esports at school done well, but probably the cost of PCs would be prohibitive. But you could mix in fitness, hand-eye coordination activities, PC hardware and software knowledge, PC and gaming history and a range of games to hold their interest in the related learning. Certainly something I will look into more once my kids are school age. 

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On 1/14/2019 at 1:50 AM, Weezer said:

Now to my question.  Are there ways we can rebuild a sense of community, and replace superstitious religions with organizations that value education and rational thinking?  Maybe piggyback on the "church" concept?  Have "congregations" called, CITIZENS FOR RATIONAL THINKING.   CITIZENS FOR GOOD.  CHURCH OF GOOD. ETC.  I agree religions with infallible deities are nothing more than superstitions, but something is needed to replace the overall  socialization we got with traditional church attendance.  I realize some groups were, and are toxic, but many mainstream groups have been benign, and encouraged decent living.  There is some good with the bad.  AHA encourages developing local groups, but it is not a big push, and they are few and far between.

 

I've been talking about this kind of thing recently with a friend here. Trying to think of some possibilities for that sort of socialization for ex christians and the non-religious in general. One thing that comes to mind is that a lot of people go to church out of thinking they ought to, or that they have to in some way. When they lose the delusion of thinking it's necessary for their salvation or whatever, they drift off because it's no longer thought of as a requirement.

 

I stopped believing in the faith as a freshman at christian boarding academy. And then had to proceed to do four years of forced bible class, daily worship, and church attendance at threat of punishment if I opted not to attend. After I graduated I told my parents that's it, I will not be attending church any longer and that's that. I fought with dad about it for a while until he gave up trying (my parents eventually followed my lead and left the church too). And I've existed in and around my former religious community as a non believer. I've dated and married within in it as a non believer. I've never attended services after academy, though. Only the odd funeral. The point being, take away the belief that you must go to services, or else, and there's no good reason to keep going to something that ridiculous and drab. 

 

But if a secular rendition of some type of service was cool in some way, enjoyable and entertaining enough for people to attend without the added baggage of threat involved, then maybe it could counter religious services. It would probably be something more along the lines of listening to a TED talk, than going to hear a sermon. I'm not opposed to secularists taking a look at trying to gather and make the effort to do good in life. Live moral, from the perspective of modern society and not the bronze age. And not at threat of burning in hell or gaining eternal rewards. Doing good for the sake of doing good and that's it. So I feel you on this. From certain perspectives it can make sense IMO.

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I agree with you that the sense of community isn't the same. Maybe it's globalization. However I think the sense of being in a global community has increased as a side effect of globalization and technology. We are much more connected over distance, which would have been impossible without technology, but that technology also allows us to sit at home and nuture our virtual connections instead of going out into our community. I've thought quite a bit about this and become resolved that I'm personally going to change this side of my life and get more involved. I joined the centre for inquiry, not sure if it's international but it's national in Canada, and plan to attend more of their events. 

I think we can speak of communities instead of community now. And I feel quite neutral over whether that's a bad thing, I don't think it necessarily is. The bad thing is that people are focusing on their differences (go witness the bashing that occurs in ToT) instead of what they have in common. 

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I don't see why it has to be a service, that's the part I always hated lol! That community felt strongest when my "small group" checked in and when we hung out together. Playing games, doing meals, serving our community, "keeping accountable" are all things that we can do in smallish groups and there doesn't have to be any religion.

 

For me, I wasted enough Sundays at church and my future Sundays will be spent sleeping in. I wouldn't go to a "atheist church" but I am all for cultivating community. ❤️ 

 

This reminds me of the Christian comedian Tim Hawkins who brought up that there are atheist mega churches now and he sings these worship songs and it's really funny. "Praise to the void, all the earth let us sing....power and majesty, praise to nothing!" hahaha

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Some excelent observations.  We didn't have mega congregations. And as I think about it, in most cases it wasn't the church service that was so meaningful.  It was the socializing afterward.  When I was a kid there were no computers, game consoles, phones, ETC to run home to.  Many didn't have air conditioners, and in many cases no TV at home to run to.  So we stood around after church and visited.  Or went to someone's home to have lunch and the adults visited while the kids played.  

 

I agree with wertbag that too many of us have become lazy, instant gratification oriented, and emotionally isolated people.  Socialization is more difficult now.  You have to make it happen.  

 

Gone are the days when neighbors used to help each other exist.  Build a new house or barn.  Or gather a crop.  Or pull a friends car out of a muddy ditch.  Or sit outside under the shade of a tree to keep cool and visit because you had no air conditioning.   

 

But hey!!  All the makers of modern conveniences, toys, games, etc are getting rich.  That's the most important thing!

 

On 1/15/2019 at 1:50 PM, TruthSeeker0 said:
On 1/15/2019 at 1:50 PM, TruthSeeker0 said:

I think we can speak of communities instead of community now. And I feel quite neutral over whether that's a bad thing, I don't think it necessarily is. The bad thing is that people are focusing on their differences (go witness the bashing that occurs in ToT) instead of what they have in common. 

 

We are kind of getting sidetracked,  but here again, corporations and organizations are the ones who benefit from differences and bashing each other. (basically disrespect) Especially if it leads to physical conflict.  It gives our police a job.  And if it leads to war, the war machine makes billions.  Is it just a coincidence that there is so much conflict and disrespect in Washington today?

 

Perhaps the love of money is at the root of all evil?  Or at least contributes to it.  

 

This conversation took quite a turn!  This posting late at night gets my old brain all fired up. 

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8 hours ago, Weezer said:

Some excelent observations.  We didn't have mega congregations. And as I think about it, in most cases it wasn't the church service that was so meaningful.  It was the socializing afterward.  When I was a kid there were no computers, game consoles, phones, ETC to run home to.  Many didn't have air conditioners, and in many cases no TV at home to run to.  So we stood around after church and visited.  Or went to someone's home to have lunch and the adults visited while the kids played.  

 

I agree with wertbag that too many of us have become lazy, instant gratification oriented, and emotionally isolated people.  Socialization is more difficult now.  You have to make it happen.  

I agree with this entirely. There are a lot of emotionally isolated people, and that leads to unhealthy patterns and behaviours. I don't know what the solution is either. It does include getting out of your technologically 'connected' bubble though and connecting with people in real life as well. Technology is amazing though, just witness what it's done for many of us here who left religion when the internet educated us, and now we have this online community to connect in. For me, leaving fundamentalism and the only social group I had, this group has made all the difference while I'm still getting my feet wet and properly joining the real world out there.

8 hours ago, Weezer said:

Gone are the days when neighbors used to help each other exist.  Build a new house or barn.  Or gather a crop.  Or pull a friends car out of a muddy ditch.  Or sit outside under the shade of a tree to keep cool and visit because you had no air conditioning.   

 

But hey!!  All the makers of modern conveniences, toys, games, etc are getting rich.  That's the most important thing!

 

 

We are kind of getting sidetracked,  but here again, corporations and organizations are the ones who benefit from differences and bashing each other. (basically disrespect) Especially if it leads to physical conflict.  It gives our police a job.  And if it leads to war, the war machine makes billions.  Is it just a coincidence that there is so much conflict and disrespect in Washington today?

No, I dont think it's a coincidence at all. They're thriving on these divisions. Perhaps all the people who stick to the ToT to do nothing else but bash other groups of people might be interested in the fact that they've been had.

8 hours ago, Weezer said:

Perhaps the love of money is at the root of all evil?  Or at least contributes to it.  

 

Personally I think it's greed and narcissism that's at the root of it.

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On 1/15/2019 at 1:24 PM, TheRedneckProfessor said:

I think the loss of community is a trend affecting the whole of society, in America, at least.  We don't know our neighbors like previous generations knew theirs, there's no loyalty between employer and employee like there used to be, even friendships are becoming more of an online experience than real life.  Folks now just "keep to themselves."

 

It seems different in other countries I've visited; and even though I'm not the most sociable person in the world myself, I feel a sense of loss about it.

 

I think part of that is because church replaced the physical community in the U.S. Part of it may be because of our mobility. At one time, you went to church with your neighbors, and that did indeed facilitate your seeing  and speaking with them at least every week. Now you find a church in the denomination you grew up in and drive 15-20 minutes to get there, and in our case not a single person at that church lives in our neighborhood. (I'm a closet atheist and still go to church a lot.) Many do live within a 10-minute drive, but we only go to their houses on special occasions. When I was young, and a believer, we used to have people over on Sunday night (or Friday night) just to sing!

 

When we had young children (in the mid-80s to early-90s) my wife spent time with other ladies at church, and went with them to visit some of the older ladies during the day. Now that we're among the group you might consider "older," the younger women with children get together with each other, but they don't go visiting the older women.

 

There are still couples our age who go to eat every Sunday night after church, and some who eat lunch together. We've never had a meal with our neighbors since moving 3 1/2 years ago, and where we lived for 13 years before that, we ate with our neighbors exactly twice, the second time being the week we moved away. (Edit to say that my wife did occasionally have lunch with a woman across the street.)  I guess it's a mixed bag as far as associating with church members outside of assembly... you get out of it what you put into it. One of my sons actually has friends from his community! He and his wife don't (or rarely) go to church, but they spend more time with people than we do.

 

Perhaps if we didn't have air conditioned houses, we'd spend more time outdoors getting to know people in our real community. But I'm not giving up my a/c! It gets turned on in January in Houston on occasion!

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