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Noonan: God Is Back

Dave Aiello wrote, "Over on Opinion Journal, Peggy Noonan has an editorial called God is Back. The column contains a number of anecdotes which point to more open discussion and practice of religion in New York City in the wake of the World Trade Center attack."

"At the conclusion of the column, she suggests that America may have come full circle since the October 1965 article in Time Magazine where an Emory professor asserted that 'God is dead.' However, I don't think that this point resonates with people who are under 35 as she might want."

"For people like me who are not imprinted by the Time Magazine article, the most important passage in her column may be this:"

... I know her faith... because some little taboo or self-editing or reticence has lifted in the past few weeks. People are feeling a little less self-conscious about integrating their actual thoughts about their faith into the actual statements they make to friends and family, to coworkers and colleagues.

Dave Aiello said, "I have further comments on Peggy Noonan's column and the notion that God is a higher priority in American's lives than He was a month ago. Read on for more..."

Dave Aiello continued:

Noonan's point here is similar to one which I tried to make to Russell Woodbridge, a friend in the ministry who recently undertook a mission to Austria. In this excerpt from an email I sent him, I am responding to the suggestion he made that much of the terrorists' hatred of America stems from the differences between their religious beliefs and ours, and that perhaps the average American did not realize this yet:

My point is that even the most liberal people in America know that this is about religion. I see
people reevaluating their lives on the fly, and it is socially acceptable to talk about your beliefs and
values again.

Much of what Bush said last night {in his speech before a Joint Session of Congress} was meant to prepare us for the length of this struggle. So, I think the opportunity for God to work in people's lives has never been greater in our lifetimes. As far as I'm concerned, the only religions people should absolutely avoid at this time are cults, and that is pretty much what the radical Muslim movements are anyway.

Lately, I've had the opportunity to listen to the radio even more than I usually do. It's really obvious when you listen to programs like Imus in the Morning and Bob Grant that Americans are thinking more about their relationship with God, because they mention God in connection with their views on current events.

These radio programs are not ideologically similar: Imus speaks from the ideological center, while many people consider Bob Grant a conservative extremist. The common thread in both programs is that open discussion of religious beliefs and practices is normally minimal. Yet recently, conversation on both programs has integrated more explicit discussion of God and the role of religious faith in people's lives.

I don't think this was part of a specific plan by the host of either show, it just developed naturally out of the conversations that took place. In my opinion:

  • the recurring references to God and religion have added a dimension to these programs,
  • these changes have occurred fairly seemlessly, and
  • I consider the discussions on these talk radio programs similar in spirit to the conversations occurring around the water cooler in offices across the country.

Short of showing up at churches, counting noses, and comparing the numbers to the typical turnout prior to the terrorist incidents, the increased inclusion of God in discussions on TV and radio are the best evidence I can find of the increasing priority of religion in the lives of typical Americans.

I'm one of the people who believes that America was more religious prior to the World Trade Center disaster than most people thought. But, I also know that public opinion in this country is driven by people's perceptions, not by what's actually happening. This is why I believe that religion is on the upswing in this country.

America is clearly re-evaluating its priorities, one person at at time. This is for the best. Of course, I wish that it hadn't taken a disaster of epic proportion to bring this about.

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