Do you follow any religion? Christian? Muslim? Jewish? Wicca? The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that globally, 8 in 10 people identify with some religious group. And of course there is variation in the popularity of each religion (i.e. they don’t all have the same number of followers), as well as geographical variation in whether your religion is the majority, or dominant religion, or whether it exists as a minority. In contrast, approximately 16% of people are atheist, agnostic, or in a non-definable group (those that may hold spiritual beliefs, without identifying with a defined religion). So the religious landscape is quite variable and diverse.
I have been exposed to two of the major religions popular in Europe and North America, having been raised in a mixed-religion family. I found this background enlightening to focus on the similarities in religions, rather than focusing on a more exclusionary “us and them” approach that many one-religion families may inadvertently develop. And I really enjoy discussion and debate about religious thought, when done respectfully. No really, I do love hearing about the opinions and thoughts of my friends and family – religion is not a taboo subject around the dinner table.
It’s what I’ve been calling the cult of the GPS. That’s right, Global Positioning System. That little voice that talks to you from your GPS device in your car or on your smart phone. I call mine Linda.
She has a gentle, inoffensive voice that reminds me of a woman of my mother’s generation. Linda has been very helpful at getting me to places without the benefit of a passenger who can read a map and tell me when to turn. While I’m driving I certainly can’t check a map myself. So I have to put a lot of faith in Linda’s directions.
Though she has led me astray more than once. She’s told me to take an off ramp from a highway, and then promptly told me to get back onto the same highway I was already on. She’s led me to dead-ends. And I swear she gets more insistent if I modify a route myself – trying to steer me back onto the route she designed herself rather than working with me.
It’s a conscious effort on my part to not blindly follow Linda anymore. But I’ve found out-of-town guests will take the advice of their GPS over our own navigation advice. Even if we’re in the same car. Even if we can save them getting stuck in a traffic jam, or to avoid construction. It’s the religion of the GPS; blind faith has a new home. Good thing my morality isn’t defined by the GPS’s decrees.