John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Practical Religion

Posted on December 10, 2012


Funny story.  There are six and half years between my son Jack and my daughter Molly.

When we were getting ready to take Molly home from the hospital for the first time, we were a little out of practice on how to use a car seat.

More specifically, we couldn’t figure out how to get Molly in the car seat and to get the straps tighten in such a way as to get her snug, without choking her.

We both struggled to figure out which straps to use in which way.  There was a lot of bitching, complaining and grouching.

The nurses in the hospital wouldn’t (or couldn’t) help us, for liability reasons (or least that is what they said).

Just as tensions seemed ready to crest, a priest came in.

He asked my wife and I if we wanted to take communion.  We said no thanks.  We were on our way out the door.  We had a six year old who wanted to play video games, a baby who probably wanted to get fed again, and a wife who wanted to get out of the hospital and wanted a husband who could fix the damn car seat.    We didn’t want communion.  What we really wanted was for him to help with the car seat.

I think that pretty much summarizes what is happening with mainstream religion these days in America.  They want to give us communion and we want help with the car seat.

I was thinking about the practicality of religion in our daily lives.

Religion needs to stress why it can be a practical guide to living a healthy and ultimately prosperous life.

I am not talking about the prosperity gospels promoted by schlocky preachers, who promise that you will get rich if only you pray to Jesus.  I am talking about the practicality of clean living.

Religious instruction offers all kinds of practical tips for avoiding an unhealthy lifestyle.

The church is probably right about the dangers of sexual promiscuity, although it tends to overemphasize sex (in my humble opinion).

Look at the 7 Deadly sins.  They are right on.   America is a nation of gluttons and look at the result.  Obesity, big time problem in America.    Greed is an ever-present part of our social fabric and a destructive one, as is envy.   We lust openly in ways that have become absurd.  Wrath and revenge destroy too many of our most afflicted communities.

What if we taught our children the real dangers behind these deadly sins, in a very practical way.  I betcha we would be a far healthier society.

Look at the 10 Commandments.  Once again, pretty good advice.  Don’t kill anybody.  Honor your parents.  Don’t make a pass at your neighbor’s wife (or husband).   Don’t steal.   And don’t worship false idols (like rock stars or money).    Once again, pretty good advice to live by.

I have always been struck by the fact that in Islam, they pray five times a day by basically going into the child’s pose.  I bet that is a pretty good way to stretch your back.

In the Catholic faith, priests talk about confession as a way to cleanse the soul and it is free.   These days, people pay up to 200 dollars an hour to talk to a shrink to basically cleanse the soul.    A confession is much cheaper.

Religion has so many practical implications for living a healthier lifestyle.

Drugs, sex and rock and roll has its appeal, but unless you are Mick Jagger (or improbably Keith Richards) it has a limited life-span as a life-style.

The best amateur golfers are the most boring golfers, because they keep in the fairway and on the greens.

If the great Christian religions would emphasize their practicality in living a better and happier life here on earth, I bet you they would better answer the question:  How does this damn baby-seat work?

Not a sermon.  Just a thought.