Class Warfare Blog

November 22, 2017

Do You Long for “The Holy”?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:01 pm
Tags: , ,

I see book titles I find intriguing although not necessarily intriguing enough to purchase the book. One such book recently is “The Holy Longing” by Ronald Rolheiser. The subtitle was “The Search for a Christian Spirituality.” The short blurb for the book was: “This is an engaging guide for those seeking to rediscover their Christian spirituality and how to apply it to their daily lives.”

My guess is this book is for people who have given up, or are giving up, on traditional Christianity but are missing something. I also suspect that the longing isn’t for the holy.

Many atheists are criticized for their attacks on religion (mea culpa) with the question “What are you going to replace it with?” Some of these people are busy creating secular churches, whatever the Hell those are. Others are in the “religion keeps the masses under control, we are all doomed if you kill religion” camp. My suggestion to them is maybe you should have treated us better.

What I want to address is the “missing something” that people say indicates a need for spirituality, whatever that means to them.

My thoughts ran to a friend who had been brought up in a somewhat strict Protestant church community and who decided to go take in a Catholic service. Boy, she was pissed! The Catholics had better architecture, better costumes, better music, more comfortable pews, everything was better! (I didn’t point out the fact that they had padded kneelers indicated that they didn’t care if you experienced any discomfort, as long as you submitted. The Protestants wanted you to feel the discomfort of your miserable sinful life; that’s why there were no cushions on the benches.)

Many people, raised in a church environment that they have since eschewed would remember the commonality of such services: the joint singing, calls and responses, church socials, the appeals to help the poor around the holidays, etc. I understand missing those things, but they aren’t spirituality.

In my sophomore year in high school, I missed the first six weeks of the school year because I was in hospital with a kidney problem. When I went home, I missed the nurses, the orderlies, and some of my ward mates. They all treated me with kindness and respect.

My point is nostalgia for times that one gets healing, love, and respect and not spiritual longings.

I would like to interview some of these people and ask them what they were feeling that they lost. I suspect many would comment on community, a place of belonging, a place with glorious music (got to sing in the choir, etc.), and myriad other things. I suspect that very few would be longing for a spiritual being that controlled their lives. I can’t imagine they got much direct solace, or advice, or even encouragement directly from their deity. I suspect that all of that came from well wishing members of their community.

I understand missing that.

When I hanged up my sneakers, that is when my college basketball days were over, and I was fully engaged in adult pursuits, I missed the “being part of a team” for decades.

I understand missing being part of a community.

I wonder whether some deliberately confuse these common yearnings and longings for things that fit their agenda better and, well, sell books, too.


  1. Once I lost my religion, the only thing I replaced it with was beer, rhum, wine, and tequila. Gin and whiskey on occasion when the mood hit. No need to replace religion with anything else. When I am really feeling spiritual Absinthe is the choice. Going to see the Green Fairy! Now that is good stuff!


    Comment by Holding The Line In Florida — November 22, 2017 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

    • I hope you aren’t drinking on Sunday morning, that time is reserved for football.

      Back when I was a competing archer, I used to go out to a lovely field range on Sunday to worship in the woods. Lovely.

      On Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 2:17 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 22, 2017 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

  2. When I nearly got excommunicated from the Lutheran church, I suppose I did replace it with more reading. Hey, I had all that free time on Sunday mornings after Dad told me I no longer needed to attend church nor Sunday school. Yes sir, all that extra time to read books and the occasional Mad Magazine while my parents and idiot brother went off to church/Sunday school.
    I think what they miss is the socialization they got by going to church. To me, it was just to show off the new clothes or new car they’d bought. I knew it was a farce of the highest order so reading was at least expanding my mind, not bogging it down with silly, ancient dogma.


    Comment by Walter Kronkat — November 22, 2017 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, so much humility when people sneered at others who came to services in tatty clothes (as they were poor).

      On Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 3:52 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 22, 2017 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

      • Hey, I still remember way back when I was a grade school kid, the farm kids came to church in overalls. Granted, the mom had spent Saturday (or as the LOL cats and I call it, Caturday) washing the best overalls the kids had for Sunday services. Many of working class and farm kids went to church with old clothes and some of us even had patches on our jeans.
        Of course the swells looked down on us, but we didn’t care. At the time, I was too young to care. Later, I realized the whole thing was a sham. Just a big social club to show off your newest goodies. Must be part of why dad knew I’d have worn excommunication as a badge of honor.


        Comment by Walter Kronkat — November 24, 2017 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

        • Seems your dad was accepting of a decision he thought you made fairly. Some kick their kids out of the family and vow never to talk to them again. Now, that’s coercion.

          On Fri, Nov 24, 2017 at 1:16 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



          Comment by Steve Ruis — November 24, 2017 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

  3. It was never really a ‘community’ thing in Oz, so nothing was missed, just gained a few hours on a Saturday evening.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by john zande — November 22, 2017 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

    • Man, if you get to visit the Bible Belt here, you will see they are serious about community. I had heard that there was a church on every street corner and I thought it an exageration, but there were some neighborhoods in which there were churches galoe, mostly converted single family dwellings, but churches nonetheless. The also have megachurches with 15,000+ congregants.

      On Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 4:06 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 22, 2017 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

      • I drove from Miami up to Washington (messing around along the way, loved Savannah), then stayed in W Virginia for a while, and funnily enough, never really encountered any wackiness. Admittedly, didn’t really go inland too much, and wasn’t really looking for it.


        Comment by john zande — November 23, 2017 @ 2:48 am | Reply

        • The coast is where them liberals live (“the coastal elites”). I occasionally even get spooked being around true believers, even though I assume they are not dangerous. (I just have the small hairs on my neck standing up, etc.) My family has believers in it, but not the “troooo believers” and if they are able to truly believe some of the stuff they claim, I don’t consider them predictable.

          Funny, they use belief in god to signal their willingness to trust others (other believers anyway), while we see it as a sign of untrustworthiness.

          This book, Against the Grain, has really rattled my cage. I have always thought that religion was a control mechanism but that book made me feel it in my bones and when I link it to the suffering of the vast majority of oppressed people over millennia, the amount of suffering overwhelmed me. I get it know and am much more anti-religion now. Possibly my understanding went from intellectual to visceral. I really do feel it now.

          On Thu, Nov 23, 2017 at 2:48 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — November 23, 2017 @ 8:30 am | Reply

  4. Drive through parts of Louisiana and/or Mississippi. You will see signs for various churches all the way on many back roads. In less than one mile, we saw signs for three on one old road alone. Not many houses around, mostly open farm land, but nearly enough churches for each farm.


    Comment by Walter Kronkat — November 23, 2017 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

    • And the tax breaks are substantial.

      On Thu, Nov 23, 2017 at 1:30 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 25, 2017 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  5. Steve, As I read this I think what people are missing, is a sense of the transcendent. Community is meaningful – vitally important for some. Compassion, love and care given in a faith setting grounds a person in their value and worth. But, the something more, is beyond all of that. The yearning is to be touched by the transcendent one who does not control a person’s life, as much walk beside a person in all of life’s difficulties and trials. It is an experience of love that deepens one’s own love for others. The something more is what Augustine was talking about when he said, ‘Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it find its rest in thee.’


    Comment by Shirley Hobson Duncanson — January 30, 2018 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

    • I do not disagree with much of this but I also do not agree that such things exist only in faith-based settings. I have experienced compassion, love, meaning, etc. and they are not in a faith-based environment. I also think transcendence is just an extension of the feeling of being connected to other people. We are intensely social animals and our social connections matter to us. Extend those feelings to someone not in the room and voila … transcendence. My mother and father are both passed at this point and I think of them and “feel” them from time to time. Those thoughts and feelings, though, are pale shadows of what I could get from their actual presence. I do not, therefore, extend those feelings to a spirit world or connection to the dead as some do.

      we also haven’t spent much time tracing the sources of those feelings. we have discussed them ad nauseum for millennia but not investigated their actual sources. I read any study that comes out now regarding the sources of such feelings.

      Thanks for your stimulating thoughts!


      Comment by Steve Ruis — January 31, 2018 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

      • we are intensely social animals and out (sic) social connections matter to us. Believers satisfy both their sense of “transcendence” and the social connections through their weekly pew-sitting sessions. 🙂


        Comment by Nan — January 31, 2018 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

        • If that was the purpose of pew-sitting, I found it quite mundane and uncomfortable (danged Methodists)!

          On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 1:52 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



          Comment by Steve Ruis — January 31, 2018 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

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