Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TEXAS FAITH: How do changing demographics shape the pew, pulpit and theology schools?

Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
Demographics are destiny.

Just ask those of us in the newspaper world, where we wonder if enough young people will turn to papers or some other version of what we produce.

Politicians think about demographics when it comes to projecting who will be around to vote for them and their party in a decade. That's why Democrats and Republicans alike have their eyes on the growing Latino vote.

Policy experts think demographics when it comes to projecting the needs of a state like Texas. One thing we know is our state is becoming poorer, older and more Hispanic, and those changing demographics suggest a set of policies.

What about religion? How do demographics shape the thinking of you who are in the pulpit, theology schools or the pew?

Churches like my own, a Presbyterian Church (USA) church, certainly wrestle with declining or stagnant numbers. I'm interested in hearing how each of you, from various traditions, deal with demographic changes, whether that's in terms of message, outreach or planning.
and here was the response:

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

The first step in self realization is to realize that the soul, the conscious eternal observer, is different from the body. This conscious observer is neither young nor old, neither Hispanic nor African American, neither rich nor poor, neither Democrat nor Republican, neither gay nor straight, neither Christian nor Muslim.

The needs of the soul must be addressed and distinguished from the needs of the body. The need of the soul is have a loving relationship with the transcendent Lord.

This need exists despite any body and mental arrangements. This analogy can be given: that the hand, being part of the body, has a need to feed the stomach. If the hand could think for itself and decide that rather than feeding the stomach, it will try to digest the food itself, then that hand and the entire body would suffer.

Similarly if we are not connected to God by love, our endeavors for happiness will go in vain. But as soon as the hand feeds, or the soul serves, there is satisfaction and pleasure. Similarly it said that one must water the root of the plant not simply just water the leaves.

This being said, it understood that in all circumstances the same need is there, the need to connect to God in a loving relationship.

However, as times change, strategies may also change but the need and principle remain the same. For example, previously priests would not market their devotional music as paid musicians. But currently devotional chanting, kirtan, is becoming more and more popular in the music scene. In the interest of spreading the holy kirtan, many priests now market their music.

Hare Krishna :)
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das
To see all the responses from the Texas Faith Panel click here

1 comment:

Nityananda Chandra Das said...

Due to my laptops death and recent resurrection I was not able to devote much time to this question. :)
Hare Krishna