I'm currently taking a fairly interesting class - I think its called Religion & the Media - which I need to finally finsih my undergrad. Its most about reading, watching and/or perusing websites, and writing commentaries on what these various media sources say about religion & faith. Not a very difficult class, I can assure you, and the majority of my classmates pieces run something like this, which is a review of the Da Vinci Code:
The idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and carried on a bloodline that was the true church. Obviously this goes against the Catholic view and brings questions to my mind. Like, who is God? and what is the true message of Jesus. After reading this book an answer that I found was one of harmony. the true meaning of church and spirit is harmony and balance between all creatures. The peace you find in love is the peace that God would want. Not the rules and guidelines laid down by the church.
From such pithy comments, we are supposed to write a 10 page paper at the end of the semester on religion & faith in America today. I can hardly wait. We also have to read A New Religious America by Diana Eck, upon which I will reflect more in the future. But this quote got me thinking:
"In a sense, [Christianity] became stronger precisely because the churches no longer had any support from public tax coffers; they had to compete with one another in the free market of Christian ideas in order to thrive, and one of the consequences of this unprecedented approach to religious freedom was the proliferation of churches."
As a society, it is clear that capitalism has informed and permeated virtually every nook & cranny of our public and private lives. We certainly live in a consumer society, but I had never regarded the institutional church as producer of religious goods, so to speak. But, of course, why shouldn't we think about it in this way? Churches clearly brand themselves and attempt to use marketing to bring people in the door - which likely means more money to do more things. Now, I'm not questioning anyone's motives (except, maybe teleevangelists and the like) because I do not doubt that most churches want to reach people with the Gospel and regard the additional resources offered by new members as a blessing they will use to reach even more people. But, to what extent do churches regard each other as competition? The reality is that "people" is the resource the church industry must mine, and particularly in areas with less population density, "people" is a relatively scarce resource, especially after other factors are brought into the equation.
I will have to develop this thought further (I don't have much time to do so right now) but a workable solution towards unity is to not regard other churches as competition for a resource. We have to move beyond a capitalist model of church.