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So, Mr. Barna…about your so-called faith tribes?

May 31, 2009

So, I was reading an article this morning, where George Barna, who seems to be a rather prolific pollster, starts banging on gongs. The United States is in peril, standing at “the precipice of self-annihilation.”

Oh noez! How could it be? Why must it be? Apparently, we are losing values, he says, and the only way to fix this crisis is to “recover the values that made this nation great and that must be firmly in place for order, reason, and unity to prevail.”

…ok, how do we do that?

That’s where his new book comes in…Barna’s written The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter. So great, he’s gone religiously eschatalogical on us.

I must I admit, I wasn’t too hopeful for this article when I read this title. Seems like more doom and gloom, “Without religion, we’ll FAAAAAAAAAAAAIL.” But then I got to a certain point:

It was then that he began to see the “faith tribes,” which he describes as “Casual Christians,” “Captive Christians,” “American Jews,” “Mormons,” “Pantheists,” “Muslims,” and “Skeptics.”

So…skeptics, which he includes atheists and agnostics in…are one of the faith tribes? Interesting.

But I still am not so hopeful. Really what I’d like to know is…is he trying to emphasize that some tribes are better than others. As a Captive Christian, perhaps he includes the growing Skeptics in the same way a doctor would note a building tumor — it’s something that must be included, but only so we can keep an eye on it and eliminate it some day.

I think Barna ultimately means to be more ecumenical, which says good things for Mormons, atheists, and other groups who are marginal. From reading another article about this, Barna seems to find commonality in all group that can be used to fight an economic moral decay that may be causing our financial issues nowadays.

These faith tribes can be mobilized to help restore the nation. Through their common values, they can help carry out strategies related to empowering values-focused leaders; redirecting the media; redefining the efforts of families; getting members of faith tribes to pursue a bigger purpose, and more.

But religious communities, which are responsible for upholding core values, have succumbed to the competitive spirit and have focused on money, people and talent rather than values such as service, obedience, humility, compassion and community, the researcher claims.

“We have shifted our energy from a willingness to work hard toward achieving significant outcomes to an attitude of entitlement,” he says. “We have transitioned from having a commitment to the common good based on shared values to an emphasis on personal good and individual values.”

But still…I would have to read it.

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