Wade Clark Roof was one of the first sociologists to see that contemporary religion had become a consumer marketplace. Dr. Roof, who died last month, authored a landmark study in 1993, called, A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation.
Dr. Roof discovered that two-thirds of Boomers had stopped practicing the faith in which they were raised. But they were spiritually hungry: believers, but not belong’ers, seekers who couldn’t settle down.
Dr. Roof described one such unsettled soul: a school counselor who went from “love-ins” and drugs in the 1960’s, to macrobiotics, Zen Buddhism and Native American rituals. The woman built a sweat lodge in her backyard, and described herself as being “into Quakers a lot these days.”
Dr. Roof worked out of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and, no doubt, could see into our California souls!
I admire religious seekers, but I also worry about them – the couples I marry, the people who show up at our church only on Christmas Eve and Easter, those strangers who suddenly call us at times of death. I worry that they will not understand that one doesn’t so much “find” the true faith, as one lives in a faithful relationship with God. We stop being dilettantes of “interesting” religions and churches, and begin to devote ourselves to study, prayer, and serving the God who was always beside us.
This Sunday we’ll think about the contemporary scene of religious dilettantes. It turns out this problem is not so modern – our scripture lessons also speak about seekers who will not settle down.