I keep coming back to it: I find religion in general and churches in particular repugnant in many ways, but I admire and appreciate the ability of churches to marshall the resources of their members to do good things. You can argue about the motives of those who do good deeds, but usually you can’t argue about the ability of churches to get good things done. They may be there to save souls and convert heathens to god-fearing religious drones, but they attend to the immediate requirements of people who are in desperate need of help.
As I was driving back home from a 3-day bacchanal in New Orleans, I stopped to buy gas somewhere along I-49 in Louisiana. There, I saw at least 3 pickups, attached to large enclosed trailers, that belonged to a Baptist church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The pickups, the trailers, and the shirts of the 50-something and 60-something drivers were emblazoned with the name of the church and a message akin to “disaster relief services.” While I didn’t ask, but I think it reasonable to assume, the guys were either on their way to or from the areas of southeastern Louisiana most affected by Hurricane Isaac, probably to take supplies like food, water, blankets, etc. to people whose lives were disrupted by the storm and its aftermath.
I really admire people and organizations that spring into action to help people in need. I’d like to be part of a group of people who do such stuff, but I’m not sufficiently invested in the idea to hold my nose and tongue and join a church for the privilege. It is frustrating that there seem to be so few non-religious organizations that see it as their responsibility to respond to human tragedy and human need. Sure, there’s the Red Cross, but that’s an almost quasi-governmental organization and it does not quite fit the bill. There are too many staffers to manage the processes for it to be truly “volunteer-driven.” I suppose what I’m after is more of a fraternal, social organization…like a church…that’s utterly disconnected from religion and that’s driven by genuine desire to help people in need.
If I were sufficiently interested, I guess, I’d make it happen. Well, my heart is in the right place, even if it is all talk.