The religious crisis goes unwinding little by little toward indifference. Ordinarily one doesn’t talk properly about atheism, nor even agnosticism. The best way to define the position of many is a religious indifference where there are no longer questions, doubts or crises.
It’s not easy to describe this indifference. What you first observe is an absence of religious restlessness. God is of no interest. The person lives carelessly, without nostalgias or any religious perspective. It’s not about an ideology. It’s more like an «enveloping atmosphere» where a relationship with God ends up diluted.
There are different kinds of indifference. Some live a progressive distancing in such moments; they’re people who go about further and further from faith, they cut ties with religious things, they let go of practices; little by little God fades from their consciences. Other simply live absorbed by daily humdrum; they’re never much interested in God; they’ve probably received a weak and deficient religious education. Today they go about oblivious of everything.
For some, the indifference is a fruit of religious conflict they’ve gone through sometimes secretly; they’ve suffered fears or frustrating experiences; they don’t have good memories of what they went through as children or adolescents; they don’t want to hear talk about God, since it hurts them; they defend themselves by forgetting it.
The indifference of others is rather a result of all kinds of factors. They came from a small village and now live something different in a city setting; they married someone with little or no religious sensibility and have changed their habits; they’ve been separated from their first spouse and live together with someone not ‘blessed’ by the Church. It’s not that these people have taken a decision to abandon God, but it turns out their life is growing distant from God.
There’s another kind of indifference concealed in religious piety. It’s the indifference of those who have gotten used to living their religion as an «external practice» or a «routine tradition». We all need to hear God’s complaint – Jesus reminds us of it with the words taken from Isaiah the prophet: «This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf