Whenever the inclination for prayer strikes, I turn to my iPhone and the Greek Mythology App. I’ve always been partial to god-collectives; it seems more likely my message will be received if it’s addressed to more than one recipient, and I like to get multiple opinions before coming to my own conclusions. With the Greek pantheon, you just know you can always find what you’re looking for in terms of divine intervention. Problems in the bedroom? Bitch to Aphrodite. Desperate to cure that irritating skin condition? Consult Apollo. Can’t pay off that loan shark? Hades’ll take care of you. Whatever the problem, there’s a god for that.
But Zeus knows if the Olympians don’t suit your soul, there are plenty of other options in Supreme Beings – certainly more than when my parents were growing up. Back in their day, you were either Christian, Jewish, or ‘Other,’ – now there are Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Scientologists, and more just desperate to sell me on their special brand of worship, so it’s no surprise that a Pew Research Study on my so-called Millennial generation found 36% of the 18- to 29-year-old crowd aren’t convinced that there’s a God. Of course there isn’t a God. How could you worship just one?
We Millennials are a technology-based generation, used to throwing a question out into the void, and getting half-a-million responses in under a minute. We’ve been taught that anything is possible on the internet, and that if we want something, we only have to check Amazon.com or eBay. How could any one God compete with that?
Religion should be like Google. It has all the answers – from ‘how many donkeys are there in the world?’ to ‘why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer?’ – and some of them are even correct. Online, truth is reached by consensus, inflammatory idiots are labeled ‘trolls’ (their opinions quickly dismissed or deleted) and if you don’t like the scripture, edit the page.
With all the knowledge at our fingertips, we want to make sure we’re getting the best deal. We’re not about to walk out of the store with the base model when we can customize our own belief system. I myself could go for God’s forgiveness, Yaweh’s tough love, Allah’s mercy, Buddha’s enlightenment, and – what the heck – throw in one of those alien things that’s living in Tom Cruise. Religion, like technology, should allow for upgrades.
Of course, let’s not confuse religion and spirituality; we’re talking about two different operating systems. Some people study the code, looking for meaning in every line, and some people just accept that it works, while acknowledging that there’s someone out there running the server.
And some, like myself, just call it magic.
Whatever you call it, my generation has built its own network, one not necessarily tied to Catholicism, or Hinduism, or Dadaism. It’s a network of humanism. Who needs Shabbat services or Mass on Easter morning – we’ve got Facebook. In the temple of Twitter we become ‘followers,’ and other people hang on our every 140 characters. We worship people like Joss Whedon and Stephen Colbert for telling it like it is, not because someone tells us to. We share experiences, pick up practices as we go, dropping them if they don’t work, working them into our collective memory if they do, and it doesn’t cost a thing. (If there’s one thing a Millennial loves, it’s free swag.) As a generation we have an attention span issue, and we’re not about to waste our time on some rigid, bottom-line deity when there’s another one two urls away that’s got more gigs on its hard drive. We’re exploring our options, shopping around, comparing prices.
Control is in the hands of those who know how to use the tech, and the geek shall inherit the earth. We’re all out there searching for something, even if it’s just a connection with another human being. Out there, somewhere, there’s probably a god for that.