Recent conversations that I have had with a seeker, a skeptic, an atheist, an agnostic, and a couple of people who find themselves beginning to leave the church behind reminded me of this passage from Francis Collin's, The Language of God. Collins, director of the group of scientists who mapped the human genome, is a committed Christian who has squared off with many of his professional ilk who stand firmly against faith. (See the Time Magazine Article with him and Richard Dawkins.)
Collins writes about atheism and the enlightenment:
A more powerful force (than Enlightenment thinking and materialism) giving rise to atheism in the eighteenth century was a rebellion against the oppressive authority of the government and the church, particularly as manifested in the French Revolution. Both the French royal family and the church leadership were seen as harsh, self-promoting, hypocritical and insensitive to the needs of the common man. Equating the organized church with God Himself, revolutionaries decided it was better to throw off both. (Collins, Language of God, 162)
More next post on why Meyer's thoughts about hospitality as doing something "for" in stead of "to" people is right in line with the church's mission and could, if practiced consistently head off some of the kinds of things that Collins points back to and we can see all around us in our own culture today.