A farmer in Rhode Island is excited because a cow was born on his farm that has a white marking on its forehead that vaguely resembles a white cross. A few months ago someone thought they saw the image of the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. A couple of years ago someone got a french fry from McDonalds that they swore looked like Jesus kneeling in prayer. While it is indeed possible that these types of things really are God's way of reminding us that He is still here, it is also possible that people are seeing what they want to see in an effort to feel connected to the divine.
As our culture has become more secular in nature, many people feel less connected to the divine than they once were. This sense of disconnection is a cause of great anxiety for many people because deep down inside we know that something is up there somewhere. Scientific studies on prayer show that prayer actually works. Surveys in both Britain and America show that deeply religious people are happier than non-religious ones. Both the personal experience of millions of people and books such as "When God Winks" by Squire Rushnell provide compelling evidence that God is indeed still involved in our everyday lives.
But knowing that there is something up there somewhere is vastly different than being "connected" to whatever is up there. In the past, people tended to connect with the divine by going to church, praying, singing religious music and other traditional methods of spirituality. But as our culture has gotten busier and more secular, fewer people are developing those traditional methods of spirituality. However, since we know something is up there somewhere, we tend to look for spirituality where ever we can find it. Thus, we see crosses on cows' foreheads and images of Mary in grilled cheese and Jesus in French fries.
Instead of seeking the divine in these somewhat unorthodox ways, maybe we should just go back to church? Though going back to church may seem like a radical suggestion to some, from my perspective it sure seems more logical than hanging out at the local McDonalds hoping for a holy french fry. People often tell me they are too busy to go to church. I respond that we find the time to do the things that we want to do. People often tell me that they don't like church. I remind them that a wide variety of churches exist in America and surely one of those churches will work for them. Just think about it, in America today people can choose a church that has a pipe organ or one that has a full band with modern music. People can choose a church where the pastor shouts or one where the pastor sounds like he is giving a college lecture. There are churches that use ancient confessions and prayers and also churches that use modern confessions and prayers.
The simple reality is that there is a church somewhere that will help us reconnect with the divine. When problems come in life, a room full of praying people who have similar beliefs and values is a lot more comforting than a French fry that vaguely looks like Jesus or a cow with an odd white spot in its forehead. So thank God for the cow because it might be a message from Him, but this Sunday morning, pack up the family and head to a nearby church, it really will help us feel more connected with the divine.