There's nothing like a new survey on religion in America to boost hope on the one hand, then turn right around and immediately crush it in another.
For example, the number of people who express no affiliation with religion is now at its highest point, at almost 20%, or one in five Americans. That figure's up 8% in just the last five years.
Before you head off to your coven or place of crystal meditation to celebrate the increase in those suddenly swooning to their senses, you should also know that 68% of the unaffiliated say they still believe in God.
Such is the history of the species: Two sluggish, uncertain slumps forward, and one dazed, aimless bit of meandering back.
The Pew Center / PBS survey offered more than a dozen selections from which respondents could choose to describe themselves, including "Protestant," "Catholic," along with "something else" and "nothing in particular."
If there were choices for "Nah -- religion gives God a bad name," or "Gave that up for Lent," or even, "Not really into superstition and myths, thanks," they were not disclosed.
In addition, no mention was made of the survey offering choices that reflected respondent's desired affiliations with manufacturers of really hot computer equipment or cars, off-center lottery millionaires, foaming talk show hosts, deeply troubled celebs of the moment, comic book heroes, the latest auto-tune song lip-synch "talent," nor was any Kardashian or Hollywood deity(ies) listed or named.