The ever-changing scope of human thought.
At some point the meaning of the word "Religion" has morphed from it's original "Life under monastic vows" and has been expanded to include vast swaths of differing ideologies.
Most recently, in a similiar turn-around as has previously happened with such words as"faggot" (originally meaning "a bundle of sticks") and "awful"(originally meaning "awe-inspiring") "religion" is swiftly becoming more of a slur (as in: "don't listen to those religious kooks!") than a description of somebody's way of life.
It is in spite of (or perhaps because of) this twisting of language, and shunning the most modern sense of the term, that I leave you with the following meaty morsel of wisdom(or lack-there-of):
Humans are to religion
what Dung beetles are to shit.
In the beginning
in the unseen
in an effort to define belief
created a system of rituals, rules and religions
that left faith, love and grace
in the gutter
because people being people
to take the divine
and make it human
creating for themselves
practices, dogmas and works
to measure faith in themselves
so their faith could be seen.
they lost sight
as it was in the beginning.
My Own Hesitant Dogma
Religion is what calls me to moral action and connects me to others around a sacred space and community.
A reach for a better thought from the present perceptions of life.
A desire for comradery of those of like minds to avoid the feeling of isolation from unique thought and a disconnect from self.
A method of action to fill the void inside that was made by a great misunderstanding of the self.
A prescription to sooth the feelings of guilt, shame, anger and a feeling of being lost or misplaced. These are all results of the disease of insecurity.
A part of the search for something deeper than what is perceived by the physical senses.
A gathering of stories with inspiring heroes and deeds of epic proportions. A list of affirmations to make attempts at accepting and loving the self.
Religion? Man trying to find a god.
Jesus? God coming to find me.
Love is Blindness.
I started going to the church youth group because my mum wanted me to have friends. I guess she thought the best place to find wholesome, safe friends was at church. The people I met there were certainly not holy. A clique of bitchy, slutty girls (myself included) and horny boys who smoked weed and would do anything to see female body parts. I didn't have very high self esteem so it was easy to wear shorts and let boys touch me in places no 14 year old should let people touch them.
I was in and out of indoctrination and a flippant disregard for "God". Sometimes I was going to be with the Lord and sometimes it was just for my friends. It was hard for me to engage completely with what the leaders were saying because an opinion that wasn't taken straight from the bible was shunned. I once tried to talk about my ideas about the afterlife, I had this idea that souls are recycled into different bodies when you die. The leader literally laughed, out loud, in my face and told me I was stupid. That was when I knew what religion was about.
Religion is about blindly following the words of someone else. It is the sense of comfort in not having to make your own decisions about life. The bible tells you what you can and can't do, how you should feel about things and that you'll be safe when you die if you just follow this "life manual". I guess it makes people comfortable. It just makes my skin crawl.
Religion is something I can turn to when I have lost everything except my humanity. Not necessarily a god or holy text, but a feeling of belonging, hope, redemption, safety. It makes me feel human.
Religion works in mysterious ways
Can I tell you a little story about what religion means to me? I could write about what it means to the world, but I find one's personal journey on this subject a lot less controversial.
It was a dreary day and I was home alone. All three of my kids were out on play dates. Usually I'd curl up with a good book at those rare moments, but there was no unread book to read in the house. I'm talking about pre technology days here. Reading meant a trip to the book store or the library. Thinking about the time it would take to get to either, I decided to be a couch potato and turned on the TV. Flipping through the channels, I was hoping to find something interesting. Don't worry, I'm getting to the religion part of the story.
"Is that John Tesh?" I thought. He caught my eye since I knew some people who personally knew him. He grew up near my home town. For those who don't know who he is, you can Google him if you so choose. "What's he up to these days? Huh. Looks like he landed a good gig." I can't remember the venue; it might have been Carnegie Hall. And then I thought, "Oh crap. Is this one of those religious concerts?"
Me, the atheiest that I was would never have remained on that channel; no way Jose, but it was John Tesh, a local celebrity, so I continued watching. He's actually quite talented. The spectators were on their feet chanting and clapping to the music as he played gospel music on the keyboard. I heard all sorts of hallelujah's and praise God's and amen's coming out of their mouths. "Such fools", I thought.
And then I saw her face. Corny as it sounds; the face of an angel. Either time was frozen for me, or the camera man froze on her because she seemed to become magnified in such a way that said, "Look at me: see me: know my heart." I wanted to reject her face but I could not look away. She had long hair and dark eyes that were looking up, with tears streaming down her cheeks. She didn't wipe the tears as she raised her arms above her head. She was reaching for something unknown to me, but through her face I knew she knew exactly what she was reaching towards. Her heart spoke directly to me and said, "If you want to know these tears of joy, follow me."
Not knowing how much time had passed when I turned off the TV, her face stayed with me. It stayed with me when my kids came home, and it stayed with me for years. Every time I would conjure up her face, I'd think, "You know you want what she has." But I perpetually ignored that message for about 15 years, until one stormy night.
Driving home from my Dad's house alone, I could barely see out of the windshield with my wipers on high. My brother was visiting from Texas and earlier that evening, he stabbed me through the heart, at least it felt like he did. It was the first time I was meeting his infant son. As a mother of three, as soon as I saw his precious infant, I reached for him. Abruptly, my brother stepped away from me, enveloping the baby like a joey in a kangaroo pouch. He looked at me with venomous eyes and said sharply, "If you ever hurt him, I will kill you!" I couldn't speak; couldn't breath, as it became apparent he meant what he said and he directed it at me but he was really talking to a dead person that he saw in me. MOTHER. The one who caused us all the unspeakable pain. "Look at me!" I wanted to scream, but I was defeated in genetic resemblance, so I remained silent in my agony until I left the house.
As I drove on, almost as hard as the pouring rain, my tears began to fall. I cried out loud that I hated him till my throat went hoarse. When I could yell no more, I heard a sweet but commanding voice say, "Love him anyway!"
"Who the hell are you?" I yelled back with defiance and fear; considering that I had lost my mind. And then I heard it again, louder this time, "Love him anyway." My grandmother had passed away a few years earlier, so I thought, "Was it her? I must be crazy. Maybe I'm dead." And then that sweet angel face from some hokey spiritual revival popped into my mind once again. Her loveliness comforted me. I arrived home safe and shaken, but slept well that night with the words, "Love him anyway," in my heart.
Acting as an obedient child, as soon as I got up the next morning, I called my brother at my Dad's. It took awhile for him to come to the phone and I'm sure he was reluctant to speak to me. "What do you want?" he said coldly. And I replied, "I have no idea what I have done to make you angry with me. What ever it is, if I've ever hurt you, I'm so sorry. And I want you to know that I love you. I love you very much and that is never going to change." He remained silent for several seconds and then like a calm sea, he said, "I love you, too."
Cut to the chase, he and I started talking every week over the phone when he returned to Texas. He told me how he had recently started going to church and I listened to him about his bible studies. He asked me to start reading the bible. I actually took out "Bibles for Dummies" from the library because I thought there was no way I was going to get through that mammoth text with any understanding. On our weekly chats, my brother began to teach me the gospel and talk to me about how his faith; his love for Jesus was healing him. Even though I slowly, skeptically began to believe in the power of faith, I was so resisting stepping into a church. At my brother's gentle suggestion, I finally started bible study at a local church. After some months passed, I remember the moment I first felt the power of God's love. I was walking my dog. It was cold, moonlit and starry. While my dog was doing his business (lol) I looked up towards the stars and I felt this amazing wash of love pour over me, like a warm trusted embrace. Like a whisper, "I've got you my child. You are mine."
I felt it. Tears of joy. The joy some random chick had demonstrated from a dumbass spiritual revival so many years prior. God truly does work in mysterious ways.
Religion is what we turn to when we have lost Faith.
Creation stories of various cultures by in large describe the perfection of the Universe and the discordant inadequacy of Man: a scourge upon Earth!
We berate ourselves, emphasizing our sense of unworthiness, our hyper-perception of plucked-chicken nakedness... not feeling at all like children of the cosmos, but like self-made frauds. Would we live in a different world if we affectionately viewed our own kind as the evolutionary infants that we apparently are? Tots needing gentle scolding and firm redirection to be respectful and mindful, to keep our hands clean and to ourselves, to play safe and fair, to pick up our toys, and share?
Broadly speaking, religion means an organization of beliefs and practices. The word religion itself has been analyzed into parts and retraced to various related root terms. Re, the prefix, means a return to. The word ligare is considered as one related root; it means to bond. Another possible derivation is legere, meaning to read. Or, religio, meaning taboo or restraint. Clearly all of these words have their obvious manifestations in our history. Religion devises prohibitions; Religion delivers authoritative sermons/ readings; and Religion can be seen as a form of mental and physical bondage/entrapment. These are negatives. At the same time, in a positive light, Religion can be said to encourage people to bond to each other and the universe; to contemplate common human themes through shared texts; and to practice self-restraint.
Yet underlying this all is a deep sense of inferiority... a foreboding of being summoned/ summoning one's self to judgement, with an inherent disbelief/ unwillingness to accept, on Faith, that Creation was good—us inclusive. We struggle with this feeling of lack and disconnect... we feel a need to "return to..."
Religion is what we turn to when we have lost Faith in ourselves.
<font face="Helvetica" size="3" color="silver">02.08.2018</font>
Religion is the capitalization of the word and grace of God. Which was given freely to mankind, and through the bastardization of organized religion was confiscated, its power consolidated, and sold as a commodity.
God was taken out of mens hearts and put in a building and only through the priestly order and consistent payments of thithes can u find God.