On Not Being Religious

One of the most hurtful things someone can say to me is to call me religious. You see, religion is a most human construct. It’s where we go when we’ve run out of justifications for allowing ourselves to think as we wish.

Religion is self-centered. It focuses on how to make oneself jolly. It is outward. It is to be seen and marveled at. It seeks the praise and affirmation of other humans. It is new age and old school at the same time but in either case, it is invented. It’s established to serve my needs. It’s not for me.

The problem is that religion applies the human point of view to everything and especially to matters of faith and the things of God. It’s all done in service to self under the guise of something else. The thing is, so many of us don’t care for the real thing. It’s much more pleasing and comforting to be religious.

Religion’s high priest is the ultimate demon. Its name is Pride. Again, it judges everything from the human point of view, always measuring and comparing in an attempt to see oneself as superior. Religion enjoys sin and loves to judge it. There may be a board in my own eye but I just love detecting the sliver in yours. And to criticize you for having it! Then I get to feel good about my piousness. Plus, if one can find fault in others, it serves as a convenient distraction.

I believe sin is real. I also believe that in each of us is etched a natural law that gives us an inherent sense of right and wrong. We may sometimes disagree about precisely what that law is due to the shortcomings of human understanding or, perhaps, the diabolical and twisted state that humans have sometimes found to be a pleasing place in which to dwell. In fact, I believe that virtually every choice we make moves us just a bit closer to being the kinds of creatures God wants us to be or a little closer to something much worse than we presently are.

But religion has little time for self-examination and no time for focusing on the rightness or wrongness of one’s own conduct in God’s eyes. Religion much prefers that we spend our time judging others. However, there is also an insidiousness about religion that does sometimes appear to impose self-examination but it is a false view of self. Again, it is a human point of view. Religion does welcome and even encourages us at times to stop and take a few moments to beat ourselves up. Then when we’ve had enough, the beating continues. Eventually we use our human point of view to beat others up in order to stop the pain. Religion encourages this vicious cycle, you see.

When we are not being religious, we have to accept that much is a mystery and that its probably a good thing that this is the case. We can slow our pace of drawing conclusions about others because maybe we shouldn’t be so conclusive. Plus, it’s interesting that God nowhere seems to require us to have an opinion about ourselves, at least not that I can find. More so, it seems that some sort of radical fellow expressed the rather liberating concept that we shouldn’t seek the praise of others because that is all the reward we will ever receive. Religion does not allow for this kind of thinking.

Religion is also more than willing to use an authority structure where it serves religion’s self-preservation. To be complete, though, religion also accepts a no authority option. In fact, each of us is free to invent our own, as long as its religion, keeping in mind that religion is ok with almost anything as long as it is ultimately a human concept and has very little to do with any suggestions from God about how he may lovingly wish for us to live.

Religion claims opposition to the unchurched and feels better if they were religious. Also, religion’s subspecies love to fight among themselves in either hot or cold wars. However, religion does offer solutions to these problems. As to the unchurched, the apathetic, the agnostic or even the atheist, these folks can be tolerated because they are practicing religion after all, even if it’s of the wrong sort. As long as the unchurched and the atheist are self-centered and judgmental, it’s probably ok to have a few of them around and they can probably be convinced to go with the “make your own religion” option eventually. As to the fighting subspecies, that’s all right and even to be encouraged as long as one is fighting fervently for their own subspecies. After all religion is always looking for wrong doing as long as its from a human point of view and in purported betterment of other religions’ human points of view.

I suspect that what God wants is not really religion at all. He most certainly is the source of the natural law. Further, sin is both real and deadly. However, God’s point ultimately seems to be love. He loves His creatures and wants to save us from ourselves. For our own good, he wants our focus on Him, not on ourselves, and to adopt His loving nature. This doesn’t seem to square well with religion.

Copyright 2014 Daniel Blake

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