Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spiritualism vs.Religion

The other day on Facebook I saw a question posed by a minister of the church I belong to.  The question dealt with the difference between spiritualism and religion. I shot back a quick and succinct answer--"Spiritualism refers to one's relationship to God and religion is a relationship to man."

This, of course, got me thinking about myself. I am a very spiritual soul but not so religious anymore. This is surprising because I grew up in my church. As a youngster, I had so many perfect attendance pins on my Sunday "go to meetin'" sport coat, I could barely hoist the garment to put it on. I mean it was so heavy in the front, everyone in my church thought I had spinal curvature. In my teens I presided over our youth group and the district youth group. In my twenties, I taught Sunday school, served on church committees and counseled teens. I began college with the idea of becoming a minister.

So I grew up totally immersed in my religion learning God is love and we should turn the other cheek, help thy neighbor, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, etc. Hey, sounded good to me. When I graduated college and stuck my nose into the real world, things changed. I quickly realized my training in church didn't prepare me for the business world. Now everything was about "getting ahead" and to do so meant not helping your fellow man but stepping on him. The new mantra became reaching for the top, getting rich.

Wait a minute, didn't the Bible tell me a rich man had about the same chance of going to heaven as a camel passing through the eye of a needle? Although I'm not too brainy, even I thought that looked like a pretty hard act to pull off. So stepping on other's toes, attaining wealth and hoarding it, all of which were just the opposite of what I learned in church, were, instead of getting me into heaven, now keeping me out--according to the Bible. Hmm. So why am I working so hard?  Maybe churches should drop Bible study and replace it with "How to Succeed in Business 101" and give up the camel/needle thing. So what was I to think--maybe we should replace capitalism with socialism?  Sounded pretty drastic to me.

In spite of myself, my career flourished and I reached a position that allowed me to travel world-wide. Traveling, seeing other cultures, observing different lifestyles is an education all its own. I concluded governments are different--but not people. I discovered varying religions preached basically similar tenets. So why has religion been the source of so many deaths? Remember the Middle Ages and the Crusades or how about the Spanish Inquisition? How about today's terrorists fighting the jihad or holy war. So what's the deal? Let's look at my shortened version of religious history.

Unless you are an atheist, you believe in a super power, supreme being, an Almighty. We may call him Allah or God or whatever, but most individuals on this planet believe in Him. Our belief in Him is real and our relationship to Him is spiritual. He's the one who created the universe and this globe we inhabit. There are different versions on how He did this, but in the long run, does it really matter?

Next He creates man and man conjures up this thing called religion. It grows from tribal rituals invented by man into organized entities also developed by man. Men pen letters about stories others have told and these letters become a Judao-Christian Bible or a Muslim Koran or a Buddhist Tipitaka. Then men make church laws to be adhered to and if you don't, watch your back. Ask the girls in Salem. Then this group of men differ with another group and we have man-made crusades and inquisitions. We have young men strapping bombs to their bodies and blowing up themselves and others who have been declared enemies of their religion. Did God really want this? I suggest no way. Religion was created by man and man has used it for his own purposes.

Did God say take the money and, instead of helping the less fortunate, build big temples, mosques, churches to glorify Him? Why is the richest institution in the world a church? Poor believers all over the world sacrifice to give to the rich church. Doesn't this seem a little convoluted?

How come the church tolerates and covers up for the Jim Swaggarts and Jim Bakers or the priests who defile God by actions with young boys? Boy, those are spiritual leaders. What do we say? Holy Crap? What about all of us who attend a religious service once a week and go our merry way the remainder of the week? How many of us never investigated which religion we thought would make us more spiritual but just joined because our parents belonged? It's sort of like joining a political party when you turn voting age.

What about the politics of religion? I'm not even going there.

I don't attend church regularly anymore. Do I miss it? I miss the trappings like the organ music and hymns but not the religion. I have been accused of losing faith. No, I am deeply faithful...to God. When I'm communing with nature or saying my prayers, I feel more spiritual than sitting in a pew. Will I attend church again? Yes, but I'll probably feel like a hypocrite.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, isn't it, how we start to ramble on about religion as we get closer to the end and farther from the beginning? I find value in much of what you say and certainly agree that spiritualism does not seem to require the organization that formal religon often requires. The argument, of course, is that a church provides a format or home for common beliefs. Some people need that, some don't, and yet, here we are: the shape of what we believe is typically generated by the words and convictions of someone else. Home-grown spiritualism has its basis in that: you might say that we are free to make modifications in the directions that we think best. Tough, though, given the fear factors; i.e.; Shit. What if I'm wrong?

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