This thought occurred to me this morning:
So often, we approach religion as if it were a stake being used to hold up a plant in the garden. You and I and everyone else are the poor unruly plants, in need of the strong sturdy stake to provide firm, unyielding, inflexible (and completely external) “support.” This support helps the plant grow, but it also restricts the plant movement. “Conservatives” are those who think the loss of freedom is worth the chance to grow straight and tall, while “liberals” think that the freedom is really more valuable than conforming to some unbending external standard, no matter how adept it is at fostering growth in the straight and narrow.
But what if religion isn’t really the stake at all? What if the point of religion is to be the soil itself, the ground from which all life emerges? This is not to say that the stake is rendered unnecessary: stakes such as moral codes, ethical norms, and educational benchmarks could still have their use in the formation of a strong and healthy life. But those “stakes” are not the same thing as the soil, the rich, wonderful, dark humus out of which all life emerges.