Is it possible for there to be religious communities that don’t demand change from their members? Can a church, synagogue, mosque or temple… any place where the religious gather in community… still exist without desiring, expecting or pressuring their people to change?
The urgency of change is incumbent upon me and me only. But this only comes about when I see that this is so and so change. I may receive assistance. But in the end I will be transformed by me changing my own mind.
We may read from the Bible, the Torah, the Qu’ran, the Bhagavad Gita or whatever spiritual writings are read in whichever community. We may even teach on them, expound them, explain them and encourage the people to hear them and apply them to their personal lives. But can we do this without an agenda that would like to see the people change into the ideal image we have in our minds of what we want them to be?
When I teach in church, for instance, I always try to communicate a “take it or leave it” attitude. By this I don’t mean, “I don’t give a hoot what you do with this,” but rather, “I freely offer this to you, and you are free to receive it or reject it.” People must always be free to make their own choices and decisions. This is also why, during the teaching and especially after, I allow discussion so that people understand I am not trying to cram something down their throats so that they will become the kind of people I want them to be, or that the church would become the kind of fantasy church I want it to become.
Discussion, dialog, debate and even dissension are all essential elements to a person’s right to be who they are or to become what they will to become.