The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. – Alan Watts
After having left religion, I found God. Let me be clear here as not to confuse the pop-culture appropriation of hipster spirituality so prevalent today; wherein, someone re-organizes their linguistic choices and creates new aphorisms like: I left religion but gained a relationship (and etc.). For me, leaving organized religion, in this case, Christianity, wasn’t just leaving some of its beliefs, but leaving its history, its revisions and its day-to-day practices. For many, leaving organized religion tends to mean:
– still going to some form of religious assembly
– still adopting certain practices of that religion
– revising certain myths, ideas and approaches but
still maintaining the very kernel of what informed the initial frame of belief
– shifting from conservative to more liberal views
– embracing a more universal view but still through the religious lens
I think there are issues within any organized religion, Western or otherwise, that need to be addressed:
(2) Blind Commitment
(3) Ethical Demand
(1) Belief without actually believing. This tends to show up mostly in the practices of many who go to church (mosque, or temple) but don’t really want to be there, or don’t really believe its effective yet use phrases like ‘out of respect for…’ I still go or continue in the practice.
(2) Blindness doesn’t lead to sight. Commitment without questions is not a position of intellectual integrity. Dogmatism only breeds dogmatism. Change is inevitable, even in the nature of truth.
(3) Ethics are not necessary to find God. You don’t need to do to be. Ethics tend to be treated as something necessary for becoming. Ethics only exist because there are ‘others’. Not to find God. You don’t need to be good, follow a code or anything for that matter. You are. Just be. Let that sink in.
(4) Love is death. The way love is used in a lot of religions that try to make adherents out of others tend to have some xenophobic strain in them, eventually. Love has to first start with the death of the ego, the self. Then, in a purely communist sense, the self, through this act of love/death is found in the other.
If the very nature of religion is change, and we don’t progress individually or as a species, then we have been left behind. Change is inevitable. I’m not sure structured religion will allow this, hence why its necessary to leave, for everyone. Once this happens, then the only religion one needs is: Life.
Part of my journey is realizing that religion is a personality based phenomenon, more explicitly, that some need to believe in something bigger than themselves. Whether it be to quell narcissism, to inspire them, to draw themselves out of themselves, to believe in some greater good. Some don’t need that. For me, I need that. I need a Big Other, but mostly, to overcome (Read G.W. Hegel or Slavoj Zizek on this) However, we all have Big Others, even if they’re not religious ones.
It’s part of our journey to realize that we are the Big Others we are trying to overcome. That the struggle in life begins within, then moves without, this is why love has to first bring us to the end of ourselves to then realize the connection between us all. Love is radical, it is not idealistic, it is not boring (This is why romantic comedies ultimately fail, because they are!), it challenges the very contours of our identity and existence. But, that is a life long journey that will keep everyone from finding God. Religion will only undue human progress, finding God will push us forward. But where is God hiding? S/He isn’t. Look in the mirror. S/He is staring right back at you.