Looking Under the Hood of Your Religion

Looking Under the Hood of Your Religion September 15, 2009

Gumby the Cat has returned to blogging with a delightful extended analogy between his experience with Christianity and buying a car. I’ve noted previously the analogy Carl Sagan made between buying a used car and choosing a religion. I highly recommend reading Gumby’s post, and I also strongly advise readers to “look under the hood” of your religion. Although sometimes an awareness of the mechanics of something can seem to detract from the magic of experiencing the whole, and our sense of awe and mystery about it, we know that when it comes to cars, knowledge and regular maintenance are crucial – we either learn enough to keep the car running smoothly (or trust someone else to do it), or sooner or later it breaks down.

There are all sorts of analogies one could make about the details. For instance, how do we evaluate whether the best course of action is to repair and maintain the car/religion we have or whether it is time to trade it in? But for me the most important thing is this: look under the hood sooner rather than later. Understanding what you find there takes a certain amount of study and expertise, so take the time to understand the mechanics and workings of your religion. If understanding your religion leads you to abandon it, that may be the appropriate choice for you right now – and shouldn’t be feared, since it seems better to honestly question and even leave than to stay and go through the motions in a way that leads to empty formalism and resentment. Spending time without a car makes sense for some people at certain times in their lives. And often those who do so rediscover in the process what they liked about driving and the convenience of it. And when they begin to drive again they enjoy and appreciate it in ways they never did before, distracted as they were by the inevitable frustrations and costs of driving and of car ownership.
Many of us, having looked under the hood, have decided that our car/religion is worth keeping, not as something that just “magically works”, but as something that has helped various people before us get from point A to B, and has proven useful for carrying us along too.
Drive safely!

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