how many expressions of religious practice are intended to control others! of what use is a religion if its end result is to increase suffering in the world? we turn the benevolent teachings of the world's great religions into a tool for dividing us, a means for imposing our own narrow views on those who do not share them. so much human misery is a result of our so-called practice of religion.
as we look at the chaos in the middle east, the war being fought so that a cruel expression of islam can be forced on a population that wants to be left alone to live life on its own terms, as we listen to politicians invoking christianity as the reason that women must be deprived of control of their own bodies, we should ask ourselves if the world wouldn't be better off without religion. the idea of a nation where the most controlling fear-mongers who claim the mantle of christianity hold power is a frightening one.
i go to church each week and long to hear words assuring me that the teachings of jesus are incompatible with what passes for christianity in many christian churches in the usa, but i never hear that. there is no encouragement to live a life that says "neither do i condemn you." little by little my connection to the church lessens, and i have reached the point of being tied to the church, not by religion, but by the many friends who are a part of our community. perhaps that's what the church is at best, a means of being connected to others in caring for one another and the world. i'm not hearing how this web that binds us together is the reason that christianity exists, in opposition to the christian bigots who preach fear and an us-against-them philosophy. i need to hear that from the pulpit, in our scripture readings, in our music, and it is not happening.
what if our concept of God is wrong? what if God is the sum of all that is good in creation? what if God is the thread that ties all-that-is together? if that were true, each time we cause suffering we would weaken that thread and God would suffer as well; every injury to the planet would be an injury to God. God would be present in everything and everyone with whom we come in contact, and we would be best when we had reverence for all of life, for all of creation. perhaps that is where i'm being led, and that doesn't seem like such a bad place to be headed.
may we abandon religions that cause suffering for ourselves and others. may we see God in others, doing to the others as we would have done to ourselves. may we live lives of generous acceptance rather than controlling condemnation. shalom.