In the modern, secular world, the average citizen has lost the appreciation of just how fundamental religious identity is to our basic existence. The secularist – remote to the religious experience all about them each and every day – sees religion as a membership in an organization; a simple choice that can be flipped with an opportunistic lifestyle, a change in schedule, or a little enlightenment. The results of such a naiveté is just beginning to roost like gargoyles on the growing discord we call diversity.
But religion is not an organization with a human leadership that shops for designer bargains at a factory-outlet store. Religion isn’t just tucked neatly within the prefrontal cortex of the brain; ready to be affected by neuroplasticity brought about by human events. Religion has demonstrated that it is much more pervasive and prevailing in all human cultures; signaling that it is embodied within every cell within every human body. It is not likely to go away with a “shoo”, or retreat to its dog house with a “bad doggie”.
The secularist believes religion is an institution and not a commonality. And the secularist chooses to live under the misconception that religion is defined by the existing institutions currently about us; that if they just went away in the mist of ignorance, then we all could get on with life in a proper and real manner. They miss the reality that religion is the human experience, and to bury it in one place is to only see it rise in another. (Perhaps that is part of the point about Jesus.) Religion is not bound by words like Catholic, Muslim, or Hindu. Religion is only bound by the relationship one has with God; that singular force that is responsible for the miracle of existence, and there is a reason for existence.
Two thoughts come to mind. The first is that secularists envisage a time when diversity means commonality; that people of all persuasions will sense pure harmony with those in disagreement with them, or at least that disagreement might never rise above a level of a momentary contemplation. The interesting thing in this is how diversity and tolerance leads to indifference; a simple disinterest in things as basic as human dignity. We already see the massive billboards of such indifference strewn across the landscape of our modern, urban world. From the deteriorating physical infrastructure we live in, to the miscreant weave of our synthetic societal interactions, we see indifference to human dignity as nothing more than something inevitable, and therefore to be lived with as but an inescapable condition of being human. This just breeds further indifference, which then leads to someone eventually knocking over the barrel of rats; as it has happened so many times already in corrupted societies.
The second thought comes from right field and it has to do with race. All men and women are equal in God’s will, but those men and women who have chosen God’s will, more often than their own, have dominated the world over the past two-thousand years. What I am talking about is the fact that the European Christian has effectively managed the world to its own pursuits. We refer to them as “whites”, though in truth there are many shades of flesh in their content. If one is to believe that all men and women are equal in their ability to advance and maintain intellectual thought, ethical passions, and harmonious action, then it was religion – Christianity in this case – that was the defining factor in the white domination of the world’s political and economic stages, and certainly not his or her color of skin.
There is a mistaken belief that religion has no bearing upon educated people; meaning people who agree with secularist agendas. What is interesting here is that wherever people have advanced their cause for human dignity in the last two-thousand years, it has been the introduction of Christianity into that region of the world that has played such a significant part in those advancements. It’s playing itself out right now in Asia – advancing Asia’s presence as a world leader, and it is playing itself out in Europe and America – in reverse – with their declining influence on world issues as these two regions see religion as just another institution of choice. No, the color of skin has no bearing upon the success of a civilization, but rather a civilization’s grasp of the seminal influences of faith that is the real arbiter of success and harmony.
The fact that the secularist has lost the understanding of religion is fatal, and I believe the responsibility of such an outcome lies solely with how religion is practiced in a secular society. With the detachment of things immaterial from material things comes a practicality in religion that renders it as an institution. Ritual has come to outweigh spiritual in practice, and any view of religion from the outside yields the natural conclusion that religion is, indeed, an institution. Once that concept is set in the societal mind, overt spiritual expression is suppressed as inappropriate at the least and phrenetic at the worst.
It is pivotal that we all discern and give weight to the commonality of ethical religious experience in people’s lives. Turning towards secularism is moving towards an indifference for human dignity. Turning towards the absolute virtues of religious experience is moving towards the embrace of human dignity for all. It is this latter that guides mankind towards the secularist ideals of diversity, tolerance, freedom and equality; for it is through religious experience that we attain the understanding of the sacrifice that love calls us to. It is through religious experience that we temper our intellect and our passions so that they might become less self-serving and more compassionate for others and their conditions.
God Bless – Reese
3 thoughts on “The Commonality of Faith”
Religion is not a prerequisite for understanding God, nor has Christianity hasn’t embraced human dignity for all (e.g. the Inquisition, the Crusades and the Pope is infallible to cite just a few examples). If religion personally gives you the things necessary to understand yourself and thereby gives meaning to your life, that’s great. I fully support it. While secularism is not a very appealing alternative, religion has issues itself. For example, I would challenge you to start with a basic understanding of Christian belief systems, as if that’s even possible. If you put a Catholic, a Mormon and a Fundamentalist in a room together you would get at least three answers to that question and they all would quote chapter and verse from the Bible. The problem is that those three Christians cited have three different holy books and therefore differing views on Creation…and, of course, they think that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.
Most everyone has their own definition of religion. I have mine and it is fully spiritual; seeing ritual as that opportunity to celebrate in our unity, but certainly not the centerpiece. If one needs cooperative strength in following God’s will, then I suggest they are live too much in the physical world and its temptations.
If your definition of religion is anywhere near mine, then I would agree that religion (the institution) is not a prerequisite for having a successful relationship with God. And I do agree that it is great when someone finds meaning in their lives through religion (the institution or otherwise), but I sense you believe as I noted in my post; that religion is but one choice of many in the pursuit of true happiness and peace. I disagree. As Pinocchio is shaped by Geppetto, so too is man by God. We can no more reject His influence than we can our genetics. Our relationship with God is our best strength and thus our best opportunity for happiness and peace.
As to disagreements that breeds separation, discord, and violence, that is part of the nature of mankind. In as much as I believe we are shaped by God, then there is a connection between our obvious failings and our relationship with God, but that simply means that our relationship with God is flawed, and I contend that secularism – the separation from God – is central to the problem. No person who truly follows Christian virtues (not beliefs like the virgin mother, the miracles, and the resurrection and ascension, etc.) will find conflict with others through their own intent, and that’s the best anyone can do.
Thanks for your comments.
Thank you for the clarification as I was not making any distinction between Christian values and church teachings as most Christians don’t even know what it means to be a Christian; so much so as they disagree with other Christians as to how best to define it. Hope you find happiness and peace on your journey.