Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What is Religion?

Religion is a scary topic to non-believers and sacred to those who do believe.  It must be an awfully powerful word to either scare or embrace people.

As I become one of those person whom I myself doubt, those who translate the words of the scripture, whether the Bible in its many versions, the Tora, the Koran or any other sacred writings, I find myself revisiting writings and reflecting on the value, the source and the meaning of these words.  So much of what we do is through words especially communicating with others but also in formulating our own values and sense of purpose.  Words are another creation of humans, much like religion is a creation on humans.  I didn't say God was created by humans, God exists regardless of humans' behavior or theories.

What we accept as valid, not even what we believe, but what we accept as a standard is not beyond questioning.  Seven days in a week?  Certainly, the Bible says through the creation story that God created everything including humankind in six days and rested on the seventh.  But who penned that story and with what validity?  But the entire world abides by this standard.  Really?

In a practical sense, it makes sense, just a sleeping or resting at the end of each day.  Our bodies and the bodies of most living organisms go through a cycle of extending energy and conserving energy.  So we rest on one our of seven days.  Actually we rest two out of seven, and we declare that the work of a week should be limited to 40 hours, almost as if it sacred and ordained of God.  Speaking of hours, did God ordain them also.  This makes sense, but why drag it into religion?

Religion is a ordered set of guidelines or rules and rites or traditions that one believes in.  Relating to God, and following God's intent is different, even though we fuse them together.  Even the Bible with its thousand of words and centuries of scrutiny primarily speaks of God's will for us is to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). (Your God? Do each of us have an individual God?  Again words become our nemesis.)  Jesus' paraphrase or restatement of our calling is to love God with all you have and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 27), which is so similar to the Golden Rule that most organized religions also quote and paraphrase.

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could peel away all the clutter of religion, or religions, and follow those simple straight forward concepts, even to let the man-made words to fall aside and just love as Jesus did.

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