The institution of religion is nothing more than the institution of government of yesteryear.
This shouldn’t be hard to understand given the former was the latter for the majority of our time as species of late.
As a sourthern-bred front porch philosopher hailing from the foothills of the NC Appalachian mountains 20 miles up the road from the likes of the late Billy Graham, I know what it means to be drink from the bottle of fire and brimstone and I maintain the deepest respect for all that is divine.
Yet as I look at the church in its contemporary light, it is with the saddest of tears that falls from the deepest place within the spirit that I see through the veil and beyond the fog of war.
Sending missionaries into impoverished geographies looks good on the brochures… and I want to believe what they print. Yet upon further review, when applying the acid test of what I can validate with my own senses, my spirit is crushed when I discover said missionaries are primarily filled with activities such as going into the heart of Africa, one of the lands which people are literally dying from starvation, and preaching a message that condoms are blasphemous.
To such a message I say, “If the godhead is angry with me for wrapping my pee-pee with a little protection so that I don’t prolong life’s suffering needlessly so, then not only is that such a fragile ego that stinks of human excrement, but he should be strong enough to contend with me himself and without the need of any earthly being’s assistance.”
To provide yet another example of seemingly endless examples, the Roman Catholic Church in its current form has enough money is its coffers that it could take a far more tangible action to combat the evils of this world than outsourcing such efforts to volunteers on missionary trips spreading a message which I can only conclude as a sick perversion of the truth. This is not to single out the Catholic Church for the blame I speak of falls at the doorstep of an entire institution.
An as insatiable debater (For those with an affinity for Myers-Briggs, ENTP), I have long enjoyed and seize every opportunity to have a meeting of the minds. Often times I am best suited for role of the devil’s advocate in that not only can I argue from a position which I don’t personally subscribe, but I can win the hearts of minds of those in the audience while doing so. Talk about being yoir own devil’s advocate, wait until you convince people of that which you don’t even believe to really get a taste of what walking in my shoes has proved to be as an experience.
I provide this background to say, as we are all well aware, that religious topics at large leave plenty of areas open for discussion. Again, I dive head into and joyfully so. What I have discovered is that when most cite a religious argument, it is not because they have actually read or researched a single thing as much as it is them telling you where their line of ignorance is drawn giving an indication of the standard by which they will freely judge you by.
In my self-appointed role of devil’s advocate and insatiable jail house attorney, in preparation for such debates over topics the institution lays sole claim to, I did my homework and read the Bible. I continue to do so bc as Einstein even mentioned, it is a book to be read over and over again. Yet when time comes for the debate, I find it so infuriating to discover my opponent has not approached our debate with such rigor and fails to cite their sources at every turn. Throwing out a verse is one thing… keeping a verse in context is completely another.
So as I continue to scan the horizon in the time I am to find my place in, it occurs to me the institution of religion has transitioned from its role as the government to the role of lobbyist wherein they lay claim to all policy regarding the family unit… and most notably, the single biggest reason the West has sex on the brain bc the religion the region is set in, among another things, has made sure to instill on our brain housing group that sex is taboo. As the late Anglican priest turned zen philosopher Alan Watts phrased so well, “And the brain isn’t necessarily the best place for sex to be.”
I have learned more about what it means to be Christ-like while on deployment in a war torn Middle East, while sitting at a table with a Buddhist and enjoying a friendly debate, while sitting in group circle with an eastern mystic and Hindu scholar in some temple in some deep corner of India while said guru speaks the truth & wisdom from both a western and eastern perspective so vividly that only a fool would dare speak to the contrary.
It has occured to me that though I am not comfortable citing my ego as Christian, that is I don’t embrace such direct identity, I will always be forever grateful and humbled to say “I am of the Christian faith.” As far as I have traveled and many strangers my quest for debate has presented me the blessing of being introduced to, this introduction has sufficed. I suspect that no matter where I may roam to lands unknown in the days to come, this title will continue to suffice.
My goal is not to preach doctrine, but to embody the lesson so that those I may debate need not rely on what my definition of God or this or that may be as far as religion is concerned, they will see it and experience it themselves.
I prepare a table full of strangers where all are welcome to join me and eat of the feast in celebration.
I’m off my soapbox sermon, for now… more to come later, I am sure. 🙏