Thursday, October 28, 2010

Religion and Spirituality

We are having a discussion (that I'd love for you all to chime in on) at the Witch Mom Forums on religion and spirituality and which people identify with and why.
I find that many people are uncomfortable with the word "religion" because some religion or other at one time in their lives preached harmful or hateful things. I know so many ex Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelical Christians it isn't even noteworthy anymore when someone "comes out" as a former (insert religion-preaching-hate here). The concept religion is so closely tied with what people (however misguided) do in its name that sometimes people reject anything resembling the term altogether.

But to me, that is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Religion is not inherently hateful. In fact, it's only when religion has been corrupted by a twisted human ego that it fails and takes on a hateful form. The word religion (from the Latin re (meaning again) and ligio (to tie or fasten)) means, quite literally, "to re-tie". Re-tie to what? It means to strengthen our connection to each other and the Divine.

Simply put, a theology that preaches disconnection from others, regardless of the reason, is not a real religion- it is simply hate speech wrapped up in a corrupt theology. You heard me. Yes, I said that. I am calling recent statements by the pope and Mormon deacons unreligious.

Religion, at its core, is an idea of wholeness- from creation to destruction and everything in between. It encompasses all of humanity and indeed all of creation. A church that does not embrace all living things as equals, one that sees some people as more inherently virtuous than others is not a religious institution. When done properly, religion cannot be used as an instrument of hate. When it is, calling it religion is a misnomer.

That is why I have no issue with revoking the non-profit status of any church that opposed and got involved in the fight for gay marriage, for example. They are not a religious institution, obviously- so why get the tax benefits of one?

So what is spirituality, then? It is a recognition of Spirit (what I call God Herself), within yourself and others. It can be done without formality and theology. Many people who have been harmed by religion take refuge in spirituality.

But one of the things that I see happening here is that because there is not structure (and all living things need structure- just ask a biologist!), there are plenty of gurus and merchants stepping in to fill that void. Spirituality cannot be bought or sold, regardless of what a workshop facilitator, new age crystal peddler, or a self-help/spiritual author tells you (as they urge you to buy their book).

Here is a proper use of religion:

and also this:

Please join us on the Witch Mom Forums for this and many other fascinating discussions!

1 comment:

  1. Boootiful, Mama! I am glad you posted that one from the lady pastors. We civilians sometimes feel that, unless we hear the acceptance /approval from religious authority, our being "different" (in any way) isn't still okay. That vid will give comfort to a lot of people. Hooray for those pastors!

    The Charter for Compassion vid: Visited the site, Signed the Charter, and Sharing It. :>

    Hello to your family...and Happy Samhain(?)!


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