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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual vs. religious’

I value the deep and inspiring reverence for God that our world religions uphold. With great respect, I honor the beautiful places of worship that champion each sacred one of us. But unfortunately, many religious institutions do not honor anyone, and sometimes, least of all, women. Far too often, I see that sacred beliefs are taken over by authority, and then used to control us. This is something that I experienced in the religion of my childhood.

My extremely loving parents did not force church upon us the way their well-meaning parents had, but we got a socially acceptable taste. I was raised Episcopalian, and I did love the sacred feeling of the large cathedral we attended, complete with echoes on marble and stone. As a child, I felt a deep connection to God in that vast, majestic space. I found great beauty in the jeweled stained glass windows, glowing with holy artistry.

But, I also remember noticing that the words we were being asked to recite from The Book of Common Prayer did not feel good at all. They were big and ancient words, but the energy around them was clear: we were, each and every one of us, abominably bad and hopelessly wrong.

Of course, we were told that we might be able to repent for this if we recited confessions on our knees for the rest of our lives. These confessions were full of self-loathing and fear, and at some point, I became vividly aware that self-rejection was being inflicted upon the entire congregation. As I looked around me, I saw that most of the adults were repeating these confessions like sheep, because that was what you were supposed to do. It was how you were raised. It would make you acceptable to society, and sadly, to God.

Was I supposed to follow along? No, not me. No thank you! I decided that I wasn’t going with the program, and with silent lips I never uttered those fearful words again. From then on, I got to decide what I believed. I alone would choose what I affirmed out loud to the world.

Religion can do quite a number on us. We are told that the world rejects us, and so we reject ourselves. We are told that we have let God down, and so we beg for forgiveness. Thus, guilt becomes an ever-present part of our lives.

In my own religious experience, the saddest part of all was that the beautiful and compassionate teachings of Jesus were used to defeat us, and this was so completely counter to the unconditional love that He champions. It was a kind of defamation beyond comprehension, until I realized that it was just another form of control.

Personally, I believe that at some point in the long history of humankind, we did separate ourselves from God. We forgot our divine essence and became full of egoic pride. We declared that we didn’t need God, and so we chose the long way home. But, to get back home, we must realize that to devalue anyone is to devalue creation. We are an intrinsic part of creation. You are a divine and direct aspect of God.

I don’t want to live in a world where the “Fear of God” is enforced. Just look at the destruction that mindset has built. I want to remember the overwhelming, unconditional, and indescribable love that God is. And then, I want to remind you how incredibly special you are, as an integral aspect of this love. This is the world that we are now remembering, and it is waiting for us to choose.

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