Analysis of religious bigotry and birth of true insight.
Have you ever given up your busy life for a moment to stop and appreciate the polarization of our society today along religious and spiritual lines? Some people are traditionalists when it comes to home and family. They hold steadfast to their denominational creed. Those who are 'sinners' by their standards are judged by these people. They fail to step outside their comfort zones to attempt to understand anyone who is different or may have had a difficult road throughout life. Others may attend church, but seem to hold to a higher standard. They do not reject people as much for being different. What matters most is not that one has completed his life as a perfect slate, but that he has learned from his mistakes on his mural. Still others have rejected church and religion altogether. Some may believe in a Higher Power, while some are agnostic or atheist.
I grew up in a family adhering to the first type described above, in WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) doctrine.There was a strict way of believing, and many denominations were criticized as 'being in darkness', even those who were other Lutherans. Our church believes that Christians in all denominations can be saved as part of the "invisible church". However, the way it was presented to me in my high school religion classes was this: The errors of their respective denominations, was worth more than the risk of being involved with them. In other words, 'everyone but us are in error'.
As I grew into adulthood, certain experiences helped me learn that there was a lot more to true spirituality than the beliefs I grew up with. I went to a major university where I ran into a lot of different viewpoints. I married someone who was in a denomination very much shunned by the one I grew up in. So much so, that my own godfather did not attend my wedding! And, at the age of 30, I had a life-changing experience that placed me in yet another spiritual awakening as I found myself in recovery from drug addiction, attending 12-step program meetings. By the way, this was something my original religion strongly discouraged attendance at!
Through the 12-step program, I was taught to embrace a broader concept of a "higher power", one that you could choose to call "God as we know him". The only characteristics for this Higher power were that s/he were "loving, caring, and greater than ourselves". Why such a simple view compared to all the dogmatics I was taught growing up in a traditional religion?
After more than 10 years after that experience that brought me to Narcotics Anonymous, I believe it is because God's love truly is one that surpasses our understanding, and is MUCH more forgiving than some of us humans would like to believe! Remember the stories of the Prodigal Son, and the master who forgave his servant's debt. How much mercy you find in stories of utter disaster in both cases. Yet, we humans often take the view of religion, to "one-up" each other, which God does not like. He, she or "it" never intended religion to be a moral compass where certain human beings were "better" than the rest. We all are of the same moral fabric.
I like to think of the "religious" term of SIN as an acronym: "Self Induced Neurosis". If you think about it in real world terms, that is almost what it boils down to, every time! If you look at the layout of my page on one of my psychic networks, KEEN.com, it speaks of the stories of the Christian prophets, Joseph, Daniel and Samuel. I view the Bible as a whole to be not intended to be a religious dogma book, but rather a continuum of stories that reflect each storyteller's unique experience of how they saw God's presence in their lives. That takes a LOT of the one-upmanship out of it. Rather, it gives a sense of awe and true presence throughout its entirety, as well as the course of world history as a whole. It also gives life and spirit to one's faith, rather than simply "going through the motions" of going to a religious institution every Sunday. And indeed - I could write a book of my own that would be very similarly based, on my OWN experience, strength and hope through experiencing God's love in my life! That, is why I think the Bible is so appropriately named - it is simply Latin for "book". We could all write our own books if we wanted to!