Sunday, February 22, 2015

Religion, Church, and Spirituality - Conversation 3 With Joan Chittister

“When the death of their master was clearly imminent, the disciples became totally bereft. ‘If you leave us, Master,’ they pleaded, ‘how will we know what to do?’ And the master replied, ‘I am nothing but a finger pointing at the moon. Perhaps when I’m gone you will see the moon.’” - Sufi Tale

“The meaning is clear: It is God that religion must be about, not itself. When religion makes itself God, it ceases to be religion.” - Joan Chittister

Ahhhh, religion. Church. How did something that should unite people and provide spiritual guidance and refuge get so screwed up? Studies indicate that more and more people - both men and women - find themselves unable to identify with organized religion, and is it any wonder? Advances in technology make the world smaller, allowing access into other cultures that previous generations only learned about through brief references in the Encyclopedia Britannica or photo spreads in National Geographic. Today one merely needs to perform a Google search to learn about religious or cultural practices of practically every obscure and major culture on the planet.

Today’s world is acutely aware of the inequalities, persecution, and war brought on by differences in religious beliefs.

Is it any wonder that more and more people have difficulty identifying with the formal religious institutions that they believe contribute to the world’s unrest?

Perhaps it’s time for a religious reformation: A new approach to exploring the wonders of the Universe that incorporates the fusion of our knowledge of history and culture with personal insight about how humans should treat one another.

Perhaps it’s time to get back to the basic definition of God — “He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8

God gives us signs. He speaks to us through the words and deeds of others. Literature, good deeds, academia, Nature. Let’s utilize God’s resources and stretch ourselves to choose love over hate in an effort to better understand the world around us.

“I have decided to stick with love…. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you identify with a particular church or religious organization? If so, which one. If not, why? How do you think we can help alleviate some of the world’s unrest? Whose responsibility is it to work toward world peace?

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