Reflections on Organized Religions and Spirituality

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 15th Aug 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Mental Health

Poverty is not a crime, it is not a disgrace and it is not an affliction. It is a condition of a very apathetic society. The rich get richer as the poor get poorer. Karl Marx said this a century ago.


For those of you who have been with me so far, you know that this series started with the death of Nora, the mother of my childhood friend Lavenia. Her death caused me to take a look at my beliefs about death and the afterlife through the concept of organized religion and finally coming to terms with my own mortality. The series was limited to organized religion and not spirituality as such.

Thoughts on organized religion and spirituality

Organized religions differentiates from spirituality in that it has to do with church dogma; what a particular religion says about different issues concerning their general belief, concept of god, church history, rules, regulations, church culture, communal activities and so on.

I did not broach spirituality in this series. Spirituality simply put is the relationship that one has with God. It can include whatever we have been taught in terms of organized religion, but may differ greatly.

I had chosen to stay away from the aspect of spirituality when I started the series because I did not want the series to turn into a free for all. In other words, I did not want commentators to tell me that what I was thinking, feeling, and believing is totally wrong. A spiritual journey is a personal one; and unique for every individual taking it.

I will attempt to put down my spiritual views in the next installments of the series. Please note that they are my personal views and they are still evolving. I am doing this part of the series because some of my readers so far have asked for them. They are curious about my beliefs.

Having said that, I want everyone to know that my very first principle is that spirituality is personal, and very subjective. How I see my relationship with God, may be the same, similar, or completely different from yours.

Please do not read this particular part of the series if you feel attacked, threatened, or insulted by what I might say. These are my views. They do not have to be yours. Don't write to me to tell me I am wrong. Don't write to me to tell me that I will burn in hellfire. Don’t write to me to be condescending. Do not assume the attitude that I am a poor wayward child, and that you are hoping that someday I will believe as you do; someday I will know the truth, in other words, your truth. To me that is a very arrogant point of view. For the question in my mind will always be What is the truth and who really has the handle on it?

Write to me if you want serious discourse whether you agree with me or not. If you can handle that someone else thinks differently than you do, or are delighted someone else feels the same way as you do, then by all means write to me. Write to me if you have questions that you think that I may be able to help you with along your spiritual journey, write even if these questions are rhetorical and do not necessarily need an immediate answer.

What is the truth

And now this part of series begins.

Here we go some of my beliefs on spirituality.

First of all I question truth. Truth is subjective. Truth is personal and individual.

Well take a look around, if there was one single truth about God and religion then there would be one God, or several gods in ONE religion, and everyone would believe the same things. In other words the one truth would be Hindu across the world, or Muslim, or Christian whatever. I think you get my point.

Instead we have many religions in this beautiful world of ours, and various ways of looking at God and all the aspects of God. All these religions spout out religious dogma, in other words church truths, and claim that their way is the right way.
What church dogma does is create a division among people. The end product is that everyone is looking down on everyone else.

In Christianity we have different groups saying that the Catholics are wrong, the Protestants are wrong, the Baptists are wrong the Evangelists are wrong and so on. In Islam we have different groups saying the Sufis are wrong, the Sunnis are wrong so on and so forth. As a result, we have a bunch of people in this world going around thinking that they are so right and yet other people's beliefs are so wrong.

All these beliefs originate from the concept of different religions and extend to the same religion but a different branch of that religion's opposing viewpoints. It all boils down to church doctrine.

I learned this particular truth as a young girl, when I went around from church to church and each preacher said something different and quoted the same bible passage to support his position.

The trouble with quoting Holy Scripture is that we can take a passage to suit anything we want to put forth and we can fashion an argument accordingly. However, just like the media take quotes out of context to prove a point, or show someone in a bad light, often time these Holy passages are deliberately taken out of context or twisted.

Some of you will be turned off right here and say she is attacking the holy books, she is a heretic.

Please listen to what I am saying closely.

I am saying we are taking the Holy Scriptures and twisting them to serve our own needs. I believe in the Holy Scriptures. I search its wisdoms, its connection to the holy one, but what I do not accept is how humans have deliberately manipulated those powerful words to suit whatever cause they want to herald in.

For example, if you want revenge, or you want war, you will find a bible passage to support that feeling; "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." If you want peace and forgiveness you can quote that very same bible with, "love thy neighbour as thyself, or turn the other cheek.

So what do we do as humans? We take both these truths and use them when they are convenient for us to do so.

To my way of thinking, these controversies serve only to divide us by judging other religions as wrong, or infighting within our very own religion. They do not bring us together as children of God.

I used Christianity as the example because as a Christian it is the religion that I know the most. However, infighting is not unique to Christianity.

How do we translate Mohammed words, "Women should dress accordingly?" Does that mean that women should wear a Hijab or not? Is Abu Bakr the rightful heir after the death of Mohammed or not?

Which is the truth, the way of Shiva, or Krishna, eating meat or not eating meat? I have found that just about every religion has its controversies fought for centuries among its followers.

Everyone is right and everyone is wrong, and we all base our truths on our Holy Scriptures according to doctrine and according to cultural interpretation and understanding.

I share the belief with many people who feel that it is hard to tease out the holy messages from cultural beliefs in any religion. Culture and religion are so intertwined that it is extremely difficult to differentiate the two. Some of what is written in the Holy Scriptures must be understood within the times it was written. It may not apply to modern day.

For example in bible times, our religious forefathers had slaves. For the most part, today slaves are prohibited around the world. Yet, it was common practice back then. Was the practice of having slaves a religious belief or a cultural one? Avraham had slaves. It seems to me it was a cultural one.

Having many mistresses or wives was also accepted in bible times. It is not today. Again, was it a religious belief or a cultural one? There are religions or denominations, or sects of major religions which will interpret it as religious, while others interpret it as cultural going as far as to say it belonged as a value to the people of a bygone day. There are religions which will say it is acceptable and sanctioned by God and others that will say it is a sin.

I personally believe it was cultural. I do not see any reference in my Holy Scripture where God said that a man should have many wives (polygamy), or a wife should have many husbands (polyandry). However I do acknowledge that God did tell Abraham that he would be the father of Nations and that Sarah would bear a children and also Hagar his concubine. Was that his sanction that Hagar be kept as a concubine, or merely a prophecy of what her offspring would accomplish, herein lies the dilemma. What is religious and what is cultural? For me as I said already it is cultural.

The Holy Scriptures remain the Holy Scriptures. They have withstood the test of time. How we interpret their message depends largely upon the society in which we live in at any given point in time.

My son and I recently had a conversation about this very issue. He questioned if every religion and branch of religion claim it has the edge on the truth, then why is it that there are so many religions with different beliefs all claiming that they received their truth from God? How could there be so many contradicting beliefs if God gave the truth to everyone?

Of course I do not have the answer for it. I do not believe that I am God, in the sense that there is a creator or master behind the scenes who created us and I am that creator. But as a thinking rational human being created by this very master in his image, I do belief that God did talk to the most holy of every religion and he gave them an understanding of truth; one that they could understand, from a humanistic, a cultural and a historical perspective.

That being said, God talking to an aboriginal in Australia would be very different from God talking to the ancient Hebrews, and so on. God revealed a part of himself to each and every one of us throughout time and continues to do so. How you understand his revelation is unique to you, and how I understand it is unique to me. I respect each and everyone one of your view points and it is not for me to try and change them.

t deeply pains me when I hear church bashing, or people putting down other people for their religious or spiritual beliefs. One passage in my own holy book, the bible says, "judge not lest ye be judged," and I truly believe that.
My views on spirituality do not end here; instead it is just a beginning.

All photos taken from the public domain

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Abraham Sarah, Abu Bakr, After World, Afterlife, Beliefs Of The Church, Church Community, Church Dogma, Concubines, Culture And Religions, Death, Dogma, Hagar, Hajib, Hinduism, Krishna, Mohammed, Organized Relgion, Religion, Religious Belief, Shiva, Spirtuality

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar brendamarie
15th Aug 2015 (#)

Carol great article many people do not realize thre is a difference betwenn religion and spirituality.

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author avatar snerfu
16th Aug 2015 (#)

It is nice to read an article about religion. I believe religion came about from various cultures when a group of people differed from another in some social aspect. It is for this reason we find religion evolve even today. However, I may be wrong.

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author avatar Retired
16th Aug 2015 (#)

Mark Twain once said that religion was invented when the first conman met the first idiot - he may have had a point!

I agree with a great deal of what you say here - religion is generally divisive, and the less there is of it the better. Like you, I cannot stand it when people assume that they have a monopoly of the truth and other people are less worthy than they are because they do not accept the same beliefs.

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author avatar Kingwell
16th Aug 2015 (#)

What really matters is not what religion you belong to, but how you practice the religion that you call your own. I have gotten away from organized religion as such but I am am spiritual. Blessings.

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