Article in Society / Religion
Two short exerpts from my book "In Pursuit of Joy" about religion.
 
 
 

So I got up the other day and said to myself, “Why don’t you start a new religion today?” What, you may ask, would ever cause a guy to think such a thing? There seem to be plenty of religions around already. Well, you see the problem is that none of the religions I have studied completely fit me. Additionally, it seems to me that a religion or spiritual tradition should be where the individuals of a given society learn about their human needs (Maslow’s higher needs) and how to get them met, which is why I have included this discussion of religion in a book about recovery. I was raised in a Christian society, but I don’t consider myself to be a Christian. I say that because I don’t believe that the road to salvation (whatever that is) is to believe that someone died for my sins. I don’t think that I should blindly believe what someone tells me without a shred of evidence. Some people call that faith. I think there may be another word for it.

I know that a discussion of religion will turn a lot of people off. However, these topics are part of the same big picture. Hopefully this will become clear by the end of the book.

Why start a new religion? Let me list the reasons:

  1. It is abundantly clear to any critical thinker that there is a great deal of confusion on the subject of religion. Rather, there are entirely too many self-proclaimed experts that do not agree with each other. This leads to the next item.
  2. Religion as it exists today is often used as an excuse for all manner of heinous deeds that we do to each other. 9/11. Need I say more?
  3. It is also abundantly clear that times have changed since all the major religions began. Certainly all human beings share many basic needs and spiritual yearnings. However, there are important differences between even the most educated person from a millennium ago and just the average Joe of today. What I mean by that is that the average Joe today knows more about the universe and how it works than
  4. anybody living in ancient times. Religion should fit with good science.
  5. Even though times have changed, people continue to have spiritual needs. One of the reasons ancient beliefs persist is that they do address those needs. Unfortunately, there is a lot of irrelevant stuff there too. The fact that ancient writings appear to have lost relevance to many does not appear to have eliminated their need for some kind of spiritual connection. Human beings still have higher needs and will benefit from a formalized way to learn what they are and how to meet them.
  6. The world seems to have gotten kind of crazy lately, and there is a lot of just plain stupid stuff going on. This seems to have generated in me a desire to stand on a hill somewhere and scream, “You guys are wrong.This makes sense to me.”

That’s it in a nutshell: I want a religion that makes sense to me. It may not make sense to you, but that’s okay. I could be wrong. I don’t claim to be any more divine than the next guy. I’m just a regular guy with all too human faults. So, why should you listen to me? Well, my religion works for me, and maybe it will work for you too. I want to make perfectly clear what I do not want to happen here. I do not want anyone to assert that I am more holy, enlightened, smarter, or more wonderful than the next guy. I do not want statues, a cult following, or any of that nonsense. I am in actual fact just a regular guy. That is so important that I think I’ll say it again. I am just a regular guy—no worshipping please.

. . . .

Okay. So maybe we don’t need a new religion. Maybe what we need is a reexamination of our old ones to seek out the essence—what works. The fact is that for many people their religious institution is where they get a lot of their social needs met. So, if you are Catholic, be Catholic. If you are Protestant, be Protestant. If you are Muslim, be Muslim. If you are Jewish, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or Sikh, or whatever, be that. But don’t think your religion is science or history. By all means do not try to seek converts by force. Honor your ancestors and traditions, but also respect your neighbors, for perhaps their spiritual tradition is just as true and valid as your own. If history has proven anything, it is that might does not make right. Seek out the spiritual truth in your religion. Accept the spiritual truths in others. Let’s make our current religions effective in addressing our human needs.

Having expounded at some length about God and various religious topics, I feel the need to say that while my spirituality has long seemed essential to my recovery and continued growth, it may well be that it is in fact irrelevant to the process. Perhaps it is a mental construct that allowed me to find the right answers to my questions about my needs and how to get them met. It doesn’t really matter. The recovery/growth process is what is important, but what I have come to believe about the spiritual nature of humankind provides me some comfort. You may well find that if you seek comfort in the deepest heart of your fellow humans, you will find God living there. You may well even discover, as I have, that if you can’t find God in the hearts of your enemies, you won’t find Him anywhere.

My hope is that you will rediscover religion or spirituality at its best, and it will lead you to a more contented and joyful life. I have a few suggestions about that, but that is the next chapter.

 

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Gary M Green
Gary Green received his BES in psychology from St. Cloud State University. He has worked providing residential treatment for mentally ill ad

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