Religion, I feel, has been a problem in western society. This is not as a result of what it does, its control, or the effects it has. The problem is that it is lacking in life. When it does appear it often manifests itself in unrealistic concepts and weird notions.
The fact is that humanity is religious, mankind is spiritual by nature. That’s the way it is. We, as humans, need religion and spirituality, some more than others. But, yet, history has progressed where religion has been distorted to death and it has created all sorts of hatreds and dislikes. This, generally, is what religion professes or tries not to do. Even as I was brought up religion was always viewed skeptically, as something to be cautious about . . . on account of the problems it causes. I, myself, have seen numerous examples of these problems. Its even made me skeptical. As a result of all this there is a tendency to avoid religion and spirituality and to not be a part of it. This avoidance has helped alienate a lot of people from life and create an immoral inhuman society.
Unfortunately, organized religion has had bad effects and caused numerous tragedies through the centuries. We’ve had many religious wars and various social problems caused by it. The protestant reformation seemed to, in a way, shatter belief in western society. In many respects, we still have not recovered. If we had, I would not have to write about this. Since then everyone and there dog seems to know Gods intention and what is right, but yet no one really knows. Then, in the US, we had the hippies who tried, at least with good intentions usually, to bring in a spirituality. Unfortunately, they even made matters worse. Being brought up in its aftermath I can see how it made religion and spirituality even more questionable.
All these events have made religion a ‘bad’ thing. But yet we need it. This creates the dilemma: we have become so apprehensive about religion that we dare not deal with it but, deep down, we are all yearning for what it offers. Many people will not admit to this, but thats basically what it amounts to. I can look out and see the spiritual starving people, particularly of the US. It doesn’t take a genius to see this. Here we are needing what we’re scared to have, starving for the food we don’t dare eat.
This creates a unique situation and problem. It is, after all, one of the traits of modern society. A lot of modern commercial society is nothing but ‘substitute religions’ or ‘substitute gods’. Everywhere you turn you see examples of it. But none of this satisfies. Behind all the hoopla of modern society is really a starving people. Modern society, the religion fearing society, is nothing but a bunch of spirtually starving people crying out for something they don’t have but, unstead, accepting substitutes that don’t work. This is part of the illusion of modern society . . . and its falsity.
But what does one do? How does one begin the reintegration of the naturally occurring religious/spiritual side of life back into society?
As things stand I think its probably impossible. Modern society, by its nature, cannot create something like a religion or spirituality, nor can it sustain it.
Nowadays, religion or spirituality is mostly of a ‘converted’ sort. That is, its something someone chooses to do, usually as an adult. The problem is that real religion is based in a way of life, not a choice of belief. This makes many modern religions not a real genuine religion but more of an adult intellectual decision, like saying ‘yah’ or ‘nay’ to something. Even people brought up in a religious belief have to make the choice to maintain it. That, itself, can be called a form of ‘conversion’. I’ve always been skeptical of ‘conversion’ and things like ‘born again’ Christians. Religion, I feel, is something rooted in a way of living, a way of viewing the world, not in saying “I believe!”.
What all this means is that modern religion, as we see it now, isn’t a real religion, but a shell of one, a remnent of what once was. You can almost describe modern religion as a ‘want-to-be’ religion. Not only that, organized religion, in a sense, is just a carry over from the past. This does not mean that it doesn’t work. It means that its something that has been left over from the past and doesn’t necessarily have a place in these modern times. As a result, many organized religions are fighting for survival.
Most naturally occuring spirituality and religious sentiment, nowadays, has no choice but to be of a more solitary individual basis. That is to say, its something a particular person manifests. This often tends to be devoid of any connection with society or organized religion. In other words, we are now often seeing naturally appearing religious feeling and spirituality in an independent way. We could speak of this as the ‘lonely religion’. Many integrate these sentiments into their life. But its usually independent of any formal belief or organized religious framework. This creates what may be called a ‘silent religion’ which many people are often unaware of. But, being of a lonely nature, this ‘silent religion’ seldom satisfies and often leads the person to a frustrated sense of life.
There’s a tendency, I’ve found, to mistake organized religion for the naturally appearing religion. These are not the same. Because of this, we actually mistake what religion is and consists of. Typically, just to say ‘religion’ makes someone think of organized religion only. But organized religion, as I’ve said, is not necessarily reflective of the naturally occuring religious tendencies of humanity. My observation is that many people are actually trying to live a religious and spiritual life but are totally unaware of it. This is because they think of religion and spirituality in the organized religion fashion. What this means is that many people practice a form of ‘unspoken religion’. It also shows that organized religion does not necessarily reflect the naturally occurring religious and spiritual aspects of humanity.
Because of the lack of a formal religious quality in society there is a tendency to have problems living it. As I said above, religion is rooted in a way of life. The evidence shows that we, in the modern world, do not live a way of life conducive to a religion or spiritual outlook on life. If our current way of life was a fertile ground for religion and spirituality we would not be having these problems.
All this brings into question what a ‘way of life’ really is, as it seems to be a recurring theme. I often see traits like these as a part of a ‘way of life’:
– A connection to a land. Usually, you ‘belong’ to a segment of land. Sometimes this sense can become very deep and you feel as if its a part of you.
– A connection to a ‘people’. Often this means you belong to a race or a tribe or a country or a group that is set apart from everyone else.
– A belief system that describes how the world works, where we originated from, and what are purpose is in life.
– Customs, belief, and a pattern of life that is lived daily not only by you but everyone you know, your parents, your grandparents, your great grandparents, etc. etc. This means a continual constancy and a continual demonstration of this ‘way of life’.
Looking at these you can see how the modern world cannot sustain this ‘way of life’. For every example that I gave above the modern world has a way of undermining it. It’s really no wonder that religion and spirtituality cannot grow in the modern world.
But since these aspects of life are so important in life, and are necessary in life, and which many people are starving for, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that there is something sick about the modern world. It is not a healthy human world. We live in a world that starves us. Like a long drawn out illness the modern world wastes a person away. It’s like a poverty, a deprevation, that is always there.
In some sense, the problem with religion is not religion but the modern world which prevents its growth.