As a spiritual author and blogger with plenty of quotes and articles about religion and spirituality, I get my fair share of religious fanatics trying to make me “see the light”. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people being religious and finding themselves in it; after all, I firmly believe in doing what makes you happy… just not at the expense of others.
The way I see it is that there are two parts of any organised religion: the dogmatic and the pragmatic sides. The dogmatic side is all about the ritualistic nature and the history/mythology behind the religion. All the stories which serve as examples, all the prescribed rituals which are to be done at certain times and in certain ways, and all the sacred and holy places where events of religious significance supposedly occured, in addition to all the end-of-the-world or next coming predictions form the dogmatic part of the religon. On the other hand, the pragmatic part of the religion is the true essense of the religion. It is the wisdom found within the religion which can be adapted to any person’s life and circumstances.
Unfortunately, since historic landmarks and people are closer to people than wisdom, it is much easier for people to be more attached to the dogmatic part of the religion. It is more difficult to truly grasp a certain wisdom and apply it throughout your daily life. Take the concept of “sin” for example. It is much easier for people to sin and then feel better about it after undergoing a “confession”. However, it is much more difficult for people to grasp that the true concept of sin is the actual intention behind it, and not the act itself. Moreover, it is also a lot easier for people to attend an hour of mass or whatever other prescribed ritual than to actually practice the teachings of that religion in daily life.
These things are all well and good compared to people who call themselves “born again” or “true believers” or whatever else diluted fanatics. Below is an actual conversation with a reverend I met a few weeks ago:
Reverend: I have seen the light, and you can see it too and embrace it.
Me: ok (trying to take in the array of jewelry he has around his neck and fingers).
Rev: In my old life, I whored, I stole, I did alcohol and drugs. I even used to sell drugs. But now, I met Jesus and he saved my life.
Me: Did you make amends to those you stole from and those you sold drugs to?
Rev: I pray for them every day and hope that they will accept the new life Jesus has for them.
At this point, I just had to appologise and leave the conversation. What was even worse is that the guy who introduced me to the reverend is one of my colleagues and runs quite a few shady businesses. He also calls himself “born-again”. In any case, if I start talking about these hypocrites hiding behind religion, I wouldn’t be done today… or this decade for that matter.
Being religious and clinging to the dogma of the religion such as having to go to prayer once a week or having to observe certain fasts or rituals at certain times and shoving it up other people’s faces whenever possible is just plain obnoxious. Sure, your religion may tell you to try and convert people to it, but you’re doing quite the opposite. It’s like these telemarketers who keep calling you about a certain product or service which you are not interested in.
Religious dogma is great for historical study and observation; however, it is quite detrimental to daily life. How can rituals created thousands of years ago still be applied today? Religious dress which was applicable at certain epochs and suited for certain climates cannot be applicable all over the world or up to this day. Times change, and religion should too. Sayings that were applicable when the population was barely a few million cannot be applicable now!
In my opinion, people should rely more on themselves and less on people who interpret religious texts for them. After all, if they truly believe in the divine, then they should also trust that the divine will communicate with them as most religions say it does. Moreover, if we separate religious dogma away from the real essense of religion, we can find that most religions are just different ways of communicating the same things accross the ages: love yourself, love others, perceive the world with love and act with love. Religion is not a competition over who loves the divine more.
What do you think? Share your thoughts below!