Organized Religion: Should I stay or should I go now?

Often people take for granted how they learned what they learned.

Once we know something - it seems so obvious, but we are always standing on the shoulders of others (humans, organizations, ancestors, religions) who have been running this human experiment far longer than we have. Many people who were directly (or indirectly) formed by “organized religion” later come to see it as entirely wrong, without remembering they also learned much, such as to love their neighbor and loathe hypocrisy, from their tradition

When criticizing organized religion, or anything else, we tend to accept the worst or most extreme expressions as speaking for the whole tradition. We then compare this worst-example-strawman to only the best examples of humanity from the general population, or whatever group we favor. But all traditions, even atheism, seem to form both assholes and also saints/mystics (but let be real, always way more jerks). In part, this is because the adherents of traditions tend to hang out in the lower levels of enlightenment within their tradition because growing up is hard and the process of evolution and enlightenment take a lot of time and intention in all traditions

I am not defending organized religion (or organized non-religion) - just pointing out that often we blame “them” for things that are tragically ubiquitous in humans from all/no traditions who have not opened their eyes to the bigger picture yet.

Most hateful religious people are not *too* religious;
                 they are *not religious enough*

They have not gone deep enough into their own tradition to discover their true self, find deep love and oneness, and experience transformation. Their “faith” is actually fear, their “love” corrupted by anxiety, pride and judgment, and their “grace” stifled by their need to win, be right, and have scapegoats to blame. Maybe they would become better people if they left their organized religion - but leaving alone is no guarantee of enlightenment - most people take their prejudice with them even after abandoning the original reason for it (there are plenty of non-religious racists, misogynists, homophobes, war-mongers, etc.). On the other hand, if the immature go deeper into their current tradition, it is just as likely that they might discover new, more transformative layers.

For example, I know many religious people who outgrew the shallow aspects of their tradition, with all its shallow prejudice + pride, and discovered a deeper, more inclusive, more beautiful sense of awe + connection just a little further down the path. Again - no guarantees - one person can experience enlightenment from the sound of someone chomping on chili-cheese fries in the row behind her at a baseball game, and other people will never wake up even if the universe herself became flesh, walked up and grabbed them by the collar.

So stay or go, either way, the critical choice is to pay attention to your human journey and to mature into your true self. For humanities sake - we all need to keep going, growing, expanding, diving deeper, looking closer. When we stop growing, no matter our tradition, we will stop short of our true / best selves and will inflict our un-enlightenment upon the world around us. Blessed are the curious.

Humility is a virtue: Today is a good day to pause and review our own lives:
- How might you learn to see your blind spots?
- Can you spot your connection to the problems you see?
- What else do you need to learn and whose perspective do you need to seek? 


Photographer + Storyteller. Pastor + Advocate. Schemer + Party commencer.