I have a love-hate relationship with religion.
When approached with curiosity, reflection, and a thirst for life it is a powerful force for good. With some filtering of its ideas and beliefs it can provide much of what we need to live a fulfilling, meaningful, and balanced life. But religion all too often becomes dualistic and shallow, reinforcing prejudices and a black and white distortion of the world. In this distortion there’s often a profound difference between the “in” group and everyone else.
In the centuries after Jesus’ life, people went to a lot of trouble (including wars and purges) to create and enforce Christian doctrines. Much of these efforts were completely antithetical to what Jesus was about since they were used to silence and oppress competing views and to build empires. I don’t believe in all Christian doctrines, so technically I’m not a Christian. But I’m still drawn to it because I find Jesus so compelling and have come to my own understanding of how and why the faults of religion arise.
True to my love-hate relationship, I can’t totally stay away. I pursue religion to mine the considerable wisdom it contains, to work for change from within, and because spirituality roots and inspires me. Over the years I’ve been involved with open-minded religious groups such as the Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, and progressive Mennonite churches. Within these groups, people usually think for themselves and integrate scriptures with their own intuition and experiences.