What is your religion about?

A little while ago I was visiting with a 17 year old, I learned about his life as a young man dealing with knowing he was different than most boys. When he came out as a homosexual as a young teenager his mother refused to accept his identity, or him.

He has come a long way in the last three or four years and seems to me to be impressively comfortable in his own skin.  He is far more at peace with himself than the typical 17 year old.

Toward the end of our conversation I asked him about religion.  He explained that he doesn’t feel he had much use for most organized religion (read “Christianity”), but then explained what he is interested in in a religion.  He wants to be part of a religion that

  1. focuses on life here and now
  2. respects the earth and its resources
  3. is about helping people understand and get along with each other.

The question blaring in my head was: how could a religion that claims to be of Jesus NOT fit in these categories?

I realize, of course, that many current expressions of Christianity fail on at least 2 of the 3 counts above. Perhaps this is why so many people these days do not seem very interested in Christianity.  Perhaps this is why, as Dan Kimball says, “they like Jesus but not the Church.”

4 thoughts on “What is your religion about?

  1. This young man is headed in the right direction and is in my prayers. He wants to be a part of a religion that focuses on our most natural instincts as human beings. We are born in Gods image. Being good and knowing right from wrong is an instinct we are all born with. By allowing someone to stand at a pulpit and tell us how, when, and where we should worship, we start to lose and question our instincts. That being said, I am going to give my view but not for the purpose of preaching. God is nature and comes naturally. I personally believe in Father God and Mother God. I believe in angels and I believe in prayer. I do not believe in the wrath of God or that God would do anything but love and guide us. I do believe in karma. I believe we reap what we sow. Love brings love and hate brings hate. What we get out of this earth that God gave us is what we put into it. What we get out of our interactions with those we share it with is what we put into it. It is my belief that organized religion uses fear and guilt as a tool to control and manipulate others and a weapon if we don’t abide. How dare they? For the young man, you don’t need a religion to do what comes natural. Keep God in everything you do. See God in everyone you see. And thank God everyday. And for those you meet who look down their noses at you because you won’t allow someone to stand at a pulpit and dictate your life with God, pray for the freedom of their souls. Your place of worship is where you are.

  2. God created each of us, unique, for his purpose. His craftsmanship is all around. In every thought and every thing. amen

  3. I guess I’m feeling cantankerous today…

    <<>>

    Sounds more like modern American religion to me.

    The centrality of #1 (it’s “#1” and a “focus”) fits into the popular dichotomy of “life here and now” vs. “Pie in the sky by and by.” Jesus clear taught that we’re to be about more (not less) than the “here and now.” The particular narrative we find in scripture gives us the tools and content to characterize the time and space of life (that which modernity reduces to the dichotomy mentioned above).

    “Respects the earth and its resources” – AS what and FOR what? As creation? As gaia or another goddess? As a prime area of stewardship for which we are held accountable?

    “about helping people understand and get along with each other” This sounds like a weak substitute for love. But it IS compatible with the secular substitute Tolerance (which throws in a generous dose of apathy).

    I understand the quest to connect people with the faith via their felt needs. But “felt needs” aren’t just there. They are molded, shaped and given voice by the broader culture. Some things our culture tells us we need, we don’t need. Each tradition, whether we call it a moral, spiritual, intellectual or religious tradition, understands humans to have a particular constellation of needs. Sometimes there is overlap from tradition to tradition. Sometimes that overlap, however, is merely verbal – we share some words.

    As a participant in the Christian tradition, I will not always have the product the folks around me perceive themselves to need (or be looking for). But since I’m not (or trying not to be) an advocate of consumerism, that’s ok.

  4. gina,
    I actually recommend a great U2 song entitled ‘Grace’ It demonstrates in a very meaningful way, how the Christian God, and concept of grace is opposite of that oh kharma. Kharma says we get what we deserve. Grace says we not only don’t get what we do deserve (in God’s mercy), but we also get what we don’t deserve. I think you should check it out.
    Also, by directing you to a U2 song, I hope that you see in part that I have no narrowminded view that God can’t work through many avenues including ones that are not necessary through established religious institutions… unless U2 is an established religious institution….

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