Over on HinesSight I mused today about how the three finalists in the National Spelling Bee competition, who apparently were all ethnic Indians, didn’t display any sign of religion on the stage. There was no “Praise Vishnu!” or “I owe it all to Shiva,” thank God.
More and more it’s seeming to me that religiosity has virtually nothing to do with life. Real life. Religion won’t help you become a spelling champion. Diligent study will. A supportive family will. High intelligence will. The competitors I saw on ESPN enjoyed the benefits of each.
What got them to the spelling bee finals, and will support them for the rest of their lives, isn’t religion, because religion as practiced by virtually everyone isn’t really real. Religions are collections of abstract ideas, imaginings, and beliefs. Real life is totally different.
People will say, “I love my religion.” What they mean is, “I love getting together with like-minded people,” “I love helping others,” “I love sitting quietly and listening to someone talk about spirituality,” “I love feeling connected to something beyond myself.”
All of these loves are founded in something concrete, not ethereal. It’s the earthy solidity that people adore in a religion, not the wispy loftiness. Take away high-minded dogma, theology, and metaphysics, and people would still be attracted to a religion if it provided them with down-to-earth support.
So, why embrace a religion? Why not go directly to what you need rather than take a detour?
If you go to church just for the coffee hour, maybe you should skip the service and simply drink some java with friends on Sunday. It’s good to ponder, “What do I really want from my religion?” and “Are there better ways to get it than what I’m doing now?”