Monday, May 07, 2007

Religion Is Made Up

Religion is made up; all religion, not just other people’s religions.

Religion is made up. God didn’t choose the Jews, have a baby, or ask Mohammed to recite.

Religion is made up, but Reality is not. Yet religion trumps Reality in the hearts and minds of millions, maybe billions of people.

Religion is made up, but Truth is not. Yet religion blasphemes Truth with self-serving tales of power and exploitation.

Religion is made up. Once you know this it is hard to be religious. You just can’t justify all the rules and ruckus. I know because I keep trying. I keep telling myself religion matters. But it doesn’t.

You know what matters? Love matters. Compassion matters. Justice matters. Peace matters. Humility matters. Nature matters. Truth matters. Reality matters. You matter.

So what do I do when I know religion is made up? First I remember that all philosophy and literature is made up as well. Second I remember that just because Plato invented the dialogues of Socrates, and Shakespeare invented Hamlet and Lear doesn’t mean that Socrates, Hamlet, and Lear don’t speak Truth. Fiction may preclude fact, but in no way does it obscure Truth.

Religion is made up. At its best its stories have the potential to capture our imagination and feed our souls by revealing the best to which we humans can aspire. At its worst it can strip us of our humanity and invite us to make real the darkest fantasies we can conjure. Torah, Gospels, Qur’an, and Gita contain insights of such power, grandeur and wisdom that we say them come from God. They also contain the obscenely violent, misogynist, and xenophobic rants of fearful frightened men climbing to power over the dead bodies of their enemies.

We can’t free religion of either genius or madness, but we can free ourselves from mistaking them both for the Word of God. How? By realizing that religion is made up. No one goes to war over the meaning of Hamlet. No one kills another to decide whom Shakespeare loved best.

If we admit that religion is made up we can enjoy it without being abused by it. If we admit that religion is made up we can honor myth without having to flatten it into fact. If we admit that religion is made up we can shake off the fear and violence it sanctions and address its one timeless message: do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

7 comments:

Energie said...

Thank you again Rabbi, for tackling yet another highly oversensitized topic with honesty and courage!

It is so refreshing! Your truthfulness is like a wellspring in the desert. I know that was Miriam's gig, but our desert is dry and we need new wellsprings :)

"If we admit that religion is made up we can enjoy it without being abused by it. If we admit that religion is made up we can honor myth without having to flatten it into fact. If we admit that religion is made up we can shake off the fear and violence it sanctions and address its one timeless message: do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly."

Ah. Yes, yes, yes!

Petra said...

My mom was in the hospital recently, with two bleeding ulcers that she attributed to her fear for my sister's and my eternal souls.

Was it my refusal to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior that caused Mom's suffering, or was it her religion? And why, exactly, would I want to embrace a religion so fervently, that it results in such fear and sadness?

This entry in your blog was exactly what I needed. My heartfelt thanks.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

"
You know what matters? Love matters. Compassion matters. Justice matters. Peace matters. Humility matters. Nature matters. Truth matters. Reality matters. You matter."

This is where I find trouble in your logic. If Religion is made up, and by this I'm guessing you mean there is no afterlife, then none of these things matter either. If there is no afterlife, love is a chemical reaction in the mind; nothing more. If religion is made up, Truth is completely relative, and whats more, truth is irrelevant. If there is no consequence to our actions here then right and wrong don't exist. They are just paradigms created by human society with no real truth or value. I could go on, but I'm sure you understand my argument.

Personally, I believe we live in a world where there is right and wrong; a standard set by something higher than man. I believe love matters because it is a model for our relationship with a higher being.

adamschwartzentruber said...

humans get rite and wrong from the same place as monkeys why do monkey's clean there companions because they need to be cleaned and feel they are a good part of the tribe, and bees why do they work hard for the betterment of the hive? A bee can stay in the hive and eat honey all day yet it spends it's day helping the hive, not for the sake of the bee god lol

by saying religen is made op dose not inply there is no after life, it simply implys religen is made up.
some one could say a video game is made up, would it matter any less to the person playing it no
the same gose for life I know it is pointlss and futile, I know religen is a lie, but I still live life to the fullest every day.

simply put I walk with my eyes open , unlike the swarms goid lovers who can't handle seeing the truth as it undermines all the have known:)

Kris said...

I (want to) understand this to mean that myths and holy books, etc. are "made up". If this is the case, then I'm in agreement. However, if you also mean to say there is no "spirit", there are no "gods", etc. then I'm not so sure, and it's an important distinction.

If we believe that gods/spirits/whatever have any power within our world - even if it's just the power to inspire us or offer subtle guidance, then unfortunately we are right back at the question of whether any piece of writing might be the result of that guidance or inspiration. It's a thorny path, isn't it!

Donny Gill said...

I have always been one of faith and through my search of truths or truth I have come to the same doctoring such as this.. Inside my heart I want to love other more than myself and do find such teachings in most faiths. I have found that I can be that person at my own free will. I still do go to two different churches of different faiths and love them both. I also feel if a religion is what it takes for one to love others then good for them.. At times I was the same way. Thank you for your teaching and I hope you keep up the good work.... From Former, Pastor Gill