Religion as Competition

Quick Look

One of my careers was pastoring a church: I was a professional religionist. Sometimes my mind still tries to build a safe enclosure to protect something. It’s really wacky to try to secure an intellectual fort.

A Tale

Competion – with High Stakes

Andrew competes. Seriously. His favorite pastime is basketball, and in spite of his age (68) and failing health, he plays a physical game, several hours, many days a week.

His “faith” (I mean his religious belief system) must need frequent threat, too, because he competes with the daily news as though it’s a rival on a religion court. Daily, he collects evidence that either supports or threatens his ideas. For example, if a politician says something that sounds suspiciously pro ­gay rights, Andrew is galvanized into action, as excited as a right guard moving to pick an opponent dribbling toward a two pointer in public opinion. He is a modern day crusader, defending a “faith” that is always under threat.

The Tale Wagged

Off‑court and off‑guard, Andrew is a different man. He’s generous toward his family, charitable toward his friends, adores his wife. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to see these behaviors as “religious.” (I think his wife does. I know I do.)

Andrew’s relaxed moments are his finest hours, spiritually, but to him, they must seem more like timeouts. For him, religion is a good fight. When he’s acting spontaneously, with ease, it must not seem Godly; if religion isn’t competition, it must not put points on his scoreboard!

Yeah, but how do we put it into practice?

This week, notice how much of your “faith” is about simple trust.

How much of your religion is about Thoughts and Ideas; your thoughts, other people’s thoughts, dogma (classic or current), even “conventional wisdom.”

Hows that working for you? If dogma has taken on some obsessive, competitive character, let a space open up in your heart around one of those ideas. Imagine saying to your opponent, “Gee, that’s a good point; maybe you’re right.”

Can’t do it? Now you know!

Echo on Religion


About RayMunn

Husband, father, Zen guy, web designer, film-maker.
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