Friday, November 16, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, November 16, 2012

Religion isn’t about believing things.
It's ethical alchemy.
It’s about behaving in a way that changes you,
that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.

Karen Armstrong

“Religion” is often used interchangeably with “Faith” or “Belief”. They are not the same thing. “Religion” is a tool of Belief. The word “religion” derives from the Latin root ligere, meaning “to tie” or “to bind to”. It’s where we get our word ligament – those things that tie or bind muscles to bone and permit us to move and act. All human beings hold beliefs, including the rejection of “belief”, whether in a deity or UFOs or virtues or whatever. And we all have “re-ligion” … things that we do which re-tie us to our core principles, understandings, convictions, etc.

Ms. Armstrong’s words point out how important it is to pay attention to our religion. What we bind ourselves to, how we behave (especially in a ritualistic way) shapes our very essence. For example, ritualistic disregard for the Earth will eventually destroy our home. There are many people in the World who practice religions which bind and rebind them to very destructive, ugly beliefs or convictions … destructive to themselves and to the human community. That’s what she points to when she says that religion is “ethical alchemy” … alchemy was thought to change base things into precious things (lead to gold), i.e., the human soul into the imago dei. But it can work the other way, if we are not careful about how we craft our “religion”.

Churches, nations, every person, all need carefully to examine their “religion”. Unexamined religious ruts lead to self-destructive behaviour on all levels.

Where are your “religions” taking you?


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