Monday, October 15, 2007

On Religion

Through centuries of human history, humans developed and had adopted different religions. It might be because religion has been a human need. Maybe humans turned to religion to explain the unknown, or to appease their fear of the afterlife or the supernatural, or to justify their practices, or to have a system of values, or just to have to believe in a Greater Power… whatever the case, religion has been an integral part of human life.

One should realize that religion is often a taboo topic. Any religious discussion often flare into bloody debates. People have different religions, religious interpretations, and religious beliefs. Moreover, people believe in different deity, or deities. Sure, many believe that that deity is God, but of course, there are also many different interpretations and beliefs of “God”.

Maybe the reason that people had different religions and sects is because they try to manipulate religion to suit their needs and beliefs. And since people’s opinions vary, religions also vary. Since religions and beliefs differ, debates arise. Points made and flaws pointed out are ignored by opposing parties in religious debates. Someone who zealously follows his or her religion is greatly biased. Nobody really wins religious debates.

Wars had been fought because of religion. Religion has been an instrument for bloodshed and domination – an example is the Crusades. Of course, religious zealots is prepared to fight to death for the cause of his religion, because they believe they fight for the right and when they die they will be rewarded in Heaven.
However, what if they’re wrong?

* * *

Religion has been used to obtain power and money. Religion has been manipulated by many so it can suit their own interests. Some people market religion, believing that they would make a lot of money from it. Often enough, they were right, they got rich through religion.

That’s why preachers has been often branded, by this judgmental world, with the likes of con-men, hustlers, social climbers, phonies and the sort because of this people who “sell” religion, or exploit their congregation. The good guys are judged quickly and included with the category of the bad guys. Worse, sometimes the bad guys are thought to be the “heroes”, and the good guys the “villains.”
And the bad guys laugh…

But didn’t the Good Book said, I think over in Matthew 6:20, that it is better “to store treasures in Heaven”?

* * *
Religion and politics are thought to be separate. Separation of Church and State, and all that jazz. But religion is political.  It has effect on secular matters and can push its weight around.

Religion greatly manipulates politics. Religion may deny it. The government may deny it, and even we, ourselves, may deny it. But it’s true; religion has great political power and influence. And ambitious people use religion as tool for political ends.

Religion meddles in many affairs, not only in the governance of the people and the state, but in other fields as well, like Science (ever heard of Galileo?). Throughout human history, religion is like that. But, hey, let us not look far in the past, we could clearly see it at work at modern times.

* * *

With all religion’s flaws, many are blind and ignorant of them. Many choose to be blind and ignorant – pretending they do not see the flaws. And still there are many who see the flaws, but deny the fact and force themselves to believe that there is nothing wrong. And there are also those who see the flaws and hypocrisy, but became atheists or agnostics – which is as bad as being too overly religious.

People settle to a religion because they grew up in it, their parents are of that religion, or because they are mandated, or because they were brainwashed. People begun to worship religion itself. People concentrated more in religious propaganda, traditions, church enrichment, dogma, and such. They forget the important things like God, grace, principles, love, peace, and goodwill with fellow men.

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Religion corrupting people, or people corrupting religion? Whatever the answer, it is clear that religion is corrupt. Religion is imperfect. Religion is a mask. Religion is grotesque. Religion has been the cause of many pain and confusion. Religion – may I dare say it? – is evil.

* * *

Religion is an interesting and fascinating study, but per se, I don’t really like religion. Religion is complicated and distorted. But I will make it clear that I am a Christian.
Wait. Wait. You might say that Christianity is a religion, so how can I say that I am Christian if I don’t like religion. Well, maybe, Christianity is religion, but it is more than a religion. Of course, subject to religion’s flaws, Christianity is also infected by distortion, too. But these distortions are the fault of men (and the evil forces in this world) and not of Christ. Christianity’s meaning and essence is noble and beautiful – because it centers on Jesus Christ, and not religion.
I am not really a theology expert, but simple as I am, I find Christianity as good and true. It’s a way of life. An experience. A communion. It is difficult to explain. I admit that I don’t know many things about Christianity, but I appreciate its meaning and essence and message. Of the Savior, of grace, of the Holy Spirit, of God’s promises… If Christianity is a religion, I’m glad it’s my religion.

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