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Religion and Society: Bridging the Divide or Fueling Discord?



I have conversations with friends who are not religious or particularly spiritual (although I believe we all have a religion - it's how we live our lives. But that's another story). It is valuable to get out of my comfort zone and have my beliefs tested by those with a completely different viewpoint. Stepping away from what is familiar helps me crystalize what I believe and how to articulate those beliefs effectively.


Recently, I was speaking with a lifelong friend, someone I've known since junior high school and whose intelligence and insights I respect. He has a healthy skepticism of religion. According to him, people and organizations have justified attacking and marginalizing entire groups of people with religion. It has fueled polarization and divisiveness in politics and has contributed to the idea that there is something inherently wrong with people from birth. As a result, people have internalized such beliefs and abused themselves due to an imagined sense of unworthiness. He pointed to studies where kids killed themselves rather than come out to their religious community as gay.


Of course, there is no God like that. A religion based on that kind of God is a projection from humanity’s misguided notion of itself. Such a God does not exist. God is love. And we are here to express the qualities of love in our lives.


However, the conversation did bring to my awareness how much power and influence religion has. It can affect all of us every day regardless of our own beliefs. It leaks into politics, health policy, and violence around the world. It seeps into education, political decisions, and laws.


It reminded me of the value of the Ancient Wisdom Teachings of which Spiritual Life Center is a part. We're not here to convert others to believe as we believe. Instead, we are here to be models of possibilities of what it means to travel positive paths of spiritual living, to demonstrate we are "wondrously made" and that we are born original blessings of a Divine loving presence.


As I thought more about my friend's perspective on some religions, I realized it's not about religions changing but each individual transforming their consciousness. If we want to see our world show up differently, we must change—not religions. As we transform our lives and weave that transformation into the fabric of the world, it changes. As we grow, expand, and activate our true nature and being, we become the forerunners in the very society in which we live. This vision is what the world is calling us to be.


Peace and Blessings,

James


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