Do Religions Have Relevance?
Religions are what have preserved the knowledge of the unseen world of spirit as they have charted the paths that lead to a deeper understanding of the Creator. For thousands of years these teachings have guided humanity’s behavior when the world’s people gave great power to the sacred priesthood.
Today, as in every generation, religions stand as guardians of thought concerning behavior patterns that help humanity remember their origin and purpose for being. Every generation needs to be retrained concerning these reference points. Each of us incarnates into the physical world for the purpose of refinement. When the uninitiated are not taught these references and markers, their entrance into understanding the realm of spirit is vastly obscured.
Those who are critical of religion and label their contributions as primitive and filled with superstitions and mythology are uninformed themselves. From religion has come the inspiration for musical scores, architecture, the arts and sciences. Psychology, philosophy and metaphysics have their roots and origins in religion. Medicine grew from the practices of the early shamans.
Religion at its best continues to educate the masses regarding the meaning of events that seldom match the perceptions of the witnesses. For example, those who understood the meaning of solar and lunar eclipses were able to teach that such events had nothing to do with God’s displeasure. Those who were acquainted with the curative powers of medicine were able to dispel the thoughts held by others concerning demon possession or sins as the primary causes of illness.
Religion, however, no longer enjoys the respect or widespread acceptance it once had. Economic prosperity has enabled people to believe that they are living “the hope” once promised by the Church. Countless millions are experiencing the golden age that has been referenced as “living the American dream.” But illusions can be expensive both emotionally and spiritually.
When behavioral patterns are not kept in appropriate perspective, they can sever the taproot that anchors people to their purpose for being born. When this orientation is misplaced even for a generation, the rudder and guidance that once inspired the hopes and dreams of people can give way to decision making based solely in self-interest.
Misinterpreted circumstances can reverse the energy flow of entire populations. For example, when terrorists brought down the World Trade Towers, the stock market trembled. People were less prone to extend themselves and take risks. The haze of uncertainty disrupted people’s hopes and dreams. Uncertainty is one the few certainties we have.
The future is far from secure for everyone, but we forget this reality during extended periods of prosperity. Religious bodies remind people during more chaotic times not to lose confidence, not to take their cues for the future from those who are infants in their understanding and not to judge the trend of thousands of years of evolution because of a series of incidents that are more reflective of a group’s or individual’s diffused frustrations.
We are wired to deal with confusion when our energy flow is disrupted. Our immediate response is one of problem solving. The questions arise, i.e., how and why did this happen, who is to blame and how can we insure that this will not happen again?
Religion helps us to remember that we are flexible, resilient beings filled with the potential for optimism and vision. We have been problem solvers for thousands of years by living inspired lives, lives that will not quietly go away in the night because of ideologies that run counter to how our species has been wired by our creator.
Not all religious orientations are in harmony with the universe. It would be a critical error, however, to judge religion by their very visible and highly publicized failures. Most of them continue to liberate humanity from the tyranny of hate and fear. Others, however, still exert control and influence over people’s minds through their appeals to destroy and their insistence on strict obedience to their restrictive dogmas.
Jesus’ metaphor of becoming the leaven for the loaf best describes the role of the religious people. Committed people enter economically challenged populations for the purpose of facilitating their entrance into the 21st century. They are interested in the prevention of disease, building educational facilities and joining like organization that address issues involved with global warming, social justice and freedom.
All religions serve the purpose given to them by their respective advocates. They stress faithfulness to God, values that uplift as they stress love for others. Even their desire to evangelizethe lost comes from a spirit sincerely wanting to save them. Those who are open to this message frequently find the answers for many of life’s riddles that were preventing them from perceiving with love. Their religious beliefs have inspired faithfulness to living their understanding of God’s will. This fact alone makes religion the cornerstone for their lives and thus exceedingly relevant.
When religious groups move into the political sphere by insisting that certain dogmas must be embraced by everyone, they lose their effectiveness and their witness to “love thy neighbor.” Loving energy radiates from free will, not from a controlling legal environment that may have lethal consequences for those who do not confirm.
At this stage of humanity’s evolution, the world’s populations must accommodate many systems of belief in order for humankind to experience community. Since there is nothing powerful enough to prevent God’s Will from being done, we must assume that it is unfolding in front of us. Our problem is that many of us still cannot see it.