Religion: Caught on the treadmill of futility
Bono (lead singer for the rock group U2) has been quoted as saying: “Religion is what we do long after the Spirit has left the building!”
The reason I bring up “religion” has something to do with my experience growing up in a dysfunctional family of religious fundamentalism. It was the extreme far right (so far right it was almost left) of protestant Christianity, a family with rules and regulations that were more emotionally based than intellectual. There was usually no explanation for the rules. You just had to follow them.
Even though we were Protestants, there was a strong authoritative influence on everyone, particularly the children. I remember never being allowed to play on Sunday because it was the “day of rest.” I remember never being allowed to attend a school dance; never going to live theatre or movies; never drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes; never being allowed to act in a school musical; never allowed to play in a rock and roll band; never allowed to… think for myself.
The above list of rules and regulations just scratches the surface; the list is far too long to allow for a complete inventory in this short blog post. But it gives you an idea of where I came from. A treadmill of endless limitations and taboos was the environment in which I grew.
What is the definition of insanity? “Repeating the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.” I laughed when I first heard this definition. But quickly realized that I must be insane!
My religious background had me convinced that I needed to ‘up the ante’ if I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. “You need to pray more” I was told. So I would pray more, and with more intensity. But that wasn’t cutting it. Just more time spent on the treadmill.
“You need to have more faith!” But I was never quite sure what that meant – more faith – where was I supposed to get more faith? I spent more time struggling with the rules and trying not to sin than I did making any connection with God. Still, I continued to run the treadmill. It was the least I could do.
The problem with religion is realized when an entire group of faithful ‘believers’ can continue the charade of knowing God even though there is little or no evidence to support their claims. Religion can keep going long after the “Spirit has left the building.” It took a powerful addiction to make me realize that I was hiding behind my religion. My connection with a Higher Power was almost non-existent. And my religion was merely a treadmill of futility.
Tomorrow’s topic – Religion: The absence of grace