Practical Religion

Since I consider myself to be apathetic, I find it rather ironic that religion somehow finds a way to poke its head into my life.
In order to transfer to a university, I have to take a humanities class and of course the only one I could get was World Religions.

The professor is prolific with his curse words, but he is extremely logical and quite the entertainer.

Our first assignment was to write about religion, and here is the piece I wrote. It was a little humorous how quickly I was able to write this – I suppose old habits die hard.

 

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Religion without some form of practicality is useless.

Religion must be able to be applied to the everyday and rather lackluster life of the common man and still embody the intangible and the mysterious in order for the common man to feel “justified”. It is these practical religions that elicit the most fervent followers and ardent believers, for these religions bring “heaven” to earth.

It is would be ludicrous for man to believe in a religion that he cannot integrate into his life.

Not the life of the pope, reverend, deacon, or choir member, but the common man’s personal life – the life that he finds so common and so normal. So if his religion is going to “justify” him, give his life meaning, and lastly allow him to achieve immortality in bliss, then that religion must become a part of him.

It must flow in his veins, permeate his mind, marinate his soul, and perhaps most importantly, his religion must be read, deciphered, and confirmed by his actions. His religion must be always active and present, not only during his designated worship day, but every day; not just at his place of worship, but everywhere he goes; not just in public, but also in his most private moments.

According to Thomas Jefferson, “It is in our lives and not our words that religion must be read”, and that is the important aspect of religion.

The philosophical musings, beliefs, hymns, and sermons are both necessary and important, but it is the life of the believer that either vilifies his religion or proselytizes new believers. Oh yes, many believers seek to promote their religion through the use of their tongues, but the majority of the non-religious population is not so clueless as to first compare that believer’s words to the believer’s life. When the words and life do not match, the religion is considered weak and trivial. However, when the life can verify the words and the religion can be seen during the most menial times of that believer’s life, it is then that his religion becomes intriguing and attractive.

The most common issue that people have with religion is the presence of hypocrites.

Hypocrites being the people who “talk the talk” but choose not to “walk the walk”. These people are the flies that cause a stink in the ointment as the proverb states so well. To be clear and simple, hypocrites seem to be the ones who screw up religion quite effectively and create the bitter aftertaste in the mouths of non-religious people.

I’ve known hypocrites and I’ve hated them. They care only to be seen and heard “practicing” their religion when it best suits their primal ulterior motives. However, under pressure in their day to day lives, the thin glaze of religion quickly melts leaving the degenerate hypocrite naked in the light of reality and we are exposed to the exquisite tailoring of their “emperor clothes”.

One person who I have utmost respect has turned Thomas Jefferson’s 18th century definition of religion into a 21st century reality.

His life is the open book of his religion.

The way in which he responds to his crying daughter, his stressed wife, and setbacks in life, is exemplary of moral goodness and religion incarnate. He does not seek attention, does not make stirring exhortations, and avoids the spotlight, but his quiet consistency in his practical life, is more powerful than words and reflects the spirituality of his soul. Am I saying he is perfect? No. But he has applied his religion to every aspect in his life making him one of the “few…that enter in”.

Today it seems that religion has been reduced to a half-hearted verbal exercise performed only on Sundays.

Like an infestation of rats, hypocrites are everywhere, while the few people who take religion seriously have become an endangered species.

Religion has been cheapened by trying to become palatable to every person, trying to change and adapt for every single person when perhaps the purity of religion would be better preserved by making people change for the religion.

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