Sunday, December 31, 2006

What You Already Own

Organized religions offer a morality structure, a contact system for the Divine, and the architecture of an afterlife.

In return for one's soul.

Because all of them acknowledge that there is a soul, and that we have it no matter what religion you follow. It's the custody of that soul, now and forever after, that religions jockey for. By signing up with one or another, we transfer custody. From us, to them.

So they admit we own our own souls.

What we do, worshipping in some organized way, is sign up for the program as laid out in the brochures. By following their bylaws, using their communications equipment, we will arrive at our eventual destination, sort of a time-share where we get it all at once, at the end. Because they all say souls go somewhere. By signing up with one or the other, we are paying into their version. Which is always much more appealing than the other kind.

The part I've always disliked about time-shares, condominiums, and other shared ownership schemes, is that we really don't own it. We don't have the freedom to paint it anyway we like, or have parties after a certain time. We park where we are told and plant the flowers that are acceptable to all. So you are paying to own something that you don't really own.

They are selling the illusion of ownership. You are really renting with equity.

Religion takes it a step further. Follow their moral laws, use their communications equipment, and get their afterlife. What is kind of insidious about it is this: we already have, by virtue of being a human being, moral laws, a line of communication, and some kind of afterlife.

Anyone who thinks about morality can formulate their own moral laws, which can be more flexible, more understanding of changing circumstances, and more moral than a lot of the rules of organized religion. Why not eat ham, have a drink now and then, and live with a significant other instead of getting married? What is truly wrong with that?

And the communications hookup is all around us, if we simply pursue our own relationship with the Divine, whether nature, or kindness, or beauty, or all three? There's no reason why not. Spirituality is part of our nature, and it is our nature to contemplate it and find how to communicate with it.

And the afterlife... who can say? If it is truly a matter of belief, why not create one's own? Since there is not a lot of people coming back to say what's it's like, anyone's conception is as good as any other.

The only assurance organized religion offers is a safety in numbers. So many others think this way. Some find that soothing, even though huge groups of people can be wrong, even more easily than one person can. Huge groups of people can foster even greater delusions than a single person can, because the support of the group prevents dissension. We know that.

Some people are glad to pay rent with equity, even though they might live with a lot of rules and restrictions that make no sense, because they are paying for a lack of responsibility. What color, where to park, what flowers? It's out of their hands. And everyone else is doing the same thing. And we don't have to mow the lawn.

But it is an illusion of ownership. Be aware of what we are trading away.

Because religion gets you to buy something you already own.

And that's the greatest sell of all.