Some speak of their religion as though it were some sort of cure - all drug. I hear all the time from individuals who say that before they, " found ", religion they were confused, depressed, and even physically ill. Some even speak of suicidal tendencies brought on by severe mental anguish. They talk of a light, or spark of inspiration, that somehow quelled these awful feelings. They relate to a clearing of their minds, that made them see a new truth, that gave them new meaning to their lives. These are all wonderful things, and I am glad that they, " feel", better about themselves, but I cannot help but wonder if they are simply using religion as a crutch to help balance an unbalanced mind, or spirit .
Some of the criminal elements in our society put forth that they are, " born again", turning over a new leaf that has given them (finally) a moral concious. It does amaze me that most of these individuals have to wind up in prison before they see the light of moral responsibility . Usually after harming another human being ! They speak of not being the same person who committed whatever crime(s) it was that landed them behind bars in the first place. However, this " new person " will still have to pay for the moral crimes of the, " old person ", in the afterlife to come. No awakening to religious truth is going to prevent that !
Others see religion as a means to a cause, or a crusade against evil, or whatever else they are opposed to at the time. These are the people that scare me the most in religion ! They use religion to elevate themselves, and / or their causes, to a new level so they can present their ideals to the public with greater force and legitimacy. Then they use this power, and their righteous God (s), to justify every point they are trying to make, no matter how ridiculous, or narrow minded their cause is. The scary part is that people listen to these power hungry self - righteous people !
Those in some of the eastern religions use their religious and philosophical beliefs to reach higher levels of conciousnous. I am torn as to whether I believe that these are actual religions, or simply a way to live your life using philosophical principals. It is not my place to judge them for their beliefs. If they have faith in these beliefs then they have my blessings. For I believe as the Wiccans do: " Do what you will, but harm no one."
Finally, others see religion as a moral responsibility. A burden to be passed down from generation to generation. These are the ones who drag their spouses and kids to church every sunday for service when they in fact would rather be doing just about anything else. These individuals usually feel some community pressure to participate in their rituals, hearing phrases like: " we missed you and your family at service last week " , and " Will we see you next week "? If not for the pressures of the local community they would probably stay in bed, and not show up at all.
Even though it may seem as though I just trashed many of the people described above, I actually envy some of them quite a bit ! Religion has not changed my life all that much. I do not feel the need to improve my position through religion, or use it to fight for some cause. I do not walk around all day with a smile on my face, telling people how wonderful I feel since I found religion, and blessing them for this or that. One woman I know uses the word blessed at least once in almost every paragraph she speaks ! I am now a more reflective person because of my religion, but I am not really sure if I am a better, or worse, person because of it. I am a very stubborn person, and I am not sure anything can change me at this point in my life. To me religion is a very personal endeavor. I enjoy very much the close relationship that I have developed with the Gods and Goddesses over the years. They are my friends, and I love them very much ! And like the close relationships that I have with my friends and family members, I cherish every moment that I share with them. That is all that I will ever need, or want, from religion. That is the true meaning of religion to me !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !