Religion vs. Spirituality

19/01/2008 22:02

                             The moral and ethical values Christianity gave the world are beyond measure.   

*It preserved civilization through the dark ages
*It produced exquisite music, architecture, and art
*It started systems of higher education that we take for granted today
*It built the first hospitals and sought a persons' right to health care
*It gave birth to the idea that life is sacred; an idea that still underlies Western culture

Conversely, Religion has given us persecution, religious wars, and the Inquisition. More people have been killed in the history of the world in conflicts over and about Religion. Without proviso Religion shows its dark, shadowy, evil side the moment its adherents identify their understanding of God with/as God.

The evolution and practice of organized Christianity has its place in the annuals of history but certainly has no corner on Religion.

*The 20th century discovered a non-Christian Religion that was so vibrant that Japanese pilots would dive their planes into American and British ships in suicide missions because "to die for the emperor is to live forever." It startled our Western psyche when a "pagan" Religion elicited such levels of devotion
*Today we face the specter of Muslim militants who do not hesitate to offer themselves in suicide missions if it furthers their Religious claims
*Less dramatic, but certainly as important are the polemic platforms of Christian rationality and the Christian worship wars of the 1990s

It's the difference between spirituality and Religion. They are found at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Spirituality seeks a sensitive, contemplative, transformative relationship with the sacred and is able to sustain levels of uncertainty in its quest because respect for mystery is paramount. Religious fundamentalism seeks certainty, fixed answers, and absolutism, as a fearful response to the complexity of the world and to our vulnerability as creatures in a mysterious universe.

We live in a religiously pluralistic world, but there is only one God. This God is not an adherent to any Religious system. All Religious systems are human creations by which people in different times and places seek the holy. Until that simple lesson is learned human beings will continue to wound, hurt, and kill each other in the name of the "one true God."