Monday, October 02, 2023

The Hidden Rules of Religion

 truth - alethia - objective (not situational) truth in any matter; personal excellence, candor;  transparency and authenticity

Alethia is made of "alpha" + "hidden" in the Greek, literally meaning "first revelation."  Truth as the notion of idea revealed (from God) as in true nature of God and circumstances, standing in direct contrast to cultural norms.

The hidden rules of the religious class and church culture often do not reflect the truth of God.  These rules serve to exclude others and build a fortress of isolation around itself.  In religious extremism this is seen in theocracies which sequester their members through clothing (the hajib), food (LDS doesn't allow its members to drink coffee) , or body-expression (remember no dancing or card playing?), often isolating gender (women) from the worship center and creating a hierarchy for participation and service.  It can include violence against aliens and apostates.  

Are we willing to own whether our religious entity (church or small group) is exclusionary?

And the purpose of these rules?  They protect and preserve the religious class. They segregate the haves ("chosen") from the have-nots.  They create conformity to the point of exclusion.  The closed church appropriates Jesus and his message to create a sequestered body, safe by economic and power structures, like Constantine's use and protection of the early church in the 400s, when he made Christianity the religion of the state.

What if our religious culture is more tradition than truth, especially as a way to maintain bias, separation, position and comfort?  What if we have built a fortress instead of a community that is expansive and expanding?   

Are we like Mary and Joseph, who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the seat and center of their faith, and in their return home lost Jesus in the crowd?  They assumed Jesus was in the crowd of fellow pilgrims...assumed.  They were absorbed in their communal practice, but were not in Jesus' presence.  They didn't know where he was. To find him, they returned to the Temple.  

"Temple" literally means "altar of speech," the place where God speaks, the inner sanctum. Have we been enmeshed in the Christian community and its rules and rituals such that we have missed Jesus' presence?  How do we find the temple where he resides? 

Jesus has assured us the temple is now in a new place: our hearts and souls, where his Holy Spirit now resides. It is the inner sanctum, to which we must return. While we are not to neglect the community, we are also not to forget our first love.  We are to hold them in balance.  Have we?

Yet this:  you have forsaken the love you held at first.  Revelation 2:4

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