Monday, November 13, 2006

Religion


I don't like religion.

This may seem odd, coming from someone who calls himself a Christian, but I really dislike religion. I mean, what is the point?

Jesus once said to his followers that whenever they eat bread and drink wine, they should remember him. Fair enough. But along comes religion and ritualises the whole thing - the bread becomes some silly little dry wafers and the wine is frequently either (a) not wine at all, but simply grape juice, or (b) some really special fancy wine - only drunk once in a blue moon. Where has the normal, everyday bread gone? What about 'everyday' wine?

The practical aspect of this is that when Christians have other Christians round for a meal, and share a bottle of wine and eat bread with their meal - they don't pause to remember Jesus.

I am certain that Jesus intended us to remember him when sharing a meal in our homes, not by ritualising the whole thing into a ceremony - and an infrequent ceremony too, for some denominations.

From my point of view Christianity is a relationship with God. Christianity is a way of life. It should not be a religion. From observation, it seems to me that for many folk, religion actually gets in the way of the relationship. It formalises the parent-child relationship into something more like a headmaster-pupil relationship. In fact, it tends to put the religious leaders in between us and God - as mediators. But the bible says the only mediator is Jesus himself.

Another thing ritualising Christianity has done is to place Christianity on the same playing field as all the other religions. Most world religions are about the quest for the distant God, but Christianity is about 'God with us'. If we are just a bunch of people doing rituals to appease or please the distant God, we are no different to any other religion.

Can we not just abolish religion in our churches?

4 comments:

simo said...

Well said that man, I think you have hit the nail right on the head, I have often felt that specifically with communion and coming at it from an Anglican perspective it comes across as something special (which yes it is) but the idea that you need to be ordained to say a few words before you share the bread and wine is ludicrous, Jesus was sharing a meal with his friends and told his followers to remember him when they did this. I think your right we have taken something that was about our relationship with him and turned it into a religious act, I have heard of people who have a special cup and when they have Christian guests they will get it out and share wine together before a meal as a sign of remembering what Jesus has done but also as a sign a part of all being a part of the body of Christ.

Chris HH said...

Ricky, you are spot on!
If you read the Gospels you can't escape that Jesus felt the same way! It was the religious people that incurred his displeasure more than the sinners.

Sadly, many traditional churches are full of religion, and seem to love their religion (the way they formalise things) more than the purpose those things were intended for.

New wine won't fit in an old wineskin, no matter how hard you try. Better to find a new wineskin (join a church congregation that feels as strongly about a real relationship with Jesus freed from religious trappings!)

Ricky Carvel said...

Wow! Two comments within a couple of hours of posting. I knew I still had lurkers... ;o)

Gareth J M Saunders said...

I was at a conference about religion at the University of Edinburgh a couple of years ago where one of the retired professors stood up and reminded us that Christianity is not a religion: it's about a relationship with God. He received a long round of applause.

It seems to me that "religion" is a convenient way of categorizing and documenting the spiritual aspects of life for the purposes of studying them, but that's a whole different thing to living out one's faith. Before the enlightenment, before global communications there was just life -- you lived out your life and your faith as your forefathers did and knew no different.

I wonder if one's faith was simply a part of one's everyday life, it wasn't separated into sacred and secular. I also wonder how we can rediscover something of that, and indeed whether we need to.