Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Restrictions of Religion

I hail from Muskogee, Oklahoma- the county seat with a population of around 30,000 kind, traditional and somewhat conformist individuals.

I had 114 in my graduating class. Of these 114 people there was little religious/ spiritual variety. Last weekend in a conversation with my mom, we discussed how most students and staff from my high school attended one of two local churches.

Churches can be great places to grow in one's spiritual journey, but can also hinder personal growth.

When choosing a place of worship, many individuals seek a place where they are comfortable, where their beliefs are confirmed, ideologies and methodologies repeated- things which are not negative within themselves, but it can impede one's tolerance for different ideas and viewpoints.

The problem with my high school classmates all attending the same church, is that they all thought the same way about religion and spiritually. They all viewed religious practices as absolute, with their's being right and deviation from the social norm as wrong.

These thought patterns are humanistic, and as human I too am guilty of occasional narrow-mindedness.

I attend a church where I feel welcome, loved and able to grow. As I mature, I know that all people seek these same things, but may go about it in different ways. It is my love for others that prompts me to respect and support others in their spiritual journeys without judgement.

Really churches are just buildings.

The true value of a church comes from edifice’s function of fostering spiritual growth.  The grandeur of a cathedral is not in its religious appearance, but in its spiritual potential.  -Kalen Russell, The Majesty Within

Religion oversimplifies the human experience and discourages diversity and inclusivity.

I find spirituality to be more inclusive. Within Christianity, differences are accepted, celebrated and add to the strength of the group.

"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many." 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
So if diversity within a religion is good,  why would diversity of religion be considered bad?

Many religions are founded upon the same principles- love, unity and service to others, event those who are different.

Like me, most pictured in this photo have attended their whole lives. 
The church is one of the strongest echo chambers, and sense religion is so closely linked to identity, these echo chambers are difficult to dismantle.

I try to find my identity from within, from who I am. Not where I worship.

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