Religious traditions that have become calcified, and have turned into dead orthodoxies, have transformed our longing spiritual renewal into petty squabbles over shared turf. These are all dead ends in our spiritual journey. When religion becomes reduced to an outward observation of rules and ceremonies and intolerance toward the beliefs of others, we are mistaking the oyster for the pearl. The oyster is certainly valuable, but it is of infinitely greater value when it promotes the growth of the pearl. And like the sand that seeds the pearl, doubt can be a part of that process, the gentle prodding that will not let faith atrophy. The thread of religion leads us to a relationship with God. But when the emphasis is on “our group” or “our faith,” we are attempting to possess God rather than enter into a relationship with God. And, as in other relationships, nothing shuts off communication with our souls or the souls of others more surely than the impulse to possess. But when we follow the thread of religion to its destination, we turn faith into the inner knowing that brings peace and purpose to our lives. We cannot reason our way back to the roots of religion. We cannot trap our spirituality in stale dogmas or narrow creeds. Our purpose is to make religion a continuous living experience, to lead us toward a resurrection not of the dead but of the living who are dead to their own truth. Then religion becomes a thread that can both link us to the past and guide us to our future.
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