Religion Is Inherently Flawed
I grew up as an outspoken critic of religion, but I've been curious about spirituality and God for a few years now. I've realized that I still have all the same criticisms I had about religion, I just know now that it doesn't have a monopoly on spirituality.
Religion is an attempt to codify and describe a certain community's experience of God. Religions include descriptions of what God is like, advice for how to follow, and rules for deciding who's doing it right and who isn't.
But this is all fundamentally wrong. God cannot be described. If you could describe God that would mean you've managed to conceive of something describable, which God isn't.
God is too vast and mysterious for us to understand. That's the whole point. “God” is just the word some people use to describe the Mystery we can't help but be aware of. People from every corner of the earth in every era talked about being plugged in to something greater, aware of something beyond themselves. Some cultures call it “The Divine”, some talk about “Source” or “Ground” or “The Universe”. And some people call it “God”, but I'm convinced it's all the same thing.
The notion that one group of people from a particular time and place could ever finally get God right is delusional.
Some people have a deep psychological need for things to make sense. Religion caters to those people. That's fine; there's nothing wrong with wanting things to make sense and seeking systems and guidelines to give yourself a sense of order and meaning where there is none. But that's all it is; an illusion.
Leaning in to God means accepting the utter incomprehensibleness of existence, surrendering the need for certainty and control and answers. Realizing that no matter how hard you try you will never understand what the point is, why the world is such shit, or why any of us exist at all in the first place. Pursuing spirituality anyway in light of this reality is faith.
The point of spirituality cannot be to find the answers. To finally know for sure who's good and who's bad, who we should accept and who we should condemn. There's nothing wrong with these deeply human needs. But that's what they are. Religion is a construct entirely fabricated by humans out of un-managed anxiety about the world. There's nothing divine about it. It's no wonder, then, why it ends up being a force for evil instead of good for so many people who encounter it.
Certainty and answers are not available to us. Seeking God in religion is inherently futile, because religion — with its definitions and dogma and gate keeping — is the antithesis of Divine Mystery. What we do have access to is a medium in which to experience life and love and loss. An invitation to embrace the utter futility of existence and continue to do it anyway. A light to illuminate our path as we do our best to try. That's God.