Religions are divisive and quarrelsome. They are a form of oneupmanship because they depend upon separating the “saved” from the “damned,” the true believers from the heretics, the in-group from the out-group. – British philosopher Alan Watts
I’ve never been big on exclusion and judgment and I have a sneaky suspicion the Divine isn’t big on them, either. More than a few people may be in for a surprise when they reach the Pearly Gates.
Brett Dennen says it well in his song, Heaven:
Throw away your misconceptions
There’s no walls around heaven
There’s no codes you gotta know to get in
No minutemen or border patrol.
Religions do seem like private clubs. Why is it that the people who wave their Bibles highest, who can quote chapter and verse verbatim, are the ones who believe most strongly that Heaven is like a country club with a members-only handshake? That if you say the magic words, you gain admittance but if you don’t, well, you’re damned to hell? Do these folks know how many people are put off by that attitude? Or maybe that’s the purpose–to put everyone off but the chosen few.
It took me a long time, but I finally figured out that I just don’t buy it. I don’t believe there’s anything to gain admittance to.
Seems to me that we’re here to live a good life, learn some lessons and implement our sacred purpose. That we all end up in the same place–but some of us may have a few more lessons to learn than others. We’re here for a reason, and if we look for it–or if we’re lucky–we discover what that purpose is.
And I just don’t believe it’s to join–or run– a spiritual country club.
The Rumi quote aptly sums up my spiritual beliefs: we find God in ourselves.