Is heaven a spiritual country club?

February 26, 2014


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.


22 comments on “Is heaven a spiritual country club?
  1. Having lived in the deep South for 13 years I came to understand, sorta, the very thing you are talking about. I was astonished to see one denomination of Christianity proclaiming that other denominations shouldn’t worship together, that only their unique brand of faith assured access to heaven and on and on… Scary stuff. It seems incongruous to read the Bible, believe in a loving Jesus, and then start condemning and judging in his name. Where’s the role model for that in the New Testament? Which pretty much sums up why I no longer participate in organized religion.

  2. Diane says:

    I SO agree with this! God loves us all. I couldn’t choose one of my children over the others. How would He be any different?! See you there! But not for a while, I hope . . .

  3. Jennifer Steck says:

    Carol, Isn’t it crazy that most religions focus on love, but not on having an open heart? Our God is a loving God and wouldn’t have made us so different if he didn’t have a sense of humor and like variety. Great post!

  4. Karen says:

    I feel like religions are a reflection of our very human inability to conceptualize something much, much larger than ourselves. We seem to create the religions that say more about who we are than about who the Divine might be…and so we limit ourselves to what we can imagine.

  5. I agree for the most part, but I will say this: I love the Jewish community here in Dallas. They are open, they don’t try to convert anyone, and they have a support group like I have never seen before. It really is a great community.

  6. Hi Carol! I so agree! In fact a BIG part of the novel I wrote (Finding Grace) is about just this! I’ve always thought that if heaven was the way many of the religious write about, that didn’t sound even remotely interesting–or any where I wanted to go. I definitely agree with the Rumi quote–and I LOVE Brett Dennen! ~Kathy

  7. Barbara says:

    May I add a big Amen?

  8. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I agree with you. There is a lot of hypocrisy in organized religion. Don’t even get me started about what it going on in Arizona right now. Thanks for writing this.

  9. I have issue with organized religions in general. IMO their major focus is funding themselves and their religion, vs. spreading love and peace and goodwill throughout the world. Exclusivity doesn’t do anything to better the world, I’m another one who has long ago said farewell to any type of organized religion.

  10. My grandma told me many years ago, the best religion is being a GOOD person!

  11. Jenn says:

    My grandfather was a deeply spiritual person who never went to Church. He always said “I can talk to God, just fine, from this chair.” I loved this about him.

    We always hoped that God responded in a really loud voice, because most of the time Papa had his hearing aid turned off…..

  12. Thought-provoking post. So much hypocrisy, hate and judging going on inside and outside of most organized religions. It hurts one’s heart. Amen to your post.

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