I adore this book. I’m tempted to carry a bunch of them around with me and hand them out each time I hear somebody say “I’m not religious, but I am spiritual.”
We’ve talked about this before. More than once. I know we’re going to discuss it again. It’s a big deal, and folks who make statements like that one have plenty of good (and sometimes painful) reasons for feeling the way they feel. I want to honor that. I also want to express my conviction that trying to not believe not only perpetuates the pain, but also prevents sharing, growth, and authentic experiences.
Charles, Myrtle, and others of like mind were very comfortable with words like church and religion. They dealt with and were exposed to the same issues and dysfunctions that can arise any time people get together, whether it’s in the name of religion, politics, or anything else. And they didn’t have the safe place to go to that we do. They had to build it. But build it they did.
The Fillmores started a church; they founded a religion. Even if we have had some pretty negative religious experiences, maybe the concept is worth considering for a moment.
As David Dark’s wonderful book points out, religion is just the story we tell. It’s the collection of things we pay attention to. In other words, every person is religious. It can’t be helped. Everybody tells a story, and everybody has a set of ideas and values that inform their actions. Most people have a pretty complex Venn Diagram of them, in fact. As with all things, the trick is to stop fighting and start claiming. Let’s make conscious choices about what we believe and what we do, and we can find freedom. If I’m aware of the story I’m telling, I can choose what happens next. My story gets to live and evolve. But if I rebel against it or pretend it’s not there, I’m stuck living my life in response to something potentially toxic.
Here’s the quote I keep coming back to:
If what we believe is what we see is what we do is who we are, there’s no getting away from religion.
I’ve had food poisoning before. Does that mean that restaurants are bad, or just that I should find better ones? As we’ve said, spirituality is about how you feel, and religion is about what you do. It’s consumption and production. I think we need both. Let’s feel. But let’s do, too. After all, there’s a lot to be done.
Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious is a brilliant, moving, irreverent, funny, and honest exploration of what it means to be fully human, fully conscious, and fully engaged.