If the Supreme Court can manipulate the Fourteenth Amendment to endow corporations with the rights and attributes of a person, then people can aspire to the conditions of a corporation. And they do. People are bound to no purpose other than to serve themselves, untroubled by the nuisance of a conscience.
The analogy applies to organized religion and its believers. To understand religion is to understand the people behind it.
First, religion and spirituality are contradictions, and the first to clarify that was Jesus himself. Jesus spoke out against religious leaders and religion specifically. He warned not to repeat the same error in his name despite Simon (surname Peter, meaning “rock”) being the first to “convert.” But “conversion” means simply to “to know thyself” in ancient Hebrew. And Jesus’ “lost years” (in India, Tibet, and China) retrieved a lesson that stressed self-knowing (everyone “Christs”) as opposed to dependency, guilt, sin and redemption (as “Christians”).
“Organizing” a religion mandates efficiency, self-protection, control, profit, and “conversion” and thus operates, like any corporation, from the “top-down.” Divisions of labor and power justify themselves by a need for protocol. Apostolic succession (hierarchies), sacerdotalism (priestly powers), and supersessionism (discrimination, exclusivity) become essential institutional pillars. Meanwhile, one wonders what happened to original principles. Said one theologian, “Effectiveness and efficiency have nothing to do with being virtuous.”
At this level, the word religion is used synonymously, and wrongfully, with faith (meaning, “opening up to”). Faith is also used interchangeably with “belief” (from the Latin, lief, “to hope for”) - two unrelated terms with opposing meanings and motives. Yet the distinction is kept conveniently obscure. Faith eliminates the need for belief (hope). But tell that to local Christians.
Religion implies “fulfillment.” And yet, said Reverend Northrop Frye, it’s “the voice of the lonely crowd.” It constantly seeks validation and reassurance from the chorus. Called “rejoicing,” in truth it’s a cry for constant reaffirmation – what Tocqueville observed as a particularly “American” weakness. Rather than inviolate, religion is fear rallied to stave off the “demons” of uncertainty. Readers are invited to Google “Pascal’s Wager.”
Christianity is “outer” and “future” referenced (i.e., “eschatological”) - predicated on an apocalyptic Dies illa coming “soon” and from “up there.” This, as opposed to “inner/center” referenced and “here & now” taught in other cultures. This is a deliberate reversal of principles which the West exploits. “Outer-future” perpetuates fear and helplessness and a symbiosis between clergy and laity; that is, one needs the other. John Bradshaw called it “spiritual codependency.” This strategy works particularly well around “death,” something veiled in darkness by clergy who remain woefully illiterate, vague, lachrymose, prostrate, and uncertain. Not in the East.
Quoting Martin Amis, “[T]he weaker pupils take the false comfort of belonging to a consensus.” While the arrogant hide behind cant, sanctimony, and melodrama. It comes down to “religious PC” which translates to “low, low church … the lowest common denomination.”
Eastern religion wasn’t even a “religion” until Westerners grabbed it and reduced it to another “ism” (a philosophy, something speculative and academic). But for Buddhists/Taoists/Native Americans (etalia) spirituality is direct and experiential, a “psychology” said Alan Watts (Episcopal Priest). It is a way of Being.
Hence the problem with religion. As Amis said, “If God existed, and if he cared for humankind, He would never have given us religion.”