Confusing God With Religion Part 1

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was driving home after a particularly boring three-hour contract meeting. It was a late September afternoon and the traffic on the by-pass was still light. The sky was a beautiful cerulean blue, absolutely void of any clouds. All was deceptively well with the world. Out of habit, I reached for the ON button to the radio. I like listening to talk radio while driving. The prattle of an interview was in progress, as i glanced at the dashboard clock. It was flashing 3: 42 pm. The car was warm but not hot – comfortable -without the air conditioning blowing in my face. It was one of those rare pleasant homeward bound drives at the end of the workday. Just this once, I just might make it home without my back and neck in a knot from tension. I decided today was not a day for fighting traffic, if the guy on my left wants to dive in front of me, they are welcome to do so.

As i began to pay attention to the radio… the familiar interviewer was speaking with yet another authority on God. At least that’s what they were vaunting. In reality, it was actually deliverance ministry about religion – not God. The author informed us that at one point in her life she was a nun. Her reasons for leaving that vocation, as with anyone leaving their life’s work, varied.

However, there were two reasons she quoted as being the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, which affected me. The more I thought about them, the more they bothered me.

First, as a nun, she declared she had to pray each morning for an hour. During these prayers, she discovered that keeping one’s mind on the object at hand was a daunting task. No matter how hard she fought, she just couldn’t keep her mind from wandering during her prayers. She took that as a sign that she was not qualified to be a nun.

Secondly, she claimed that she always had the thought that God was this ethereal Person, who would, as she prayed, somehow (more my words than hers) magical join her in some relationship manner. She finally realized this was not happening.

Extremely disappointed, she realized it would never happen, and quit the profession. She also gave up her belief in a personal God, and turned to the study of religion as her god.

So what? Why pick on this person? I assure you I don’t want to appear as picking on anyone, but she does loom as a perfect example of those who have a common error about God.

Let me say, I believe she has a right to choose whatever religion she wants to choose, and she can believe however, she wants to believe. That’s not what bothered me, and yes, the interview did bother me.

Personally, I have found that unless one is in a real life-or-death situation, it’s difficult for most of us to pray for an hour, without having to drag our mind back into the effort every five (maybe two) minutes or so. I can’t do it. There are too many distractions in my life. All kinds of things creep into my thoughts in that length of time, regardless of what time of the day it is. If it’s late, I might fall asleep. That still was not my problem with all of this. I’ll get to the point in a moment – I promise.

My second dilemma with this entire interview was the continuous reference to religion as God. I mean there was no separation – no distinction between the two. To these two entities, religion and God were one in the same. At one point, the interviewer asked the former nun how she reconciled her wonderful devotion to the study of religion to Dawkin’s scientific refute of God. They captured me with that comment. I must confess, I’ve never heard of Dawkin’s book where he supposedly proves through science, God does not exist.

Again, I am of the opinion that Mr. Dawkins may believe whatever he so desires, and I’m not going to argue with him. There is no end of books claiming they can disprove God. The problem is they all seem to be arguing against religion and not God. Some are quite mean spirited and others are simply the rants of an agnostic who is trying to put forth his/her gospel of enlightenment i. e. their own religion.

Again, the theme I see, when i do read one of these books, – and I admit that is a rarity – is syncretism, which is the various beliefs and practices of one’s deity. One man wrote an entire book on how religion poisons everything, which only spawned a plethora of books of how wonderful religion truly is. My question is where is God in all this religious battle?