Thursday, August 29, 2013


Which in translation means, “I don’t like organized religion.”  Of course the alternative is disorganized religion.  And if there is anything that anybody loves more it is that which is disorganized.
There was a teacher I had in 6th grade who was getting married to the other 6th grade teacher (a woman by the way.)  One day he was sharing his philosophy with us.  His fiancé believed in organization.  He did not.  “Look at her desk,” he pointed out, “everything is where it is supposed to be.  If something is missing, it is really missing and she panics.”  Then he took us over to his desk which looked more like a pile of paper and gum wrappers.  “That, my boys, is called disorganized organization.  If something is missing, I don’t panic like she does.  I know what I need is somewhere in there and it will turn up at some point.  I think I’m a lot happier.”


An interesting way to live life.  I tried it for a spell.  It works Okay as long as there are no emergencies or deadlines.  In a pinch I’ll take organization any day over going through trash cans and drawers for the 3rd or 4th time, finally finding an important document being used as a bookmark in a spy novel.
Disorganized religion in translation means: no responsibility.  Nobody ask anything of me, expect anything of me, nor expect me to follow or to lead.  My religion is a private affair.  This is always a plan for building something great.
Art is often taught this way.  It is all about self expression.  Don’t give the child any real rules because you will stifle his creativity.  In actuality, you ARE stifling his creativity by not giving rules which are the tools by which becomes most capable of expressing that very creativity.  Great artists are first rigorously taught methods, forced to study the great ones that have come before them, and given fierce regiments to follow before the reigns are let go.  Then they can truly create what is burning in their hearts because they have been given the tools.
Of course, when we are talking about faith, that is about a relationship not a talent so the rules are different.  Right?  Absolutely not.  A disorganized relationship either fails or becomes “dysfunctional.”  There are all kinds of organizational aspects and ritualistic moments in relationships that really go someplace.  This is when we eat dinner.  This is when we celebrate our anniversary.  This is how we spend our vacation.  These are the people with whom we spend vacation.  This is where we call home.  This how we divide up our jobs.  These are the ways in which we show love.  This is the story of how we met – how he proposed – our first celebration of Thanksgiving – how we felt when we had our first child.


To tell the truth – institutional religion can be a pain.  Institutions do not love people – only people love people.  Institutions are interested in keeping things on track, organizing, building, expanding, growing, keeping a pulse on the mission, self examining, calling back to the fold, can be plodding, dictatorial, and blind to a person’s short comings.  People are then added into the fold to love.  The combination allows great things to happen.  Minds and souls are expanded, we are forced to break out of ourselves and reach out toward the other in a more radical way, we become part of a greater cause larger than ourselves, we hold accountable and are made accountable, the best within us is encouraged and the worst suppressed. 
Institutions sometimes fail and in a grand way – but never like when we go at it alone.  And when they do go awry who brings them back?  People.  And when people go awry what mechanism is there to bring them back to truth?  Institutions.
From an article by Rabbi Peter Wolfe:  But institutions are also the only mechanism human beings know to perpetuate ideologies and actions. If books were enough, why have universities? If guns enough, why have a military? If self-governance enough, let’s get rid of Washington. The point is that if you want to do something lasting in this world, you will recall the wise words of French Catholic writer Charles Péguy: “Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.” Got a vision? Get a blueprint.
Spirituality is an emotion. Religion is an obligation. Spirituality soothes. Religion mobilizes. Spirituality is satisfied with itself. Religion is dissatisfied with the world.
To read more of his article, go here.


MaryofSharon said...

What's curious about all of this is that even many atheists feel the need for an organized Sunday Assembly. "You don't have to have a religion in order to get together as a community to try to live better, help often, and wonder more. "

Pat said...


Thanks for the quote.

It's interesting that atheists do see positive things about organized religion and want to imitate them. They must find the effects of religion to be a good thing. How does good come from bad?

And why would they want to imitate a system with which they would like to do away? Why don’t they invent their own system? (Like the old joke about wanting to show God that they can create man from dirt—but first they need to create their own dirt.)