Monday, January 18, 2010

Tradition—The Emptiest of All Reasons

Aside from the more dogmatic proponents of religious faith who not only openly advocate for a Christian theocracy in America, but who also subscribe to every tenet of their faith, there are many who seem less rigid, almost innocuous, in the way they live out their faith. When pressed, however, they are quick to affirm their belief in God out of what appears to be little more than a sense of tradition.

It is a fair bet that many Catholics don't really believe the host they consume during the communion ritual is in fact the body of Jesus Christ as church doctrine tells them, or that Jesus was actually born of a virgin. To these softer theists, a less rigid faith conspires with the institutions of family, community and ritual to provide a sense of comfort and belonging—a place where family and friends can gather and commemorate the milestones of life. In and of itself, this seems a harmless practice.

Going along to get along, and not wanting to rock the religious boat that keeps afloat one's sense of belonging is not without consequence, however. Blindly affirming the legacy of religious conformity at the expense of one's uniqueness is a compromise of abhorrent dimensions. This assumes, of course, that there is some semblance of intellectual autonomy left at all after being subjected to the immoral practice of religious indoctrination in the first place.

The marginalizing—and alienating—of anyone with a potentially dissenting mindset in the midst of religiously conforming family and friends is a vile practice carried on without subtlety. To be fair, acceptance is much more likely and evident from the younger, more liberal-minded among them. But still, these are often the same people who seem to consent to religiosity out of little more than a sense of duty or obligation, as though the mere appearance of rejecting their religious heritage would be construed as an act of betrayal.

For myself, I don't see the sense in perpetuating the cruel hoax that is organized religion and will not be a part of it. That being said, there's just as little to be gained by engaging in mere mockery. But when an honest attempt to respectfully partake of a religious tradition is met with alienation and rejection, it's time to ask myself, Is this worth it?

I played religious charades for years. Not any more. Not when my self respect in on the line.

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