"The emergence of the novel as a 'character art' very likely reflects the increase in self-consciousness that has been part of the development in our civilization." - Jerome Bruner, 1962
(Again, points if you get the reference in the title.)
So here's a snippet of what was discussed around the dinner table at our house Saturday night.
My sister was complaining that the pastor who taught her Wednesday-night class had been ranting about how stupid Jewish people are. My mom told her that she didn't expect her to believe everything that was taught, and that she thinks you should basically find the religion that most-closely matches your beliefs, and then ignore all of the parts with which you disagree.
I take it a step further and think religion is a very, very individual thing, so big organizations with preachers shouldn't be necessary. People should read their own holy book, and figure out what they think about it. If at some point they decide to change their minds because they've realized something, they can change their minds. And I said as much.
She said that religion isn't just about the theology-- it's also about the community. Fair enough.
But that's what I love so much about the one Quaker Meeting I've been to-- the actual "religious" part is completely individual: everyone's sitting in a room together, but in total silence, doing whatever it is they feel like they should be/want to be doing for their own spiritual fulfillment. Yet they still have a community; there are activism committees and youth groups and game nights and all sorts of other things. Like-minded people get to spend time and talk with each other without squabbling over the details of the theology.
It was so cool: there was me (who for the sake of the post shall over-simplify and identify as an agnostic), people with Christian leanings, a Muslim woman, and probably a whole bunch of others who fell in-between and on both outside ends all doing our own spiritual thing in the same room together. A very diverse group, yet a huge feeling of community within that room (not to mention the community during all of the other activities I've participated in with them).
And that's what I think "organized" religion should be about.
My best friend tells me that she doesn't write any blog posts because most of what she wants to talk about is how awesome Quakers are, which isn't a Quakerly thing to do. I, despite loving all of the time spent at her Meeting, have no such inhibitions. So this is my plug.
I realize (mainly through extensive Wikipedia-ing) that other Meetings are rather different, so please bear in mind that I'm just talking about my experiences in one specific establishment.