THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
There is TOO MUCH RELIGION in the world and not enough SPIRITUALITY.
Bad religion has been one of the principal causes of hatred, division and war in the history of the world.
Even as we write the Russian Orthodox Church is supporting Putin in his criminal invasion of Crimea. It is not supporting Putin because he is right - it is supporting him because Putin has been using the Russian Church and supporting its re-emergence as a power bloc in Russia. Put quite simply the Russian Church had a choice to make - between Jesus Christ and Putin - and for its own worldly gain and its own continued growth and wealth it has chosen Putin the megalomaniac.
But then the so called Christian Church has always been on the side of the dictator and the junta - whether it was Hitler in Germany or Mussolini in Italy or Somoza in Nicaragua.
It was the popes who sent the Crusaders into the Holy Land to massacre the non Christians.
It was the Catholic Church that organised and ran the Inquisition.
In the Middle East the orthodox religious Jews are the ones who hate the Christians and the Muslims the most.
It is also the fanatical Muslims who hate and kill in the name of Allah.
In the US it is the right wing Christian Protestants who are behind the hatred of blacks, immigrants and gay people.
It was the right wing Polish pope, John Paul 11, who terrorised liberal catholic and theologians with the help of his chief collaborator Joseph Ratzinger (with early Nazi connections) who became Pope Benedict.
It was Ian Paisley with one foot in the pulpit and one foot in politics, who stirred up sectarian strife in Northern Ireland.
Most religions have blood on their hands - Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims etc.
If religion - organised religion - is in the dock the evidence against it is compelling.
Of course there have been exceptional people in all religions who have been truly pacifist and maybe Christ-like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Protestant minister and hero of anti Nazism; Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador; Hafiz the Iranian poet; Mahatma Gandhi of India; Archbishop Tutu of South Africa. But sadly these are the EXCEPTIONS and not the rule.
Organised, mass religion, is in many ways the opium of the unthinking masses - blind people in herds following popes, bishops, priests, ministers, Amman’s and rabbis - many of them ready to kill in the name of their "god".
But SPIRITUALITY is a completely different matter. It can be God based, nature based, humanity based. It is found in music, poetry, literature, art, mountains, skies, lakes, seas, rivers, animals.
It is particularly found in respect for fellow humans. It is non dogmatic, it is non judgemental, it is non violent. It is intelligent, anti fanatic, anti extreme. It knows that it might be right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate, limited. It knows that it does not know everything and seeks to learn something new every day.
It is found in good actions - care for the sick and they dying, care for the hungry, thirsty, homeless, prisoners, strangers. It weeps with weeping humanity. If laughs with laughing humanity. It suffers with suffering humanity. It rejoices in freedom, diversity, beauty, peace, harmony. It avoids evil, hatred, discrimination, injustice, lies, jealousy, small-mindedness, pettiness, gossip, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and sectarianism.