It is impossible to understand any religion without understanding its spiritual roots. By the same token, it is impossible to understand how spiritual insight relates to humans and their societies without understanding the role of religion in shaping those insights into socially usable forms. From Zoroaster on, religion became the essential moral framework that guided “civilized” behavior and maintained law, order and ultimately, the civilization itself!
The 1977 movie “Oh God!” starring John Denver, George Burns and Terry Garr, had a scene in which John Denver’s character argues with his wife about his newfound need to spread the word about his meetings with God. Denver explains to his wife that God doesn’t care about religion. His angry wife responds with the line; “Well he sure picked a funny business to go into!” This about sums up the general belief that most secular people have about the relationship between God and religion. They see God as something like the CEO of a gigantic corporate conglomerate directing armies of bureaucrats to collect believers for corporate profit. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
God is Spirit, and Spirit stands apart from the organizations that claim to represent Him. This does NOT, however, mean that religions are just useless organizations that get rich by using peoples’ natural spiritual inclinations as a prop. If you want to understand the relationship between Spirit and religion, it is essential to remember these two rules:
- Religion = Spirit + Politics
- Without a commonly held religious morality, a civilization tends to become destabilized