What Does Mature Religion Look Like?


35375c195eee0f2d7c552d7bba2c6cfe“Religion is supposed to teach us the way of love. Jesus even commanded it. Though I’m not sure that you really can order or demand love, it’s so all-important that the great spiritual teachers always do, saying with urgency, as it were, “You’ve got to love or you’ll never find your soul’s purpose. You’ll never find the deepest meaning of life itself.” Philosophically, you will never discover the Logos, the blueprint, the pattern, the template of all reality, what Jung would have called ‘the soul of the world.'” Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

Do we, the majority of us in the contemporary world, do we understand what love means?  Do we feel fulfilled and spiritually satisfied in the depth of our souls? To the point that we’ve found our soul’s purpose? To the point that we can feel love for others whether they love us or not? Most of us don’t. I think that’s why our world’s in such a mess. Consider how our ideas about love for God and others develop…..

AN INFANT’S IDEA OF LOVE: You satisfy every instinctual need.

Come here right now!  Feed me. Hold me close. Touch me gently. Make the hurt and hunger and loud noises go away. Smile at me. Make soothing sounds.

A CHILD’S IDEA OF LOVE:  You give me what I want.

No! I won’t eat that nasty broccoli. I’ll throw up if you make me eat it. I want this toy! Don’t take it away from me! I won’t lie down. I don’t want to take a nap now. Come back here.  Don’t leave me alone. Give me what I want and I’ll be good. Don’t leave me with the baby sitter. I’m afraid.  Look under my bed. Did you check the closet? Just one more story and I promise I’ll go to sleep. Pleeeeeeease!  Suzy’s touching me!  Make her stop looking at me!! Thank you for giving me that (insert item) I wanted. You’re the best mommy/daddy/god in the whole world!

ADOLESCENT: You leave me alone.

There’s something wrong with you if you won’t let me do what I want to do.  Why don’t you understand me?  I was definitely born into the wrong family.  I can’t wait to get out of here!!

imagesYOUNG ADULT:  I am attracted to you and you make me feel good!  

If you love me you’ll always make me feel this good and I will love you forever! (Unless, of course, you stop making me feel good, in which case I’m outta here!)

I don’t feel as good as I used to.  What’s happened to you? If you really loved me you’d ….  (fill in the blank.) You don’t love me any more. I don’t love you any more either and its your fault:  (Pick one:)  A.  But, I’ll stay (and make both our lives miserable because being with you is familiar and I’m afraid to change) or B. So I’m leaving  (you’ll be sorry, but I know there’s someone out there who will love me.) There’s a C option too, but most of us never get to that…..

“I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life – that is to say, over 35 – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given their followers, and none of them has really been healed who did not regain his religious outlook.”~ C.G. JungModern Man in Search of a Soul

MIDDLE AGE: You’re not enough for me.

Is this all there is?  I’ve done everything I thought I was supposed to do and I’m still not happy.What’s wrong with my partner? Could there be something wrong with me? How can I feel better? Would it be wrong to tell the truth and act on my honest feelings? Will God punish me if I change my beliefs and break my promises?

images-2MATURITY: Teach me to love so that I may become Love.

“Meaty spirituality must first of all teach us freedom from the self, from my own self as a reference point for everything or anything. This is the necessary Copernican Revolution wherein we change reference points. Copernicus discovered that Earth is not the center of the universe. Now we have to discover that we are not the center of any universe either. We are not finally a meaningful reference point. Although we do have to start with self at the center to build a necessary ‘ego structure,’ we then must move beyond it. The big and full world does not circle around me or you. Yet so many refuse to undergo this foundational enlightenment.’This ultimate reality, the way things work, is quite simply described as love.'” Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

May our religion become Love.

Image Credits:  Pinterest. Google Images.


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0 Responses

  1. CHILD’S IDEA OF LOVE: You give me what I want. No! I won’t eat that nasty broccoli.
    I hated scalloped potatoes!
    Sent from my iPad

    1. Thanks, Diane. This was a fun one to write. Of course, everybody’s different. Some people make the shift from “I” to “Thou” much earlier; most never make it at all. The message is at least 2,000 years old but we humans are pretty thick-headed creatures!

  2. Thank you Jeannie. The Inuit I believe have dozens of words for love. I love the word agape. All the quotes are wonderful. I remember Prince Charles being interviewed with Princess Diana by his side when they were engaged. She was asked if she was in love? Yes of course she said. His response was telling – he said something along the lines ‘whatever love means’. Poor Diana – poor all of us who do not know what love means. Poor Charles too …

    1. You’ve gotta love the Inuit. They obviously know what’s important. 🙂 I wonder how many there are in English….and what would some of them be? Yes, agape. And compassion. How about care? Tenderness? Passion, of course. Affection? Benevolence? Amity? Adoration? Friendship? Doting? A fun exercise. And yes, Poor Diana. Poor Charles. Poor us. Poor world….

  3. I’m with Susan in loving those dozens of Inuit words for love. I didn’t know that, but want to understand the subtle distinctions in their words. When I write, I feel the inadequacy of this one general love word. Jesus taught the religion of love so long ago, but somehow it was buried by patriarchy. As you know, the Dalai Lama keeps teaching love, but he’s in his 80s. If humans don’t understand this lesson and evolve into a new perspective, we have a poor prognosis. I’m concerned about the presidential polls at this moment. I don’t look often, but it scares me when NY Times gives Clinton a 2% lead. Hard to know what to do when the politics of hate take over.

    1. Yes, it always amazes me how people can advocate love with a straight face without seeing how their behavior is so obviously motivated by hate. Synchronistically, I’m just now writing next week’s post about the coming election, which scares me too. I’m doing my best to address it in a thoughtful, balanced way.

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