Photo Credit: Mario Purisic on Unsplash
In life, it's hard to find a complete sense of acceptance. Even when we encounter affirming people, places, and events; the din of denigration can feel more salient. As a result, we harbor shame and embarrassment about the parts of who we are that have been deemed wrong, strange, inferior, or ugly. So, we deliver altered versions of ourselves to the world. Beau ideals that meet the assent of our families, friends, peers, partners, and colleagues; but betray us.
Sadly, this experience is not exclusive to the secular domain of human life. It's evinced in spirituality and religion, too. Spirituality and religion at their bones, depend on people unifying around a collection of beliefs and experiences to guide and enrich their lives. With that can come the pressure to conform to a set protocol of cognition, conduct, and ritual. But, how can a single doctrine satisfy the yearnings and questions of one person, let alone a large sample of the population? I don't think it can, because people are changeable. Conversely, doctrine tends to be uncompromising. And it's that last bit that affects how we view ourselves and others in the presence of what we consider holy. Being a person that dares to question or change dogma is scary. Firstly, it's prone to be greeted with scorn and disgust from peers. Secondly, it puts you in a predicament of either renouncing yourself or being ousted not only from a sacred community, but what's sacred itself. Constantly worrying about what you say and do, lest you end up on the wrong side of God, does not foster a culture of discovery and learning. Instead it builds a place of asphyxiation, derision, secrecy, distrust, and contempt.
So, I'm turning it over to you readers. How can we create spiritual/religious communities where people are truly accepted?