The Religion of Self

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On Piety

Because religion and politics seem forever joined, perhaps it is a good excercise to consider the political arena from inside the world of religion.

Everyone seems to have an opinion in both, and when governing becomes wholly legalistic, some begin making comparisons to religion.  For example, in business one might see an outfit begin to call a manual for assembling a machine “the bible”.  The “world” which this religion oversees is completely within the confines of the piece of equipment and the factory that takes it from materials and parts to a working final product, the experts who make it happen, and the scribes who describe, define and revise its page through “epiphany”.

Now this is where the distinction should diverge from religion (for there should be no revision in the bible of a true religion – the word of God should be steadfast).  Unfortunately the secular world, so hell-bent on change, must apply the rules of politics that it sees in daily life.  There must be this self-reflection and the subsequent changes to fit an improved model in keeping with a world that must constantly improve.

Of course, even “improvement” becomes definitional.

Then there are these contrarians who point out this system’s flaws.  They become the nay-sayers and truly act as impediment to any advances in the system.

At essence, they become the anti-religion, and a religion unto themselves.

Think of friends who do not attend church.  They are on the outside, looking in.

“Oh, they are so pious, so “holier-than-thou” – who wants to be a part of that”, they might querry.

From the perspective of the anti-religious, their only meaning in life is mere existence. It becomes fashionable to criticize those who desire to worship.  “They think they are better than me.  They’re not better than me.  Look at all that I’ve accomplished”.

It is the equivalent of one inside a factory who really does nothing more than point out short-comings and how nothing is working like it could and how someone else has a much better mouse-trap and it is only a matter of time before they build it and through competition run us completely out of business.

The anti-religious base their own concepts of “good” living solely on the perception of a world they create around them.  If they withdraw into their homes and start a cottage industry making shoes, shoes and the sustenance provided by their production become the “cargo cult” of the group.  Their religion becomes their work (the sale of shoes becoming the “great provider”).

I like to think of these contrarians as the one guy on a life raft who has all the ideas on how to be rescued, but never does anything but talk.  He’s usually also the one who tries to steal the last morsel of food, or horde a candy bar in his pocket rather than try and contribute to the survival of the group.

It is easy to sit on the outside and critique, but it is the depth of chicanery to be the one who does nothing but point out flaws.

In essence, the contrarian becomes the definition of what he critiques.  “They are so pious, so holier-than-thou”.  Well, what are you?

It doesn’t help matters any, though, when you have peacocks running around on the plant floor.  “There is no system better than ours.  We produce the perfect widget.  Why no one would dare compete with our widget”.

Think of the loyal church-goer who becomes so

Now, consider this.

In spite of all of the above, somehow, every day, widgets get manufactured, the faithful stay on board the life-raft, and, of course, the nay-sayers “nay” (please, please do not miss this reference to a donkey).

How does that happen?

There are those on the life raft who decide to stop talking, stop agonizing, stop trying to define, and simply “do”.

What do they do?

They find ever scrap of fabric on board and they fashion a sail using knots, safety pins, fishbones and whatever other resources they may drum up to produce something other than a useless wind that emanates from the vocal chords of a mule-headed dullard.

They fashion a mast from an oar, and while yesterday they were hapless, hopeless victims – they are today sailors.  They now do something other than just talk to deal with their plight.

This survival mechanism that leads to industry, it is based on the concept that “I was created, therefore, I will create”.  I will do something.  I will become something that before I was not.

This is the essence of religion, and there can be no better reason for worship.  To  transcend the surly bondage of earthly existence and draw upon that spirit within, that “self” not envisioned by an earthly reflection pondered by ethereal eye, but rather one encountered by an understanding of a spirit greater than self – this becomes change as ordinary as changing one’s mind, or one’s clothing.

You will operate clad in a new armor, not extracted of self, but forged in a furnace beyond your realm, beyond you.

You become this religion, and this religion is becoming unto you.

Alternately, one can just choose to exist in that preening world of puffed and feathered breastplate, while away the days and spread a colorful peacock fan and point out to all incessantly what a better job someone else could do.

With any luck for the rest of society, while completely absorbed in that narcissistic self-orgy of yours,  you will somehow find yourself floating in a sea of angst just moments before the life raft makes landfall.

Believe it or not, there are probably multitudes within the “religion” would love to give you that “little push” you so richly deserve.

As the saying goes (and this, in this moment in political history is an absolute) “it is sink, or swim”.

Here’s hoping that all that preening lent you some buoyancy.  I have a feeling you are quite soon-to-be in desperate, desparate need !