227. A Vocation

The good face of orga­nized reli­gion is that it cre­ates a social space. This is a space which at its best lies out­side the thrall of daily eco­nomic con­test and role play, a place where peo­ple regard­less of sta­tus, race, gen­der or occu­pa­tion can meet and reflect on their human­ity. We all know that “at its best” is a frag­ile con­di­tion, and in the case of reli­gion has had a bumpy his­tory. The com­pe­ti­tion from other social spaces nowa­days is fierce. Orga­nized reli­gion also has crip­pling neg­a­tives. In most cul­tures, it has rou­tinely been con­trolled by old men, in indi­vid­ual cases with wis­dom and tol­er­ance, but in the aggre­gate over time, as a power tool of social con­trol and sex­ual con­trol, enforced by exclu­sion, per­se­cu­tion and war. In the aggre­gate over time, the evi­dence is over­whelm­ing that reli­gion has never made good men and women from bad men and women. Its moral parade has been a pre­tense for other agen­das. The ani­mal rou­ti­nes of strut­ting, preen­ing, fight­ing, feed­ing and breed­ing don’t need a reli­gion to sanc­tify them, and sec­u­lar cul­tures have been per­fectly capa­ble of man­ag­ing them. We need to respect our biol­ogy, but it is not what defines us as human. Surely it is time to grow up and find our proper human voca­tion. If peo­ple must talk of a god, and many seem to feel the need, then that voca­tion, the godly role if you like, is our choice to make. The care and man­age­ment of a small planet, with all the liv­ing things upon it might not be a bad choice.

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