Monday, July 10, 2006

Religion is a Crutch


"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers...” --Jesse Ventura

“Religion is a crutch, but that's okay... humanity is a cripple.” --Anon.



Many see religion as a crutch. They think those who do not understand the rational logic of science, or do not have the emotional fortitude to deal with life’s difficulties, seek to wrap themselves in the nebulous comfort of a belief that tells them it will all be OK, that someone “out there” has a plan. They think faith holds up the infirm of spirit. It is a crutch.

Perhaps they are right. There are lots of people who want, who need, that kind of support religion can bring. Perhaps they have not had the physical problems, the emotional struggles. Perhaps they have escaped “The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to (Hamlet)”, and so do not understand the need many of us have to lean on something once in a while.

Many times my faith has kept me upright when I would have fallen. I have been hurt, I have been weak, I have been infirm, and leaned heavily on that Shillelagh, that crutch of religion and it has kept me from stumbling.

But that does not mean there isn’t something more there.

This past week I have been on the road with my family.


I have felt joy in praying under the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I’ve felt that part of me that communes with my Lord and Master stir and lift in beauty sublime.

But there was something lacking there. There is joy and inspiration in nature, but I was missing something while gazing at thunderstorms, rainbows, and flower-filled meadows in high mountain passes.

Religion.

Religion is linked to but apart from my faith. My faith is always there, always carrying me along. My faith is always with me whether or not I am praying or singing or reading. My faith is the internal compass I have which points unwaveringly at a creator. But this past week my religion was on sabbatical.

I have not been reading regularly in my Bible. I have not been meeting with my moon howlin’ buddies. I haven’t been to my church and lifted my hands in worship with my brothers and sisters in Him. I haven’t been on prayer walks, reflective moments of solitude in places so familiar that I can walk with eyes closed as I share my heart and mind with my concerned master. I haven’t been doing many of the disciplines which hone my faith. I haven’t been religious.

There is a negative connotation in being religious. But I think it serves a very healthy purpose, a purpose which augments faith.

Athletes can speak long of the virtues of practicing their sport, the discipline of repetition and concentration. They cannot get better at what they do unless they practice their sport religiously.

Michael Jordan may have many physical gifts that made him a basketball great, but unless he simply put that large orange ball thousands of times through all those hoops over all those years, he could not have done what he did.

In martial arts they practice their movements over and over and over. They learn how to position their bodies and tools to move gracefully. The purpose is to train the body so that the movements are smooth, eloquent, until they express a serenity of the mind.

In practicing my faith, in being religious, I learn to handle that crutch so it does more than support me when I get tired, or hurt. I learn to use it to feel my way along when things are dark, to tap at the obstacles in my path and learn of things I cannot see. I use it to help me vault swirling waters and scramble over obstacles set in my path. I think sometimes He grasps that “crutch” and pulls me up over spots I could not otherwise climb. If I didn’t have a firm grip on that crutch He could not guide me. Sometimes He has taken it from me and used its crook around my neck as any good shepherd would.

Sometimes that crutch has been long enough, strong enough, to defend me, my home, my family, from an evil force, a predator in the dark. Though I’m a man, a creature without fangs or claws or horns, I can carry the tools that He has given me and rap the snarling snout that reaches into my small pool of light and make it retreat from those I have been set to protect.


So, is religion a crutch?

Or is it a staff?


-------------------

A few pics from the trip
(Click to enlarge)

4th of July in Cody, Wyoming

I have no idea

Rocky

31 comments:

Vicki said...

Oh my, dear friend. Methinks religion is a crutch, but yes, Jesus is my Staff. Your post was really good. Makes the heart ponder so much. I smiled when you mentioned the crook of the staff around your neck sometimes...He does that for me, too. Thankfully.

Bruce said...

Well said. And I really enjoyed the pics.

B~

Me said...

I don't see anything wrong with it being a crutch. Sometimes that's what we need. It's kind of like that poem Footsteps says about the Lord carrying us in our time of need.

Me said...

I meant the poem Footprints.

Me said...

Footprints
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it. "LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.
The LORD replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
~Mary Stevenson Parker~

ukok said...

Beautiful and thought provoking post!

Jada's Gigi said...

Religion... as in practicing, practicing His presence...religiously...this I fully recommend...
I had a similiar thought about God in nature...looking at Him solely in nature leads us to a God who is "out there" somewhere..."in heaven", something missing in that alone...practicing His presence leads us to an internal living relationship with a living God.

Beautiful pics...I do see God there...:) an internal relationship with Him allows me to see Him there in an even greater way.
thanks for sharing

bjk said...

As always worth pondering...!!

Felisol said...

Dear Curious Servant,
I am so happy for the good times you are experiecing together with your family.
The importance of relaxing and seeing the world as new together cannot be overestimated.
About religion. A Norwegian hymn goes like this: "God will be God, even if all people were dead. God will be God even if all countries were desolated."
I need God. Not only for eternity, but for this life as well. He is my staff, He is the rock to which I can cling, He is rhe one who carry me, when I cannot walk, He has counted the hairs on my head, He will ever not let me go or leave me alone.

A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

God bless you all.

Paul said...

Nice post. Thanks for stopping by my joint a few days ago. Hurry back.

Coco said...

Glad to hear that you and your family had a fabulous time together.

Religion is a way of life-
minute by minute, day by day, year by year.

Thank you for posting your wonderful pictures!! I loved Rocky's picture- great face!

Take Care!
Blessings.

Fox's Mom said...

Rocky looks like he's having profound considerations:)

A staff, dear CS, surely a staff.

And thank-you for identifying that something missing-I too had not been as religious lately, and after some thought this weekend, knew I needed to get back in the habits that religion gives us. Those habits lead me always straight to where I need most to go-Him.

I've truly noticed a difference when I drift away from Daily Office, prayer walks. I feel as though something is missing.

It is an exercise, religion, for me anyway, and without it my soul gets flabby:)

Bianca

curious servant said...

Thanks all for the wonderful comments!

You definately got my point.

The terms "religion," religious," and "religously" tend to have negaive conotations. And perhaps rightly, because being religious can come without being faithful, or faith-full.

But faith needs discipline to grow properly, and that is the purpose, in my mind, of being religious.

Thanks for your comments!

By the way... I love the expression on my dog's face. click on the pic to get a good look!

And did you folks notice the woman riding the long-horn?! That's Wyoming!

curious servant said...

Here's a guy with a couple of blogs with some really fun writing. I recommend them!

http://writingfromthehip.blogspot.com/

http://douglasaz.blogspot.com/

Worth your time!

SocietyVs said...

Religion is a crutch but then again so is a political system, so Ventura should realize one little thing...take away a governmental system and we'll see humanity invent it again. Duh.
Nothing wrong with having a faith in God, we are people prone to spirituality and a belief in God (proven by stats if you check closely every culture that has ever existed). That's called being a real person, having faith in God.
Ventura wants to demean people of faith and make himself look good (and strong) but it's flawed. Not like Ventura helped me in times of trouble and suffering.

Lucy Stern said...

I choose to follow, so religion is not so much of a crutch to me. In our faith we take about holding on to the iron rod to get back to our Heavenly Father. Nice post.

Lucy Stern said...

I forgot to say that my son worked on an oil rig up in Cody,Wyoming last summer. He loved it up there. Hope you are having a great time with your family.

Fred said...

I'm okay with it being a crutch. When you're injured, you use a crutch to help the healing process.

I loved the pictures, CS; they're beautiful. You guys look great!

Fox's Mom said...

Thank-you:)

Bianca

Ame said...

God tells us to worship Him together ... religion ... us reaching toward God ... a crutch? Probably more a need that God has placed deep inside our souls. If we didn't have such a need we would not endure such flaws as creep into religion thru imperfect people ... like me ;)

Nice to draw away, though ... those times have been very poignant for me and very necessary, but they are short seasons leading me back to my crutch-need for religion.

Bad Alice said...

Love that second quote. I don't find religion much of a comfort, though, much more challenging than anything. And kind of scary. It's scary not to be the center of your universe, after all.

Suzanne said...

I loved this...I also love the idea of the staff! That caught me and I am dwelling on it more.
Your trip looks like the same one we took summer before last! Isn't Yellowstone awesome? Glad you could go and so happy what you took away from it all in your ponderings here! Beautiful!

curious servant said...

Got anoether post in the work stemming from the trip.

Couldn't work on it today.

My 55 gallon fish aquarium sprung a leak.

Got it fxixed. Played with the boys. Watched the first Star Wars movie togaether (episode IV, "A New Hope")... They'd ever seen it!

Hint about my next post: 37 years ago this month...

Jim said...

Thanks for sharing. Your trip must have been wonderful for all of you. I know you have lots of nice pictures.
'Religion' is a crutch for a lot of people. Me too to some extent.
Dictionary definition of religion: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
Jesus is my crutch, I don't consider him to be my religion. My religion is Christian, in that I am one of the followers of Jesus.
Jesus is my crutch. I am weak, he is strong enough to carry my full weight if need be.
..

Tony Myles said...

Religion is a crutch.

Jesus, on the other hand, is a resurrector of the dead.

curious servant said...

The point I was trying to make is that religion has a place in a Christ-follower's walk.

There is a benefit to the disciplines of religion which compliments and strengthens one's faith and that it is a part in obedience, training, learning to focus.

see-through faith said...

wondering when (why and how) religion /being religious came to be a dirty word?

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