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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Tuesday, October 22 2002 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterUnorganized religion

A bumper sticker spotted on my recent Southern California sojourn got my juices flowing on a topic I've often considered but seldom if ever commented in a public forum. "God is great," it proposed; "organized religion isn't." To which my quick take is, "true, but organized religion will have to do until something better comes along (and that's not going to happen)." It's my strong opinion that you can't have God without religion and you can't have religion without organization. Some call philosophies like Taoism "religions," and in some senses it may be true without their being "organized" (and, in fact, much of Buddhism, too, is unstructured compared with Western religions...but then, so is much of Protestantism).

I've often written about religion as the bedrock of a person's being, that on which he or she stands, the ground in which growth is possible, and stripped to that, "religion" can exist without organization. Right? Well, perhaps not. Even if your "religion" is professional football (which has often been cited as a religious devotion in the lives of millions), doesn't it require certain levels of organization? In fact, without organization, how would you know the score? How many thousands of people in a concerted, highly organized fashion, bring you the football games each week? How many more comment on them, professionally, in the press, the Internet, and the broadcast outlets? To say this is "unorganized" would be just silly. It's more highly organized and often more motivated, religiously, than, for example, the Catholic Church. The producers are more powerful and almost as wealthy as the Pope and the bishops (he said tongue in cheek), and we haven't even touched on the coaches, team owners, and national league "organization."

Your religion is nothing so organized and fervently undergirded as a sport? Maybe it's rock or hiphop music? There's no organization there at all, is there? These thousands are just drawn to the concerts when the spirit of the music draws them? There's no devotion required or expected, much less expressed, and there are no cults of personality or hope in miracles? There's certainly no in-group language in which the faith is described and by which its faithful identify one another. Right? There's no attempt at raising money, either, to support the causes (from the stars' limos to their favorite pills, potions, and powders)?

I'm convinced that the only way to speak meaningfully of "unorganized religion" is as a cult of one. It's your religion and no one else's. You don't preach it; you don't write about it; you don't hold meetings "organized" around it...to do so would violate its most basic fundamental tenet. Neither do you print and stick on bumper stickers to support it. To do so is to encourage conversions, and that would require organization. But if you do it, you're displaying one of the most common characteristics found in every other organized religion: hypocrisy.

What do you think?

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Seeing the obvious

Stuck under a bridge

A truck driver was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads "low bridge ahead." Before he knows it, the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes along. The cop gets out of his car and walks around to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, "Got stuck, huh?"

The truck driver says, "No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas."

—Sent by Bob Kennedy

Thought for today

A brother advanced in years said: For nine years a brother was tempted in thought to the point of despairing of his salvation, and being scrupulous, he condemned himself, saying, "I have lost my soul, and since I am lost, I shall go back to the world." But while he was on the way, a voice came to him on the road, which said, "These nine years during which you have been tempted have been crowns for you; go back to your place, and I will allay these thoughts." Understand that it is not good for someone to despair of himself because of his temptations; rather temptations procure crowns for us if we use them well.

—Sent by Christopher Haas

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