UPDATING YOUR RELIGION
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© July 2019, LD Wilson consultants, Inc.
This is an unusual article that some readers may find offensive. The theme is that sometimes we must move on from our religious upbringing or old religious perspective. We will call this process updating your religion, for lack of a better word to describe it.
MOVING ON IS NOT EASY
Moving on from the religion of your birth, your childhood or youth is not often easy because:
1. Loss. Leaving to move on may mean leaving behind family, friends, familiar settings, and more. At a deeper level, it is a loss of an identity and thus a loss of self-worth. One might say it is an ego loss, or a kind of death.
In fact, some religions believe that when a person leaves the religion, he or she “dies” and one must not have any more contact with that person.
2. Fear. One’s old religion may teach that one must not leave the religion or one will go to hell, be ostracized, or worse.
3. Criticism. Family, friends and others often are critical when you try to leave. They will say they are afraid for you, and don’t want you to suffer.
4. Effort. Updating your religion may require a degree of starting over. Many people just slide along in their old, well-worn mental, emotional, social and work-related ruts. Breaking out of the rut may require learning new ways of living and new ways of relating to God, to others, and to yourself.
One will need to meet new people, make new friends, visit new places, and more. As a result, most people will not do it unless “forced” by circumstances, health, finances, a relationship, perhaps, or something else.
WHY IS UPDATING YOUR RELIGION SOMETIMES HELPFUL OR NECESSARY?
The simplest reason is that the current religion is not fulfilling your needs. This does not mean there is something wrong with your religion. It just means that it is not providing something that you require.
Your need could be for answers to questions that are burning inside of you, or peace that you seek. You might need more fun or satisfying activities, a human relationship, or more social activities.
Religions and other social groups fulfill all of these needs for most people. When your religion is not doing this you will usually feel a restlessness, uneasiness, or irritation that may indicate a need to move on.
IS THERE AN ORDER AS TO WHICH RELIGION ONE WILL SWITCH TO NEXT?
No. Different personality types will tend to be attracted to particular religions or systems of thought, but there is not one special sequence or way to update your religion.
An exception is the move toward truth. This is a force that propels some people to keep searching, hopefully moving one toward a more comprehensive system of thought and action.
IS FOLLOWING A DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM A RELIGION?
A development program has some of the qualities of a religion. However, it lacks certain aspects of a religion such as the social activities and the charitable activities, for example.
HOW DOES ONE DECIDE WHICH RELIGION TO SWTICH TO?
This requires investigation on your part. It may also involve experimenting with new ideas and new procedures and rituals. You may need to visit different churches and spend a little time there.
IS UPDATING ONE’S RELIGION WORTH THE EFFORT?
Many people would tell you that it is. In fact, it is essential. Otherwise, you may become seriously depressed or even ill. Updating your religion always opens up a new life for a person that can lead to a much happier and fulfilling life.
It always brings new relationships, for example, and perhaps a new marriage. This results in children, in many cases. It may also bring much better health and a much better understanding of life. Is this all worth the effort – yes!
Question, but try to avoid becoming angry and resentful. If you become too angry, you are likely to swing the other way and this is not freedom, but simply reaction.
Always seek for the truth. This means do not seek for a particular system, group or a simple answer. It also means one must read books, and consult many sources, both religious and non-religious.
Be open to new ideas and new understanding. This is obvious. However, I find that many who say they are open to new ways of thinking or living are, in fact, quite closed-minded. It is actually difficult to really be open-minded. One must have the confidence that one’s world will not fall apart if one challenges the status quo or tries out some new way of thinking about things. So it is helpful to attend other types of worship services, read books that one might find strange, and so on. Be willing to question everything, even this article.
Be wary of
extremes. It is often too easy to just reject the
past completely, thinking that this will solve everything. It rarely does. Instead, it usually just leads one into
another extreme position. Much better to move slowly, and feel your way forward on a
day-by-day basis. This is
also more difficult for most people as it actually takes far more work and
concentration, but it is much safer.
For example, many people in Europe, particularly, are rejecting Christianity, even protesting the visit of the pope because he opposes homosexual marriage and abortion on demand. However, what is occurring there is a secular socialism that is failing miserably because society cannot operate without rules.
If the rules are not appropriate, perhaps they can be changed. But throwing out all the old Biblical rules is not working well, either in Europe or America where the same thing has happened, though to a lesser degree.
Look out for
cults. We want to clearly define a cult
because the word is used loosely today.
We will define a cult as a group or situation in which the minds of
people are insidiously manipulated or swayed to do things that are hurtful, and
that they would ordinarily not do. Often, unusual sex and even some
violence are involved, and often against children.
Please read the above definition carefully. For example, it is not the same as the way many religions use the word cult. They often say that anyone who does not share their belief system is a cult. We feel this is incorrect, and is simply a form of name-calling and a way to discredit those with whom you do not agree.
As an extreme example, some people believe that healing work discussed on this website is a cult. We say nothing is further from the truth! A development program is pure science, which is the opposite of cults.
Beliefs in astrology, mediumship, space aliens, life after death, or numerology are not cults. They may be silly or incorrect, but unless they are designed to manipulate and destroy people, they are not cults. They are simply fields of human endeavor that, in time, will be either proven to be real or to be false.
Try to see the good in your old way of thinking or acting, even if you decide to move on. Usually, the old ways had some merit, and finding this is a good starting point to seek for what you are looking for.
Allow a certain amount of ambiguity and confusion in your life on this issue. This is important because some confusion and ambiguity is normal when making any important life changes. If you cannot tolerate any ambiguity, your search will usually not go very far.
Work on your health. This can have wonderful benefits such as clearer thinking, a better memory, more energy with which to seek and find, and many others. This is most important for anyone who is tired, somewhat depressed, anxious or having other physical or emotional difficulties.
Realize that all religions have some truth. This is hard to see, at times, especially if you are in a rebellious condition, as are millions today. However, it is the truth. For much more information about religions, in particular, read The Origins, Necessity and Purpose of Religion on this website.
Read about the founder of your old religion or beliefs and try to go back to the roots of it. This is often extremely helpful because in many cases, the founder had the right ideas, but those who came afterwards added to, altered, or even forgot basic teachings for practical, political or other reasons. Of course, in some cases you may learn that the founder was not a good person and you are just waking up to this fact.
Understand that all teachings, belief systems, religions and groups exist within a historical and cultural context. In other words, realize that many religions or other teachings on earth are several thousand years old and may need ‘updating’, so to speak. Done properly, this will revive and rejuvenate them, and probably is what the founder would have wanted.
This is a difficult task, however, because updating does not mean to make the teaching more fashionable necessarily, or even more “moderate” or “liberal”. It simply means that world conditions and the minds of mankind have changed to a degree and the traditions, rituals and teachings must remain appropriate for modern mankind.
Eventually, decide to take the best from your current or old religion, or teaching, and just leave the rest. In other words, take what you need from whatever background you have, and then move on. This is the creative way to proceed, and usually much safer than just embracing an altogether new teaching and dropping the old one completely. At times, however, this is best, too.
Ultimately, try to have fun with the entire topic of religion and spirituality. This does not mean to be superficial or uncommitted in your pursuit of the truth. However, it means to avoid becoming too serious and too caught up with any teaching or idea that you either embrace or reject. Our world is sometimes more complex than it seems.
Change is occurring very rapidly on planet earth, so it is important to stay relaxed and, if possible, tune in to yourself and feel the direction in which you and others are going. This takes some maturity, by the way, and is difficult for some people. However, it is a key for some people to release them from bondage to the past and extreme reactions and anger that can lead to unhealthy behaviors.
Changing one’s beliefs may be a lot more difficult than one might think. This is one reason that older religions and belief systems persist. They become entrenched in the minds of the people, who instill the ideas in their children in a way that is difficult to break free.
This is also one reason why anything new is usually persecuted severely before it is adopted, even if it makes sense. Many readers, for example, know that leaders such as Moses, Jesus, and many others were persecuted and often killed for thinking differently than others.
Let us hope that as time passes, more people will realize that killing those you disagree with, providing they mean you no harm, is not the only way to handle them. In fact, these pioneers may have much to offer.