Religion – a new way

This is a post I’ve been going to write for a while – in fact nearly two years! I’ve delayed writing it for fear of offending people but after a bit of tweet chat a while back I decided to step into the #ldbravery space and share my thoughts.  Plus it’s nearly Christmas so it seems relevant!!

Having feared writing this, what I discovered was that my fear was coming from my non-religious upbringing and my concern that I would write this with a mindset of ‘we don’t need religion, we’re just fine thanks’. What I’ve discovered through writing this is that much of the great stuff we do and seek today has origins in religion and so what I’ve learnt instead is that we might just do well to look to those who practice for more inspiration. And with my daughter now deciding to be a Christian I may well be learning more over the coming months!

I believe everyone is entitled to live their life and believe in what they want to believe* without judgement from others – because what works for me may be different to what works for you. This is therefore not about judgement of religion or non-religion, this is just about things I see taking the place of religion today and I’m really curious to learn what this means to others.

My religious background? I wasn’t christened or anything. I had a Church of England mum and a lapsed Catholic dad, the latter of whom resented his religious upbringing and didn’t want to enforce anything on his own kids. Plus they couldn’t have decided what to make us! I dabbled with religion around 16 when a couple of Christian girls at school made a good effort to convert me but it just wasn’t really me. Plus I was then starting to get into a phase that didn’t sit so well with the other young people in the circles where we were meant to share our experiences of keeping away from the evil of alcohol and certain movies. I didn’t feel I was on the same wavelength.

The other time I had my interest piqued into religion was at my sister’s wedding – I loved the symbolism of the Hindu ceremony and the spiritual nature of it. The joining of two families and the welcome for my sister into her new one.

I’m now finding that spiritualism… Buddhism…. I’m not sure what exactly, holds interest for me and it’s a wonder I’m just letting sit there for a while to see what emerges – like this fascinating movie The Shift. Thank you Amanda Sterling for sharing.

So please read this with full awareness that I’m not an expert in religion in any way and that these are a layperson’s observations.

In recent years religious participation – at least Christian participation in the UK – has decreased and we’ve sought out other things to take its place. These are some of the things I think we’ve found….

Church

Happiness

A couple of months back, I heard on the Radio about an event by Action for Happiness with the Dalai Lama in London to mark World Peace Day. Action for Happiness provide opportunities for people to connect and meet on subjects such as family & friends, the world, bouncing back, and more. Something which would have previously been achieved through prayer groups, or just talking to trusted friends and family at the regular routine of weekly church.

Purpose

In work, the place where we no longer loyally follow one organisation for our whole career, we look for purpose – a meaning beyond just a job. Something beyond profit that has us feel we’re making a difference in the world. Something to suggest that our life on this earth matters. Needs which I’d offer were traditionally met through serving God, through believing that in meeting His expectations we’d be fulfilling our purpose on earth.

Praying and Signs from God

Friends of ours a few years back moved city to establish a new church. They talked of praying to God and being guided by Him to the place where their church should be. In that moment I had a sense that praying and coaching have similarities – speaking our thoughts, possibly out loud but not always, to enable us to make sense of a situation. Those thoughts ‘spoken’ in the presence of someone who believes in you and who listens to you without interruption to enable you to do your best thinking. Sometimes clients will talk to me after a session about the idea I gave them, when all I’d done was listen and ask questions. They had the idea in themselves all along. How much of this is what praying offers?

Street Wisdom has similar parallels to the situations where people talk of God having spoken to them, or being given a sign. Street Wisdom is all about spotting the signs around us to answer questions that we’ve been grappling with. Again, accessing our fantastic subconscious that so often gets drowned out by our conscious mind (read Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis if you’d like to learn more about this). Given our subconscious works better with images it makes sense that visual signs in our surroundings are able to connect with it and give us these messages.

Human Connection

In the past: Every Sunday, 10am, best clothes on, meet and connect with familiar and friendly faces at church to look for inspiration in the teachings of the bible.

Now: Every Saturday, 10am, best clothes on, meet and connect with familiar and friendly faces in town, at the shops to look for inspiration in the latest clothes and shoes.

Although this particular modern form of inspiration has (IMHO) taken a drop in meaning, connection is essential to us.  To thrive we need to make sure it’s part of how we spend our time – whether that’s shopping, going out for meals, cups of tea at home, or indeed going to our preferred religious centre.

And now there’s this new option for not just human connection but singing, appreciation, gratitude, inspirational talks but minus religion – the Sunday Assembly.  Thanks Phil Wilcox for telling me about this one. 
Given there are so many aspects of life today which appear to have originally been instilled in religious rituals and which are now being met in ‘new’ ways – perhaps there’s more to learn by looking to religion for inspiration.

What do you think?  Leave a comment!

 

Photo credit – http://www.pumcqva.org/

*I don’t extend this to those that believe causing harm – of any kind – to others is justified.

This is me………www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

WFS Tree

 

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4 thoughts on “Religion – a new way

  1. Helen you had nothing to fear writing this article. If I may say, as someone that has only known and worked with you over the past 12 months, this is reads more like poetry than a reflection.

    An absolutely stunning read which I completely relate too. As someone who is 100% agnostic, I 100% support and like the fact that people, from a wide range of faiths and backgrounds, find comfort in their respective religion, save taking crazy physcos out of the equation.

    Interestingly reading your article makes me reflect that my recent change in personal drive and passion (over the past 18 months) in answering some form of ‘calling’ in my world in terms of focusing on supporting building structures that help every individual at all level of our business, have the opportunity to continuously learn, rather than just focssing on what I desired from life.

    The fact I started to become ‘lost’ previously and bored and lacking in purpose and passion fully supports the notions you describe above.

    Whether it is religion or otherwise that ‘supports’ us, the need to spend more time as human beings interacting, talking and learning from one another has never been so important.

    I loved hearing about a charity on the radio yesterday that is pairing up people from different generations to share wisdom with the example of a 19 yr old uni student meeting a 100 yr old lady to share views and discuss topics of mutual interest.

    A lovely reflective piece this Sunday.

    As Simon Sinek would ask “do we understand why we do what we do”?

    If we dont, we are lacking purpose.

  2. Hi Helen. Thanks for sharing. I have no religion, believing that all religions are human inventions and so are ways of teaching what it means to be a good person. Much of the worlds religious teaching have much common ground. There is a lot of interesting reading in the field of Spiritual Intelligence (“SQ”) that I suspect you would find interesting. Try “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch (written from a Christian perspective, but accessible to humanists), and “Work as a Spiritual Practice” by Lewis Richmond, which applies a Buddhist lens to the workplace. When exploring SQ I also re-read Covey’s “7 Habits”, which again has a Christian leaning, but was originally researched by looking at the world’s religions through the years and culminates in those famous 7 habits of what it means to be a successful human being.
    Jez

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