This is Part III of what was going to be a 3-part series on Building My Own Religion. There’s probably going to be a Part IV, and maybe a Part V. Tune in 2 weeks and find out…
“Religion, like it or not, has endured since early hunter-gatherer societies, and is an obvious trait of cultural evolution. For me, the acknowledgment of this, the consideration of, if not the understanding of religion is one of the more important aspects of being human in the modern world. Living in this era of increasing religious fundamentalism, among multiple faiths, as well as the increasing state of so-called, militant atheism, I feel that it’s more important than ever to explore purpose on a more personal level, and to do so honestly and with an open mind.” Me
For much of my adult I have looked down to see my moral compass spinning beneath me. Many of my lesser choices, often times, just didn’t seem that bad. I have reasoned that since my compass spun as such, it was okay to make some iffy choices. After all, at some point the spinning needle would be pointing in or near the direction I would be exploiting. More recently though, and from a more mortal vantage point, I have come to realize that the needle was rigid all along – pointing only in one direction. The illusion masking my moral truth was me, standing over my compass, looking down at the rigid needle and walking in circles around it.
From Little, Can Come Much
Most physicists and mathematicians will tell you that there is an inherent beauty in short equations; that scientific truths, explained in the simplest terms, are elegant and beautiful. Since I am neither a scientist nor an expert in mathematics, I will simply trust them. Of long and drawn out equations, as explanations for complex problems, says physicist and mathematician John Polkinghorne, “The answers are almost always flawed – and seldom pretty.”
I often think of religious scripture in this way; that they can be so drawn out, so complicated, and so over-thought that not only can they be ugly, but they’re probably flawed as well. Of course I know that there is great beauty within much religious scripture, and certainly much wisdom through the ages. Still, when it comes to religious values, I believe that they can all be reduced to one simple equation; it’s beautiful and it’s undeniably true:
“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”
Variations of this are woven into the DNA of most every faith, and every religious scripture. I believe it’s woven into our personal DNA as well, but that is a source of great debate in science – that there might, or might not be a God gene, if not a good gene. Most days I think religion should stop right there, with the Golden Rule. Still, we pile on, add to it, transmogrify it, over think its simple elegance, and then we proselytize with it to fulfill our agenda, justify our ignorance, or both.
Can I get A Witness…? Simple Tenets For My Internal Tenants
There are about a dozen lesser Roys within me, battling for playing time:
Obsessive fitness Roy. Short tempered Roy. Fall for anything Roy. Showoff Roy. Need to be entertained Roy. Foul mouthed Roy. Flippant Roy. Fall in with the crowd Roy. Tequila Roy. Win over the eyes, if not the hearts of all women on the planet Roy. Spend it as soon as you earn it Roy. And of course we can’t forget, Judgmental Roy, among a few others.
But there is also the Roy within me who aspires to live above the other Roys – the Roy who realizes that it’s me who’s been spinning, and not the needle. I need a simple formula, soon, that I reconcile these lesser Roys, or the blender in my head is going to explode.
The Process Of Elimination
“Do unto others, as I would have them do unto me.” As scrutinized by a judgment committee, meeting deep inside my head.”
That’s not a joke actually. Since I was quite young, perhaps the 3rd grade or so, I have felt like there has been a committee, gathered around a table in a meeting room, watching every move I make on closed circuit television. I refer to them as, My Moral Junta. In my head, this committee has consisted of rotating participants including god, my parents, various friends, neighbors, employers, and even Mick Jagger on occasion – Jagger there more as a color commentator and opposing theorist, than panelist. As a committee, I have envisioned that they consult on each move I make, using their consensus to set up the next challenge they will place ahead of me. Sadly, I actually live this out in my head regularly – and for decades.
Please check back in two weeks for Part IV of Building My Own Religion; The Check-List…
Oh, and there’s this very engaging cover of Neil Young’s, Powderfinger by the legendary San Diego band, The Beat Farmers. Enjoy…