The Best and the Worst of Religion in Maturing Spirituality

Maturing Spirituality follows a development similar to a child growing to adulthood. Early religious formation is about the “letter of the law,” which is imparted by outside authorities. The hope is for a formation of conscience, an inner authority, that will enable someone to make wise, kind, good, fair, and forgiving decisions with the law of love written in her heart.  

Finding our true inner voice and inner authority is a life-long process and needs to have some reference points outside of ourselves, otherwise our egos will deceive us and distort the truth about ourselves and others; we make ourselves gods.

Religion (of diverse creeds,) at its best can help open the way to an experience of unconditional Love which is necessary for whole-making. It can provide the outside-of-self reference that helps individuals develop an informed conscience. Spiritual formation is an inner dialogue between information (obtained outside ourselves from Scripture and spiritual/religious texts, Science, news etc.) and life experiences, my own and others’, especially others who are different from me.

At its worst, religion (of diverse creeds) aligns itself with the powerful and forgets its mandate to protect the poor and the vulnerable. It becomes a self-referential power-over-others kind of authority, and can and has and still does exploit and abuse. Not insignificant is the temptation of religious authorities to use their influence to dictate morals to adults rather than facilitating their growth to spiritual maturity. It is not surprising that many have given up trying to find a moral compass through the morass of such religion. 

In his article, “Cats as Spiritual Teachers,” Jay McDaniel writes: “The world’s religions do a tremendous disservice to people when they overemphasize dependence on others …In the house of spirituality there is room for self-dependence, for a healthy relationship with your own life.”