We often forget that Western Civilization began as a religion! Western Civilization was the Western Church of one of Constantine’s sons: the Catholic or “universal” Church.
Jewish sacred history, Greek philosophy, and Roman law amalgamated Into the Roman Catholic World View. This view, over the centuries, through various “heresies”, became tamed, modified, expanded and focused into our current global, secular, scientific, technological, profit-driven societies – expressed with varying degrees of “democracy” or “authoritarianism”. It’s still a work in progress.
Western religion, substantially diluted to become more and more generalized, is what we now call, loosely, “society”. “Society” tends to be more “general”; “don’t murder” is now generally agreed-upon. “Religion” now tends to be more “specific”; “kneel at the altar”, “meditate in lotus”, only somewhat agreed-upon. So, to treat “society” as its own entity is a spiritual lie. To describe religions as now little islands floating in a secular sea that must have a “role in society” is only vaguely true. Society arose from religion, and religion is expressed in and through society. Society and religion are essentially one! To separate them is false.
Indeed, general “society” arose as a compensation and correction for the insanity of “religion”, our wars, cruelties, and psychic-assaults. But, today, this landscape has changed. Our “society” is now becoming increasingly perverted by the material mania for corporate profits, nation-state geo-political ascendancy, technological supremacy, and voracious human hungers for comfort and dominance.
Could “religion”, society’s missing self-piece, now help us find our way back to wholeness? Perhaps.
But, what kind of religion? Truly, with deep respect and love, I must ask: Are we speaking of Jewish views that seek to demolish the Dome of the Rock in Israel, and institute animal sacrifice, in order to fulfill sacred prophecy? Messianic Christian campaigns to baptize the entire world and fire-torch the earth to fulfill the words of Revelation? Islamic passions attempting to provide an alternative universal view, based not upon the Roman imperial structure, but upon that of the Islamic Caliphate?
What is needed is not religion per se. What is needed is True religion! Religions based upon Truth!
True religion teaches a truth-full way of life. True religion teaches us how to live in a spiritually-purposed way that permits the progressive, historical attainment of increased Unity and Goodness (that spiritual experience, individual or collective, often called “God”). True religion teaches us how to express Unity and Goodness throughout 1) all Life and Creation, especially here on earth. 2) all humankind, all peoples, societies and religions 3) all future generations.
True religion frames the foundation of all societal progress! True religion seeks a living alignment of human invention and Divine Creation in nature and human nature, to fulfill those prophetic virtues of Peace, justice and Righteousness. This is the true meaning of covenant –– that ancient Hebrew notion, taken up by Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and is now shared, in principle, around the globe, in various diluted-secular and still-distorted religious forms.
True religion must arise! True religions – lots of them – must arise strong, powerful, undaunted and unrelenting. True religions – regardless of their differing cultural heritage – must be reborn like a phoenix from its ashes. True religions must begin to fully, unabashedly, co-operate with each other. We must recognize our humanity first and secondly our formal-differences. We must truly form an alliance, a powerful multi-faceted spiritual vector that can direct and correct the excesses of society, infected by a now popular but false religion: secular-ism! Empty-pragmatism!
To accomplish this requires two vanguards:
First, outwardly: The religions of the world must join together and stop just “licking our wounds”, singing kumbaya, embarrassed that our past ignorance, cruelties, superstitions and divisiveness cleared the way for our increasingly vapid general-secular society, our “truth-competitor”. We must come together, with pride. We must re-package and re-deliver a God-based value-system that can be shared, co-promoted and pragmatically-implemented. We must do this in a way that is really earthly, not just pie-in-the-sky “theological”.
Second, inwardly: True religion must initiate and ignite a powerful spiritual awakening! Only True religion can unveil the spiritual potential within each and every religious-culture, within each and every society, secular or spiritual. Only True religion can bring this spiritual awakening to each and every human soul, and translate this into truth-full societies, societies operating according to the Truth.
Current society generally educates people just for labor and economic advantage. It is up to True religion to educate people for moral and spiritual advantage. True religion must culture minds, hearts and spirits.
True religion must supply the soul-force to counter-balance the secular-force.
Sadly, there is a paucity of clergy who have actually awakened their spiritual gifts. If they have done so, oftentimes, they have withdrawn from society, hiding in a cloister of some kind, perhaps just a nose buried in a book. In their seminaries, they must learn how to open up the spiritual acumen of their students. They must learn how to truly satisfy the spiritual-hunger for an authentic, covenantal experience of God.
Spiritual teachers must go forth and pragmatically, realistically demonstrate how to apply spiritual knowledge to real human everyday life, i.e. “society”. And, frankly, those still-remaining religions that remain contaminated with obsessive-compulsive disorders and fixed-ideational systems, oftentimes contaminated by malignant narcissism and violence, must seek psychiatric help.
What I’m calling for here is nothing less than a new Age of Enlightenment in this world, spearheaded by True religion. This is the so-called “role of religion in society”, that I’ve been asked to comment on here.
True Religion and a truth-full society are essentially one and the same (the same?). Any separation is incomplete, if not artificial.
Religion and society are two hands. They must come together. Their fingers were designed to inter-lock.
Together, they form a single prayer!