Cross My Heart and Hope to Write


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Religious or Spiritual?: Antidisestablishmentarianism

I can't claim to be religious. Then again, what does that even mean, "to be religious?" I have heard people talk of frustration when inquiring the same of others, only to be responded with, "No, I'm spiritual." What does that even mean? I talk to God (though I can't say I'm certain who or what I'm talking to). I pray. But I don't adhere to a particular discipline. Though my weekend yoga routine may be somewhat regular, that's the closest I come to Sunday Mass. Yet, I feel comfortable in any religious setting, be it a Baptist church, an Islamic mosque, a Hindu temple, or a Catholic cathedral. Indeed, I indulge in such eclectic participation, though I respect other's potential abhorrence of such activities. Sure, the community created by organized religions is beautiful, but I think the point of "worship" runs far deeper.

I'm not bastardizing routine religious and/or (as I see no concrete discernible difference between the two) spiritual adherence. Quite the contrary - I'm aggrandizing the personal experience of engaging in religious and/or spiritual activities. It is the personal component that is key. No organized religion or sect can certify for you the correct way in which you should perform your adoration to whomever or whatever you wish, unless of course you feel that religion/sect fit. You have the choice; you always do. The divine acts in ways that I cannot see rulable by man. The powers that exist beyond have bestowed upon you the gift of worship in any way you deem practical, even if you choose not to worship at all.    


All the Rites of Day and Night
Bestowed upon my temple
Of clockwork switches and capital heights
With spires and sconces in marble
Bury your teeth upon the alter
Be faltered by the depths of the murals on the ceiling
Rest your head on the granite floor
And ignore how you think the priests and nuns are feeling
There are staircases in hidden corners
Horns are grown, and groaned, to boast
You'll learn the points are sharper and stronger
To lobotomize and inoculate the ghosts
We baptize with bullets here
Neither our sheep nor goats
Lazy linens
And tenant tents
Swaddle our brethren and our hosts
Sweeping away the regurgitation of the day
When night comes knocking
You learn the flowers are not quite so gay
We're stripping the tires
Offering justice
To places who wish it, but find it not
On the map of life and luxury
We'll help you to erase your dot
Drones of clones and matchmaker weddings
Pending address to mail us a claim
"We're sorry for all the happiness,
"We'll be glad to blot out your name."
The seats sink in like an elderly mattress
To clasp you tight and let you go
To free you from commitment
(Your reluctance will let you know)
Blessed upon the brow
A sacrificial cow
With smoke
And glitter
And mint oil
Kicked in the back of the knees
To bow
We must be the dogs
To bay by doors
Denied the right to be a scoundrel
Denied a meal, denied attack
Water laced with plasma    
Quarried with salmonella hands
Bottled up for firmament
In barrels with steal bands
We will drink to the sloth
A company of gluttons
Introverted stomachs
Keep our petticoats and suits still buttoned    
Hear our choir illuminate
The darker parts of the mosque
When we pass around the hallowed skull
Its time to empty out your socks
We can raise the dead with the Rites of Day
And make you forget you passed away
Reanimate the potpourri
With an ungodly euphony
We can bring you to the edge with the Rites of Night
And make you forget you ever were alive
Disintegrate your spirits spine
Leave reality behind
Come together in our mass
Of abandoned monotony      


  1. The difference between religious and spiritual is that the latter leaves their options as open as their minds and have a less regimented adherence. The "higher power" that has been the wonder of humankind's drive to solve universal mysteries is always directly influenced by these two forces and by the same understanding of the immediate universe (environment, community, region) into making correlations to what is expected to better one or all regarding sustaining character, the basis for either of the two superlatives.
    When you're praying, you're admitting your level of weakness and your dependence of something greater to assist you, expecting deserved reparation for what crisis one is in. The leverage that administers mercy seems to be a consistantly humanized, quasi-anthropomorphic force. The pass/fail aspect of consequence regarding such heartful cajoling is of the true order of the natural world that the spiritual gussy over as some kind of personalized deity and what the religious dictate as an omniscient, all-knowing, law-bringing god.
    The transition from one desciption to the other is based on the level of gullibility as well as disagreement with what system has been implemented in order for one to be distinguished as either of the two identities. The human need for compassion, as necessary to maintain and sustain our existance as a species, is also an objective for which the spiritual and the religious have assumingly built connections or standards to follow in order to acheive that objective.
    The unfailingly ridiculous notion of the existance of such a force, backed argumentatively by genuine rationalization of terrestrial desire for that "higher power" and long-term indoctrinization of the pre-established confirmation of its existance founded on demanded strict adherences rather than solid evidence, is an obvious grab at straws for the fear-based, less-interrogative machinations of culturally-evolved ancient superstitious storyteller explanations for what things are and why.
    Succintly, the difference between religious and spiritual is in the cap and bells song and dance of the fool to the monarch they perceive as their ruler but never find like they do the answers to questions that could be answered if there was a real connection to complete the desired affirmation.

  2. The first of your assertions I agree with, mainly that Religion and/or Spirituality, and by approximation the respective conceptualized divine, appear to be loci onto which we affix semantic frames of reference. This notion of the latter being more regimentally confined than the former also seems holistically valid, though on a personal level some may disagree.
    It is just on this level that, when you come to react to praying, I wish to retort, though I can only speak for myself on this matter. I can just as easily embrace the notion of there being no God, no high-power, no all-seeing, omnipotent, omnipresent being as I can vehemently assert the existence of one. No fear grips me in adhering to the "oh-so" evident fact - if we are to take human rationality, scientific endeavor, and mathematical calculations as attesting to fact - that the universe can burst into being out of nothing and that, at the crux of existence itself, there is no meaning, no purpose, and no transcendental relation to anything else. Indeed, the idea seems quite reassuring.
    Why, then, do I pray? This is a question I have asked myself a plethora of times. It is a choice, nothing more. I do not feel weak or subordinate to whomever, though I prefer whatever, I am speaking to. If existence is essentially bereft of any graspable meaning, than we as existent beings can, for ourselves, attach a meaning without fear of harm because, after all, even that meaning is itself meaningless.
    My experience has offered certain patterns or circumstances that seem, to myself, a rational being, beyond bedlam. Certainly, a cosmos filled with chaos and interacting processes, overlapping, intermixing, and so forth, will naturally result in such happenings. But the primordial "Why?" persists. (The question of "Why?" itself may be a human construction absent of any true meaning, but I digress). I have, therefore, arrived at conclusions - admittedly ludicrous and potentially childish - that some force, come overarching connective unites the whole of the universe and existence.
    It is that to which I am giving alms and thanks when I am praying. I am recognizing the curious nature of this experience and asking, not demanding or wishing, for recognition in return, though not reciprocity. I do not expect something to answer me back literally, but I wait in patient resolve, indifferent, for the circumstances to align in whichever way they will. I do not imagine my words falling on amorphous ears, but I likewise believe they become a part of that vast connective which flows through everything.
    That having been said, I realize most would categorize me as spiritual, though it is a hollow aggrandizement for me. I see no wrong in the act of any religious and/or spiritual performance, so long as it does not encroach maliciously on any others.
    It is, for me, a choice, nothing more and nothing less. Religious and/or spiritual activities, in my opinion, are always a matter of choice. Indeed, as existent beings, we always have a choice in every matter. And the fact that these beliefs persist suggest to me they are a very real part of the human subsistence.