24 April 2016

Your "Religion" as "Devotion" to Your "God"


As you know, I take issue with people who profess to be "atheists". I know it is very trendy and "intellectual" to disbelieve in God or, more likely, to consider oneself above the need for something like God. It brings to mind a quote from Star Trek: First Contact where Jean-Luc Picard evokes his supposed "evolved sensibilities" that didn't include things as low as enjoying murder or revenge. Many people, hoping to look sophisticated, claim to have likewise "evolved" beyond a low belief in and devotion to things like God or religion, but I see this as a terrible self-delusion.

I hope you have learned that I acknowledge a God in my life. If you hadn't yet noticed, The Psychic Proximity Principle, as expressed in my Feeding the Soul of Steve Jobs booklet, is simply a way of accessing the wisdom of God in relation to yourself and your relations with others. Such things work because I have found that my loving God will always share his farsightedness with those willing to act upon it. For me, facing someone who militantly decries the existence of God is like listening to someone who preaches that they don't require oxygen to live - it's hard to hear such arguments when both my God and air have been such active participants in my on-going life!

In the end, I see the argument of atheists as a rationalization to embrace some "evolved sensibility" against a "devotion" to the predominate Judeo-Christian/Islamic God. Humorously, to "embrace" atheism is simply another example of devotion, which such people waste their time trying to convince themselves and others that they have "out-evolved"!

I'm sorry to break it to you, but human beings are hard-wired toward devotion. It can be a positive thing directed toward spouse, friends, a military "band of brothers", or other worthy causes. It can also be directed to various rat-holes, such as a favorite television show, the collecting of possessions, the navel-staring of sexual perversion or "gender confusion", or the single-minded acquisition of wealth or fame. The real "evolved" path is not the (impossible) effort to rise above devotion, but to make sure that our inescapable devotion is well placed.

There is also another truth about devotion - you can only really have one. You can like a lot of things and do a lot of things, but only one thing can command your true devotion.  Christians can read the pronouncement of Jesus on the subject in Matthew 6:24. This one devotion and your efforts to honor it constitute your "religion". I know that is a hateful word to a lot of people, but they need to get over their hatred - we all practice a religion, whether we call it that or not.

For instance, if you are devoted to the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, Islam is your religion. If you are devoted to quasi-sexual pleasuring with someone of your same gender, "homosexuality" is your religion. If, like me, you are devoted to the Christ as revealed through the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, Mormonism is your religion. If you are devoted to all-terrain quasi-military vehicles, either Jeep or Hummer is your religion. Hopefully, I get the point across - your religion is defined by your devotion.  Since we are all hard-wired for devotion, we are likewise all practicing a religion as we support our devotions and spend our time with similar devotees.

Do you have a problem with God, hate the God of those around you, or choose to believe there is no God? Again, you are being a bit self-delusional. The thing that you put your devotion into, the object of your devotion, is your "God". Be it Allah, Money, a Vehicle, Christ, a Gun, a Person; just as much as you are hard-wired for devotion, you are similarly attached to the object of that devotion, like it or not. You have a God of your own choosing, every second of your life.

Are you confused about what your devotion and God might be?  Here is a little quiz to help you realize where your devotion is, what religion you practice, and what God you worship:
  • What do you spend the bulk of your free time doing?
  • What do you spend the most effort coercing your family and friends into doing to share time with them?
  • If you are facing a great loss, what things would you be most concerned for?
  • Leaving aside short-term infatuations, what things have motivated your actions long-term?
Take your answers and analyse them.  If you are honest with yourself (a tricky pursuit) and dig deep, you will end up with one thing that best answers all these questions. It may very well be a devotion/religion/God that you had really hoped would be more impressive or more aligned to a group to which you really want to belong.  If your devotion/religion/God turns out to be a bit embarrassing to you, I suggest a dose of The Psychic Proximity Principle, its inherent soul-searching, and perhaps a course change!

Just like you really can't have two devotions (God and mammon, for example), you also can't honestly practice two religions or serve two Gods. One will always take precedence and the other will be eventually tossed aside in a crises. Again, it is simply the way we are wired.

Let me give an example.

Mormon missionaries are an interesting lot, known throughout the world. I was once such a missionary, as was my wife. One of my children has served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and another is doing so right now. We have a constant procession of missionaries over to the house for meals. I know a thing or two about these folks!

On occasion, one of these (typically very young) people will come for lunch or dinner and make some pronouncement over what is being served like "I am a vegetarian", which just bothers me. I don't want to be a bigot, but I have to question the devotion of such people to what they are meant to be preaching when such things are said.

I usually reply with something along the lines of "so, what is your real religion?" and they often become confused or offended.  These young people think they can follow the tenets of two religions, Vegetarianism and Mormonism, and get away with it! You don't think that vegetarianism qualifies as a religion? If someone comes to my house to partake of free food and then turns their nose up at what is served, barring allergies, they are preaching more of eschewing meat than they are of embracing a Christ. They can't effectively follow both, so which one is honored (talked about) and which will eventually be cast aside?

Let's wrap up.

We will all have a passion (our devotion), embodied in some object or person (our God), which we will pursue with vigor (our religion). You have all three: a devotion, a God, and a religion. If you think you don't, you need to stop deluding yourself. If you don't like your current version of the three, you have the power to redirect your devotion to a God and religion that is more to your tastes. Personally, I have found a God that I find worthy of my devotion and I am striving to follow the associated religion. I hope you find your own "three" worthy of your devotion and acknowledge your own God and religion.