Religious Exclusion

(Photo by Karen Kirchman)

One of the most enduring threads of discomfort in my life has had to do with organized religion.  As a child I was upset with the language and the intense feelings of exclusiveness when I was in a church whether or not it was one that I supposedly belonged to or if I was a guest attending a wedding or baptism.  I always had the feeling that everyone would know I was a fake, know that I didn’t understand and didn’t belong there.  It was only confirmed later with my understanding of the powerful messages that each organized religion exclaim, believing that their way is the only way, the right way and every other shall be condemned.
Those feelings kept me away from any organized religion.  I have knowledge of the Old Testament through academic study, but no other religious education.  As I grew older I realized that this didn’t prevent me from my own spiritual development, but it did prevent me from making informed arguments when I disagreed with someone who used religion or the Bible to support theirs.  So I found an importance to a religious education and to giving a child a sense of belonging.  After all, shouldn’t they have something to rebel against?  I want my children to question it all, reject or accept things on their own terms.
So, while I do believe there is a strong aspect of exclusion that comes with the territory of organized religion and I disagree with it, I also realize that I had built a wall by believing that I needed to be perfect to belong, believing that a religion should also be perfect, and allowing myself to feel excluded because, in a sense, I was judging them for that.  I think this wall could be crumbling.  While I still don’t believe I will engage in any religious debates, I can create amazing dance and create opportunity for others to create amazing dance that may or may not have divine inspiration.  And when I dance I may feel closer to my divine, whatever name or definition I should choose to give it.  After all, the body speaks truth.

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