What’s The Point of Religion?

The next in line of the perspective widening series is to become part of a religious community. 

Now, I’m not advocating that you join my religion or any religion, but I will say that finding your path in life can be fraught, so take friends with you. So if you do participate in a religion, dive into the community that feels right for you. If you’re atheist or post-religion, join a group that espouses your philosophy on life and who will offer you both support and challenge. 

And then listen.

Not necessarily to the priest, or pastor, or rabbi, or imam, or group leader. I mean, you do you. (I’ve watched people sleep through my sermons that others raved about, so really, to each our own.) No, I mean, listen to the people next to you. Attend some extra-curricular activities with that group – the coffee hour after the service, or a study group, or anything really, that gets you in a place where you get to talk with other people.

And then listen. Don’t rush to jump in, but listen when people talk about their lives, their family, their experiences, how they view the world. Listen as best you can without judgment. Learn what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes. Ask questions, if you feel comfortable doing so. Let yourself learn new things, even if they are hard things; this is what it is like to live with chronic pain, or a disability, or declining mobility; this is what it is like to raise several small children at once; this is what it is like being a different gender; this is what it is like to be estranged from someone you once loved… and so on.

As you listen, allow yourself to be wrong. This is another way of saying let your assumptions be challenged by other people explaining their own experiences. Let the things you thought you knew float away like an autumn leaf.
Join any group where you can really talk, and really listen, and even if it is a group of roughly like-minded individuals, you will still widen your perspective.

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