My father was a minister when I was younger, so I'm a preacher's kid. Although I was an altar boy for a time in the Episcopal Church, I gradually fell away from attending services. Late in my adolescence, I went to live at The Farm, a commune in rural Tennessee that drew on many religious traditions, both eastern and western, but I washed out after nine months.
I endeavor to live in a righteous way and I sporadically make attempts to learn about spirituality. I feel fortunate to live in an age when the teachings of many traditions are available to those of us who live in industrialized countries. On the other hand, I realize that I have a lot of trouble making a place and serving a useful purpose in any particular community. Churches give me the creeps. Christianity, the religion I was raised in, is discredited by the harsh bigotry that characterizes many of its believers and the harmful policies that they get enacted into law. Christians also tend to purposefully ignore the fact that their myths draw upon older traditions, and fundamentalists insist that their book is the only valid revelation. I once figured that that Paganism might be a more openminded alternative until I got to know several uptight, rigid pagans: their prejudices and harsh judgements resembled those of the Christian fundamentalists I detest.
I've been lazy about increasing my spiritual development and seeking a spiritual home. I'm informed by a number of concepts and traditions; some that I learned early on and others that I learned later. I tend to think of 'religion' as being the theoretical and institutional structure that perpetuates a tradition or a particular version of truth. At its best, religion fosters community and serves as a focus for coordinated action; all too often, it serves as a justification for chauvinism and a locus of self-righteous hypocrisy.
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