Beyond the Steeple: Church is Everywhere

Religion is a manmade doctrine that, when practiced blindly as a cult without mindfulness, constricts its followers within the parameters of a life with limitations. By contrast, spirituality is an all-encompassing understanding that we are all connected through a higher power. Hence, the prevalence of the term "one love" in Rastafarian and other less conventional, bohemian-esque belief systems that promote peace and harmony.

As mere mortals, we have a tendency to become defensive any time we think our beliefs are being challenged or even questioned. That's not a good thing. It keeps us from growing as people -- and on a larger scale may even stagnate the evolution of the soul. Yeah, I know. That's some deep shiggidy. But it's the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts.

The problem I have with religion (versus spirituality) comes down to imposition. It was the driving force behind the founding of the United States of America, and it's the root cause even in modern times behind radical Muslims blowing up entire city blocks in the name of Allah. Radical Christianity isn't exactly devoid of bloodshed to advance its cause, either. Religious extremism includes any act of imposing your beliefs on others, in my humble opinion. If this offends you, good. That means you're thinking.

Don't get me wrong. Faith and devotion are wonderful qualities. But when they're attached to an expectation that others must believe and do exactly as we do -- or else they're wrong -- there's a problem. If church for you is a certain set of walls every Sunday morning, wonderful! Go forth and worship as you've chosen. And if church for you is quiet contemplation and prayer by a gurgling brook in the forest, more power to you, too.

God is everywhere, and whether you refer to Him by the name Jehovah, Allah, El Shaddai, Abba, or anything in between, I truly believe there is one Creator, one God. It doesn't matter what we call Him or where we interact with Him. What matters is what's in our hearts, and how we positively impact the lives of others. That, for me, is church.