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Secularity, Salvation and the Heresy of Religion

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ML van Dam / Unsplash

ML van Dam / Unsplash

 

Earlier tonight, I was working in the backyard. From the fence, I heard my neighbor calling for me. On the short walk over, I wondered if our kids had done something. With five children, everything is in the realm of possibility. Before I could get to him, my neighbor declared, “my wife died three days ago.” Immediately, I was heartbroken. She was an incredibly loving woman. For multiple years, our family experienced her generosity. I couldn’t believe she was gone. When my neighbor asked for my thoughts about death as a minister, I started to answer in the phrases that I’d been taught. “Jesus loves you.” “She’s in a better place.” “She’s with God.” In the midst of tragedy, these phrases have little meaning. Regardless, the bullshit just keeps oozing out. After a few seconds of heading down that fruitless path, I stopped myself and said, “Forgive me for sharing those canned lines. I don’t know why we feel like we have to say those things. Put simply, those words are all bullshit. When it comes to death, the truth is we don’t know. We have absolutely no idea. Everyone just wants to believe that there is something more. In the spirit of Einstein, I believe we can. If love/energy is never created nor destroyed, then the love you shared with your wife will never die. Love is our salvation.” After a few tears, my neighbor looked up and said, “Forget all of that religious bullshit. I feel love right now and that’s enough. Thank you.” Before we departed, I thought about praying with him. Then, I thought, “Love is enough.” As we turned to leave, I looked at my neighbor and said, “Love from our family to yours.” Without missing a beat, my neighbor replied, “Be careful, that shit lasts forever.”

 

As I pondered the communion, I heard about the terrorist attack in London. Multiple people dead and dozens injured. Religion had done it again. In the name of God, terrorists gave their lives to kill as many people as possible. When I checked out social media, I was sickened. Most people only knew one way to respond. The same religious phrases repeated over and over. How can religion defeat religion? Truth be known, religious language seems so far removed from our current circumstances. We must get closer than such language will allow. Religion must subside. God must be resurrected in the language of the secular. We can too.

 

Amen.

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