Replace dogma with a deep, solid, intimate relationship with the Divine
The holiday season can be an uneasy time if we have had a negative experience with religion. The family get-togethers, decorating, gift giving and festivities are one thing, but when we look at the Babe in the manger, what is that all about? Did the Infinite really come to earth as a human baby? And if so, for what reason? Depending on what religious tradition we were raised in, our next thought might be of sin and redemption, i.e. GUILT, which is why many of us long ago threw out the Babe along with the bathwater. Maybe we want to celebrate Christ but religion has ruined that for us! Some would say, “God is in everyone, right? so what’s the big deal about the Incarnation myth, the Avatar, Mithras, Jesus, Krishna, etc.?” And for my atheist friends, it’s all a bunch of made-up stuff, sheer fantasy, and therefore moot. Now, at this point we could go into theological arguments about “original sin” and stuff, but that is a subject for another article.
One of my friends and her adorable 3-year-old daughter were visiting to do yoga with me. My friend, who is an agnostic, was talking about Christmas and the whole religious “guilt trip.” She told me her little girl one day recited: “God is good and we are bad.” ?! She apparently picked this up at her religious preschool. Her evangelical grandmother, on hearing this, said, “Oh, wisdom from the mouths of babes.” My friend said no, not wisdom; false and hurtful indoctrination! She explained to her daughter, “Honey, we are good; sometimes we just do bad things.” The child had been a wee bit rowdy that day – very mildly so, based on my limited experience of 3-year-olds. The little angel, Heaven shining in her innocent blue eyes, turned to me and asked, “Am I bad??” I took her in my arms and said, “No, no, my dear, you are very, very GOOD!!”
What to do?! The best way to protect yourself, and your children, from damaging religious dogma is to have a very deep, solid, intimate relationship with the Divine yourself. When you know in your heart of hearts that you are perfectly loved, perfectly cared for, and you feel secure, rooted and grounded in that Love, then nothing anybody can say is going to hurt or confuse you. Of course, if you are an atheist all you need to do is say it’s just made up stories and not to worry about it, which is much easier. But most of us, like my friend, do have some kind of spiritual inclination, which for some people has unfortunately been tarnished or even totally ruined by the religious indoctrination received in childhood. This can come up during the holidays when we spend time with our relatives of different religions, and for some, sacred images like the Babe in the manger have become associated with unhealthy thought patterns such as, “God is good and I am bad.”
Tomorrow I will discuss how to replace those negative thought patterns.
by Clare x8152