spirituality

The Institutionalization of Religion

Religion’s Dependence on Leaders, Credentializing Insiders, Myths

Throughout our 200,000 year existence on this planet, humans have never suffered from a lack of gurus, priests, imams, ministers, rabbis, popes, bishops, monsignors, and rinpochés. Or even, if I may be so bold, spiritual motivational speakers.

If history tells us anything, most faith-believers seem to have a need for religious leaders. They want to feel secure in a religious institution that has someone at the head of the class.

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Psychobabble and AA Principles

I was at an AA meeting recently when someone criticized what he considered to be the psychobabble at meetings.

For some of us in the rooms, such criticism is often a back-door way of hiding behind the literature of AA in order to avoid being honest about our our motives, our rationalizations, our hidden agendas, our imperfections, and, of course, our strengths and virtues.

Accusing others in the room of “psychobabble” can be a convenient way of avoiding any journey that might take us deeper into ourselves. It can also be a way of remaining stuck, safe, even smug. Continue reading

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Male Role Models

Tough, Machismo “Real Men,” versus Reticent, Soft-Spoken, Suburban Ozzie Nelson

I grew up in the 1950s. Men were considered “real men” if they were either the strong silent type or the tough, “you-talkin’-to-me?” street type with their ducks-ass hair style and pack of Lucky Strikes rolled up inside their short t-shirt sleeve.

These “real men” played sports and avoided the arts; loved manual labor and hated desk jobs; were hard drinkers; drove stick shift; and dodged commitments, especially marriage (“tying the noose,” we called it), until the 11th hour, after a brief courtship of prom night, drive-ins, street dances, roller rinks, a summer at the beach, and making out in the balcony back row at a movie theater.

A “man in a uniform,” fresh from active duty, always had the upper hand on the street. Women, of my generation, loved a guy in a uniform.

Television, of course, had another narrative of the male ideal. Ozzie Nelson, of “Ozzie and Harriet” fame, was presented to us as the classic suburban husband and father in his button-down white shirts and tie-clipped thin ties. Reticent to a fault, even in his wry humor, he was always pathetically even tempered. Continue reading

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Self-Discovery Journeys

Because I was well into my adulthood before I began to figure out who I am, it is difficult for me to see where the desire to know about myself  could ever be a bad thing. The self-knowledge journey continues and, I hope, will be with me for the rest of my life.

On the other hand, there are those who would probably stereotype  me as an  effete, self-indulgent dilettante wandering around the ring of shamans and spiritual teachers, decadently immersed in questions rather than answers.

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