I’ll bet you’re confused… I mean, what could traffic lights have to do with religion? The answer is nothing. I mean, I’d really sooner be sleeping, right now, but, I was compelled to write and that doesn’t happen with me much, these days. I have learned that when you neglect to strike when the iron is hot, you lose everything.
So, I’m burning the midnight oil, this night, to explain what I mean by the title to this post. For the most part, as a professional driver, I have given much thought to the driving experience of our times and those that have preceded it and have concluded that much of what we do is really pointless and counterproductive.
Traffic lights heralded the onset of an overregulated society like the one that we have. It’s been my qualified experience that this invention has done nothing but encourage bad driving habits. Stop signs, on the other hand, are a necessity and completely sensible. In a city regulated by stop signs, there is none of this racing to ‘beat’ the light. Everyone knows that they are going to have to stop, anyway, and there is no incentive to race from corner to corner. Lights, however, give one the vain hope that they might beat the light and not have to stop. All this has accomplished is to raise the level of competitiveness on the road and increase the instances of road rage when people inevitably come into conflict with one another. Lights are a bloody nuisance and quite useless when a simple stop sign would serve.
That little observation off of my chest, now comes the second thing… why I hold to no particular religious creed or affiliation, though I once did. Out of respect for those that I know personally that are still encumbered by this self-destructive activity, I won’t mention the name of the particular denomination that I was a long-time member of. And, though I cannot say that the experience was a total waste, it did hinder my intellectual and personal development to a great degree. Now, I merely consider myself a ‘free thinker’ and not willing to subscribe to any particular spiritual regimen, when it compromises that ‘freedom’ aspect.
Numerous contradictions arose during my tenure with said organization, but, I would have to say that the primary reason that I finally threw in the towel on denominationalism was the inconsistent behavior of fellow ‘believers’. This particular ‘faith’ dwells very heavily on proper personal deportment, great concern with taking care not to present an appearance of evil. There is a predilection with taking care to eat only what is considered to be healthful foods, the wearing of what is considered modest dress, not indulging in overt personal adornment, such as with jewelry and expensive watches, etc. In other words, what might be considered immodest deportment, contrary to the humble and modest spirit manifested by the Savior… well, at least in the denomination’s view of what is considered inappropriate, anyway.
The spirit of the action has always been of primary importance with me. One might always be careful of what they eat, say and/or do, how they dress, etc., but, I have always found that even the most pious individuals always had some secret indiscretion that they cherished. Certain influential and high-ranking members of my particular church could preach hellfire and brimstone against the evils of the world and be entirely right… except that they were still very much INTO the things of the world, those arcane and subtle indiscretions that they might think that the unwashed don’t notice, but do.
We won’t dwell on the usual indiscretions that are favorites with pointing out, like driving big flashy cars, motorhomes, living in huge and expensive mansions, when Christ had to rely on the hospitality of poor people like Himself, sleeping in hovels and ditches, sometimes, when the occasion could offer nothing more. We won’t go there. Anyway, I don’t begrudge anyone their riches, especially when they worked for them. No, there is another thing that I like to call convenient oversight, something that fell heavily on this church. At least two members were engaged in occult activities while several others had extramarital affiliations, all while pretending to uphold Christian deportment. The mindset had evidently established itself that some doctrines were worth keeping while others weren’t, though they were virtually canon law within the church. There was a lot of ‘cherry-picking’ going on while potential and new members were under pressure to conform with church standards and it’s interpretation of scripture. What these good saints seemed to forget was that (and they love to throw this at opponents and new prospects) when you offend in one point, you offend in all.
Many viewed their membership as a shoe-in to heaven, which cleared the way for all sorts of indiscretions. This is known as legalism, in religious circles, something that this church has down pat.
It offended me that new and prospective members were required to jump through hoops that established and long-time members seemed immune to. I soon came to realize the inherent contradiction and began to have doubts as to what my role in all of this ought to be. After one attempt to leave, for a few years, eventually coming back under a ‘profession of faith’ cover, I finally realized the futility of living a lie and opted out for good.
I still encounter my old brethren and those new interests they have, the latter whom sometimes ask my opinion on some things, and I always ask them what are their intentions… what do YOU think? Do you want the programmed answer or the honest answer?
My advice to anyone deciding on a church membership is to compare it with the Bible and it’s plain way of explaining things. It is a common feature in organized religion to embrace complexity. If it needs a lot of explaining and justifying, it’s probably bullshit. Note the actions and intentions of others… are they consistent with simplicity and simple Bible teaching? Is there a predilection for and with ceremony and form and regulation? These are definite danger signals! Also, when you see members dwelling on some habit or interest that is condemned by scripture and they wilfully overlook that fact, it is a plain indication that their religious experience is very shallow. Chances are that they were ‘born into it’, longtime members whose family has been an icon in the denomination for many years. These plank-holders can be the most difficult to deal with.
Most of all… check their SPIRIT. Is it one of prideful arrogance and self-justification? Chances are great that this is a common ailment throughout and that the teaching (preaching) hasn’t been very thorough with regard to the word. There is a lot of story-telling and preoccupation with worldly things and events, as if they had any real importance in spiritual matters. Simplicity, open-mindedness and quietness of spirit is a good indication that you are on the right track with your choice of heavenly companions.
“Thus saith the Lord”, of course, is always the final test in any situation… something that I try and remember in a world that doesn’t let one dwell on spiritual matters for very long.
P.S. The former brethren are welcome to comment. (Don’t worry, I won’t publicize your name, BUT, you do have to identify yourself to me. All comments come through me before they are published. If they aren’t identified, they aren’t published, simple as that.)