Crusades, terrorism and oppressive theocratic dictatorships. These are the things that commonly come to mind today when we think of widespread religion, mainly because we are so used to seeing the dominant religions wreak havoc on the world. A fringe element of radical Muslims committed the worst terrorist attack on American soil, and only our Constitution is able to stop radical Christians from using the government to force everyone into their way of life. It's almost as if you have to rally against religion if you want to be a freedom fighter, or at least stand against the militant elements of it. However, religion wasn't always like this, because it wasn't always about imposition and so much insecurity that you couldn't stand the existence of another belief system. Ancient man lived harmoniously alongside many different kinds of people.
When I was in my first year of college in North Carolina back in 2008, my philosophy and writing class held a discussion on the history of religion and spirituality. At one point, a girl across from me said that ancient religion was the way religion was supposed to be. It was about a man, woman or community worshiping the Gods of their people, City, seas, fields, etc, so that all of those things would be good and productive. Only later in life when I became a Hellenist did I fully understand where she was coming from. Hellenists worship the Gods because it brings bliss to our lives, and we simply love our Gods. We never blame the misfortune of others on the fact that there are different religions, nor do we feel that other beliefs or religions are a threat to ours simply because they exist. In the times of old, if you had a friend in another City or country whose crops, economy or health failed, you didn't blame it on the fact that they worshiped different Gods than you. In fact, you might sacrifice to your own Gods on their behalf.
Theology was about the Divine and the human experience of it. I don't normally think about it when I enter my temple each day, but it should be a revelation that I don't walk through the doors for the same reason I did when I was a Christian. It's not my hope that the world comes with me, but that I find the Gods in my life. As long as we understand that as the true goal of the spiritual human, we will never again fall.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
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