Thinking tonight about how vitally important religion is for so many people in this world. All of the great traditions have sheltered so many hurting and afraid people for thousands of years. This is worth remembering when we feel the (rightful) need to tear it down or take it apart in pursuit of truth, beauty, and love.

In that, I think I’m wondering if and how religion can be seen as a bed of flowers to be weeded as opposed to a few flowers to be picked out of a bed of weeds. Thoughts?

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@vishnu The longer I live the more convinced I am that a move towards the idea of oneness is the only way religion can be healthy. You hear it in basically every idea of what's "wrong with religion."

"It's about relationship, not religion."

"I don't believe in *organized* religion."

"Social justice and introspection are no different than healthy religion."

All of these ideas touch on the lack of oneness in most religion. It's commentary on the isolation inherent in most practices.

@vishnu Thank you! I've been listening to a lot of your stuff on Buddhism and it's really got me thinking about these things.

Like, every positive experience I've ever had with religion has involved a sense of connection, and every negative experience has involved a (usually intense) degree of separation. It seems to me that a religion which separates and divides, either by theology, or soteriology, or social expulsion, is always a net negative, no matter it's intentions.

@vishnu this train of thought is more hopeful imho. I think one could also use this imagery in most scenarios in life and find it so.

@vishnu I heard that in the 70’s when John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Movement, was asked about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and “Charismania” he responded, “just because the tree has a wild branch doesn’t mean you cut down the tree. Just trim the branch.”

That quote has stuck with me for over 10 years. I also love that Jesus used so many gardening and agriculture parables.

@vishnu I say religion is weeds, but faith is a bed of flowers that needs occasional weeding. I’m finishing up the book How God Changes Your Brain. The neuroscientist and therapist co-authors demonstrate how faith impacts overall well being, and is the #1 way to exercise your brain.


I love this idea. I think it could be true in systems that don't have clearly designated people doing the weeding.

I definitely think of religion this way in my own life, but I'm an individualistic American.

A liberal Mainline clergy said to me recently, if other peoe don't buy into & support the imperfect organization somewhat, her particular flower will die. She won't be able to weed anymore if people keep leaving. I didn't know what to say.

Thanks for the thoughts this a.m.


I think I'm just saying that while this idea feels true to me based on my experiences, it would also mean that a fair number of us (humanity) will have to participate in religion. Actively.

You can't weed as a sideline critic, to thoroughly mix my metaphors.

@vishnu that’s a powerful image. Idk if others had this experience, but I heard it a lot in my Catholic childhood to explain why the Church was better off when certain (usu non-conservative) ppl left. I can still hear it, “our garden will bear more fruit”, “our branches must be pruned”, ugh

@vishnu I was raised Catholic and When I recently told my 76 year old mom that it makes me very angry that even after all the horrific acts of so many priests, Catholics keep going to church and filling collection baskets, her response was "I understand why your angry, I am too, but there's no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. The church does a lot of good for a lot of people." That ended my rant. 😊

@vishnu What’s mind boggling is that one person’s flower can be another person’s weed.

@vishnu I’ve been thinking about this since you posted it. I have to agree with @kg and ask: Who gets to decide what is flowers and what is weeds? Who gets to police the beds? I think it is unlikely that we could agree on one protocol, as much as the idea of such unity is appealing. I think the best we can hope to accomplish is a community garden type setting where we all garden in side by side plots.

@Sonora @kg I agree. One person’s weeds is another’s flower. Policing other’s gardens is not my job. For me, I stop short of even “hoping to accomplish.” I see what looks like a flower, and I love it. I see what looks like a weed and I pluck it out of the ground.

@vishnu Not to sound Bible preachy or anything, but for some reason, I'm immediately reminded of the parable in which you just have to let the good plants and weeds grow together. I'm not sure that parable perfectly fits what you're getting at, since there's no particular day of harvesting in regards necessarily (especially since we don't really harvest flowers), but I suppose we do pick them. I digress. I'll come back to this once the thought is more firmed up, haha.

@vishnu One of the things that your question brings up to me is a balance: I think real growth comes from authentically humbling ourselves to even the aspects of religion that we might not like; taking a buffet approach to spirituality, picking and choosing I think can grow the ego in unhealthy ways. Yet, so much abuse and destruction has resulted from people who were told that they should just submit to the whole shebang, spiritually speaking...

@vishnu So I think I am asking a related question when I ask, "How do we protect people from spiritual abuse but still garner the growth that results from submitting outselves to the whole spiritual deal?"

@vishnu Could we use @mike 's analogy about trees? All the trees blend into one canopy. Some trees are like the fig tree Jesus was always talking about- bearing sweet fruit. But some are like Bradford pears - no fruit, all show, break under stress. Nearly all the trees,even the fig trees, are plagued by pests like beetles, blight, galls. If you can choose which tree to climb, you can pick a fruitful one, and do what you can to rid it of disease (greed, exploitation, etc.)

@vishnu , your bed of flowers metaphor is a keen one. For me, commitment to religion can also be compared to commitment to family. The impulse to extricate oneself completely from one’s family might feel right at a certain point in life, but what are the costs of doing so?

An uprooted flower singularly beams with glory in the vase, but eventually starts to realize that water is not enough to sustain life, and to long for soil to reach into. 1/3

Are there imperfections in the soil, maybe even disease in some places? Yes, of course, and a transplant might be lifesaving in some cases, but to seek the purity of water over the messiness of soil is to risk foregoing essential nutrients. 2/3

I loved when Richard Rohr said on Pete Holmes’ podcast that the inclusion of the books of the prophets in Jewish scripture was ingenious: Even as the Jews identify as the Chosen People, a full one-third of their Bible is devoted to telling themselves how full of crap they are! Any marriage, any family, any community needs to have prompts and mechanisms like this, to enable it to find and manage the weeds so the flowers can thrive. 3/3

@vishnu I think the non dualist approach is the best. I think at this present time religion isn't used for what it was intended for. That being a way to deepen our relationship with the consciousness of the universe. In by doing that we come to a better understanding of ourselves and those people places and things around us. I think that at this time religion is what Marx referenced it as "the opiate of the people". As in relieves the pain of what we refuse to accept and understand.

@vishnu flowers and weeds. Who gets to decide? Wildflowers in a wild, "untended" meadow can be magnificent; but all of those wildflowers would be "weeds" to be purged if they came up in someone's front lawn.

I think you may be wondering about "religion" as a system of beliefs/practices, and then finding flowers and removing weeds according to what is helpful for each person might make sense.

However, correct me if I am wrong: it all belongs. Reality right now is just reality right now.

@vishnu I feel that I am continually reminded of this. My children remind me most of all. They attend youth group at the church where I used to be on staff. I was walking one of my children through a tough night and found myself leading her to engage with God in a way that I am not sure I even believe in anymore. I could have deconstructed her experience and taken her a different direction but it wouldn’t have been loving or helpful.

@vishnu it is tempting to see all the negative that religion has cause for centuries. Then I listen and read to Richard Rohr talking about the first and second half of life and how we have to build a box with a framework and structure and how it actually helps us become better humans as adults. The issue is when we don’t move into that second half of life. I wrestle with this constantly with my kids

@vishnu "For this is the most real characteristic of religion; it seeks depth in things, reaches out towards what is concealed, uncomprehended, and mysterious. It is more than humility; it is piety. And piety is experience of mystery." from "Naturalism And Religion" by Rudolf Otto

@vishnu about ourselves and society as a whole. I believe that since the times of the crusades Christianity has been used as a tool of subjugation and division. There is no oneness in the body of Christ. But I am hopeful that it's going that way. All of us going through deconstruction at the same time shedding the yoke of lies that has been passed down to us. Is a cause of hope. It may not seem like it. But we are weeding that flower bed. We will be one when this done in ourselves and in commun

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