(last updated: 11/02/11)
Most people think that religion is all about "telling people what to do" with their everyday lives. Even people who know nothing else about religion can usually find some example of a religious leader "stopping" people from doing something that they think is "evil". Supporters of religion say that this helps protect people from the worst aspects of human behaviour. Most people who don't like religions usually say that they "oppress people", but often have very similar morals to the ones they are criticising in "religious people".
Sadly, for most people, that's it - end of debate. Well, it seems to me that most these "supporters" and "opponents" of religion have a narrow idea of what religion is, or should be
GOD'S REPUBLIC: COMMUNICATING THE IMPOSSIBLE, STEP-BY-STEP
"God's Republic" isn't the name of my religion. It's a neat soundbyte, or catchphrase - but it probably explains my religion better and what I'm talking about. So let's break down this idea into smaller stages to make it easier to understand.
I chose the "catchphrase" of "God's Republic" because it seems to sum up, very neatly, what I stand for, and, just as importantly, what I'm fighting against.
Why is it called "God's Republic" (in Plain English?)
1. It's called "God's Republic" because I believe in God
2. It's called "God's Republic" because I don't believe in "God's Kingdom" in the way Christians do. A Republic is nearly always a rebellion against a Kingdom, especially one that has become corrupt. The "Kingdom of God" that Christians believe in has become a victim of its own success. It has become corrupted, not only by human beings, but by the various spirits that those human beings worship.
3. It's called "God's Republic" because there are things in it that are a break from the past, and old, out-dated ways that things were imagined before: spiritually, morally, and politically. For example, there isn't just a "heaven". there are many other secret and magical places that only some can access through prayer and contemplation.
4. It's called "God's Republic" because "Republics" have constitutions, rules and limits to their power. When we think of "Kingdoms", we might think of kings and queens that can do whatever they like. Well, I can't, and neither can you.
5. It's called "God's Republic" because I believe I have been given power by Divine Spirits to act as a "President" for God. This is very different from the unlimited power that some Christians claim for Christ "The King". Well, I'm not a king and I'm not divine. I can't even say, with certainty that I am God's only "President". I don't pretend to be anything other than a very special human being. I have been given the task of administering certain spiritual matters by agents working (indirectly) for God. But I am bound by certain rules, much as the President of a nation would be under a constitution.
THE VISION COMES FIRST, IMPLEMENTATION COMES SECOND, MORALITY COMES LAST OF ALL
Death of the Old Morality
When people think of religion, they think of morality, especially morality that is similar to that of the Bible. The most famous example of this morality is the Ten Commandments, with its well-known statements, such as "Thou shalt not kill", "Thou shalt not steal and so on".
And what is God's Republic's response to all of this?......
That's right. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
You will not find one single traditional "Thou shalt not" in any of statements I make. Not one.
That's not because I'm an "immoral" person! That's because what I'm trying to do is very different from what has gone before.
There IS morality in my religion. However, it's a very different type of morality that's completely alien to most people. We will go on to talk about this morality later. But let's just stick to the most important things for now.
Spiritual style matters more than moral substance
SHAPES AND COLOURS ARE MORE RELIABLE THAN MORALS
It may seem an odd thing to say, but when looking at spiritual things, shapes and colours are more important than morality.
Example: Buying groceries for a "Grumpy Uncle"
Let's explain what we mean by this. Imagine that you wanted to remember a shopping list. You need to go out to the shops to buy some milk, some eggs, some bread, some bananas, plus several other items.
Let's suppose that you also have a very grumpy uncle that you are buying these items for. He says that unless you remember everything on the list, he will "punish" you in some way. He is always complaining about everything! Even the slightest mistake is cause for complaint. You often end up having arguments.
You may be anxious about the prospect of being punished. However, the focus of your imagination would not be on moral concerns. You would want a way of remembering the items you want to buy.
So you'd write them down! You'd create a shopping list.
Writing is a way of reproducing ideas so that everyone can understand and remember at least something. Some sentences are more complex than others, but most of us who can read, write, and, just as importantly, listen, will (at least) have vague idea what is being said, whether we are a reading a complex novel by James Joyce, listening to a music download, or following a simple shopping list.
Before writing was invented, people used to rely on pictures. Pictures sometimes conveys more meaning than words. A picture can set a scene and tell us what we are likely to expect. For example, let's imagine we are looking for a supermarket:
a) A photograph of the building might help us to find it. We know, for instance, that the door might be yellow, and it might be shaped in a particular way.
b) A map might help us find the supermarket.
(c) Words will help us when trying to get directions, either by looking them up or by asking people.
If we feel confused about remembering what items we need, and we can't picture a way to get at them, shouting at ourselves, or having someone else shout at us, isn't going to solve the problem any quicker. In fact, it's only likely to make us more frustrated.
Higher spiritual truths are road-maps, not moral lectures!
if we were likely to be punished for our accuracy, it wouldn't necessarily make us more accurate. Similarly, if we were likely to be rewarded for our accuracy, it wouldn't always make us more accurate, though it would help: because we feel happier and more relaxed. Accuracy isn't entirely dependent on whether we are punished or rewarded. Accuracy also depends upon skills and training, and also, being part of a network of ideas that allows us to develop: either through reading more about a particular subject, or having access to people who can help us learn more..
If we can't remember a simple shopping list, because we have problems with reading and writing accurately, or read a map, because we have problems with map-reading: what chance do we stand when it comes to explaining what we feel about God, the purpose of existence, or other things that aren't so easy to understand? We might think about these things clearly enough, but we can't explain them to others without structured thinking.
We need to detach ourselves from the sense of being punished, or punishing ourselves; either through shouting or a sense of shame or guilt. We need to stop punishing ourselves, stop feeling guilty and start thinking more clearly.
Develop your "inner grumpy uncle" that speaks through Shapes and Colours!
Each of us has a Grumpy Uncle inside our heads, constantly making demands on us to do better, work harder, try more. We need our Grumpy Uncle to be there, because he motivates us and makes us strive for better things. Instead of arguing back in despair, or trying to suppress the anger, we need to direct the anger at something.
Unlike the Grumpy Uncle who moans, complains and "moralises" but never gets us anywhere, the Grumpy Uncle we are talking about is concerned with shapes and colours. That's because shapes and colours are more reliable than morals. How do we know this? Well, read the words on this page! You had to know about the shapes that letters make to know what you were reading. Put very simply, you've gained far more by learning to read and write than you ever did by taking a "moral" position on anything! And colours set a particular mood that can make text interesting or boring.
If you can focus your mind on one colour and one shape, you can block out other thoughts. However, anger can be one of the best ways of fighting the urge to become distracted from our task. It can keep us going in ways that no other emotion can.
(To be updated. Please come back to this page later)