My choice was to stop going to Sunday school (actually it was on Saturday) and stay home to watch cartoons in the AM. Moreover, I wasn't really grasping the concepts. The stories and allegories were difficult to understand and there was, frankly, too much faith involved. Sure the morals were good to learn, but I couldn't figure why we had to say ten Hail Mary's for swearing at your sister. Also, the whole idea of the Holy Trinity was beyond me at that age. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? Zoiks!
I took the no go option, and my parents let me. I figured, should I need to find religion, I would do some in depth research and expose myself to the different religions of the world to find out which one I felt was best for me. I have yet to accomplish that task.
What I did find was that there are about five fundamental purposes of organized religion. And, if you can find them where ever you worship, you are a lucky individual.
At one point, I felt like running was my religion. Indeed, I was practicing my "religion" twice a day to the tune of about 80 miles a week and testing my faith just about every weekend on the cross country course or the track. I also found a ready made community to which I belonged, but kept those who were not of the same mind (or ability) out. If you couldn't do a 5 minute mile or better, you were sunk.
To make the long story short, I am interested what people's thoughts are on organized religion and if there is more to it than my - well, let's call them
Windspike's Five Fundamental Purposes of Organized Religion. They are:
1) Organized religion provides one with a sense of belonging and a ready made community of likeminded friends to which not everyone has access.
2) Organized religion provides a vehicle by which one can, either alone or in concert with some advisors/friends, work to solve her/his own riddles and problems. This is accomplished via prayer, prayer groups, counseling by a priest and the like.
3) Organized religion offers members a sense of security and serenity with the idea of Death, as in comfort with the notion of an afterlife. This assuages one's fears about death and dying.
4) Organized religion proveds a rubric or set of beliefs and values to which one can adhear or deviate, but mainly sets the ethical tone by which high quality behavior is evaluated. That is, what is right or wrong to do has clear boundaries and members should behave accordingly.
5) Lastly, organized religion offers absolution of, or the forgiving of one's sins/bad behavior.