Religion is being held hostage; I want it back

Religion is being held hostage; I want it back

I want to claim my right to religion without being lumped together with all those that have caused untold mayhem and atrocities across the world and throughout history. The countless millions that have suffered in the name of religion: who would ever want to be associated with all that?

For most of my life I have scorned religion and all those who proclaimed to be religious. How could anyone want any part of the murderous exploits and restrictive doctrines of the world’s religions? Certainly not me. You'd have to be crazy.

But that is not religion, not true religion at least. True religion isn't about rules, buildings, subjugation, gowns, gold, guilt, sin nor killing. It is not about joining a team to challenge for the holy championship at the expense of the other teams. Why would I ever want to glorify my way as being true, if those on the other team are condemned forever more?

If I claim to be ‘religious’ today, this is the unfortunate baggage with which it comes. You may not want to admit or agree to this, but the fact is religion has been thoroughly hijacked, abused and shackled by the cruelty of man enacting domination over his fellow brothers. It has long been used to control and manipulate, so I'm calling it out and saying no. I will have no part of the debasement. But then how do we not get beaten down and depressed by this corruption of something true? How do we stay open to the wonders of the Cosmos, and our fellow man amidst the chaos?

I've come to realise that Religion is actually really, really simple and something we all thoroughly and innately know, to our very bones. It is the wonder we feel when we look deep into the stars at night. It's the love we feel for those around us. It's the elegance and inexplicable craziness found in quantum mechanics. The joy and beauty of true expression and the wisdom of philosophy. It's the mysteries and wonders of the world that we just cannot explain with our rational and linear minds.

Ultimately religion is about the connection we have all felt to something greater. That knowingness that we are part of something larger, something magnificent, but which we barely dare to dream of now in a world that has seemingly gone mad. It's actually all around us if we but stop and look, if we stop and feel. Religion does not exist separate to the true pillars of science and philosophy. All the amazing advancements and revelations we have built together as a humanity actually complement one another. They go hand in hand. If we but stop and feel, we know this to be true.

We all knew this as kids. We recognised there was something we are connected to – a magic that lays just under the surface. A deep and wonder-filled world that just makes our hearts sing. Ultimately religion is all about our connection with ourselves, and our relationship with the universe. Our place in the greater scheme of life. Some call this God, the divine, love, nature or spirituality. The words don't matter. It is a deeply personal connection first, which then unfolds and extends outwards to all those around us.

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Choosing what we are religious about

A fascinating presentation on the true meaning of the word religion and how we are never not religious!

I know this connection if I really stop and feel my heart. I know it to be true in my deepest place of stillness and when I feel it, I want to sing from the rooftops – ‘I am religious’. Religion is a natural part of my life. Just as important and normal as eating, walking, talking and loving.

I want the magic back. I want the freedom to openly explore and develop my relationship with the divine, without being shackled to the murderous and loveless version of religion we have been stained with. So I'm taking religion back from that which has subverted it. I’m reclaiming true religion and the joy and healing it can bring the world.

Religion is like the innocent man, set-up and unjustly imprisoned for crimes never committed. I'm sending in the SWAT team to break down the door and bust religion out. It's too precious and important for the world to allow the degradation to continue.

Religion is our birthright and not owned by anyone. It is ours to nurture, develop and embrace, but first we must reclaim its true meaning and essence.

First, we must set it free.

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  • By Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.