Belonging/believing – navigating the tension

Thomas O’Loughlin reflects on why and how belonging to life-giving communities is fundamental not only to our lives of faith but to being human.

A series of boxes to tick
Mention the name of any religion and our – contemporary, western, first-world, secular society people – first reaction is to ask about its content: what do they believe? The emphasis is on a list of ideas about the universe, human life, purpose, and what, if anything, is beyond the universe. Once I have such a list, I can then tick the one that I also accept and a cross against those I consider weird, wrong, or simply crazy. Interestingly, this is the same way we approach various philosophies, political systems, or any number of ‘off-the-shelf’ spirituality books. The world is a marketplace of various beliefs, and you can either buy ‘a whole package’ (a whole religion with every one of its beliefs – if you can list them all); the ‘lite version’ (what you take as the key items you can believe and then skip the bits that look silly or awkward or just too complicated); or you can have the ‘pick & mix’ selection which you make to order.

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