“Get right with God” – a challenge to worshipers of blind conformity

“Get right with God.”What does this phrase mean? Of course, the word “God” has been used by many people in many ways. What does it mean to “get right with god?”

It could mean a contrast with “being right according to some set of localcustoms- in blind conformity with them.” Even if the customs are followed, they can be followed out of respect and convenience, not out of terror and vanity.We recognize that customs are different from place to place and they come and go. They certainly have their purposes and their importance, but they are not to be worshiped as eternal foundations for human conduct.

So, to get right with God could be to reduce our attention to customs. We do not need to worship them by obsessively defending them. We also do not need to worship them by obsessively condemning them, attacking them, or reforming them (so that certain current customs which we worship as evil can be replaced by certain other customs which we worship as the key to heaven on earth).

Discard utopian fantasies. Those who tell you that heaven is a future outcome that you should help them produce through political reform and political salvation are misleading you. Even if they are sincere, they are still false prophets. To be more specific, they are using the word heaven in a way that may not be good at all for YOU. So, beware of them.

Heaven is eternal. That means it is always available without any required rituals (or reform campaigns). Rituals can certainly promote the awareness of heaven. Rituals do not bring heaven to someone. They bring someone to notice the eternal presence of heaven.

What exactly is heaven? It is one possible human condition. Heaven has often been described, for instance, as peaceful or serene.

Can someone already be peaceful or serene? Is a ritual required to be peaceful or serene? Is there any intermediate step required as a pre-requisite for being peaceful and serene (or is serenity always directly available… even to one who has been anxious or panicking)?

“Get yourself together” is a phrase that I have heard many times. Apparently, the idea is that someone is already “not together” (as in “scattered mentally”) and then is going to “get themselves together.” It is a rather strange saying if taken literally, but as long as two people both know what is meant by it, it can be perfectly useful, right?
“Get yourself together” may be extremely close to what I mean by “Get right with God.” It means a certain kind of shift of focus. If focus has been on a bunch of customs and obsessively conforming to those customs, then “get right with God” could mean to withdraw attention from such distracting “trivia” and focus instead on being serene.
But is a direction to “get right with God” no more than “calm down?” It is not just a momentary intervention. It is much bigger than that. It is approaching a much more  comprehensive instruction like “live your whole life in heaven.”
It may mean to calm down, but it also may mean to take new, decisive action. There are certain patterns of activity that correspond to relaxing our prior attention to social customs.We can withdraw from those who worship social customs- even if we maintain those customs. The issue is that people who worship a custom are operating from a background of anxiety (like concern for what others think), not from a background of respect for the actual function of the custom. They actually neglect the spirit of the custom by ignoring why it exists.

Of course, it is fine for people to be loyal to a custom without understanding it. People learn the custom itself before they learn the reasons for it, just like a small child is first taught to only cross a road while holding the hand of an adult. The child is trained to conform as a priority and understanding the custom is simply not the first priority.

So, one problem can be when people who do not understand a custom begin to worship it (often presuming that they do understand it). How do they relate to the custom? First, they glorify it (often relating to it as a practice that should be universal, rather than something that is merely customary or routine). Soon, they may bully others even for as small an issue as failing to glorify the custom.

Why are they so insecure about whether others glorify a custom? The reality is that they do not understand the custom. They have a social anxiety about any lack of conformity to the custom because they are terrified of the possibility that someone might question- even respectfully- the value or function of the custom.

“It is sacred! It is what makes us different from those who follow 98% of the same customs that we do, but not that other 2%.”In other words, they use their public display of loyalty to the custom as a cover to distract people from the fact that they have no idea what the actual value of the custom is. They simply conform blindly- like a small child who has been trained not to cross the road without an adult- and yet they are immensely ashamed of the simple fact that they are simply conforming blindly, so they make a big drama of tantrums and bullying and so on.

They are far from heaven. They are in the temporary distress of hell. Their blind conformity to customs does them no good in regard to accessing heaven because customs are not the way to access heaven.

The child who is waiting for the adult so that they can cross the road together is not conforming to access heaven. In fact, they may be rather impatient, yet still conform. Conformity can be very valuable, but worshiping conformity can be an immense risk.

Alertness is a different state than blind conformity. When someone is obsessing about customs, they are not being attentive to what is actually happening. They are in a state of latent panic (a state of anxious, hysterical distress).

When groups of people get together to encourage each other to neglect actual alertness and logic in order to obsess over whatever customs they agree to worship as the best customs, that can lead to very risky behavior for the entire group. They are like a group of mountain climbers who are operating on a protocol that is relevant for boating.

By obsessively doing the things that are very appropriate while boating, they can create immense dangers. They discard alertness and wisdom in order to have the social validation of the group.

“We are the safest boaters on this mountain. Look at those other fools who are using climbing equipment. We do not need climbing equipment because we have a sail which will catch the energy of the wind and lift us up toward the mountain top so that we can go faster and with less exertion.”
They are not simply proud (like calmly aware of their own competence). They are presumptive and naive and arrogant.For one person to climb a steep mountain without equipment would be risky, but they would go slowly. However, it is very dangerous for a group of people to climb a mountain while rejecting the idea that mountain climbing is best done in a certain way distinct from what works while boating.

Those who insist on boating their way up the mountain might be overly enthusiastic. Of course, they also might ridicule anyone who questions the prudence of their boating protocol while climbing a mountain.

“Oh, and look at those fools who are using a legal protocol to climb the mountain. They are consulting their lawyers about the best way to climb. What fools?!?! Don’t they see that climbing a mountain requires other customs and routines than winning a court case?”

Note that fundamentalists have no issue with questioning other forms of fundamentalism. In fact, in order to distract themselves from their own hysteria, they may ridicule the hysteria of others “religiously.”

The legalistic mountain climbers may gather together and criticize the stupidity of theboater mountain climbers. They may even yell taunts at the boaters: “How can you people think that you can climb this mountain without first getting a piece of paper and then using ink to make some shapes on the paper that are symbolic codes to specify the nature of your relationship to the mountain?”The boaters dismiss the content of the taunts of the legalistic fundamentalists, but they still are terrified of anyone questioning the protocols that they worship, so they are likely to return their own taunt back at their critics. “How can you people climb a mountain without a proper sail? Where is your mast? Where is your anchor? You people know NOTHING about climbing mountains the right way!”

The boaters fell much better after reassuring themselves that their critics can be dismissed as fanatics and fundamentalists. Instead of acknowledging any intelligent questions, they seek out the most bizarre criticisms to ridicule those critics and ignore the presence of actual skepticism, which is the real threat to them and their blind arrogance. To avoid admitting to the existence of skeptics (to the idea of boating protocols as the best way to climb a mountain), the boating loyalists focus on the idiocy of the legalistic mountain climbers.

They may agree that the legalistic mountain climbers are similar to them in that everyone is climbing mountains. That will be considered a small justification for a pretense of respect for the legalists. “At least they are smart enough to be climbing a mountain, but they are a bunch of arrogant, blind conformists!”

People who are not climbing the mountain at all generally are ignored by the boating mountain climbers and the legalistic mountain climbers. Further, people who are actually at the top of the mountain are generally ignored as well. No, let’s complain instead about that other group nearby to us who are going up the mountain about as slowly as we are.

If we do talk about the folks at the top, the legalists and boaters might briefly agree though. “How did those people at the top of the mountain get there? They must have broken the rules to get there! They are there unjustly. They cheated by using mountain climbing equipment. That is unethical and it is disrespectful of the mountain to wear spikes on your shoes while climbing. It damages the mountain! It causes erosion! It makes a smooth footpath up the mountain that is easy to follow… and that could lead to even more people trying to access the peak without the proper sailing equipment!”

The critics (among the boaters and the legalists) do not call their criticism envy. They just agree that the people at the top of the mountain clearly should not be there now because they used the wrong methods to get there. The boaters focus on the lack of the use of a sail by the people at the mountain top. The legalists focus on the lack of a pre-approved climbing itinerary signed, dated, notarized, and filed with the county regulatory agency.

“Come down here right this instant and get proper documentation from us or else… or else… or else we are going to sit right here and wait for you because those are some steeps slopes between you and us. You are under arrest!”

In addition to the various patterns of language used by the various critics, there is also the issue of risk. Because they form in to big groups, they may antagonize other groups and get in to conflicts. Further, even without the presence of other groups, their attention to issues like conformity to the customs of sailing can distract them from alertness to the mountain they are climbing.Not only are they neglecting to be attentive to the mountain. In addition to that, they may be doing things that are extremely risky while mountain climbing. They are not just inattentive to being safe on the mountain. They are oblivious. They may be doing things – with tremendous obsessiveness and passionate sincerity- that will predictably be catastrophic somewhere between where they are now and the top of the mountain.

So, people who are smart enough to keep a safe distance from any group of fanatics are better off than those who rashly climb mountains enthusiastically as they worship the customs relevant for sailing. The recluses have a better chance of figuring out for themselves what works well for mountain climbing. They are not avoiding learning (like those who are worshiping the customs of sailing and are totally inattentive to the actual process of climbing the mountain).

When a few people who are smart enough to avoid fundamentalism first notice other “loners,” how do they act? They may be hesitant. They may even be presumptively critical of others to test for fundamentalism and hysteria. Or, they may be quite eager… even too eager.
However, no matter what, they are not distracted from learning by fixating of defending certain customs. They will experiment. They will experience successes and failures. They will learn.
Further, there is an ancient legend that the group at the top of the mountain used to be below the top and climbing up. Some people may have been born in to that culture and so they are excellent climbers (even if they are not very skilled at other tasks like boating or the practice of law). However, long ago, before that culture was established, is it possible that there were a few loners who found each other, got themselves together, got right with God, and then created some customs that are effective for climbing mountains?

The idea that customs were created by people is considered a simple fact by some groups. Other groups call such “accusations” by the label of “heresy.” “How could our customs which are eternal and proclaimed by God be anything like the customs of other groups who also claim that their customs are eternal and were proclaimed by God. They are illogical and insane and hysterical and heretical. Now, let’s go kill them so that they do not confuse future generations with displays of curiosity and skepticism.”

Rumors that the group now at the top of the mountain would ever encourage bickering and warfare amongst the boaters and the legalists are quite unpopular among the boaters and legalists. According to the tradition of both of those two groups, the theory of a conspiracy to keep the boaters and the legalists fixated on fundamentalism and animosity between the two groups is called by the very evil label of a “conspiracy theory.”

For both groups, how do they relate to the theory that their own religious customs were influenced by or even created by another group in order to dominate and exploit the naive and foolish and arrogant? They ignore it and focus on the stupidity of those who attempt to climb mountains without the use of sails (when the critics are the boaters) or with the use of sails (when the critics are the legalists).

They both worship slogans like “get right with God.” They have no idea why the custom of saying “get right with God” was started or by whom. They just worship the customary propaganda that they have been trained to worship.

What would be really utopian, according to you, is if the world was one day in the future permanently rescued from all customs. Customs themselves are the big problem, right?

Those who assert that there is such a thing as irony or sarcasm or parody are probably just a bunch of reverse psychologists and their conspiracy theories can be instantly discarded as no more relevant to mountain climbing than the customs of that other group of fanatics over there who are so unlike us. They are blind. They are conformists. They are worshiping trivia and neglecting what is best.

They worship the ideal of “what is best” with their lips, but they know not what they are doing. They know not what they are saying. Their worship has is irrelevant in regard to noticing heaven (or even totally contrary to that possibility, a crippling distraction).

“Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.”
 

“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ 8“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

Mark 7:6-8

 

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

Isaiah 29:13

 

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