Decentralized Religion

The corruption of morality

As with every other sector of our social system, religion is subject to infiltration by predators and parasites at the points of concentrated power in its structure, which for many religions is a pyramidal hierarchy. Once the structure is co-opted, it draws wealth and power into the hands of a few by manipulating the masses.

There is no clearer example of the harm that can result from the corruption of a hierarchical organization than the Church of Rome, the largest and most powerful church in the world. I need not go into detail about the crimes perpetrated by this particular church over the centuries including involvement in war, genocide, slavery, and torture — not to mention the more recently exposed crimes involving abuse of children, the latest scandal being the facilitation of the theft of 300,000 children in Spain. Instead, what I wish to focus on is how they have been able to get away with these crimes in the context of the theme of decentralization.

The power of the Church elite rests on their ability to convince their “flock” to surrender their sovereignty to central authority. This is the same strategy used in every other social sector. It begins with parents, acting as agents of the religious elite, indoctrinating young children when they are most impressionable. The parents’ natural role of authority is subverted by the Church elite by getting them to say to their children:

  1. You are inherently flawed and are incapable of discerning truth.
  2. The Church elite are knowledgeable and enlightened, and know the truth.
  3. They have been designated by God as intermediaries between you and Him.
  4. Therefore you must believe what they tell you and do as they say.
  5. Or else you will forfeit your reward in heaven and instead be punished forever in hell.

This early religious conditioning prepares children for later submission to authority as students in schools, employees in the workplace, and soldiers in the military.

Most insidious in this conditioning is the perversion of moral teachings to serve the immoral ambitions of the elite. Predators and parasites always seek out something positive to feed on — it is in their nature. They cannot survive exclusively on their own negativity. Just as vampire must drink the blood of others to live, the elite must find something good to pervert.

For example, it is considered good to give generously even to the point of sacrifice for the sake of others in need, so the elite twist this natural tendency of goodness in people to their own benefit and demand various forms of tribute and sacrifice supposedly for the greater good but actually to enhance their own wealth and power.

But they are equally adept at taking advantage of the less noble aspects of human nature such as cowardice, and are experts at using guilt and fear to dominate their flock.

Using both the carrot and the stick, the Church has extracted a vast hoard of wealth from its followers over the centuries while using its power and influence to retard the evolution of society. The elite fear nothing more than mass enlightenment, for then their power and wealth would evaporate.

This man claims to hold the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Would you relinquish your spiritual sovereignty to him?

The corruption of the Church of Rome was eloquently exposed by British actor Stephen Fry, known internationally for his role in V for Vendetta, in a debate of the premise “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world” (part 1, part 2). The debate swayed the opinion of the audience from mildly opposed to the premise to 7 to 1 opposed. This debate demonstrates how the cult-like conditioning of the Church can be broken by a voice of reason and compassion appealing to open minds and hearts.

Cults are everywhere

It’s not so difficult to recognize the characteristics of a cult in the Church of Rome, but can you identify cult-like characteristics in other social institutions such as your school, your workplace, or your nation? Here are some signs of a destructive cult to look for:

  • totalitarian in its control of its members’ behavior
  • ethical double standard
  • two basic purposes: recruiting new members and fund-raising
  • appears to be innovative and exclusive
  • authoritarian in its power structure
  • leader is a self-appointed messianic person claiming to have a special mission in life
  • leader centers the veneration of members upon himself or herself
  • leader tends to be determined, domineering, and charismatic

Most of my professional life was with a university, which I originally thought was the antithesis of a cult. But over time I came to agree with Robert Pirsig, who referred to the university where he taught as a branch of the Church of Reason. The ivory towers were the church steeples, the textbooks were the holy books, and the professors were the priesthood. Indoctrination into a particular world view was just as thorough in its own way as religious indoctrination, and both the carrot and the stick were used to condition students to obey authority.

The Church of Reason, like the Church of Rome, has been co-opted by an elite few controlling its upper echelons who misdirect it to serve their agenda at the expense of the masses. The former has been subverted into an agency of ignorance and compliance rather than knowledge and liberation, the latter into an agency of evil rather than good.

I leave it to the reader to examine other sectors of society such as government, security and medicine for cult-like characteristics, which may not be quite as obvious as in classic religious cults like Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church or the cult of the guru Bhagwam Shree Rajneesh (a.k.a. Osho):

Osho before his deportation from the US in 1985

Osho's collection of Rolls-Royces, which eventually numbered ninety-three

The road to spiritual sovereignty

The people most susceptible to cults are those whose sense of self-worth has been undermined through conditioning at an early age, and who are looking for self-validation through acceptance by society. They seek it in the comfort of belonging to a group with a leader who makes decisions for them and effectively gives them their identity, whether in a church, school, workplace or nation.

The only real way to establish self-worth is by breaking free of the social network and finding one’s true identity through inner seeking. This is not easy, for it involves giving up social status, roles, positions, titles, and the perquisites that go with them. Sometimes this feat can be accomplished while still superficially participating in the system, but many choose to physically disengage from the system to facilitate their inner journey. Either way, they must simplify their lives, avoid social entanglements and redirect much of their time, attention and energy to the pursuit of inner balance and true identity.

The book Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: Lifestyles for Self-Discovery by Marsha Sinetar (also author of Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood) describes this journey and gives examples from the lives of a wide range of people. The basic premise is that at some point people realize that society is sick, and their participation in it has made them sick too. They realize that they must heal by disengaging from society. After a period of mediation, contemplation and prayer, and often a drastic lifestyle change, they experience a measure of enlightenment. They have become independent, autonomous individuals able to form healthy interdependent relationships on their own terms. They have healed and have something of genuine value to contribute to society, and so they may opt to re-engage with society for the purpose of serving it.

Who's pulling your strings?

The process of self-discovery involves recognizing the extent to which one’s assumed identity is false. How much of your life situation is really the choice of society imposed on you rather than your own sovereign choice? Are you a doctor or lawyer or Christian because your parents wanted you to be one, or because your society approves of these professions or affiliations with a big monetary reward or elevated social status?

In order to get along in society, most people create a false persona that gets some level of acceptance or at least attention from some segment of society; even negative attention seems better than being ignored, even dysfunctional relationships are better than no relationships. We compromise our integrity by pretending to be someone we are not, and then invest so heavily in our invented persona that we forget that it’s not real. We live a lie until, if we are lucky, a crises shatters our fragile self-deception. For some this manifests as a “mid-life crisis”.

Once the false identity crumbles, the way is clear to discover one’s true nature, and to begin showing up for life as one’s real self. Then one can begin to have genuine relationships and to discover one’s true vocation. It becomes no longer possible to engage with other people by having your mask interact with their mask. Instead, you will just be your authentic self. This simple act of true being will put so much pressure on the false personas of others that they will be forced into their own identity crisis or else they will disengage from you because they are not yet ready to give up their false identity.

The benefits of self-actualization are many. Not least is that a repressed intuitive sense of truth and rightness reawakens. You will know who and what rings true and what places, situations and actions are right for you. You will no longer follow the crowds and their self-absorbed leaders because you are  lost. But you may chose to engage with others in service to them, at the right time and in the right way, because you trust your own inner moral compass.

“…behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” — Luke 17:21 KJV

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” — John 8:32 KJV

“…seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” — Luke 11:9 KJV

Decentralized religion

Most modern religions began as attempts to institutionalize the teachings of spiritual masters, whose examples inspire us to attain mastery ourselves. This is fundamentally an individual spiritual pursuit. The best a religion can hope for is to provide support for this pursuit, perhaps by preserving and disseminating time-tested spiritual teachings or perhaps by humbly providing spiritual guidance. But beyond the scale of the local community, religions are increasingly prone to corruption.

Religions would do well to adopt the principles pioneered and demonstrated so successfully in the open source software and peer-to-peer (P2P) movements:

Open-source religions attempt to employ open-source methodologies in the creation of religious belief systems. They develop their systems of beliefs through a continuous process of refinement and dialogue among the believers themselves. In comparison to traditional religions — which are considered authoritarian, hierarchical, and change-resistant — they emphasize participation, self-determination, decentralization, and evolution.

Following the example of Nature, religion and all other social sub-systems are best organized in a fractal configuration, with maximum sovereignty at the individual and then the local scale. Sovereignty should be relinquished to broader levels of society only when there is a compelling benefit, and then only with adequate safeguards against concentration of power; and always provisionally, with the unalienable right to reclaim relinquished sovereignty should the hierarchy become corrupt.

This is the eleventh and final article in a series on the theme of decentralization: Fractal Sovereignty, Decentralized Manufacturing, Decentralized Money, Decentralized Education, Decentralized Agriculture, Decentralized Government, Decentralized Communication, Decentralized Security, Decentralized Energy, Decentralized Medicine and Decentralized Religion.

15 comments to Decentralized Religion

  • trailhiker

    Good medicine Doc, many people are deceived by “religion”, and do not know true spirituality, with which you can determine your own religious course. Many should thank you for this.

  • Prudentis

    Oh my!
    What a great article. You have really put work into this, brother.
    I don’t remember when I have read the last article about religion, that I could so easily relate and agree to, like this one. Probably never.

    God bless!

  • Silver Eagle

    I appreciate your opinion, since we all seem to have one. Your anaylsis of “The Church” and organized religion has some merits, however, you have pointed to Catholism not Christianity.That should have been made more clear. You need not help the world or the elite you rail against target Christians. They are more than capable of that. And yes, since the Catholic Church has rules and regulations which were basically reboots of the rules and regulations of the Pharasies it is still religion and not relationship. I suggest you do a little more research of the Catholic Church, its origins of establishment as the State Religion of the Roman Empire, the imposed tyranny of the Church by prohibiting followers to read the Bible(even to some extent today), the political power and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church etc, the persecution of early Protestants who opposed the Catholic Church’s corruptions,etc. Do not attribute war, genocide, slavery, and torture, etc to Christianity. These things were perpetrated, and are perpetrated by ungodly, corrupt men under the guise of The Banner of God. Whether to justify or hide behind. Those things are done under the name of god only, not at the direction of God.

    True Christianity has absolutely NOTHING to do with what your article describes. Yet I will concede that there are all forms of tyranny, whether in government or “the church”. True Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, your acceptance of His sacrificial death for your sins and resurection to everlasting life, not a set of rules. However, God does provide some guidelines not to rule over you but to help you avoid the pitfalls of life, just as you provide guidelines and boundaries for your children to help them avoid the heartache of life. You have the choice.

    Bringing up your children in a Christian environment with guideposts such as “we are all sinners fallen short of the glory of God…..The wages of sin is death…..All those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Are necessary to guide people to that relationship with Jesus Christ. Again, its your choice, God does not force you to accept His gift. And He does not condemn you to Hell because it is His desire that all be saved. Hell was created not for you or I but for the enemy of our souls. You are given an escape hatch. If you choose not to take the escape hatch then a just and holy God would not be just and holy if He allowed sin to enter heaven. But it is your choice, you can choose not to accept His gift of love, but realise that you made that choice not Him. Through acceptance of His gift to you, your sins are no longer before Him, when he looks at you He no longer sees your sins but the sacrifice His son made for you. It is that simple. As much as we rail against slavery to the elites of this world, we fail to see that we are not truely free until Jesus Christ is our Lord. As much as some see that as enslavement in and of itself, it truely is not, just the opposite….it is true freedom. In fact the “truth” you quoted from scripture “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” — John 8:32 KJV Is the very truth I just shared. The perfect get out of jail card.

    Your solution of “open source” religion seems to lead to all sorts of beliefs…….something along the lines of a One World Religion, hmmmmm, seems I have heard that mentioned somewhere, that like all opinions have same merit. Sorry, but my wish to beleive that the gaint rocks in my yard are worthy of praise and worship along side of the same praise and worship of God Almighty is illogical, therefore not all opinions can be true. The only way for a human to “know” the truths of right and wrong are not from your own understanding of circumstances. Since man is flawed, he will make decisions based on self-preservation and thus will not always be “morally” based. the Holy Spirit that resides in you at the time of your salvation is your guide to what to do or not to do. He is a christian’s guide and counselor not self-actualization. Because in self alone we will be that, selfish.

    I am sorry if you were misled and ill treated by someone who said they were a follower of Jesus Christ. Maybe they truely were not. Do not blame Christ for their misdeeds. We live in a fallen world and that person may have truely been a follower of Christ. Unfortunately we all make mistakes and err and fall short of what God would have us do and act. Even as Christians we stumble, not hypocritical just a sinner that happens to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

  • Prudentis

    You know silver eagle, in the third paragraph you actually repeate what the catholic church is all about.
    There is threat, luring, and the promise of salvation if you “behave”
    And statements like this: “Again, its your choice, God does not force you to accept His gift” are just that. Indoctrination through threat.

    Let me rephrase: God does not force you but I say if you don’t follow this particular set of rules, he will send you to Hell.

    But talking about God we will inevitably come to the point, where you say, “this is God’s Word” and I would repeat: “prove it” Prove to me, that that is actually and literally what God said. Which you will not be able to do regardless what passages of the Bible you present. The assumtion that the Bible is the only real Word of God is the foundation of your believes and not proof. And this is where any arguement ends because here is the ultimate insurmountable clash between people willing to submit to external guidance and people seeking the word of God or the lack of it in themselves.

    And this is also the point, where I would like religions and belief systems to leave others their freedom. You cannot at the same time preach Jesus’ love and force others onto your externally infused belief system.
    What you do not seem to understand is, that Christianity infact isn’t reduced to Bible worship. Anything Jesus supposedly said in the gospels can be taken not literally but metaphorically. Also you can take other gospels into consideration, which are not included in the Bible and a whole new universe of understanding Jesus’ Words may open before your mental eyes. If you choose only to take the Bible as your guide, you will automatically have submitted yourself to the roman catholic churche’s dogma.

    And one more thing:
    “Your solution of “open source” religion seems to lead to all sorts of beliefs…….something along the lines of a One World Religion,”
    Actually quite the opposite of your conclusion would be the case as the word “open” suggests.
    But I understand your concern. The mixing up of religious concepts would mean the bluring of the integral parts of belief systems. But you know, this fear only comes from the notion, that a belief system as it is presented by some authority, is superior to other systems. It also assumes, that you need fear that God’s real Word could not withstand inter-religion communication and mixing up of belief systems. And also not to forget. The major premise, that YOUR belief system is superior and “the only one”

  • Prudentis

    Sorry the last sentence just repeats the third last. scratch that

  • Silver Eagle

    Oh I clearly understand that Christianity is not reduced to the worship of the bible…thus my statement that Christianity is a relationship not a religion. Beleive me I am a mature Christian that understands that those in the world will be blind to the simplicity of a gracious God. No one can beleive that a loving God would sacrific so much for something as vile as the sins of man. Thus, why the system of “I have to be good to get to heaven exists”. And here is where you and those that attempt to destroy Christianity lies, through the corruption of men perverting the Word. Again Christianity, the belief on Jesus Christ is your relationship not following a set number of rules. If all are allowed into heaven because there are no absolutes is no different than being here in and of the world. Too judge who will and who will not is not your or my decision but God’s because He is sovereign. (Not to get into the denominational differences of reformed, etc interpretations) Since no one can do enough “good” works to attain salvation, the thought that whether you are good enough because my good deeds out weigh my bad deeds is insufficient. How would you ever know if you have done enough good works to be accepted? Is there some huge score board with tick marks in an accounting office keeping tract? Hence why Christ came, because he paid the price for your sins, because you or I could never do enough. You don’t have to concern yourself with how much good you can do, or some self determined equation of my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, because that equation was made null and void by Christ’s death and resurrection. I would hate to be laying on my death bed wondering whether I did “enough” to please the God of all creation to be accepted into heaven versus laying on my death bed with the assurance that my account was cleared because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.

    And I guess where you see the threat of fear to get you to heaven I see the act of love.

    As far as answering the truth of the Word of God is concerned all I can say is Faith. Faith is the one and only thing God truely requires of you. Faith that He is real, Faith that He is sovereign and has protected His word, Faith that His Son live and died for our sins. I was not there when Moses wrote the first five books of the bible, or there when Jesus spoke words of life and healing to lepers and the blind. But what I do have, that those that still seek lack, is the Holy Spirit that confirms in my spirit that which is true and perfect. I can say before I knew Jesus as my Lord and Saviour my life was filled with turmoil, confusion, fear, anger and uncertainity. I can say that since then I have had more peace, clearity, confidence, and certainity, that I can rest with assurance where I will be when I leave this world.

    Beleive me I once had the same thoughts and conflicts on “is it truely God’s word”, would a sovereign God who created the universe not have the power to protect His word? If not, then can he really be God? Would that same God give conflicting messages to different people? Example would the God of the Old and New Testament contridict Himself in the beleif systems of islam, Buddism, Hinduish, Crystal Worshipping New Agers, Mayan religions, etc? That would be a God of confusion would it not? There is a god of confusion, be careful not to follow him. To give crediance to the “dogma” of the Roman Catholic Church by following the bible again would mean that the RCC is more powerful than a sovereign God. Your line of logic says that because a certain book or books were not included in the Gospels therefore someone must have hidden it from us. Did it ever occur to you that a sovereign God would protect His word from teaching or writing that were contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is he God or not? If He is God, and He created everything, then He must be omnipotent enough to effect the affairs of man to the point of protecting what is His. If he can not even protect His word from corruption then can He really be God? And if He is not God then moral beliefs of right and wrong, whether self acualized or not are moot since we then become nothing more than smart hairless apes. Decisions of good and evil are not relavent since your existance is only to breath air and consume resources. Harse to think that your existance has absolutely no meaning.

    Thank God that that is not the case and you, I and whoever else reads this has a all powerful God who loves them and does not wish that they should perish. Should I be wrong and you are right, then what have I lost? I have lived a life that reached out and helped others, tried to live in peace with others, really is the grand scheme of things I gave lost nothing. However, if I am right and you are wrong, you have lost everything including your very soul. Maybe a little fear in that possibility is a good thing.

  • Wayfarer

    The answer is simple. Join a Bible believing church. Stay away from any religion not based on Judeo/Christian precepts because all the others are false. Get together with other like minded Christians and read, study and breath the Living Word of God into your soul until you take on the character of Jesus Christ. He will give you all the wisdom you need to get you through this life to prepare you for eternity because that is our ultimate goal as Christians. It’s not about how much gold and silver we accumulate or how large and far away our hidey hole is because our ultimate “exit strategy” is where we will spend eternity. Let’s keep it simple and uncomplicated. Life is so much easier lived this way. It has served me well over the years and it didn’t cost a thing.

  • Silver Eagle

    Wayfarer,
    Thumbs up!

  • Prudentis

    You see
    “And here is where you and those that attempt to destroy Christianity lies”
    This sentence alone shows, that you do not understand what I wish and stand for regarding religions and faith.
    But you know what, this is not bad. I do wish you well and I long time ago stopped caring about this high-horse attitude form religious people :)

    Regarding your conclusions about my line of thought, again you did not understand my meaning. Seeing all those contradictions there arn’t many options left.
    One would of course be that no God exists (the Ockham Razor approach)
    Another would be, as you suggest, that there is a purpose for that.
    And the last one, which I can relate to the most because I am not an Atheist, would be, that the contradictions are no contradictions at all. Just pieces of a greater puzzle.

    But you know, in all that I try to stay humble, because after all, I know exactly as little as you do.

    peace brothers

  • Prudentis

    One more thing, because I can’t resist. Your last paragraph, where you try to use logic to justify your line of thinking is flawed. It originates from Blaise Pascal and is called the PAscal Wager (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager)

    The criticizm of this wager is as old as Blaise himself.

    But I agree, that you reached out and help others is a good thing. I would like to think, that you would still do it, if you knew, that there is no reward associated with this kind of behavior. Because if God is like I would like to envision him, he would not be fooled by this 😀

  • Gareth

    Religion’s such a controversial topic. Perhaps we’re all heading to the same place, just taking different paths to get there?

    I’m an agnostic ie I really don’t know. I find really religious people kinda scary; it’s sort of a competition about who’s the most religious to some of them.

    I reckon there’s ‘something’ though, and we all look at that ‘something’ from a different angle.

    Peace

  • Gareth

    PS. Great article, CD.

  • Silver Eagle

    Thank God I am not a religious person.

    Religion equals a strict set of rules and conditions that must be kept to be accepted.

    Relationship sets aside those rules and conditions and places your trust in the only One who could acheive those high standards.

    My questions were less of logic and more of showing that your either beleive in a Sovereign GOD or He does not exsist and therefore we are reduced to nothing more than an animal.

    As for the Grand Plan, yeah your right there is a Grand Plan, His. And those things you speak of may be a thread in of a tapestry we are not fully capable of seeing.

  • Prudentis said, “Prove to me, that that is actually and literally what God said. Which you will not be able to do regardless what passages of the Bible you present.”

    This may be true, but it is a gordian knot. Where to start? Consider this:

    http://www.whatabeginning.com/Misc/Wonders/P.htm

  • Silver Eagle said, “Through acceptance of His gift to you, your sins are no longer before Him, when he looks at you He no longer sees your sins but the sacrifice His son made for you.”

    We do not “accept” Him, He accepts us. And because “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” all have been accepted.

    We are not saved by believing. We REALIZE we are saved by believing. Not of works, lest any should [ be able to ] boast. Grace, faith,love, hope, peace, joy, revelation, resultant good works, all are gifts.

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