The purpose of religion is to produce a sanctified imagination. A sanctified imagination is a mind set on holy things combined with a heart intent to see holy things become common but not ordinary.
We fail our religion and fail at our religion if we do not produce a sanctified imagination. Jesus told the greatest convert makers of His day they were the kind of men who would cross the world to make a convert but their success only produced a person intent to be twice a child of Hell.
Convert making is not the purpose of religion. If He had thougth evangelism was for the sake of a crowd, He would never have sent anyone home hungry. Jesus would have sanctioned convert making without reservation or qualification.
American mega-religion is not that which produces a sanctified imagination. It is business, Big Business, with all its complications and contracts. A man hires his whole family to work in the family business. He dies and a son stands in his favored spot.
American religiosity is not even religion any longer. There is no room in it for a sanctified imagination.
So, preacher, what do you see when you close your eyes? What do you do when you open them?
A sanctified imagination issues forth from one's meditative acts. Do you meditate on your numbers or on your Lord? In the gospel stories the huge throngs around Jesus were called a multitude or a throng. The numbered crowds were those He sent out to work and those who actually went to work. Only in the Book of Acts do we see the crowds start to be numbered, when men got the church, and our history is often a sorry one since then.
The identity in our meditative vision tells us if we have a meditative, sanctified imagination. Each religion defines sanctity. When we meditate on the ideal held up to us by our religion, our imagination becomes sanctified to and for that ideal. When one becomes sanctified in mind, the soul and body join as boon companions to the mind's hale fellow well met.
When one settles on what a santified imagination looks like in his religion, he can then decide if his religion is worthwhile. This is a way to soothe the soul, as well as a way to answer the secular question about religious identity, which is often stated in some variation as, "Who is to say which religion is right and which are wrong?"
That is, the fellow who approaches his religion's ideal answers honestly the question of religious worth. He will need to know how his religion was first taught by its Master but he will notice the greatest difficulty in practicing the unevolved original. Some of the original acts condoned by the God he reads about, if taken literally, will command barbarity and so make the Master a barbarian by civilized standards. He will need to find the Master's ideal and mediate toward that ideal.
Religion ought to make the world better, safer, more loving. All religions, in some part, and some religions in all parts, grow out of a deep need for self-protection and self-approval, so that all we do is said to be the will of God, no matter how heinous the act. We put ourselves in the position where our own Holy Writ forces us to defend the indefensible. The unevolved orginal may never leave its defensive crouch.
And so, with this little 575 word essay, I return to the blog space. Like it, love it, leave it, here it is. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.