There was a time when, if you’d asked me what my thoughts were on religion, I would probably have suggested that either (a) it is true in which case we should follow its dictates regardless of how we feel about them, or else (b) it is false in which case we should ignore its commands – again, regardless of how we feel about them.

There was a time when, if you’d talked to me about “finding my own spiritual path” or some such ridiculous sandal-slapping beard-growing nonsense I’d have giggled behind my hand.

In those days, I was more rational than I am now. More what we might call male-brained. Now, I am guided by feeling as well as by reason, and I like the change.

The male-brain* thinking that dismisses feeling as irrelevant to truth, and elevates reason and rationality above all other modes of reflection, is behind a lot of things. I believe that it is behind the ever-increasing abstraction of religious thought, for example, and the way in which feeling and sensation / sensuality have been quite literally demonised in male-brain religion.

[* Clarification: I use this term very loosely to describe what appear to me to be traditionally masculine modes of thought, rather than to suggest that the male sex has any biological leaning to one particular method of approaching life problems. Masculinity, by the way, is just as much a social construct as femininity. It aint real.]

There is a different way of thinking about the spiritual. There is a deeper, more ancient, more fully human way to understand and appreciate the numinous.

A sense of transcendence, of reverential awe, of religiosity is built into every one of us. Some of us experience it more often or more intensely than others, but it is within all of us – especially if we are at peace to let it out. A spiritual feeling is as much a part of our human nature as is our ability to reason, our survival instinct, and our capactiy for love.

There is a reason why we are a spiritual species. I think it is probably a way of coping with the big unanswered questions that our rationality leads us to ask: where did we come from? where are we going to? what is love? how ought we to behave?

And because we are a spiritual as well as a rational species, we sometimes have to reject the cold purity of reason in favour of the warm strength of spirit. And so we make up rituals and stories, to enable us to make sense of the numinous, and to experience the great Other that transcendence allows us to touch.

The big question we must ask about a given religion is not is this true? but does this help me to make sense of my awe?

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