The Religion of Convenience

(Alternate titles being: “Of Disposable Gods” or “God as a Commodity”)

You have experienced it. You have probably even been a part of it. Or you have been a passive observer. Being religious — it has always stemmed from a sense of purpose — social protection, sense of identity, wars, or the effects of war. And any religion, in some form or the other, demands compliance and commitment. It advocates a belief system and demands adherence to rituals, observance of rules, and loyalty to that religious community. And if you read the previous sentence again — you may experience the claustrophobia that organised and recognised religions impose. There is hardly any scope for a personal expression. The characteristics of religion are permanent in a way. It’s not convenient.

It’s easier that way.

That’s the basic premise of this unrecognised and unorganised religion — The Religion of Convenience. It begins with a transient sense of purpose — whether you were perpetrating it or following it or observing it. The successful practice of this religion is in the name of the religion. It begins and ends with convenience. When convenience is the basic premise, the rules are as malleable and ductile as the religion itself. It’s much better to construct and therefore deconstruct or even tear down the God of this religion of convenience. Yes, there is a God; the God of Convenience, obviously? This is a religion remember? It has all the tenets of a religion.

There is a belief system; there are rituals, rules, and loyalty. Just like any other religion. There is ostracism if rules are not followed and rituals are not performed. All these, of course, are very convenient.

The believers assemble in a place and carve out their kingdom, with the help of the God. They give it a convenient name and begin the spread of the religion – the crusade. The kingdom often prospers, with the God’s blessings.

The Gods of this religion however, never belong to this religion. They come from the faith of resolution. The most naïve and unassuming participants in this religion are the Gods. And the followers of this religion borrow Gods from the position of resolve that the Gods hold. Then, the fervour and the fanaticism of building the next transient and mortal wave of worship takes birth. Wars are waged, in the name of the God and the religion. And it’s a successful war – so much so that you would believe that it is a war of resolve – like the God (still) thinks it to be.

But, what does an immigrant God know? This religion is deep rooted in a loose sense of purpose and on a shaky ground. And by the time the God gets to know this, the damage is done and the God has been methodically deconstructed and exiled. During this divine ignorance, the battle becomes fierce; the people waging the war, ferocious.

The followers move for their share of bounty, often win, celebrating purposelessness. They grow their kingdom. The kingdom becomes more politically constituted and charged. Followers become claimants — to thrones or seats of honour depending on their ability or their relation with God. The kingdom establishes itself under the aegis of the religion of convenience. In a few cases, it even gains respect. Like any other kingdom under any other religion, this rule prospers, often grows, but never stabilises. Convenience takes precedence over purpose.

The kingdom itself is pretty well-formed. Like any history book that you may have read. There is a King, the image of God, often unchallenged and accepted by consensus. There is always a primary minister, a set of loyalists to the king, opportunists who pendulum their way through the polity, foot soldiers with lesser sense of purpose. There is the prince, childish and unworthy in pursuit of carnal and unsophisticated goals. (You’ll know what I mean if you have seen Braveheart and have noticed Peter Hanly, who plays Edward, Prince of Wales)

And to complete this polity, along comes a mercenary. A defeated warrior, disavowed, and often depraved. Looking for shelter, the mercenary deceitfully identifies with the religion, harbouring ambitions of being able to run a kingdom. (Not all mercenaries are negative characters, see DragonHeart)

The image of peace is disturbed; subjects leave to dwell in more stable and prosperous kingdoms. The king becomes reluctant, reclusive and reticent. The minister takes over, aggressively, still believing in the purpose that doesn’t exist, and hopes in vain that the pitiful prince will take over. The minister usually succumbs to false impressions of being the king. Loyalties begin shifting their postures. The minister becomes the hope for the remainder of the kingdom. Absent and diffident kings make way for worthy rulers. The kingdom prospers again. It evolves, however still doesn’t provide a sense of permanence. Diminishing resources cause plans and programs to change their shape and texture. Devolution is handled with dexterity to increase dominion, resulting in a confederacy.

In the absence of a resolute monarchy and responsible management, the confederacy evolves, which even involves support from the mercenary. The mercenary, influenced by gains, plays both sides. Only chaos prevails and after all permutations, the God is mauled and murdered for the same resolve that caused the religion to germinate and eventually grow. New Gods are looked for. A million smaller Gods emerge and a billion other useless purposes evolve. The religion itself loses identity in the confederate system. Confederates begin operating with microscopic sense of purpose if there is one – other than sheer survival.

That’s the religion of convenience. The convenience of the self, spotted by glimmers of a sense of purpose, and characterised by the lack of resolve.

Deep down a hunger for realising the self.

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