Also, in leaving the church, I put absolutely everything I'd been taught into the bin. Is any of it Truth? Biblical inerrancy? Divinity of Jesus? The Trinity? Original Sin? Justification by faith? Sanctification by works? Free will vs. the Elect? Worldly reward for spiritual holiness? Does any of it matter if the practice of religion ignored all of it in preference for power structures and legislation by guilt?
I examined the theologies of several different religious traditions over the years (mostly Buddhism, Wicca and Paganism, Zen, and Sufi but some toe-dipping into other systems) as well as lots of variants of the neo hippie cultures: Waldorf education, Simple Living, Back to Earth. Amazingly, I found the same legalism, self-righteousness, holiness based on adherence to a particular set of rules, and discipline-by-ostracism in every single one. So, Truth must be that people have such a strong need to belong that the power-mongering among us can use absolutely anything to set up that abusive dynamic.
I found other Truths, though, that ran through everything I looked at--stewardship of the earth, the body being the temple of the divine, humanity is the image of the divine, measure of holiness by Fruit of the Spirit, and a reverence That Which Is Greater Than Ourselves. I decided these are Truths because, as far as I could tell, they are constant through all times and all places.
But knowing these things to be True (by whatever name people call them), how do I live and worship in community with others who recognize these Truths without setting up a system with potential for legalism? Is it possible? Are legalism and power-tripping the price we pay for community? Is that the real dynamic tension of the universe--unity with Divinity in community versus corruption and separation from Divinity?
And how do I avoid that tension within myself? How do I live in such a manner that promotes the unity without allowing the corruption?