Everyone has an ego.
People do. I do, you do.
Perhaps organizations do too. Corporations, and unions.
Maybe even religious denominations!
I’m no psychologist, but I know about the practice of recognizing and letting go of one’s ego-impulse that insists that one be in the right. My need to be right is often rooted in my ego’s instinct and drive to survive, not in the furthering of my character, or my relationships, or my quality of life…
I suspect that the wisdom in “turn the other cheek” means, among other things, shifting out from under the grip of one’s own ego, and moving towards authentic connection with another. (Namaste…)
I’ve been familiar with that whole line of thinking for some time — not that I practice it all that well, mind you, or all that often! But what has newly occurred to me is to wonder if a group of people as an entity also has an ego — a “meta-ego,” so to speak. A collective ego.
Ponder that thought for a moment… and then apply it to the entity of a religion, or a religious denomination.
The idea of a religion or a denomination having an ego with a survival instinct is pretty scary. It could also go a very long way towards explaining a number of theology positions that various Christian churches have held over the millenia. Positions such as: women are subservient; slavery is accepted; homosexuality is abhorrent; etc.; etc.
Actually, the idea of a religion having an ego doesn’t explain those particular theology positions. Rather, a religion’s ego could explain that religion’s reluctance to let go of a position when it becomes increasingly clear that the position is flawed. In fact, various Christian denominations have fought tooth and nail to hold on to some of these stances over the centuries, drawing blood — both figuratively and literally — from their opponents in an attempt to keep things from changing.
(Sidenote: Faced with this history, it puzzles me greatly how anyone can insist that the words in the Christian Bible — I should say Bibles, plural, as there are so many translations — are inerrant truth.)
A pastor once said to me that same-gender love was going to split his denomination wide open. He clearly thought that such a potential split was a very bad thing, and he was making what he thought was a valid point against my partner and I staying in his community. But what was he interested in protecting, in saving? It seems to me that it was his church and its umbrella denomination (and his livelihood) that was at risk. No more and no less than that.
Should a religion be interested in its own survival? If it is, doesn’t that religion then, as an entity, have a conflict of interest between its own ego’s motives and the authentic truth/love/goodness/whatever that it is supposed to teach?