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Church of ME!

I ran across this quote today from Thomas Paine:  I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

Isn't that special?

What I thought when I read that is,  "You and all of contemporary society, Tom."  Really; isn't this exactly how most people today think?  "I get to decide what is right and wrong for me.  Don't legislate morality.  Hey, if you don't like it, don't do it, but don't try to stop me from doing it."

Here's the problem, at least for me.  If I got to live according to The Church of My Own Mind, it would follow these "ten commandments of Elise":

1.  Family budget?? Bah!  I want shoes!
2.  A good merlot is good anytime.  Even for breakfast.  If I feel like driving after a bottle of good merlot, so be it.
3.  If you annoy me, expect a good tongue lashing.  Or perhaps just a lashing.  Depends on my mood.
4.  Any cruel thing that pops into my head also comes out of my mouth.
5.  Children are cute sometimes, but wearisome always.  Not for me, thanks!
6.  While I realize that people like my husband, my mother and friends often do kind and generous things for me, that doesn't mean I owe them a damn thing in return.  Not even a "thank you".  Hey, if my mind doesn't compel me to do something, I don't have to!
7.  In fact, I don't owe anybody anything.
8.  No one else's property deserves my respect.  It's not mine.  That goes for bodies as well as things.
9.  I don't really care about your stress, problems or issues.  I've got my own.  And my own are all that matter.
10.  I matter.  Not really sure about you.  I suppose you might matter, if and only if you don't cross paths with me.  Should you cross my path, I take precedence.  Always.

The issue here is that if I don't get held to a higher, more objective authority, I will become the basest and most sinful of human beings.  I'm already pretty darned sinful;  I don't need to be bolstered to dwell in my own selfishness.  I NEED a church to tell me,  "You are better than your basest desires and instincts.  You are MORE.  Here are some guidelines to help you out."

(By the way, I don't buy the argument of "The Church MAKES you do this or that."  Really?  There's a platoon of bishops with guns compelling me to do things?  Must have missed that.  I thought people got to choose what to do.)

This is what organized religion does for us:  it gives us an objective rule to follow so that we don't fall into the pit of our own mind, our own selfishness.  If we got to create the Church of My Own Mind, most of us would be selfish.  Admit it.  We'd do what serves ME, not you.  It's only when we are surrounded by others all striving to follow rules like "Do unto others" and "Do not kill" and "Respect others' property" that we hold our heads up and say, "Okay.  I can do this.  I'll put aside my own bratty desires and put you first.And when I don't do that, you'll call me back to this greater purpose."  We have to recognize that "ME" is not the be-all and end-all of it all.  That's what objective truth and morality does for us.

Sorry, Tom;  I'm gonna go with 2000 years of "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life".  The Church of My Own Mind leaves me very lonely.


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