In many ways, and through no fault of its own, religion is like an old pair of Calvin Klein jeans. On the one hand, they keep us more or less warm and almost covered. At least they are better than nothing. On the other hand, they are tight and restricts our movement. It’s like what happens to most of us who try to put our middle aged butts into the jeans we wore in college. We may try to convince ourselves they still look nice, but the truth comes out when we [try to] bend over.
Religion has the unenviable task of trying to draw a boundary around something that has no edges. There is no way to succeed, leaving its adherents in a bind worse than any created by those old Calvin Klein jeans. We can find ourselves in a social situation we have outgrown. If we decide to stay, we stunt our own growth. If we decide to leave we may lose the familiar in search of the true. Along the way in that search we can become lonely, but temporary loneliness is a small price to pay for beliefs that actually fit.
The good news is that we can construct what author and spiritual teacher Thomas Moore calls “A Religion of One’s Own.” We can jettison beliefs and practices that no longer work and replace them with ones that do. We can find religious community among fellow seekers who have abandoned their Calvin Klein’s as well. We can be like the middle aged man who finally gets tired of his jeans falling down and decides to buy some with an elastic waist. In doing so he throws off the religion of the fashion police in favor of what actually works. It’s not such a radical idea, is it?