Some Thoughts on Religion
I hear a lot of criticism of 'organized religion' from people who have a wide range of personal beliefs. It seems a bit of an ingrained attitude in our culture. Even among those who belong to churches!
However, in a world where everything is organized -- government, business, even crime -- it seems to me that religion must also be organized to survive, and to be a force (preferably for good!) in society. It's no surprise that totalitarian governments want to control or destroy religion, and see it as a threat to their own authority. I suspect that 'Western Civilization' would be rather different if the Roman church hadn't asserted its independence early on and remained a counter-balance to secular power.
Of course, religions are made up of humans, with all their natural failings, so there is bound to be abuse. Heirarchies, once established, tend to perpetuate and defend their existence. Still...overall, I think organized religion has done far more good than evil, when it truly is an independent force. When it has become an arm of government, it's a whole 'nother bag of peanuts.
So, what is an independent-minded-but-religious individual to do? Join a church (or equivalent), knowing that there is strength in numbers and hoping to influence its direction? Or follow ones own path, separately? I myself have vacillated between these two choices for a long time. Ha, maybe that in itself is the best choice!