Except I must. Sigh ...
In the meantime, I can share a snippet from what I read this morning ...
I was reading this in Marcus Borg's "Reading the Bible AGAIN for the First Time" ... it fits in well with my own journey, and perhaps those of others as well:
"Why be religious? Why take God seriously? Is it because 'there's something in it for me'?
That is the answer of conventional religious wisdom, ancient and modern, Jewish and Christian, and as found in other religions. Follow THIS way - it will take you to a good place, whether internally or externally, whether in this life or the next. It's Christian forms are many: believe in God and Jesus and you'll go to heaven, or you'll prosper, or you'll have peace of mind, or you'll be fulfilled. All of these turn taking God seriously into a means to some end.
Is there such a thing as religion unmotivated by self-interest? What would it mean to take God seriously, not as a *means*, but as the ultimate end...?"
(though I would replace "religion" with "relationship with God" - and I *do* see a significant distinction...)
And so, I'd expand that excellent question to this: "If there's no hell or heaven, why follow God at all?" (i.e., if there's no punishment or reward, does God have anything going for Him...?)
This is powerfully exemplified in the book of Job -- Job goes from believing in conventional wisdom (if I do the right things, I will experience blessings; if I do the wrong things, I will experience calamity), to having that conventional wisdom turned upside down ... despite being righteous, he experiences calamity. He experienced the worthlessness of conventional wisdom - it was wholly inadequate to help him comprehend, and endure, his own suffering. Despite how his friends continue to repeat status quo (& to thus blame him for how he was suffering), he instead insisted upon having a conversation with God, for the purpose of understanding what he was experiencing (to me, this illustrates the peril and absurdity of quoting all parts of the Bible as if they reflect God's point of view ... all too often, the Bible is reflecting man's point of view - mankind creating God in his own all-too-small image).
Job pours out his heart to God, and God responds (God shows Job the stark difference, but not distance, between the creator and the created) - thus Job experienced an encounter with God -- which transforms him (the real meaning of "repent" - to be changed by an experience with God -- we butcher its meaning when we reduce it to "being sorry for our sins").
Job describes his transformation here:
"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear -
but now my eye sees you."
("seeing" is classical language for a mystical experience - an intense, immediate experience of the sacred -- an encounter with the Living God)
His rejection of conventional wisdom called everything he had once believed into question ... and his experience of God convinced him that God was real, despite the human inability to see fairness/balance in the world around him.
The point, I believe, is not to adhere to a second-hand religion (an orderly set of conventional-wisdom teachings about how things are and how things go, and thus what one "should" do - or else!). Second-hand religion is learned from others - a set of teachings and practices to be accepted and believed and followed, IOW religious conventional wisdom. First-hand spirituality is that which flows from a first-hand experience of God... an experience of the sacred which shatters and transforms second-hand religion.
Do I want to settle for hearing about God from others, or do I want to see (experience) God for myself, first-hand...?
(even if it means that the others will dismiss and reject me for my experience, and thus my shedding of status quo, conventional wisdom, and the traditions of man ...)