religion? we don't need no stinking religion!
(post to a sociology list in response to someone else)
I read what you are saying as intermingling religion (structure, codes, symbols, status, etc.) with religious (or I supposed spiritual) experience (way of living or being). I think that the two are different. I also think that the notion of spirituality is bandied around far too much in our post-modern world, but,...that is an aside.
Personally, I believe that persons like Jesus, the Buddha, Ammachi, Ramakrishna, etc., did (in the case of Ammachi, "do") have a profoundly different experience of life than I do. As such, I think that what they have to offer in terms of their teaching (and the way they lived) is very valuable to me. I can follow them and their teaching without having to be part of any religion. I have not been able to attain their level of living, but I see it as possible and as something I want, so I work towards it.
IMO, the bracelet shouldn't read, WWJD, it should read HWJB -- How would Jesus BE -- that is something I have no clue about, Jesus' fundamental way of being in the world. From what I have read, it is a pretty neat way to be.
I participate in religion (i.e., attend church) because I like the people, they treat me and my kids very well, I can talk about what I think about Jesus, and I can learn more about living in ways that are fundamentally foreign to me (humble, gracious, compassionate, etc.). Is it necessary for me to have any kind of belief in something to do this? Not anymore than any other belief that I have about anything. I suspect that one could argue that having any belief (in science, rationality, inherent goodness of persons,
etc.) is fantastical simply because beliefs, by their very nature exist only in the mind and as such, have no real substance, i.e., they are "all"
Do, I have to participate in religion to follow any and/or all of the above persons? I don't think so. Being part of a group (whatever that group is) does have its benefits, however. I learn much, am challenged much, am humbled much, etc., in the context of the religious group I participate in.
Is my wanting to be like the folks I mention above delusional? I don't think so. Again, if so, then my wanting to be like anyone else is delusional, too.
In sum, I don't think the twain needs to meet nor does one (religion VS
experience) preclude nor include the other. Variety and diversity abound in this world of ours, I have much to learn from many, if not most I encounter.
And I encounter "them" in physical proximity, through reading, through video, etc.