How would you like eternal salvation?
Interested in a meaningful existence?
Can I offer you peace of mind?
What do you have to do for all this? Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. You do have to accept that someone did the work for you already.
And with that sales pitch a mass appeal for a new religion was born. Well it seems a new generation of skilled salespeople are at work, this time they are comedians ironically enough.
Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans are on a mission, albeit not from God, to create a new movement. This new Church of Atheism wishes to embrace all the beauty that religion has to offer; community, joy, meaning etc. without any of the "myth". However, what they really want is no different than what Paul was offering. They want meaning without responsibility. They want a relationship with the transcendental without obligation.
Imagine how absurd this notion would be if we were to apply it to any other relationship. Picture a couple deciding they want all the benefits of a relationship with no actual obligations nor commitments. The proverbial 'friends with benefits'. Sadly this is getting closer and closer to becoming accepted in our society. Just recently there was an article posted listing the reasons why one should not get married. It is possible to have a working, committed relationship without marriage. The benefits of marriage are for a different discussion. However, the absence of the binding reality of marriage does open the door for this free love attitude. When there is no obligation to give, then there is only going to be taking. It is no shock that a recent study shows dissatisfaction amongst women in regards to sexual pleasure outside of a committed relationship. Why should men be concerned with the women's pleasure when there is nothing at stake? When there is nothing obligating him to do so more often than not a man will resort to his own gratification. This is human nature.
Any relationship that we cherish in this life comes with a price. If we want to enjoy the benefits of a family then we must be willing to adhere and commit to the boundaries and guidelines that having a family entail. The selfish adolescent that chooses to ignore those costs and never grow out of that stage inevitably will have a very weak and superficial relationship with the family. Similarly, a person that is only interested in the pleasure that the opposite sex has to offer without the willingness to obligate themselves will be left to live a lonely existence. Any and all relationships require investment. Not only an investment of time and money but an investment of will; the willingness to refrain from certain activities and the willingness to mandate as well. This is a basic rule of relationships.
Another basic element of investing in a relationship is figuring out what is important to the other party. I remember when I first became a father. I knew that it was my right as a father to torture my child just as my father did to me. Every night during the winter when I was a little boy my father would come home late from work after I was already in bed. After walking our dog and having been out in the cold for some time so his hands were at the perfect icicle temperature, he would come and stick them under my blanket onto my warm belly. Sheer torture! Well now it was my turn. Of course, things turn out that my daughter actually hated being tickled. She would literally cry. I had a choice to make. I needed to decide to continue tickling her because that what I wanted to do in the relationship or figure out what she wanted. Tickling therefore became forbidden. An obligation not to do.
A relationship with the Transcendental is no different. If there is to be a real meaningful relationship then there must and has to be obligations. Call them mitzvos, call them commandments, call them investments. Without them there is nothing more than feel good spirituality. We can choose to relate to the world simply the way we feel or how the Creator intended us to be. And if we choose to ignore the foolishness of the former approach then there will be plenty of salesmen that will come along with the next greatest spiritual high.