Monday, September 25, 2006

Solitary in a Group Religion?

Let's say you're part of a religion in which community is a big thing. It's not just preferred; to really practice properly, you must be a part of a group and you must take part in appropriate rituals at regular intervals. However, something gets in the way and you find yourself unable to be a part of this community for a while. (What happens? Use your imagination... Perhaps illness or injury keeps you away, perhaps you find that you are completely incompatible with the local group, perhaps you move to a place where there is no local group, perhaps the local group dissolves, perhaps one thing just leads to another and before you know it you find yourself so deep in other commitments you can't break that you have no energy left over for dealing with a religious group.)

How do you handle that? Is it enough to just kind of do your best with a solitary practice and/or living life according to the values and principles of your religion? Does it require a reexamination of priorities, scheduling, choice of where to live, etc.? Is soul-searching over whether you're being a "good enough" fill-in-the-blank required? Does it make a difference if you know that you might be able to return to practicing with the community in a couple of months, as opposed to knowing that this condition might go on indefinitely?

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