In principle, spiritual endeavor is largely benevolent.
It is in practice that anyone might be wise to keep a flak jacket handy.
Today I wonder to what extent (if any) religion gathers its power from a longing for privilege -- a piece of a well-heeled pie that one man might imagine another man had. How nice to think that you could bring little or nothing to the table and receive nonetheless some palatial surcease and peace.
A privileged pastime.
Those in the biz may skitter and scurry like roaches beneath a bright light: "Everyone is welcome" is a fine principle, but if it were a truly-desired fact, why would there be so many roaches?
Of course religion is not frequently compared to a collection of designer-label toilet brushes or a good education or a house on the hill or a capacity to broker the next big merger or a second Rolls Royce in the garage. Religion is for everyone ... sort of.
Is it true? I think it is: That anyone in the throes of privilege is more often than not unaware of the privilege enjoyed. From the merchandizing mind of the American to the delicate snuff box observances of Downton Abbey to the languorous courtoisie of Versailles to the intricate briberies in Beijing to the elevated mind-set of the mind ... well, this is the way things are, isn't it? There is nothing special about being special.
Is religion a privileged pastime?
I don't know.
But I wonder.