This node title is a near-quote from nine9's 22 May 2001 daylog. The actual quote is "Hinduism doesn't allow me to be who I am," referring to the fact that while he seems to like some of the philosophy, the rules that go with the philosophy directly contradict his lifestyle.

With no offense meant to nine9, I think this is a problem lots of people have with religion in modern society -- they'd like to take bits and pieces that they like out of whatever belief system they choose, and you can't do that.

Western society today tends to focus on the individual, with supreme emphasis on individual liberties. That's all well and good in civil society, particularly in systems where religion/"the church" is de facto or de jure separate from the state, as there is no civil benefit (hopefully) to membership in a certain sect, and decisions about what is hopefully the most basic part of your being don't necessarily have to be influenced by worldly implications. This breaks down, though, when someone approaches religion from the outside, with the idea of making a religion match him/her, rather than attempting to fit to it.

I've never had the experience of "shopping for a religion" per se, so I'm not an expert on what a person doing that might be thinking. Certainly such a person should look for a belief system whose central theme he/she can follow, whether that be moderation, redemption, grace, or whatever. But when rules come with that central theme, they're usually there for a reason, whether it be directly moral or historical. If he/she can't agree with those rules, then that religion is not for him/her. (This is not a reason to avoid intelligent thought about the religion; to the contrary, you should think long and hard about what you're getting into, and why each part of the system of belief is there -- you might learn something. Theologians have been doing this for centuries.)

But you're never going to find a religion that perfectly fits you and allows you to do whatever you want, if you approach it with a totally inflexible mind.

...unless you invent one, that is.

Cletus the Foetus's argument seems to be based on applying the same restrictions to Jesus Christ as I do to ordinary humans, and he quotes my initial response to his WU. If you want to get legalistic about it, I suppose I could phrase it as an exception to be made for deities (or whatever significant religious figure you wish to consider capable of creating a "new" faith), but I'll keep it simple.

I don't mentally put the same restrictions on the Son of God's actions in redefining religion that I do on ordinary humans' actions.

As for "What would make Jesus the Son of God?": it's a matter of faith. Either you believe it or you don't. If you don't accept that significant religious figures by "nature" (divine birth/command from God/revelation/whatever) have the moral right to go mucking about with basic religious tenets as a direct result of that nature, then ctf's argument is pretty compelling. I just don't extend the restrictions in my argument to that kind of individual.