The two legs of religion
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1.27
World Vision commends 8 answers to poverty: educate children, clean water, basic health care, empower women and girls, child nutrition, environmental programmes, protect children from conflict, prevent child marriage. The common theme here is to care for the most vulnerable. This is how James defines true religion - almost.
Because he continues... to add to his definition "... and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." What did James mean? Is it agnosticism, materialism or any other -ism that James is warning against? Or is it the temptation to get sucked into the cynical mindset which accepts things as they are and salvages what it can?
The truth is that a person of faith needs to be so focused on God - both his beauty and his agenda - that they are not tempted to conform to a fallen world and its corrupt values, while retaining an interest in its affairs and a concern for its victims. This combination could be regarded as the pillars upon which true religion stands but there is a dynamic quality which demands a more dynamic metaphor. Religion is less a state of being, more a movement for change, for which legs are required.