Is religion 'Built to Last'?

I am currently reading the book Built to Last right now and something keeps pestering me about a connection between the concepts in the book and organized religion.

I am still reading the book, and may post a longer follow-up once I finish. The book focuses on the histories of 18 "visionary" companies (not leaders or ideas - an important distinction), ones that have met continued success and are regularly regarded as being Best-in-Class in their industries. It seeks to understand what separates these companies and figure out which traits can be used in other companies or institutions to make them "great."

One of the pinnacle unique traits these companies share, according to the authors, is the definition of core beliefs, but the flexibility to change non-core practices and beliefs throughout the lifespan of the company. The book describes it as "Preserve the core / stimulate progress!" An example is Walmart, which has a core belief that "The customer is always right." This core belief allows the company to be nimble as it moves through time and across markets - what the customer wants in Suburban Chicago is not necessarily the same as Rural Nebraska or even Urban China.

What is most critical about these "core beliefs" is that they are distilled and seperated from more general and reflexive company policy. In bringing Walmart stores to China, the company did not just bring American brands (although those came along) but also supports national and local food and goods at each of it's Chinese stores. You won't find the same huge barrels of pickles or bajillion-pound bags of chips. Instead, the focus is on fresh food and produce. Walmart adapted.

The adaptation, as well as the heavy distinction between policy and core belief is what makes me think of religion. Religions don't do that seperation. Sure, you have variations of a religion that are more or less strict like Reform vs. Orthodox Judaism. Or you have multiple flavors, like Protestant, Lutheran and Catholic Christianity. But, these seperate "choices" are not grouped together under one banner with a focus on doggedly pursuing our protecting belief in "The one god, our Lord" that the Shema talks about for Judaism or the virtues of love and forgiveness that Jesus emphasizes throughout all the Gospels.

Taking Judaism as an example, is the daily requirement to say the Shema as important as avoiding eating pork? Historically, the avoidance of pork was probably put in place for health or economics reasons - not to declare the greatness of God. Now, thousands of years later, that same caution is unnecessary, so how does this pertain to God or even the community?

I don't think the world has ever seen a religion that is "Built to Last," one that has core beliefs but the designed flexibility to remain relavent and important despite changing environments. The more modern or flexible sects of religions that have sprung up, have been created as a response and are not full-hearted efforts but more a tactic to keep parishoners and followers in the seats of the holy house. Can a flexible religion exist? Would it fall inwards on itself under the weight of change or would it coast along on top of the tides of progress? I would hope for success, but with no example its hard to say.

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