In life, middlemen are incredibly useful; they link the buyer and the seller in a convenient location, profit a little from the transaction, and I’m happy, you’re happy, they’re happy, everybody’s happy. Works fine in commerce, yeah; not so much in religion.
As a child, even as a teen, I was a devote Catholic, complete with church on Sundays, Lenten sacrifices (chocolate, four years running), and I’d go to Bible study; it was good. Gradually, though, I started seeing things differently. I began realizing that the Church seemed more and more like an impersonal, profit oriented middleman rather than an institution of faith and unity. Then the day came when I began asking questions; if God is everywhere, why can He only hear me in the middle of a several-thousand-square-foot edifice? Why did I have to be absolved of my sins through another man, another flawed, human man; was God too busy to listen to my apology? But most importantly, why did my church have ambitions to build an expensive, spiffy new chapel when the money might go elsewhere, and when our current building serviced us perfectly? On that day, when they passed the collection plate my way, I confess to withholding my five dollars.
Not long after, when no real answers to my questions were provided, I did the thing that made sense to me and cut out the middleman, in favor of pursuing a more intimate relationship with God. Atheist! Heathen! Devil-child! They decried. But not really; I still believe in God. Always will, too, it’s just that now I don’t have a label anymore; can’t even call myself nondenominational, as it IS a denomination of some form of Baptist beliefs. I just have to believe that He still hears me, still cares, when I’m outside of a nicely architected building with some fancy stained glass (I mean, he’s God, for Christ’s sake). If He DOES need a middleman to reach me, well… I’ll just take my business elsewhere.