How about obedience for the theologians (dogmatic), love for the mystic (enlightened)? Perhaps, this tale better illustrates:
The True Sound of Truth
A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student's humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.
A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.
The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself -- but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!
"What's wrong?" asked the hermit.
"I don't know what to say. I'm afraid you've wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!"
"Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?"
The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.
"It's so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies." Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.
"Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I've forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?"
"You obviously don't need it," stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.
The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.
Mystics know that words are just signpost; words only point the Way. They know deep down that when articles, cultural overtones, etc. are striped, the messages are essentially the same. They understand that they don’t necessarily have to relinquish the faith they were raised in because regardless what facet they look at, they will always see the divinity within the center of the jewel. And when each facet is integrated, true beauty unveils.
“Obedience” can be an enriching experience depending on the context. Person A takes care of his/her old parents because he/she is obeying God’s commandment. Person B takes care of his/her old parents because he/she obeys what makes his/her heart sings, and in doing so shares the same joy with his/her parents just as he/she is with God rather than to God. Intention, motivation and maturity added new dimensions to the experience.
Fear and its denominations are a result of lack of understanding. And often for those who lack the understanding instigate (further) fear to justify it: (dogmatic) obedience. “Obedience” may have been quite effective with the reigning mindset then, but may no longer be at another moment. Thus, factions are created. Despite the prevalent “obedience” impression (in a nutshell) on Islam and Judaism (Assuming this is the religion you are addressing when speaking of the Old Testament), these have richness to offer that could not otherwise realized unless actualized from within: enthocentricity.
Religion was founded on spirituality. It is changing just as man is in a state of becoming. My interpretation of the “anti-religion” sentiment in Conversations with God is how religion has become more and more “ego-centered”—fearful, insecure, taking everything personal, superiority, etc. -- as Eastern thoughts put it. It is a call to be more aware and conscious of our choices. Religion didn’t made man insecure, it only reflected what is in the collective mindset. Religion is an invention of man after all. And as a tool, it can be used for and against its intended purpose; one must invoke free will and discern, and that begins by being aware and conscious.
Personally, I do not think it is God per se who is speaking in Conversations with God. Rather God was used to draw people’s attention; if it were entitled Conversation with Ted, people will snub it off. Yet, what matters is the message contained rather than the personality of the deliverer. That is main motive anyway. I find much wisdom in there that is present in other faiths like Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism expressed in a simple manner. Yet, I do not hold it in absolute, and subject the message therein to my discernment. After all, it is inevitable subjected to the author’s personal system of beliefs, biases, values, etc.