1. There are two things I feel a religion has to have to be a religion. Those are dogma and kerygma.
Dogma, as everyone knows, is the written, codified tenets that one must live by. And every religion has it, whether it's as simple as "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" or as complex as Mosaic law. Every religion has a "Believe this, do this, don't do this" section.
Kerygma, on the other hand, is the personal experience that your faith and practice bring. It takes many forms: the ecstacy of a whirling dervish, the feeling of spiritual and historical connectivity of Passover, a Catholic who feels closer to Christ by suffering his physical pain, an old woman in a black church who falls to the floor, speaking in tongues, a snakehandler's feeling of invincibility and holiness that comes from avoiding the serpent's bite and far too many other ways for me to even begin to count.
Unfortunately, the easier thing to convey is the dogma and that is the level most people stay. These are the people who only do what they have to to be able to say that they are Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Other. The people who tend to feel the kerygma either say little because the believe that it's a personal thing or spend a lifetime trying to explain their feeling to others. They can't really explain it fully, but sometimes they say enough to inspire others to attempt their own kerygma.
That's why a lot of people, in my opinion, feel unsatisfied with their religion. They've spent all their time adhering to the dogma, which appeals to their reason, and little time on kerygma, which is supposed to fill their spirit. So they feel empty and try to fill the void with things and stuff and diets and self help books and medication when all they need is to find something they believe in and follow it as far as they can. It doesn't have to be religion. It can be football or art or music or computers or cars. Anything can be your religion if you find your bliss and engross yourself.
2. I think Terry Pratchett made the best statement about organized religion in his book Small Gods. Early in a god's development, it is small. As the god gets more believers, it grows bigger. If the god is not careful, the day comes when the worshippers are not worshipping the god, but rather the church built around the god. In this case, eventually, the god returns to it's original small stature and the church remains like a giant shell, hard on the outside, but with nothing left within.
3. Never to miss a chance to take a thought from Bab5, a few thoughts from The Deconstruction of Falling Stars:
"Faith sustains us in the hour when reason tells us that we can not continue, that the whole of our whole lives is without meaning."
"[Reason is] not useless, but it is also not enough. Faith and reason are the shoes on your feet. You can travel further with both than you can with just one."
"That's all that faith requires. That we surrender ourselves to the possibility of hope."
Everyone has faith in something. Scientists have faith in science. Students have faith in their teachers and textbooks. Bankers have faith in money and the market. Faith is just believing that there is something else beyond what you can't see, touch or control.
That's it. I'll shut up now...
"...heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
Atreides: The psychedelic visionary doesn't crave stardom.