Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Religion

The whole blogging experience has been more enriching than I ever imagined. I have made new friends. I have had personal glimpses into other's lives. I have seen how other's worship their God(or choose not to). I've read the opinions of right-wing and left-wing. I've commented to people all over the world and others have commented here. It's been GREAT! Now it's time for a little info on ME.

I've NEVER been a black and white person. I always see the "shades of gray" and can argue both sides of practically any subject. My husband is this way and more. We've raised our children to always look at both sides(much to my parents dismay).

I am a Christian. I was raised in the Lutheran church, as was our daughter. My husband was raised Catholic, sort of. We now live our lives without the benefit? of any organized religion. Why? There's a lot of reasons. We don't like the way all churches divide the family. Women go to their meetings and groups, while the men and children do likewise. You're never together, as everybody's different group, retreat, meeting, etc, is on a different night. What do all these groups and meetings accomplish? NOTHING; it's just a bunch of like-minded people gathering together and patting each other on the back. It's all glorified "busy work" that does nothing to make the world a better place to live.

Our second gripe with organized religion is the money. For example; the Lutheran church requires that Xamount of dollars be handed over to the synod, each year, for every confirmed member of the congregation. What is this money spent on? One year the synod spent $2,000,000 on a laser light show at their annual convention! In addition, all religions are getting carried away on their buildings. A local evangelical church recently built a $1,500,000 meeting hall/gymnasium. The purpose; a place for after church coffee, wedding receptions, baby showers, etc. Whatever happened to "wherever two or more are gathered in my name"? How are they possibly making the lives of their neighbors better with these expenditures? We, now, personally choose where our charitable donations go. We fervently hope that our money goes to better use than a light show!

Our biggest gripe with organized religion, is the religious right. I find it offensive when someone demands that I be "born again". Why? I've never lost my faith. The only "born again" experience I plan on having, is when I die. I also can't stand their stance on EVERY WORD in the Bible coming straight out of God's mouth. Yes, I see the Old Testament as a history of the people of God, passed down for generations, by word of mouth, before it was ever written. The Old Testament is these ancient people's documentation of what God said to the select few. You need to read it as a whole, in the historical scheme of things, and not pick individual verses to live by. The New Testament is the story of Jesus' life, and the events following his death, as seen by his followers. Why do you think there are 4 Gospels? So we can see how each of these people witnessed these events and reacted to them. This leads me to another one of my gripes: Who made certain church leaders God, and let THEM choose which Gospels would be included in the Bible? There are many more books to the Bible that "God's editors" decided to leave out of the finished product. I resent this!

Our family embraces all religions. How do we know that God didn't appear to different cultures at different times in many different ways? Maybe he did this because he knew that other cultures would only understand him on their terms. I personally like the idea of reincarnation. I don't think it's right that someone like Ted Bundy, who found God at the end of his life, should be able to shoot straight to heaven with someone like my Grandma, whose faith never faltered. Maybe God uses things like reincarnation, maybe he doesn't. We don't know. I don't have an inside track to God and neither does ANYONE else! That's where FAITH comes into play.

I don't know how God created the earth. Maybe it was the Big Bang, maybe it was evolution, maybe he zapped everything here, as is. Does it really matter HOW he did it? Have FAITH that God created the world as he saw fit. Why is science so threatening to the religious right? God created all the marvels of science and gave certain people the ability to "discover" his gifts.

Why do so many fanatics create hate in God's name? God is about LOVE!! I don't need to concentrate on fire and brimstone and the depths of hell. I'm not going there, I have FAITH. My mission from God is not to prosletyze and cram my beliefs down people's throats. My mission is to raise my children in the LOVE and FORGIVENESS of God. My mission is to TRY to live by the example of what LOVE and PEACE can be found through God.

I respect everyone's beliefs. If you find comfort in going to church every Sunday, good for you. If you believe that you have an inside track to God and that you'll get your own planet when you die, good for you. If you think you won't go to heaven if you celebrate religious holidays or birthdays, good for you. All I ask, is that you respect my beliefs, and don't try to convert me to yours, cuz it ain't gonna work!

13 Comments:

At 6/01/2005 7:24 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Very good post, very honest and forthright.

Organized religion touts itself to be inclusive, and I have found that it totally is not. There is little or no inclusiveness in the bible, and if there is, it's conditional. Organized religion - at least the three big ones - is also patriarchal. In Christianity, where are women positively represented, other than as virgins or reformed whores? In today's churches, who are the big leaders? Old men. Who supressed the old, earth-based, female-based religions that came before Christianity? Bitter old men. Fearful bitter old men.

Christianity is also fear-based and encourages passiveness. People make fear-based decisions and also turn to others to make decisions for them when the going gets rough, or it believes that that God up there is going to make things right and therefore we don't have to do squat down here in the meantime to make things right for ourselves and our future generations. It doesn't demand personal responsibility of us, and that is a crying shame.

Everyone does have a right to believe what she wants, and I wholeheartedly agree with you: don't ram it down my throat, thank you very much. I know my soul and my spirit and I own what I believe and what behaviour and choices stem from those beliefs. So let me believe what I want and I'll let you do the same, ok? That's how I feel.

 
At 6/01/2005 9:06 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Amen to that!

 
At 6/01/2005 9:14 PM, Anonymous ann said...

As a lasped Catholic, I can relate to many of the points you've made in your post. One of the reasons I left the Church was because of it's patriarchal and misogonistic nature (If the only good woman is a virgin, then how is humankind supposed to continue?). When I became an adult, I was able to say for myself that I deserve to be a first-class citizen, not second-class--as I often felt growing up as a Catholic girl.

Many Catholics I know are "bitter old men" (to quote Wandering Coyote). They are pro-life and also pro-death penalty. If they truly followed the teachings of the Church, they would also be against the dealth penalty. When my husband brought this point up to his father (an old school Catholic), I thought his head was going to explode. It did not compute.

It was fun to watch.

 
At 6/01/2005 10:48 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

I usually don't comment on religious posts because I like to keep my religion completely private. Only my family and closest friends know. However I will say this. Your post was very fair and I enjoyed reading it.

 
At 6/02/2005 8:21 AM, Blogger Laura said...

If there were more people like you in the world there wouldn't be so much war and conflict. I tend to separate religion from spirituality/faith.

Religion is a set of, usually, arbitrary rules passed down by (as WC said) crusty old men. Spirituality is personal, it's what you feel or believe regardless of rules and regulations. The rules of most religions are so exclusive (this group is saved, those are not) that I cannot believe that all the wonderful people I know will be going to hell because they do or don't eat meat on friday. ya know? That and they keep changing the rules. If they're divine law, how can they change? What about all the people pre-Vatican II who ate a hot dog on friday? Are they still in hell or did they get promoted? (not to pick on Catholics, but they are the easiest to pick on).

Most religions have more similarities than differences. The general messages are the same. We get caught up in the details or in particular verses instead of the general message, and then we fight.

I also agree with WC that many religions have the "pie in the sky" mentality - be faithful and you'll be rewarded later, who cares if you're poor. I LOVE liberation theology because it challenges that completely. Shouldn't compassion and service to others serve to uplift their lives NOW? Make heaven on Earth.

 
At 6/02/2005 10:06 AM, Blogger United We Lay said...

I totally agree with you. I wish there were more people like you. It would make the fact that I am Buddhist a lot easier. People freak when they find out I'm not Christian, even though I believe a lot of what Christianity teaches. I hope you have found me respectful, even when I ask questions. I assure you, they always come from a place of curiosity. PS- Thanks for making me feel welcome and checking out my blog!

 
At 6/02/2005 6:23 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks everybody!!
I see we all agree on this topic.

I believe the only way to solve our world's problems is by loving and understanding our neighbors. I'm a firm believer in paying it forward and random acts of kindness. This is more palatable than trying to force our individual beliefs on others.

Laura, I loved your hotdog example!

I highly recommend PC's blog. Check it out for real insider information on our educational system. Besides, she's a real nice person and doesn't spew hate, just like the rest of my friends here.

I think my son-in-law sums up my views the best: He says he's not religious, he's spiritual.

 
At 6/02/2005 8:32 PM, Blogger Laura said...

That just always stands out because my boss told me a story about how when he was a kid, he and a friend forgot it was Friday and had chilidogs after school and they both made themselves throw up and were so afraid they were going to hell. I felt so sorry for him - kids shouldn't be worrying about such things.

 
At 6/02/2005 11:42 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

I love your take on religion and agree with it 100%. I hope that you don't mind I'm linking to you. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog.

 
At 6/03/2005 4:31 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

it's still unanimous..great post!

 
At 6/03/2005 6:56 PM, Blogger panthergirl said...

I'm here via Michele and that was a really refreshing post.

I usually explain my rejection of organized religion this way: I don't need "answers" to everything. I'm totally cool with "I don't know." I think religion simply provides simple answers to impossible questions. Fine if you need that, I guess.

And of course, I really resent proselytizing. If someone REALLY believes something, why do they have to scream it from the rooftops, trying to convince everyone else?

Anyway...you said it beautifully.

 
At 6/04/2005 1:07 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Amen Amen Amen Amen. I'm with Ann too.

What were the words to that song? Something like "I do not believe that God endorese TV evangelists"? Or something like that.

I don't think He/She would like any kind of violence, mental or physical, in the name of faith. That's just lying. And fear (wc is right too)

Bridg

 
At 6/11/2005 1:53 PM, Blogger ts said...

i am a very "religious" person, and am involved with a lot of church stuff. but i totally understand what you guys here are saying about the negative consequences of organized religion (so it's still unanimous in that regard).

i would like to point out, however, that if you approach the church or christians as intermediaries between you and God, then of course you're going to be disappointed.

a better approach would be to establish a relationship with God yourself. then you can get involved with church/christians looking to give God stuff instead of take God stuff.

 

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