Still Processing

My mind is spinning this week about religion. Can you tell? The more I allow myself to think, the more questions I have about why God is allowing organized religion to fail society in so many ways. I should clarify that I mean all organized religion. I’m not speaking exclusively of any particular faith.

To me, there are common themes in most forms of religion we could all cling to and benefit from. Indoctrinating all humans to be kind to others, appreciative of what they have, unselfish and prepared to hold those who harm others accountable is all good in my book. I give it the big thumbs up. If that’s all we had to subscribe to in our lives to honor our God, we’d be doing well.

Where I really struggle is with the earthly judging. Most religions have taken on the position they are the only true religion. They are the only way to a desirable afterlife. Some religions are gracious enough to allow you to sign up for their team and others suggest if you weren’t born one of them your soul is out of luck. No matter, the overall message is similar. If you do as the religion says you will have a great eternity. If not, well….

That said, all of the back and forth over whose afterlife is going to be the pits doesn’t bother me. My own gut tells me if there is an afterlife, the choices I’ve made, the regret I’ve felt for mistakes and the way I’ve treated others in my life gives me a pretty good chance of qualifying. What bothers me is how often religions are used to start wars against one another in the name of God. It could be a physical war with weapons or it could be a social war with words and laws. Humans can’t seem to avoid the temptation to use God as an excuse to destroy or deny. They are God’s soldiers, after all. Maybe that’s what makes wars of all types inevitable. Soldiers can be great at keeping the peace, but they are also trained to fight. I imagine the choice to be a peacekeeper or a fighter depends on the mindset of the soldier in situations like this.

I’m not sure what the answers are to peace and harmony. I do think if there were a clear way to know the indisputable truth about God and his expectations the world would be a better place. As with any parenting, children need a clear, consistent message that is delivered regularly. Our ultimate Father has come up short in that department. I imagine some of my friends are reading this and praying for my blasphemous self. Pray away. God gave me a logical and reasoning mind. My opinion on this shouldn’t surprise Him. Seriously though, the last time God supposedly communicated directly with His children was centuries upon centuries ago. Surely he can see the likelihood of having his original message lost over the course of time. I understand sitting back and letting your kids learn right and wrong through experiencing life, but when you see them off course to the point where others are being harmed, even killed, with the belief it is what you want from them, stepping in seems necessary. I mean really stepping in and making yourself heard and understood. It’s all well and good for those who believe God is speaking through weather, disease and earthquakes, but I’d prefer a less ambiguity. Pop out of the clouds with a deep baritone voice and tell your kids to knock it off or they are destined for the naughty spot.

I do believe all people come from the same maker and all have value in the physical world and in eternity. I also believe no one was created with the intention they would simply be a disposable pawn so God’s followers could destroy them to prove allegiance. Deeply religious people, right or wrong, have their heart into something the believe to be true and are doing their best to honor their faith. Not just because their mind tells them it’s true, but because their family line has been told and passed on for generations it was true. Few devout people are willing to say you’re right, what I’ve been taught to believe all of my life is wrong. Why? Because when we are being honest with ourselves we can admit there is just as good a chance of them being right as any other religious person. Since there is no way to really know you either go all in with your chips and hope for the best or you stay more on the periphery, like me, and hope living your life in a good way still qualifies you for a good eternity, if there is one, even though you may not have committed enough to the actual religion that turned out to be right. For me, I’d like to think the right answer is Christianity. It would be ideal since that is the faith I am most aligned with. It’s the faith that gives me the most comfort and the one that has played the largest role in my life. That said, I do recognize there isn’t enough tangible proof for me to know without a doubt Christianity will send me to the winner’s circle in eternity.

5 Responses to “Still Processing”

  1. Tricia says:

    blahhh. I spin and process this in my mind often. I’d love to have a strong religious faith, but for all the reasons you’ve discussed and many, many more, I’ve rejected organized religion and put it in the same sphere as politics. Great intentions, most of the time, in the beginning, but too little middle ground and too much jockeying for power and self-righteousness than I can handle. We have a mixed bag of beliefs in my family…Jews, Christians, atheists, agnostics, and I hope we all make it to the winners circle….not because of or in spite of religious beliefs but because of honorable lives. Great post!

  2. Brian says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I met you at the workshop last night. Great blog! Fun stuff (so much more interesting than technical recruiting, IMO). I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Brian

  3. Suzanne says:

    Maybe I’m crazy. I’m sure there are those out there who would peg me as such because I believe God has spoken to me. It’s a deeply personal communication, a link I’ve felt since childhood. I have no doubt that He sent his only son for us because I’ve talked with Jesus too. Yes, I do get answers. No, they are not always what I expect. And, no, they are not always immediate. I believe He has this contact with every single person on Earth, and I believe this conversation that He’s having with us is largely ignored. Everyday life, the struggle to get through it all just gets in the way a vast majority of the time. I hope I’m not coming across as self-righteous. That’s not my intent at all. God knows I ignore Him just as much as any other person out there. The key is to just listen. He is talking to you.

    As to why He would allow all the inhumanities to take place, I get your point about how a responsible parent cannot sit back and let their children do things they know can only lead to harm. I also can see that sometimes no matter what you do, no matter how well you try to bring up your kids and teach them values, no matter how much we try to avoid letting our kids fall prey to danger, stuff happens. My boys must be constantly watched or they’ll be consistently hurting themselves and each other. Sometimes, it seems like nothing works to curb their (what seems to be) propensity (and delight?) for pain. God has already done lots of things to show that he’s here. He parted the river, provided food in the desert, even sent his son to spread the Word. We, as humans, have rejected every single thing He’s done. We’re allowed to do that, though, because we all have free will.

    I suppose my point in all of this is that He really does make himself evident. Have you ever seen a sunset and felt like it was made only for you? Have you ever admired the beauty of a flower? Have you ever encountered a person you just knew you were meant to know? I believe He works in this way. The question is not why isn’t He making himself known, it’s why aren’t we noticing everything He’s done (and continues to do) for us. We’re the ones distorting reality. We all really need to stop and listen (and obey!).

  4. lisa says:

    You are far from crazy, my dear. And I do feel an inner connection at times. I do sense there is something bigger than all of us. People have passed through my life for a reason. I can relate to much of what you wrote and completely agree humans pick and choose what to listen to. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I struggle immensely with the fact the major events you referenced happened thousands of years ago. With so many humans lost and on the wrong path, I think it would solve a lot of problems if He continually made Himself known in a big picture way and not in the small details of our personal lives. People truly believe they are killing or marginalizing others in His honor. It has to be wrong. I can’t accept God would put others in this world with us to serve exclusively as tests of our faith and devotion, people who we would need to shun or harm in order to be better serving Him. I can’t accept entire groups of people would be damned simply because they’ve been born over and over again into a belief system that is part of their culture. It doesn’t make sense to me. Not at all. I don’t see the need for the ambiguity. If God descended from the heavens in 2009, parted an ocean, allowed his voice to be heard and told people “this is how it really is” we could stop killing each other in the fight over which religion is more right or sacred. Some may believe Jesus is appearing on potato chips or in oil stains on their driveway, but that’s not good enough. That’s where I’m coming from. It’s been generations on top of generations since a clear message was offered. That’s simply too long, IMO, considering humans can muddle things up in pretty short order.

  5. Suzanne says:

    I believe that doubt is a very honest reaction as far as God, or even religion in general, is concerned. When Jesus revealed himself as risen to His apostles, Thomas told him point-blank that he wouldn’t believe it until He would reveal His crucifixion marks and actually touched them. I think that story illustrates the mindset of many. However, I’m not sure that even a blatant attempt at revealing Himself, like writing out “I am God” in the stars would convert all of mankind. Sure it would bring new followers. But others would claim it to be an illusion or just a weird coincidence. Still others would look at it as not a message for mankind but for a certain select group. Jealousy would descend, and people would begin arguing and killing over who actually are the chosen ones. Maybe I’m being a bit of a pessimist here, but I’m going by our history. He gave us paradise, we committed original sin. He flooded the earth to cleanse it of the wicked, we came back just as bad as in the first place. He sent His son, we didn’t believe.

    Maybe we (as in all humans) are due in for a good, religious slap by the Almighty. As you pointed out, it’s been over two thousand years since we last had contact. It would take quite a wallop to reach all of mankind though.