Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are you there God? Can you put Buddha on the phone?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my spirituality and faith. Ever since someone called me out during one of those deep and meaningful conversations that take place over a bottle or three of good red.

When asked to clarify my position on God and religousness (religosity??), I found it very difficult. I was raised and christened into the Uniting Church, kind of a blend of Methodist and Presbyterian, and still feel a pull to go to Church during holidays like Easter and Christmas and take part in those timeless rituals, but find it increasingly difficult to limit myself to this definition. I have never believed in the Bible as a literal interpretation of the word of God, I think we need to remember it has been written and re-written again and again by mere men. Okay sure, they were kings and what not, but still just men, and they surely had their own agenda, right?

And how can I ignore evolution? Sure Adam and Eve is a nice story, helps explain away how God can let all the tragic things in the world happen... "Hey, don't blame me, blame those two, they ruined Paradise for you" but we have pretty conclusive proof that dinosaurs did in fact roam the earth. Oh, and thanks for making woman the downfall of humanity, that hasn't affected us through the centuries at all.

I also don't like the judgement that comes along with organised religion. Take for instance homosexuality. I have very dear friends who are gay, and if I were to take Christianity's teachings to heart, I would have to believe that not only should they not be allowed to get married, but that they as people aren't right, and are "afflicted" in some way. This is patently ridiculous. Quite apart from the fact that they are some of the most genuinely warm, fun, thoughtful and lovely people I've ever known, imagine being told by some stuffy organisation that who you are as a person, how you think, how you feel and who you love, no matter how good a person you are, is wrong and you are damned for all eternity. Not exactly the limitless love and tolerance they preach about is it?

Then of course there are the countless wars waged in the name of religion, and it's contribution to poverty worldwide. Look at the Catholic third world nations. Barely enough food to feed the children they already have, some out of touch old man with no knowledge of life in their shoes tells them that it's a sin to use contraception, thereby keeping the family growing, and even hungrier. Not to mention the battered wives who won't leave their abusive husband because getting a divorce will send them to hell. Like they're not already there.

And I just can't get my head around the thought that Christianity is supposed to be the one true faith. I'm currently reading a bit about Buddhism, and find a lot of the teachings resonate with me, it seems a very beautiful, gentle and loving pursuit of personal serenity, enlightenment and acceptance of others. It just doesn't seem right - are we supposed to believe that just because they don't believe what others do, these light-filled souls would be damned to Hell?

So I am increasingly taking a kind of 'Pick n Mix' approach, which I can't decide whether is just a bit of a cop-out because I haven't the cojones to pick a religion and stick to it, or an intelligent decision to focus on spirituality and enlightenment rather than a list of dogmatic rules. The jury is still out. I am still a work in progress in many ways, most certainly in respect to my spiritulaity. But what I think is important is that I am searching, asking questions, and seeking that feeling of enlightenment. What's that saying the Jewish have? "Knowledge is Light", and at least I'm looking for the light switch.

I certainly believe in a higher power, who I choose to call God, but am slowly starting to think of more as "the Universe". I believe in prayer, but couldn't prayer also just be a wish made to the universe and fulfilled by our very desire to make it so? It's been proven that sub-atomic particles will behave differently in situations during which they are observed by humans, rather than just recorded, so in quantum mechanic-speak, we know that human intention can change the outcome of the physical world, at least on a sub-atomic level. Why not on a grand scale?

What if all the organised religions in the world, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hindu, Shinto, Muslim, Jedi, what have you, all started from different people, with different cultural histories, all attempting to define the same feeling. The feeling that there is something greater than ourselves, an order to the Universe that is just beyond the grasp of our feeble human minds, and that if we could just explain it, have it make sense to us, maybe if we could earn it by behaving better and treating each other better, then we would glimpse Paradise, Heaven, Nirvana??

Having just re-read this, I am not changing anything, but I feel I've been a little harsh and negative about organised religion, especially Christianity. I don't want to offend anyone, or tell they are wrong to believe a certain way. This is just my personal search for meaning, if you've found it, through whatever religion, and believe deeply in it, and gain comfort from it, well than, I envy you that and wish you all the best. Namaste.



  1. As a christian I totally understand what you are saying and am not offended. But you might be surprised to learn that dinosaurs are mentioned in the bible, as well as dragons. Adam and Eve were the first humans made by God, not necessarily the first people on Earth. It does not condone the mistreatment of ANYONE. The bible has over 13000 outside references to its accuracy as well as new discoveries daily on it's accuracy. Most major religions sprang from Christianity. Even Buddhists believe in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Think of the Old Testament as a warning book of what can happen when we all decide to put OUR thoughts and opinions into God's ideal. Which is why I am so glad that HIS thoughts are much higher then our thoughts. OH and for the ones who would use Sodom and Gommorah as a reference for God's feelings towards homosexuality. Well if you read that passage what you will see is that yes it was mentioned LAST in all of the things God considers their shortcomings. AFTER their inability to be givers, and to be kind to others, have open doors to the lost, weary, kind to widows, orphans. Those came first..

  2. That is one of the best articles I've ever read on religon perception, great argument.

    I to believe in spirituality and believe that all earthly religons are a discription of the same life source.

    After all, A Rose is but a Rose by any other name.

  3. I started to question my religious beliefs once I went away to college and took an astronomy class. All the theories, etc really got my mind mixed up. And I do agree with A LOT of your standings. I can't imagine that if Jesus came down at this time and not in bibical times, the bible would sound WAY different.

    I'm just sayin'.

  4. Personally I feel that when searching for one's own "truth" or belief, is that the Church must be seperated from God.

    God is one thing. Religion another. And the Church a third.

    The Christian Bible has indeed been manipulated by copious translations, the Torah not so much, and the Quran is in original form.

    However, none of these books (nor any other however I'm focusing on the "big 3" of which I have a fair knowledge of) was written by God's own hand. All are heresay, and this is further corrupted by sermonising.

    I have a MASSIVE variety of religions in my upbringing and daily life. I particularly like the Muslim's view that you choose your own path to God, and that you should read the Quran yourself and decide what God wants. The Jewish "Knowledge is Light" mirrors this, and encourages personal exploration of the Torah etc.

    I think that if you take a step back, and think of each of these books (and the others) as being written by people of different backgrounds, times in history, cultures, languages etc, who are all basically saying "this is what God said to me that he wants", if you stop looking at the minutae and view the overall picture, that the basic teachings are all the same, and THAT is what God wants from us.

    The general consensus is that God exists, and he wants us to be "good people".

    Let me quote my favourite line from one of those books. "And those who persue differences in the Scriptures go much too far in dissension"

  5. Wow. A lot of your post resonated with me. Particularly as I am the member of my extended family who doesn't go to church.

    I agree with Epskee : God is one thing. Religion another. And the Church a third. And: The general consensus is that God exists, and he wants us to be "good people".

    Well said.

  6. Amazing post of searching. I'm glad you didn't change a single thing. Is is such a tough subject to write on, but you did it so beautifully. It was very honest.

    I believe that spirituality is universal. Available for all, no matter what you follow or how you access your own truth. It is humans, dogmas and religions that divide and dissect what is already available to everyone.

    Believe in love, believe in forgiveness, believe in peace, believe in happiness for everyone. It's the qualities that are important. These qualities are not the monopoly of any religion. They are available to one and all.

  7. Great post, I could have written alot of that myself. Including being brought up Uniting but not really attending now, being drawn at major Christian celebrations like Christmas time, and recently we did go at Easter. I don't really feel I belong there now, but want my children to know a bit about it so they feel comfortable in a church at least. I also feel like you do about the treatment of homosexuals and wars in the name of religion.

    I like the pick and mix approach too, and I believe at the end of the day most religions worship the same God, just their own interpretation thereof. A higher power if you will with a different name.

    I agree with most of the comments here too. I am trying to teach my kids the fundementals, first and foremost being 'love one another' and 'do unto others as you would have done unto yourself'. Pretty much if we all followed these rules most of the worlds problems would be solved.

  8. We think alike.

    Religion and me? Not good friends.

    The Universe and me? We're good.

    I like Buddha. I like Jesus. I like Muhammed.

    The Tao is my book.

  9. I'm not sure exactly how I found your blog and this article but it completely resonates within me. I have been a fundamentalist must of my life and I am now moving away from this for all the same reasons you wrote about. Currently I have been blogging my own house church journey which is a big step for me away from the historical institution of the church.

    I have also been maintaining a separate blog which refutes the harsh idea that a God of love would punish people for eternity. This is another big step for someone like myself who has been brought up as a pentecostal fundamentalist.

    I am definitely losing my religion.


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