Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jesus is my Homeboy, OR: You Gotta Have Faith

With all that's tragically askew in the world, it seems as though conversations about belief and faith in a Higher Being, or lack thereof, happen more and more every day. I even have them with MYSELF now, especially every week when the issue of Newsweek arrives. I tuck myself into the corner of the couch with a cup of Earl Grey (who are we kidding--more often than not it's a martini or a glass of wine, but I'm trying not to distract from the wholesomeness of this blog) while the kids are napping and read it cover to cover. Across the world, people are fighting, killing, dying over such silly, but necessary, things as oil and money, and over the much more important things such as freedom and religion. It really makes you start to wonder who's right, what's best.

I grew up Baptist. As an adult, I was baptized Episcopalian. My husband was baptized Methodist, as were our children. Am I Baptist, Episcopalian, or Methodist? No. I'm not anything. At least not unless I start my own religious sect very soon and make myself something (or, if Gina's cult will hurry and get up and running, that might be an option). I've thought long and hard, read and studied, talked to many people, and reached my own conclusions about the Great Beyond. I believe there is an afterlife, but I think of it more as Nirvana than heaven. I don't think you die and go there and float on a cloud wearing wings and live happily ever after. I strongly belive in reincarnation, and that we live many, many times, until our soul has completed its journey, at which time we retire to our "Nirvana," which is not a place of living and consciousness, but just strong, happy energy (to greatly oversimplify). And you certainly never have to be baptized to become happy energy. I don't believe in hell at all, because I believe in karma. There is such a thing as hell on earth, and karma will take care of any punishment eventually. What goes around, comes around, maybe just not in this lifetime.

I think Jesus was real. He was probably a really cool guy, a healer, blessed with special talents, and he may even have been immaculately conceived. I'm down with all that. I do not, however, believe that he was perfect. I don't believe he ever thought he was perfect, implied he was perfect, or was meant to do so. I think a bunch of stupid guys many hundreds of years after his death, decided to edit the Biblical texts to make Jesus perfect. And I do believe that his life was much more normal than we are lead to believe from their steller editing skills. Which leads me to the Bible.

I think the Bible is a very interesting topic. I don't see how it can be called the Word of God, because it was written by men. Sure, men who were supposedly guided by God, but it was still their mortal words being written down. Hence, the Word of Man Being Guided by God When They Chose to Pay Attention would be much more fitting. I think the Bible has merit, can teach many lessons about how we should and should not behave, but I don't think it's all true. Not to say I feel like it's a giant work of fiction, but I think it's probably partially true, partially false, extremely exaggerated in some instances, and that there are probably parts that some guy with a great imagination and an even greater sense of humor wrote thinking, "I can't WAIT to see who is gonna believe this!"

There's definitely a God (Allah, Higher Being, Lord, Holy Ghost, etc). Whether or not he meddles in our lives and decisions or just sits back and enjoys the show is a little foggy to me. I think he probably just watches, shaking his head when we screw up, laughing at us from time to time, and hoping that we eventually get it right. I think he CAN intervene when he wants to, and does sometimes--especially to answer a few prayers--but I don't think he goes out of his way to make things more simple or complicated for us most of the time. I don't think he gets angry or mean or strikes anybody down (smote--I LOVE the word "smote"). Which just reinforces my idea that such a kind being would never create a hell, or send anyone to it (naughtly angels, included). I think he enjoys hearing from us, and that it's great to pray, although much easier to communicate with God through meditation. I think it's important to be respectful and grateful, more than anything.

You know what I think is most important about all of this though? It's all just what I believe. I think people go horribly awry when they take their beliefs--be it Christianity, Islam, Atheism, or anything else--and think that their way is the ONLY way and that everyone who believes differently is wrong. Most religious denominations were created by men who were being influenced by their own needs and desires, not God. The Bible may lead one to believe that you have to follow the commandments, believe in the resurrection of Christ, whatever, to get into heaven, but I'd be willing to bet that the texts of other religions offer up their own set of rules for reaching the Great Reward. Who decides what's right? Or wrong? I am all for people having strong beliefs--being a strong, unwavering Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic, or anything else--and following his or her own path to his or her own End. I think faith is EXTREMELY important, not religion or denomination, per se. My opinion on this is the only thing that keeps my mouth shut when people start "witnessing" to me, because I know that witnessing is advocated in the Bible, and those Christians love their Bible and doing what it says. Great. I'd rather not hear it, but I still support it.

Now that I've shared my beliefs, you can bet that I won't be trying to make you feel the same way or telling you how wrong you are when you don't. I'm pretty sure that this blog will probably score me a whole passle of extra prayers from my Mom (she's probably already started praying for me before even finishing reading), but that's okay. I could probably use it. And I'll probably hear from some of the rest of my friends about eternal hell fires and whatnot, but I don't mind that either. Condemning me won't stop us all from hanging out in Nirvana someday, and I look foward to seeing you when we get there.