Thursday, December 14, 2006

Perhaps it's part of the holiday season...

I've stumbled across several blogs discussing religion as well as the existence of a god: cagey's NaBloPoMo Sunday postings, m kennedy (aka fussy) on 12/7 and 12/9, and by way of fussy, I've read some of julia sweeney's blog over the past few days. And, then there's this silliness about putting "Christ" back into "Christmas"...Christ was forced into a pagan holiday celebration which has become Christmas, so I say you can put him there if you want, but please stop telling other people how to celebrate.

As I have mentioned before, I am no longer a religious person. I do not identify myself as belonging to any religion as I don't feel that any of them are necessary and am often disgusted by the actions of those who do claim to be religious. I was, for many years, a Christian. Nothing overly devout. My family didn't force church upon me as a child. Actually, it was I that attended Sunday school and childrens' service each week by taking the church bus; I was the one that requested to be baptized at the age of 8. My mom attended church with me for a couple years during my middle school era. It was a non-denominational church but most definitely upholding the teachings of Christianity. As many teenagers do, I more or less abandoned a lot of those teachings in favor of living by my own guidelines for moral behavior shortly after starting high school. I was still a good person, but I didn't really think it was meant for me to make sacrifices in lieu of having fun.

I haven't gone back to religion since then, but I never truly let go of the belief in a higher power. Therefore, I did return to prayer; that began the moment I learned of my first pregnancy. I prayed every night before I went to sleep that the pregnancy would result in a healthy child, and after finding out that I was having twins, the prayers were only slightly more involved in that I wanted them to stay put for as long as necessary. Although these wishes and hopes were expressed through my prayers, each prayer was begun and ended with gratitude for the blessings I already had.

I still do this. I never stopped after I started praying again. The only "requests" ever made are generalized good health, safety, and happiness. I put the quotation marks around "requests" because I don't believe they are actually requests. The things I "request" in my prayers are simply expressions of my hopes and wishes for the future, and again, these things are always preceded and concluded with thanks for my present good fortune.

The logical part of me understands why people don't believe in a higher power, but the part of me that sees the intricate cause and effect actions unfold in my life and the lives of others makes me hold on to my belief that a spiritual power is involved in this universe. That is my lack of ability to definitively chalk everything that happens up to pure coincidence. The fact that this Naval station was the last choice on NS's list of places to go combined with the fact that I had no intention of moving back to VA prior to unexpected change after change being thrown into my life resulted in our ending up together makes sense to me and not because of simple happenstance.

People that struggle with their belief in a higher power often do so when facing difficulties in their own life, such as cancer or death, or when looking at the tragic events that we are confronted with daily, like disaster and disease and poverty. They cannot grasp why these things are allowed to exist and happen. No, I don't believe the victims of these things deserve what they get, but I do believe that these things can be used to obtain a stronger will and zest for life as well as provide fellow humans the opportunities to be more compassionate and act accordingly.

Seeing or hearing of cruelty towards others, especially for superficial differences, I realize that we all need to learn that being different makes us better as a whole species. This helps make me more tolerable and accepting.

I generally believe that we all should take what life provides and make the best of it; I also believe I'm able to do this because I feel there is a purpose to it all. Things happen for a reason, even if I never know what the reason is. Do I look at a child with a disability or a town nearly demolished by natural forces and ask why it happens? No, I honestly don't. I know that the child will undoubtedly touch many people's lives with his strength and courage, giving them reason to be appreciative of life's possibilities. I have faith that the town will either be rebuilt by genuinely caring people or the people from the broken town will be dispersed amongst other towns, where they may have been needed for further success.

It seemed terribly judgmental when I read that those (at least a great many from julia sweeney's blog) who have abandoned the idea of a God existing consider those that have not to be irrational and/or non-thinking, and they also seem to generalize those who do believe in God into the group of religious Christians. I reached this point of spirituality by being very thoughtful of what I'd learned and experienced and by taking a few mental steps back to find a bigger picture than just my own life. Atheists (and it seems more so for naturalists) say God's existence cannot be proven scientifically and therefore cannot be believed in, to which I say it hasn't been disproven, so I'll just continue to believe what makes sense to me. Everyone else can continue believing what makes sense to them as well, but it might be best not to judge others for their beliefs because I doubt any of us will be around to witness the scientific proving or disproving of a spiritual existence.


Jonathan said...

Interesting post. Well thought out. I take a similarly dim view of organised religion, and have found myself becoming increasingly opposed to it as the years have gone by.

I too was "brought up as a christian", and have ended up being virtually an atheist. While I typically do not judge other's beliefs, it dismays me that this judgement seems to be built in to all other religions (think about it - if you were going to invent a belief system, the first teaching would be that all competing ideologies are wrong).

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

That built-in judgment part of all religions and belief systems is exactly why I just can't identify myself with any of them. As far as I'm concerned, people believe what they believe for a reason, but it will never mean that it is absolutely right. I can't say that I'm right, and therefore I can't say that anyone else is wrong; I don't understand why others must try to convince people otherwise. We really don't all need to have the same beliefs.

Mommy off the Record said...

I pretty much agree with everything you said.

I see religion as a tool to help people with their spirituality. If being part of a religion is helpful to someone, great. If it's not their thing, then that's fine too. I don't know why people have to be so judgemental all the time. And I don't think that you have to have a religion to be a spiritual person, of course.

I was raised Catholic, but I see the merits in many different religions (as long as the higher power is benevolent). And just because I'm Catholic, doesn't mean I think it's the BEST religion. I don't know what the best religion is or if there is a best religion. I think the best religion is the one that's best for you. And if that's no religion at all, then that's OK too.

Just my two cents! Interesting topic.