Ok, since I’ll probably mention my beliefs and faith a lot in this blog because it deals with how I view the world, I should probably explain myself. I was raised in a Mennonite community (family), went to church almost every Sunday, and went to church camp every summer as a child. I loved aspects of church although I was way too squirmy to sit through the sermon most of the time. I had a major falling out with the church in the summer of 2006, and I have never looked back. I won’t go in to all the details (maybe you’ll read them in one of my creative non-fictions if I ever get up the motivation to edit and post it), but I will say that I finally found the hypocrisy of Christianity to be too much and couldn’t stand to be a Christian any longer.
That being said, I do not hate/dislike/loath all Christians. My dearest friend, Ruth, is a Christian, and I love her to pieces. I roomed with a very devote Christian my junior year of college, and she was one of my favorite roommates. The difference is that these women are “true” Christians in my opinion; they are women that Christ would be proud of. They are open-minded, logical, non-judgmental, and love unconditionally. Unfortunately, that is not my experience with the vast majority of Christians, and most religions in general to be quite honest.
After several years of actively hating God and bashing Christianity relentlessly, I felt emptier than I ever had. I was angry because I felt like organized religion had stolen my right to believe in anything at all if I didn’t believe by their rules. And their rules suck. Everyone just sort of rolls their eyes when you say you’re agnostic; it just means you don’t know what the hell you believe. And that’s not the case with me. I do know what I believe; it’s just not practiced in any organized religion. It took me a long time to realize that just because I didn’t have a label, didn’t mean I couldn’t believe and be proud of my beliefs. It was at this point in my life when I decided to open up my mind again to that greater power that I believe is out there, and I found the joys of being just spiritual.
To me, being spiritual is all about being exactly who you are. I find song and dance very powerful and moving, and I consider it to be part of my praise to god. I’m not capitalizing god because I don’t think of god as a person or really anything that we could ever comprehend. God is more of a feeling–an instinct. And I think the feeling that comes closest to god in our very mortal and limited perspective is love. What’s purer than love? What’s more universal than love? Well, hate, but everything in life needs a balance. Just like the Christians had to make Satan to balance out God. Love is such a powerful force that has infinite meanings across all the creatures that have ever lived. In my opinion (and don’t some religions preach this too?), god is love. Being spiritual is about loving yourself for exactly who you are and loving everyone else for exactly who they are. Loving someone means you don’t try to change them.
I just want to share my ideas with all the people who don’t know quite what to believe when they see that people are still killing each other over religion. It seems like every religion has some good points, but because humans are incredibly flawed creatures, we always screw it up. I don’t think any major religion supports violence, yet we still have the Crusades and the radical Islams that kill others in the name of god. I’m fairly sure that those acts really piss off whatever divine being is out there. I love what C.S. Lewis does near the end of “The Last Battle,” the last book in The Chronicles of Narnia series. Aslan explains to a young soldier of a different nation and religion that it doesn’t matter what religion you are or what god for whom you do a deed; what matters is where your intentions lie–good or evil:
“It is false [when Emeth asks Aslan if he and Tash are the same]. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.” (“The Last Battle” 203-204)
So if you still feel connected to something bigger, but don’t want to get into all the debates and crazy tangents that seem to come with the religious package, try being spiritual. Sure you’ll get shit from people still because they can’t comprehend faith without rules and restrictions, but you’ll probably feel better as a person. Just because you don’t conform to a specific religion doesn’t mean you don’t have morals or that you’re a “bad” person.
So go hug a friend, hug an enemy, hug a tree. My idea of spirituality is about ending the hate between religions and saying, “Let’s just hang out and learn from each other.” Let’s take out the hypocrisy that’s ultimately ingrained in religion. By labeling yourself or conforming to organized religion, you’re taking sides and alienating yourself on some level from others who don’t believe the same things as you. You’re condemning those unlike you to hell. “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Can’t we take out all the labels and be civil while we exchange our views? Try being spiritual. In my definition, it means loving everyone as unconditionally as you possibly can, living a life you’d be proud to share with others, caring for our planet, attempting to always expand your mind, constantly learning and growing, and striving to make our life on this earth a paradise. What’s your definition?
Let’s teach our children love.
*quietly steps off of soapbox*