I think about religion a lot. Usually my thoughts take the form of debates with specific people about their religious thoughts and attitudes. Those debates take place only in my mind. I am one of the most liberal members of my congregation, so there is a lot to debate. It would not be productive to have those debates for real. Neither of us would be spiritually uplifted, and neither of us would convert the other. I have been thinking lately that a weblog might be a good place for me to share my thoughts in a non-confrontational way. If you disagree with me, you can comment or walk away – the choice is yours.
I am a Christian. I try to follow the teachings of Jesus, as I understand them. When I hear other people talk about His teachings, I sometimes think we are following two different people. I follow a man who preached love. Jesus told the rich to give up their wealth; He did not preach the Gospel of Prosperity. Jesus told his followers to practice nonresistance; He did not preach the conquest of His enemies. Jesus told his followers to love their neighbors; He did not preach hatred for those that were different. Jesus made it clear that it is not our place to judge others. We are to love like He loved.
I am not perfect, and I think that is okay. I strive to do what is right, and I consistently fail. That just means that I am human, not divine. I believe that we will be judged based on our desires and efforts, not our accomplishments. I also believe that we will be judged as individuals. I will be judged based on my situation, which may be very different from my neighbor's situation. Maybe that is why we are not to judge each other; we do not truly know each other's situations.
My views of sin differ greatly from those of the conservative majority with whom I worship, particularly in the areas of sex and violence. I would rather my daughters see two men kiss than two men kill each other. I disagree with those that will play violent video games but are greatly offended that a movie contains a scene with a topless woman. I am not advocating promiscuity, though many of my fellow worshippers would disagree. I think that sexual activity is a sacred event and should be treated as such. I do not think that fornication is worse than violence, though I am often reminded on Sunday mornings that sexual immorality is second only to murder. Those who say that are wrong. I know that is a bold statement.
The prevalence of violence in my society bothers me a great deal. Even in my congregation, violence is treated lightly, even glorified. There is an elderly woman that carries a gun on Sunday mornings. Those that know about it think it is funny. There is currently a debate in my county about zoning ordinances. One of the congregational leaders was lamenting that it was a crime to kill those that favored the ordinances. He said that his only consolation was that he knew they would burn during the Second Coming.
On Collete Sanders
As a child from the south i use to fear hell, fire and damnation... Especially since my bible thumping family treated me like a little witch from about age 2 when i'd tell them of spirits I'd seen. My mother told me to keep these things to myself lest I be seen as crazy! I think she'd experienced the same things as I and learned, in the south best to keep it to yourself... As I got older I was always drawn in a way that conflicted what my family believed, or anyone else around me for that matter they would say those ideas would damn me to hell... Yet how could that be if I truly wanted to be kind without expectation and never placed judgement on others. Weren't they conflicting with their own beliefs in all they did? As I got older I read lots, on all religions. I tried various churches, had similar beliefs at times and then would realize they really weren't at all. My early childhood of attending churches with my cousins had seriously warped me! I still feared eternal hell in the back of my mind... I studied other religions, and found so many interesting perspectives. Yet everyone seems to judge and say their way is right and all others are wrong. I am now at a comfortable place where i could care less what anyone thinks of my views, my actions... I strive to do no harm. I am strict vegan, all organic, all eco friendly, down to my toilet paper! I even have organic certified organic laundry soap. Not to say everyone has to live as me or they're a bad person. Only saying i am comfortable in me, my beliefs, I hold myself accountable to be the kind of person i want to be and if anyone judges me, then perhaps they have something to reflect upon. I spent years in search of the 'true religion;' only to end up realizing it was here all along. My true religion the path I am suppose to be on, well I'm on it! I believe it's right inside of me and as vast as the Universe at the same time. i only need do what I feel is making the world and myself better. I am accountable to me, not a church, not a person, not even a deity,.. I am responsible to me! Am I saying god doesn't exist and I'm somehow superior to anyone? Of course not, who am I to say anything towards anyone else? Believe what you will and if you want to take the time to try and understand what I believe, maybe we can exchange ideas and give each other something to ponder... I believe that is the one 'True Religion' live and let live, respect others for their beliefs and be glad there are so many ways to see this magnificent earth as well as all life and energy upon it.