July 20, 2014

How To Be Religious.

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Alternate Title: Why Religion Blows. By a Born-Again Christian.

I went to Israel. I got baptized in the River Jordan. I believe in God and Jesus Christ and maybe even the Bible. And I think (traditional) religion sucks.

Coming from Mexico, my mother started out as a Catholic. Most of them, the Latin Hemisphere, were cross-wearing traditionalists protesting cross-dressing heathens. Most still are.

Once in Canada, my mother’s biblical exploration led her to various other Jesus-is-the-son-of-God religions—I was baptized each time. (I figure I’m in the VIP line to Heaven for sure.) She finally settled down with the bible-based Church of Christ as her temple of faith.

It doesn’t really matter the nuances in differences of most Christian-based dogma. They purport a similar theme: Jesus Christ, son of God, died on the cross to save us from our sins. The slate is wiped clean. The rest is semantics as far as I’m concerned.

I have no issue with the idea of JC dying so that I can sin guilt-free—though I may be taking the Christian liberty card a tad to the extreme—but I do take offence to self-righteous superiority and too often Christians give Christians a bad name.

I also take issue with Neo-Nazi-idealism trying to disguise itself in a do-good-God-based sham. This is just a guise to segregate our brethren and climb their backs to get closer to Heaven, or at least a higher social status. But there are no god points and, in this manner, who is truly the heathen?

If God is Love—trust this truth—then it is us mere mortals who bastardize this Goodness with hateful beliefs and behaviours.

And not just the biggies like war in the name of religion. That’s obvious. No, it’s the subtleties of suppression and the suggestion of immorality. It is in our everyday judgements.

God is Love. Love is acceptance and tolerance and kindness and graciousness and gratitude and generosity and forgiveness and tenderness.

Yet, in my experience (and that of many), it is religious people that often lack in these Godly qualities. They are so busy “shoulding” on us, it’s no wonder conclusions are drawn that the very people who wish to entice us to God repel us from Him.

If that’s the representation of God, then, Thank you, and No.

In my own case, and whether brainwashed from birth or not, I choose God and even Christianity but with an equal  side belief in karma, dharma and universal energy. They need not be exclusive. When my troubles humble me to desperation where my own strength dwindles, I like having that faith in something greater than me. I choose to call that something God, and It gives me comfort and courage.

In a recent conversation with self-proclaimed (and well-intended) born again Christians I was reprimanded for my flaws, faults and sins in writing the essay The 10 Commandments Revisited, Revised.

Though our conversation was amiable and even enjoyable, I felt disappointed. Not in myself—no, hardly that. I was discouraged with the reminder that there are still too many religious folks finger-wagging.

Christians and other religious persons are not the only ones judging, but we’re the ones who are held to a higher accountability because we’re busy preaching God is Love and then acting the opposite. Hypocrisy is ripe in religion.

Is it not God’s duty to judge? I don’t recall there being a permission slip in the Bible entitling us to do so. (Of course, we must keep law and order to keep ourselves from riotous chaos, but that is not what we are talking about here.)

As far as I’ve studied, from a Christian perspective, we are solely encouraged to draw souls by making others aware of Him, nothing more. And in the modern world there is hardly a soul who isn’t. The All Mighty is quite capable of the rest, I assume, so are we not wholly arrogant and mistrusting of He Who Is Holy to think otherwise?

If we, God-loving Christians, want to indulge our egos by converting the “spiritually aimless,” perhaps we’d do better in leading by example—leading with Love not living in fear and worry and judgement of others.

Love is welcoming the LGBT couple to the first pew. It is sharing a smile with the unkempt and foul smelling. It is giving that dollar in our pocket when asked—and without needing to be asked. It is being thankful to have a dollar to gift. It is turning the other cheek when a hurting soul spews words venting their pained poison.

Love is saying, “Thank you for caring enough to share”—and meaning it—even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree. And it is also loving ourselves enough to walk away when need be.

I am a Christian but my religion is Love and I believe we would win more affection to our cause by not only doing unto others how we’d like to be done unto, but by doing unto others how they would like to be done unto. (Some restrictions apply, bien sur!)

So to the God-loving and the Love-loving and all the in-between, can we not join together to bring light to the world with warmth and compassion, while, yes, still taking loving action toward justice, equality, and honour?

I think, Yes!

How can we be religious?

Simple. Ask ourselves, “How can I be more loving right now?”

Then, do that.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: grendelkhan/flickr

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