In my lifetime religion has grown more and more intermingled with politics. This has caused me to think deeply on not only my religious beliefs but also how those beliefs should be practiced. If religion can be named responsible for some of the blights of my country does it have any redeeming qualities? If it does not should I shed my religion altogether? Just because religion can be blamed for some of the ills of the world does not mean that religion itself is evil. However, religion can be used to manipulate and blind people.
Several people in my family are deeply religious. Some of my ancestors helped found a church. At every family reunion there are about five pastors to say grace. My mother is very religious. She is also one of the kindest people I know. She is my primary example in life on how to deal with people. Although I often disagree with her, my opinion of her is not lessened by her religiosity. In fact her connection to religion redeems it in my eyes. It is easy to look at corrupt televangelists and bigotry that uses religion as its rational and use that as evidence that region is for the insane but my mother is proof that it possible to be religious and still be a good person.
It is hard to deny that religion is responsible for many aspects of American culture. Many positive historical events and movements can be linked to religion. Although I think that religion is beginning to permeate politics too much it is hard for me as an African American to deny that religion can cause positive political changes. The Civil Rights movement was not only lead from a church but also lead by a Reverend. What is the line that I draw? It is not necessary for a person to be religious to be moral however often times a persons values stem from religion. If a legislator were to vote for rehabilitation programs for convicts because of a belief in God’s mercy I would support that. How ever I do not support a ban on gay marriage and similar logic would seem to be the reason behind that vote. Why do I feel differently about these two issues? Sometimes Christianity sends conflicting messages.
There are aspects of Christianity that speak of equality, redemption and mercy. At the same time it speaks of war prejudice and self-righteousness. Many of the religious people I speak to say that in order to be a true Christian I must believe and follow the entire bible. For them a true Christian does not cut and paste the bible. Part me believes this. When I think of the idea of love, admittedly I’ve never been truly in love, I think that you must love somebody completely that despite the things you do not like about some one you must accept all of them both the good and the bad. It is this kind of devotion and compromise that makes love beautiful.
As I said part of me feels the same way about religion. If I nip and cut away at he bible chose to ignore parts of it and disbelieve others can I still call myself a Christian? If I chose to lose my religion would it be so horrible? Why do I hesitate to make that declaration? Although I do not necessarily believe the entirety of the bible, I do believe that there must be a divinity. In my eyes the world is far too ordered for all of human and natural events to be forged by mere chance. I refuse to believe that all that his occurred, all that exists merely exists. Something must have started the universe on its path. Something must have guided times arrow. I choose to call myself Christian for two reasons. The first is my belief in a God. The second is belief that at the very least a man named Jesus walked the earth and was crucified.
Despite this belief I am unsure if I should call my self Christian. Although it is posible to be religious and a good person the religion is starting to put emphasis more and more on ideas that I am not sure I support. Although I believe that all things must eventually come to an end, I am not worried about an oncoming apocalypse. For me the world is a dark place.
There is a war and part of me feels like I have not sacrificed for it. I feel conflicted because at the same time I do not support the reasons my nation has gone to war. Despite this it is impossible for me to deny that the military, in order to accomplish its goals, no matter how ambiguous they are needs more men. There is political as well as ecological strife. I still believe that the strife caused by the war and natural disasters is a result of the folly of man not the wrath of God. Mankind through its greed and shortsightedness has caused the crisis that my
generation must solve. These things are horrible but the world will go on. Although I am, a pessimist I have a faith that mankind will find a way to survive. There will be no thousand years of darkness, no holocaust that causes all of humanity to go extinct. We will survive.
During the last century religion has been used as a way to extend human rights. The Enlightenment, The Civil Rights Movement, Transcendentalist Movement The Renaissance, all had roots in religious thought. However, over last few decades people have begun to worry about the righteousness of the nation. Fearing that America has lost the favor of God they have begun to strip away some rights that were hard fought for as well as denied rights to those who had not gained them yet. Part of the bible talks about forgiveness and that God is the ultimate judge of men. Why then do we feel the need to condemn and persecute those who are different? A person’s relationship with the divine can not be fully understood by another person.
Despite the bigotry and negativity that religion may cause it is an important part of culture. For better or worse much of American society has be forged around religion. Although today people may take religion too far it is hard to deny that many of the social values of the country have steamed from religion. I do not mean to say that to be moral is to be religious and to be religious is to be moral, but it is hard to look at the values of the people around me even atheists and say that those values did not come from anywhere. I believe that one of the reasons my mother is so kind is because of her religious views. I am not as religious but through her religion she has taught me how to treat the rest of humanity.
Okay I will now start to ramble as thoughts come to me. As a starting point since I am watching the matrix at the moment so I will start with a quote. “Its the question that drives us.” Its not the known laws but the idea of a God that drives me to think on the matter. What is the nature of God? Why did the creator create the world in the mater he or she did? What is the point. All life ends. What is the point of tonight’s candle. If the candle is blown out, if the world ends, will God create something in its place? Is God by his very nature a creator. Does he wish for things to exist? If he does why do things die? Is there a such thing as an immortal soul or is now, here all we have.
Sometimes I think what I would believe if I gave up Christianity. If I went into the woods and thought on the mater, what would I believe about God? Is God within all living things? Is it possible to gain a spiritual connection with God through mere thought and meditation? Shall I follow the examples of Buddha and Thoreau?
I often have the thought that what I think about God is irrelevant. The absence or presence of God does not suddenly change my world. Every day I still have to wake up, put my pants on and go to class. Why do I even want to ask myself is there a God.
Regardless of the existence of an afterlife, my primary concern will always be my current life. I need no eternal punishment or reward; for both come in this life. Its what I do here and now that matters. Whether it is the ties I make or the ties I break the ties I have here matter. Maybe I say this because eternal spiritual life may last forever but the physical life is fleeting.
I think that there are several problems with religion. It can be used to justify horrible things. There have been several man made tragedies that have been the cause of religion. These include the crusades the Salem Witch Trials as well as 9/11. I believe partially this reason that religion must remain personal. My ideas about God are my own. I do not wish to preach. I am unsure about the nature of God. Perhaps that is the point. That God is merely the unknown. If God is the unknown perhaps, it is impossible to know him.
I do not know what I believe or even it maters that I don’t know what I believe. Life goes on. I will continue to think about these things but they will only be in the back of my mind. I must deal with the present. I must deal with tangible issues and not allow my self to be distracted by religion, Things need to be done. Despite my religious beliefs or the lack there of I must live in a world where God walks above man not among him.