Going to hell in a hand basket
The topic of religion is one that has been presented to me many times. People e-mailing me or inquiring in the guestbook, about my lack of mention of religion. Why don't I say anything about religion, they'd like to know. Well, quite frankly, because the topic of religion bores the hell out of me. There are so many different types, and theories, and origins, that I will gladly fall asleep less than two minutes into a religious debate. So, I never talk it about it, because I don't care about it. But, for this month Crux wants to know:
"I don't want you to tell us about your religion; I want you to tell us why religion is good or bad. what are your views on religion? what are the pros and cons of religion? is it truly the opiate of the masses, or is it higher enlightenment? is there just one right religion, or do all religions have their values? do religions cause more harm than good, or vise versa? is religion a made-up explanation for the world around us, or is it the true explanation for the world around us?"
Alas, I must write about it. So here goes.
My earliest religious thought that I can recall was at my uncle's funeral. I was four or five at the time. I didn't know the man, so I was holding up pretty well until they took me up to see the body. Never take your children up to see the body! They don't want to see that shit! I took a good long look at this man that I had never known, and burst into tears. My sister consoled me, telling me he was going to heaven. I didn't know what that meant, so she told me all about God, Heaven/Hell, and angels/demons. I figured this Heaven sounded like a pretty cool place, but I still wasn't exactly thrilled that you have to die to get there. What if it doesn't even exist?
I remember going to church, and being bored out of my damn mind. I could never understand anything that was said, and it was far from entertaining in any way. At some point though, my parents work schedules became so fucking odd, they had to stop taking us to church. They were all upset, they'd had big plans for me being in the choir, but I didn't care. I was about five or six at the time. My family was never overly religious. We just did what we were supposed to do, and they never shoved anything about the church down our throats. We prayed at holiday meals, and sometimes before we went to sleep, but that was it. I lived my life without any thought towards sinning or being holy. Just did what I wanted to do. Religion was never a factor in my behavior.
I think my dislike of the church began with history class in middle school, and learning about all the people killed because of religion. The Crusades, The Holocaust, even more that I can't recall. Christianity is so hypocritical. How? Let's take Thou Shall Not Kill. Okay now, how about the Salem Witch Trials? Aren't The Ten Commandments supposed to overrule and cancel out all other things? Not You Can Kill If The Victim Is Not A Good Christian.
Once religion leaves the home, it becomes so clean, clinical, and political. For me there is no divinity in forced organized worship. If I choose to worship God, I'll worship him as I see, fit, not as a book re-written a whole mess of times dictates to me. I've got news for you Holy Rollers: The Bible was written by MAN. I'm sure that plenty of things have been left out and altered over time to suit the writers. Not to say that there is no truth to it, I wasn't there at the beginning of time, how do I know what went down? But, don't take everything you read from it to be the absolute truth, don't assume that perhaps nothing has been misinterpreted by readers.
One thing I find particularly distasteful is the notion of being "God-fearing". I don't think that anyone should have to be "God-fearing". If anything, I think that people should be "God-loving", if they choose to worship God. Fear begets hatred, loathing and distrust. If God knows what's in your heart, he'd know if you worshipped him out of fear, and secretly hated him, I think. Love however, begets trust, faithfulness, and adoration.
I also don't like the way religion condemns people for their sexual preference or for leading a slightly less than pure lifestyle. If we were loved unconditionally, and forgiven for everything we've done, what would be the need of Hell then?
I feel that religions can have their good sides. Churches often provide refuge to people in pain, they offer sanctuary to those in need, and I think it gives some people strength to make it through ordeals if they believe that someone is watching over them. The bad side is when they become an obsession, a blind form of mind control, a crutch to escape reality. I used to think that someone who could not even contemplate death without any heaven, hell, or other final destination had something of a weak mind. I used to think about it all the time when I was little. What if when we die, we just never wake up. What if there is nothing at all. Then I'd go to school and talk about it, and unintentionally make my classmates cry. It's a scary thought, and perhaps that is why religion is so strong. People need that afterworld, that life beyond death to look forward to, or they'll go crazy with fear.
I don't know a whole lot about all the different types of religion. I only know what I was taught, and I was raised by Baptists. If I could create the perfect religion, it would be one based on the principle that no one is damned, until they damn themselves. It would be open to everyone, regardless of their own religious beliefs. They would be able to worship God, or Gods/Goddesses as they saw fit, provided no sacrificing of living things was done. It would be based on love of God, not fear of God. There would be no dogma, nothing forced down people's throats, no threat of burning in eternal torment. People would be able to come and go as they pleased, all group worship would be optional. No one would be expected to endure, suffer, or anything like that. It would also be kept completely seperate from politics or school, so that the laws of the country would not have anything to do with the ethics of the religion.
So in conclusion, I would say that religion itself isn't evil. The people who partake of it make it that way. I don't take any one side. The believers cannot prove to me that God exists, the non-believers cannot prove to me that he doesn't. As long as I'm free to make my own decision, I'm content to pick and choose various aspects that I do identify with and exclude the ones that I don't. Whether you're a devout follower, or a hardcore Athiest, do realize that brainwashing can go both ways. Make sure it's what you believe, not just what you've been told, that you take to heart.
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