+I'm often ashamed to admit I'm a Christian.+
+Well, let's face it. It's not exactly the IN thing. And with good reason. Who wants to be aligned with them. Or him? Or them? And most atheists are adamant that belief in God lands somewhere on a spectrum between psychologically weak to criminally sane.
It's uber-popular these days to call oneself spiritual, with the caveat that they're not faithful or religious. But I always have a tough time getting someone to describe to me what "spiritual" means, much less how it affects daily life. As a writer, as a Christian, and as someone fascinated by religion and faith, I really am interested. (Right now I think of "spiritual" as drinking without a hangover. Belief without the responsibility or commitment. But I'm wrong. I know I'm wrong. I just thought I'd throw that out there so you can get mad at me. Cuz apparently that's fun. Getting mad.) Of course, their spirituality might be a personal thing and they just don't want to get into it. That's cool. Or they might lump me in with this nutjob. Not so cool. I suspect the latter; Christianity has a bad rap these days.
And yet...Christ was arguably one of the Good Guys. His life is pretty well documented for someone who was born a nobody 2000 years ago, and whether he was lying, insane, or right, people picked up on his his message.
Treat others well. Be kind to those less fortunate than you. Don't fight.
His message must have some small worth. After all, it's still a primary focus of preschool and kindergarten.
Treat others well. Be kind to those less fortunate than you. Don't fight. Treat others well. Be kind to those less fortunate than you. Don't fight. Treat others well. Be kind to those less fortunate than you. Don't fight...
I know that message makes me a better person. Church is my reminder, my tribe that tells me to shape up when I need and holds me up when I need that too. Call me weak or stupid, I need the reminder.
And apparently some other people need a reminder, too. Between kindergarten and now, it's a message a lot of Christians and many people of the world forget. When we shake a fist at another driver, when we make fun of someone for using a PC over a Mac, when we insist marriage is only between a man and a woman or declare someone bound for Hell or burn others' holy books or throw burning crosses or wear white hoods or make fun of the other kid at school, we have forgotten that message. And whether you think Christ is a son of man or son of God or both, his is still a pretty fucking worthwhile message to take into consideration when living life.
That it got distorted and manipulated by human beings over the intervening centuries has less to do with Christ and faith and much more to do with the widely acknowledged fallibility of people. (For the record, I believe religion is fallible; it's made of people. It's made of people!)
So no, I don't believe religion is the root of all evil.* People would find another excuse to fight if it didn't exist. I think the potential good that honest faith can do (be it Buddhism, Wicca, Islam, Christianity and so on) (and faith being that grey spot where God meets humans) outweighs the bad it has caused. The crusaders fought in the Holy Land and the Popes drove them there. But the people would have found another reason to fight. There was wealth and power to be had at Outremer.
True, some people wield religion like a weapon. But a gun doesn't pull its own trigger and you can kill with a cooking knife. If those people didn't have faith and religion, they'd wield something else every bit as effectively. I always think of the militant religious as people who need rules and boundaries to hem them in, poor saps, to keep themselves feeling safe. As well, those same people seem to need rules and boundaries to hem others in, to keep themselves feeling safe.
I'm not much for rules and boundaries. And I've said it before, my faith makes me a better person. It reminds me of the simple lessons of common decency. For instance, at yesterday's service, Blessing of the Animals, someone brought a chicken to be blessed. Now, I doubt I could love a chicken, but there's an obvious lesson there. I have some choices in my reaction, right?
- I could laugh at them.
- I could protest with signs. "No Chickens in Church!" "Or in Town!" "Chicken Lover=Dog Hater!" "Chickens are for Eating!" (Okay, that's too fun. I could do a whole post on stupid chicken rhetoric.)
- Or, I can acknowledge and accept their love for their pet. The priests and the service reminded me with the simple act of blessing a chicken that all God's creatures are worthy of our respect and tolerance, at the least.
But enough of that. It's just a personal example. I'm not trying to convert anyone; never have, never will. There are many paths to Enlightenment. Or maybe I should say: There are many Paths to enlightenment. Billions of them, to be exact. The planet is finite. Our paths cross and join and split constantly. That's no excuse to stand in anyone's way.
*In a day or so I'm going to tackle The Root of All Evil.