TagReligion

On Benefits and Baggage

Sid talked about writing this post months ago. Before his foray into working for himself. And I am glad to see he wrote it and happier still to have been able to read it.

If you don’t understand that the Church is an organization entirely based on God, a being who holds our universe in being with his will, whose mind is unimaginable to us — if, in fact, your closest reference point is a secular business — you are not going to have the faintest opportunity of even beginning to make sense of its policies.

The Pope is not a CEO. Priests are not middle-managers. Making money is not the ultimate fulfillment of the human person. In fact, the pursuit of happiness on earth is not the reason we’re even here! If you’re arguing with someone who isn’t at least open to these realities — you’re going to have a bad time. – Crate of Penguins — Benefits and Baggage

As I wrote in my post yesterday, we all see the world in a different light. Religion isn’t for me. I tried it. I didn’t enjoy it. But I have no problem with others enjoying it and loving it.

That’s part of the beauty of the Internet. I can follow and befriend people from all walks of life and beliefs. I also do this to open my eyes wider to the world. There is more to the world than Macs or PCs. There is more to life than technology at all. I am still firmly in a niche, but I am slowly getting outside of myself.

I don’t know if he counts me among his atheist friends, but I’ve fallen under that label in my life. Also Agnostic, Mormon and Generally Apathetic About The Whole Thing.

People change throughout life and it’s much too short not to open myself up to different ideas. It pains me to see Sid having to defend his beliefs. It shouldn’t matter to other people what he believes. Just like it shouldn’t matter to other people what I believe.

But we’ve gotten to be experts at policing the thoughts and beliefs of others. To what end? What good has come from it?

Has it made anyone happier? Has it improved anyone’s life? What good has come from it? Nope. Nadda. None.

What I believe

Something that’s been bouncing around my head lately is the idea that religious beliefs can be separated from legislative matters. Simply put, you can believe in a law that may not agree with your religious beliefs.

Your religion is not everyone’s religion and just as you don’t want their beliefs to take away your rights. Your beliefs should not take away anyone else’s rights.

You can believe what you want but using that belief as the basis for keeping rights from other citizens is wrong in my eyes. Your religion is yours and your belief is yours and I respect your right to it. But I have to question when your beliefs prevent others from having a right you enjoy.

Why do your beliefs keep people from getting something you have?
What is the basis of that belief?
Why do you choose to keep it?

I have thought long and hard about my choice to join a church and to allow religion into my life. **I have long-lived my life by the teachings of loving my fellow-man and working for the common good. **I want to treat people as I want to be treated. I don’t want to be treated poorly by other people and I do my best to not treat others poorly.

I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with long-time friends who asked, somewhat out of surprised, why I had joined a church after being irreligious for so long. I called myself agnostic more than atheist as I’ve believed there is something up there bigger and smarter than us but I wasn’t sure it was “God” in the Christian sense.

Since joining a church, I have given a lot of thought to my beliefs and why I believe what I believe and what I believe.

I do not agree with everything in the religion and I never will. There is a lot I can’t agree with because it harms other people and any religion that harms other people I can’t agree with.

Jesus taught us to love thy brother. Jesus wanted us to be good to each other and that simple idea, which I have tried to live up to, has long been perverted.

I stayed away from churches for a long time because they were places of such negativity.

Do this or you’ll go to hell!
Let’s go protest this movie because we don’t agree with it!
Live like this or face the consequences!

If your beliefs are threatened by a movie you need to re-examine why you hold those beliefs. If your life is based on fear, what are you really living for?

That’s not how I want to live my life. I don’t want to live in a constant fear of a vengeful God looking to strike me down at the first misstep. I believe in a kind and loving God who made us in his image and wants the best for us. I believe we all have free will to mess up but I also believe we can be forgiven.

I believe we have the chance to do right and we have the chance to do wrong. At the end of our life here on Earth, our actions and our deeds, both good and bad, will be taken into account.

I believe we are only human and we are going to make mistakes. I believe the Bible was written in the time it was written but needs to be a living document because times and circumstances change.

To live strictly by the Biblical times would mean slavery would still be allowed. Women would be possessions of their men. These are no longer good ideas. But they were written in a time when these things were accepted.

A living doctrine needs to evolve and to grow in the world it is being practiced.

I believe religion can bring great peace and happiness in the lives of its practitioners. And I believe it can bring deep pain and sorrow in those same lives. I believe how people treat each other in the name of religion is shameful and directly opposes the teachings of Jesus Christ who the Christian religions are founded on.

We all have our own set of beliefs and morals we live by. Whether they are part of a religion or our own personal moral code. We all live our life with a set of rules that work for us. This code brings us happiness when we’re living by it and sadness when we do not.

I am not perfect. None of us are perfect. I believe perfection cannot exist on this earth because we are humans and we are fallible. But I do believe it is our place to treat each other as we’d like to be treated.

We each deserve love and respect and friendship.
We each deserve to be loved.
We each deserve to love.
We each deserve our own happiness.
And with happiness comes security.
And with security a stable home can be build and a family can flourish.

This is what I believe and this is why I believe it.
I am a member of a Christian religion.
I am a Christian.
I am a human.
I am a man.
I am a friend.
I am a husband.
I am a son.

I strive to treat people as I would like them to treat me.
It is how I have lived my life and while I am not perfect, I try everyday to remember this is how I should live and I try by best to live in this way.

Church

I grew up without religion.
No, that’s not right.
I grew up with church as part of my life.
It is a place my brother and I would get drug off to early Sunday mornings. We would sit and listen to tales of horrible things done to people thousands of years ago.
We would be warned of the fire and brimstone raining down upon us if we were not good people.

We were subjected to the small town evangelism and politics of church-going. Church didn’t mean anything to me growing up.

It was something to do. It was a place to go. It was something that was expected and required but seemed to hold little value to my life.

It was a history class for events from thousands of years ago.

Ever since having joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 1 and being baptized (again) I have thought about my relationship to God and Religion and people of religious faith.

These are three very different things.

Religion is something you grow into.

It is not something you’re born with. It is something you’re either raised with or not. You may be raised in it and reject it later on or raised without it and find your way to it later in life.

However, I think it’s something everyone needs to come to terms with for themselves. Everyone has a belief system. Everyone has faith in something.
Coming to terms with what my beliefs were was the first step to finding a path either closer to or further from religion.
There are thousands of people who will tell you what to think and what to believe and how to act. But it’s all nonsense. It means nothing if it’s not your own belief.

Religion and faith is personal. It’s a one-on-one relationship. There is no room for a third party. There is no room for anyone else.


  1. (Totally going for the longest named Christian faith I could find.) 

The question of “Why”

I originally wrote this in June 2009 when I was still dating the wonderful woman who would become my wife. I am attending a wedding this weekend of another young Mormon couple which got me to thinking about my own explorations into religion. I thought I would share them with you now.

The journey into why is a frightening one. For most of my life I have lived by the 10 Commandments. Not on a conscious level but as a general rule for how I conduct myself.

Most importantly, I have lived by the golden rule do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

Treat people how you wish to be treated. I never really considered why I lived this way. I credit it to good parenting and upbringing. It always seemed like the right way to live. Why should I hurt others when I could work for the greater good? That way everyone benefits. I live for the greater good. I never really questioned why. Until now.

In recent months I’ve dipped my toes into religion. Don’t worry, I’m not going full on born again. I have explored Mormonism. My girlfriend is Mormon. The biggest reason is their belief of an eternal family. They believe once you die you go on living with your family forever. None of that “til death so us part” nonsense. The process is not automatic (and honestly not one I fully understand yet) and involves a temple marriage and being “sealed” to each other.

So once you’re sealed in a temple, you live with your family forever.

I’ve never given much thought to an afterlife but if there is one, being with your family sounds pretty good to me. Where is all thing back story taking us? The questioning of WHY?

Why do we live like we do? Why do we act as we do?

I often think about introspection and try to look inward as much as I can because It’s the key to understanding yourself. Part of that is questioning why.
I have not questioned myself why in a long time. I realized this as I found myself incredibly sad one Sunday afternoon and couldn’t figure out why. I had just come from church. And I was a mental mess. I just wasn’t feeling it.

I hear all the time of people speaking of the comfort religion brings them. I didn’t see it. Maybe I need to try harder.

In my discussion with my girlfriend she pointed out how I was basically a good person as far as religion goes. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. Never touched drugs. I’m pretty boring.

The other trigger was the message from church itself. The message was about giving yourself to God and letting him into your life. The message was presented well and in a sensical, applicable way.

However, that is a main point of contention for me because I’ve seen it taken too far to often. You can’t expect God to run your own life. You can’t look at thing and go, “God will take care of me” and not help yourself. God will only take it so far. You need to help.

God will help you out and nudge you on the right direction. He will be your guide to life and try to push you down the right path. He won’t drove the car or be your GPS. He’ll ride along and suggest routes along the way.