A topic that most may find blasphemous or even derogatory, my opinions of religion have to be expressed and you be surprised with what I have to say.
Firstly, I have to distinguish that there is a major difference between RELIGION and SPIRITUALITY. Spirituality is what we ultimately believe in, it’s what we call our deities and how we choose to live our life. If we look at the bottom line of all of our faith, it’s based on a similar spiritual belief system, love everyone, do good, be rewarded. It’s when people come together and form religions that things can get messy.
When you start involving religion you start the us vs. them mentality. You start, without even knowing it, excluding others because of what they believe in. Sure most religions try to say that their doors are open to everyone, that they want to spread the word. If you think about it that sounds kinda cool doesn’t it! But let’s think about that, they want to convert you away from your already established way of life (no major inconvenience) and most likely a family who will probably be very upset. Now not all religions practice active conversion and if we look at it, it’s mainly the mainstream Christian religions that actively seek out people and try to change their entire lifestyle. Even in the dictionary, the word convert has a Christian based meaning:
1. to change (something) into a different form or properties;transmute; transform.
2. to cause to adopt a different religion, political doctrine,opinion, etc.: to convert the heathen.
TO CONVERT THE HEATHEN. So what does heathen mean? I’m sure it’s a fun-loving expression for those that aren’t christian
Right now, as an hispanic, I’m offended. Not only has my race’s culture and beliefs deemed incorrect, but my entire roots have been labelled as uncivilized!!! Now that’s blowing it out of proportion, but my point about religion stands – it can lead to fanaticism and even all out warfare. I know, I was part of it!
I lived in a Pentecostal Christian home growing up and with both my parent’s teachings I got the best and worst of religion – and I really want to clarify this because if you’re reading this, mom and dad, you provided me with the best of religion and formed my spirituality so that I was able to really absorb all my future adventures and teachings from other religions and cultures. My parent’s taught me that it ultimately comes down to what I do and how I live my life and how I choose to live my life and as long as try to do the best possible to others I will live a long and happy life. And that for the most part is true.
The worst of religion doesn’t come from my experiences in church (I had some good friends back in my church days) but it comes from the teachings that I experience. Remember those words that I used earlier “…fanaticism and even all out warfare.” These were words that I heard thrown around during my times at youth rally’s, conventions and even during sermon’s. I’ve heard it all, become fanatical for god, become warriors for god, engage in holy warfare and constantly trying to convert everyone else to stand behind in God’s army – i don’t know about you, but as a hippie, I feel that that’s a little excessive. Am I the only one that thinks that a deity who represents love and humility wouldn’t want to be associated with war and battle and taking prisoners. Ok maybe that was a little harsh but the way some christians talk, it’s like they’re fighting a battle to take our souls to their side. I mean god was supposed to provide us with free will right? An ability to decide which way we wanted to go? So why give us free will and then send out an army after us as if he were collecting us back?
I know it sounds like I’m bashing christians. I don’t have anything wrong with christians, or anyone of any other denomination for that matter. My best friends are Muslim, Hindu and Catholics, and I appreciate all walks of lives and beliefs. What I have a problem with is when people use god for as an excuse to take up arms and fight for what they believe is god’s will. And this is exactly my point, Religion comes from someone who takes a spiritual belief and decides to make a large group of people see that spirituality the same way they do. In my opinion, spirituality is supposed to be something that we tap into, not something that we manipulate. The spirit world is meant for us to link into in order to regenerate our incorporeal self and allow us to continue on and keep hold of the faith that we have the ability to do whatever we put our minds to and to enjoy every minute of our lives, until the end.
I remember when I had abandoned all hope in religion I met a Shuar priest who taught me that the world and all its religions are the same. They are rooted in the same beliefs and in the same goals, to live a good life and to be rewarded in the end. It’s the people who distort spiritual beliefs and manipulate them into something that causes discrimination, violence and hatred between religions. I guess my point is that we should all take a good hard look at our religions and determine what it is we actually believe in. Do you follow your heart and believe in your faith and spirituality or do you let someone else tell you what to believe?