The Theory of Religion

Firstly – in no way am I putting down religion. Understand that my views are very much my own and I have the utmost respect for anyone who puts their faith in any religion out there.

I grew up in a church and until I was about 15 I strongly believed in the teachings that were taught to me by my church and my parents. I love my parents for giving me some of the basic teachings that allowed my faith to evolve. To give you an example: my parents taught me that Christianity is NOT the church,  it’s not going to Sunday school or how much time you spend in church. They showed me through their actions that church was in fact HOW you lived your live and believing and living in the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.

This always stuck with me and when I was ready to get baptized I was ready to reach into that higher level of spirituality and love through faith. But as I was dipped into the baptismal pool I had a profoundly life-changing moment of enlightenment. I came to the revelation that aside from being wet, nothing had changed. Well one thing had changed, I will filled with questions. Questions about what had happened and why I was searching so hard for a further level of external love and fulfillment. Now these were not evident in that immediate moment but there was a sudden emptiness that I felt which evolved over the next 10 years. This seed germinated into a further curiosity and questions that propelled me into a  journey of self discovery and searching that ended up giving me a greater sense of spirituality then the church could ever give.

I explored Buddhism and the teachings of the Taoist way, I tried to understand the similarities between Judaism and Islam by reading and experiencing people and hearing how people lived their faith. What really wrapped it up nicely for me was when I was attending college in Canada’s North. I was studying a native stream Family and Child Social Work program and by default, was immersed into the culture and teachings as a distant relative. Being very skeptical of outsiders had been something that was almost bred into what I refer to as TRUE Canadians, but I opened to them and explored my own native and cultural South American roots they accepted me as a distant cousin who was eager to learn and share the culture. I even had the opportunity to stand in as a translator for an Ecuadorian Shuar elder who was visiting and sharing in this cultural exchange. It was where I was first able to note how all religion tied together and how it propelled my own personal theory forward.

Humans have an innate inquisitive nature. Always looking to understand how things work in order to understand their place in life. This is what drives us forward, drives us to understand electricity and how we continue to modernize our everyday lives. Explaining how the sun rises and how things grow, especially when you don’t fully understand the complexities of the nature can lead to finding a logical way to explain the in-explainable elements around us. To me this is the root of religion, the need to try to explain or label how things work and why things happen. This is the root of my theory: As humans, we wanted to try to explain the in-explainable and in doing so we produced GOD, and supreme being that could explain the mysteries of life and give meaning to our purpose here. Created by divine purpose in order to explain the biology, the chemistry, the physics of why the world is as it is – why we feel the way we do and where we go once we expire. A way to give us hope and a purpose fueling fire to continue to strive forward.

At this point in our civilization I think that we should be able to move beyond relying on religion to explain the inexplicable. I feel that we have evolved enough to be able to use the technology and pure human intelligence to be able to explore and answer the questions that seemed impossible to answer. There are two other elements of religion though that require a little more human development and evolution before we can move completely beyond a dependence on religion.

The first: Religion is a huge tool in teaching our children the right and wrong of this world. Teaching that actions come with consequences and that a life of goodness has a reward in the afterlife. However I feel that this is still slightly wrong as you are initially teaching people to do good in order to avoid going to hell rather than being good for the sake of being good. We need to go away from the ultimate punishment theory and actually teach people, being good is its own reward. I still remember being taught in Sunday school that if were good enough AND converted enough people you would be rewarded in heaven with a jeweled crown. Positive reinforcement may work with training animals but when it comes to humans it can lead to religious leaders being arrested for fraud and embezzlement instead of being true leaders of people.

The second: Love. Not the love between spouses, families and friends but the love of oneself. I remember wanting a greater love, the promise of the kind of love that you could only get from the deity – if you worship and adore them and follow all their rules. When I started on the path to searching for that external love I ultimately came to the realization that what I was actually craving was the ability to love myself (insert dirty joke here). In all seriousness I needed to be happy with myself, content with my life and fulfilled by everything I did in order to be able to live the way I needed. When I finally came to that understanding I was finally able to live. Enjoying the world around me has become so much more enriching since I stopped looking externally for love and started validating myself.

Ultimately the point I am trying to drive home is that I don’t believe that traditional religion is for me or anyone for that matter. I think  our society needs to start thinking outside the religious box and start understanding the core fundamentals of what religion provides and how you can provide it to yourself. I like to imagine a world where love really does prevail and the hopefulness that people feel due to differing theologies is a thing of the past. The last thing I want to do however is take anyone away from their own faith as that is something that really bothered me about the church. Believe what makes you happy but respect others and focus on how YOU can enhance your everyday life.

Last point – please note that at no time have I denied the existence of a higher being, one that possibly had a hand in creating the world we see around us. That, however is a story (or theory) for another post.

Oldschool vs. Newschool

One of the biggest arguments that my wife and I have are about how we’re going to maintain our landscape once we buy a house. We haven’t bought the house yet but we play the what if game to keep our sights set on our goal. As a hobby gardener and imagined landscaper I dream about the garden I have. Attempting to put in a water feature, or building the perfect shaded hammock stand is my kind of garden-porn. One of my personal dreams is to be able to not only have a garden that is to my liking but also sustainable. Rain barrels for conservation and solar panels to reduce our dependence on generated power. A combination of high and low tech tools that will make our piece of land a little greener.

The argument however stems from the fact that I’ve never wanted to purchase a gas/electrical powered lawn mower. When I was a kid, my parents owned a push-reel mower that I loved to pretend to use. I remember that thing being so heavy and orange and cool that I wanted to be able to use it. Unfortunately we moved and my folk’s ended up getting a gas-powered beast that would be my chore for the rest of my adolescence. But I never forgot that push-reel the way I imagined it would make me feel as I was cutting the lawn.

So back to the argument – she feels that the push-reel mower is an impractical and inefficient device that will be too heavy to push and not cut the grass well enough. I was thinking of conceding and just buying an electric mower but today I saw this.

That’s right folks with proper sharpening and usage, an old-fashioned scythe can actually work better and cut quicker then a professional grade weed whacker – and with significantly less harm to the environment. But there are also other benefits of using a push-reel mower vs. a powered mower. When you look at the gas/electric models they tend to chop and hack at the blades, doing the job but doing so in a very savage way. The push reel mower acts more like scissors which to be honest is a neater, cleaner and healthier way of cutting each blade of grass.

Aside from having a naturally healthy lawn, I am a huge fan of ridding ourselves of perceived simplification. The noise and exhaust of a gas-powered motor has always been a pet peeve of mine and the constant cost of buying gas and fixing any mechanical damages make them money suckers on top of everything else. Simplicity is key here and I’m going to stand firm to my side of the argument and go with my old school preference and my wife will have to just deal with it. But don’t tell her I said that or I’ll be stuck mowing the lawn for the rest of my life. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

The Linus Theory

Scarves. They’re functional and fashionable but I never got into them. Sure there are times that I wear one, but for the most part I just zip up my coat too keep the warm stuff warm, and keep the cool stuff out. Maybe if I was a little more fashionable or had a colder neck I’d be motivated to spend time and money enjoying more of the benefits of wearing a scarf.

Lately I have started noticing the growing (literally) trend of the scarf and how it has become an essential accessory for pretty much any season. However with this trend I’ve also noticed that the scarves has become bigger and bigger and are bordering on the excessive. This past week spring has started to peek it’s glorious head through the cold and I had the opportunity to start walking to work. As I was approaching the office I saw a woman walking towards wearing what I could only guess was supposed to be a scarf. It suddenly brought flashbacks of the Lenny Kravitz/scarf picture that circulated online a year or so ago and I couldn’t help but wonder how this could even be called a scarf. It was wrapped around her neck with two long tails draping down over her shoulders coming down to just below her knees. Even though it was clearly wrapped around her neck, it still looked less like a scarf and more like she was wearing a full on blanket. She had one tail gripped in her hands and the other tail being held against her torso by her arm.

I suddenly got a flash and the only thing I could think of was Linus. Yes the peanuts character that would never be seen without his blue security blanket in tow and as much as she wasn’t sucking her thumb, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of safe secure feeling she received from her blanket-like-scarf.

So I challenged myself to wear a scarf for a few hours to put myself into her shoes and try and identify what it was that made a large scarf so appealing. Now this exercise was done in the safety of my own house because frankly the only scarves that were even close to large enough belonged to my wife. I chose a dark but flowery number that was large enough to be a blanket for a baby or a small dog. I had her show me how to tie it and I went along with my day. Aside from the warmth, there was a sense of comfort and security that was with me the whole time I was wearing the scarf. By no means am I an introvert and I’m not really an extrovert – I’m more or less and ambivert. I’m content and happy on my own as much as I am in social settings. The scarf, however gave me a sense of warmth and confidence that elevated me to what I’d like to call my Ninja-Asskick-Superhero mode. The simple piece of fabric allowed me to “hide” (Ninja Status) in a public setting (well as public as a family dinner gets) when I wanted to and yet still be able to be at the heart of the fun and excitement a public setting. The Linus theory – being able to be wrapped in a sense of security and warmth while being out in the most public of settings.

Now the scarf I had was not even half as large as the blanket that I saw on that woman, but I can completely understand why the trend of scarves is growing. Being wrapped in so much warmth and security can give intro and ambiverts a boost of confidence to get through the day. However summer is coming, and I swear if I see someone wearing a blanket like scarf in the summer will lead me to believe that they’re either crazy or completely socially inept.