I’m a liberal person anyway, and if you didn’t know that about me, I’m not really sure how you missed it. So I never considered any religion “the right one,” or if I did, it was when I was too young to remember, and especially too young to understand what I was saying. But the point is that I don’t consider any religion “the true religion” today. I have a very “all paths to God” approach to it.
But I’ll make the effort to be brief with my own religious history to maybe explain where I’m coming from.
I went to a Baptist church for years with my best friend, got saved but never baptized, participated in multiple Vacation Bible Schools, the only one of which I remember being a Veggie-Tales one. For years I prayed every night before falling asleep (but never before I read my book when I was supposed to be asleep, because I needed to pray for forgiveness after doing so), and even after I quit, I still felt like I should be doing it.
Then, one day, freshman year of high school, I was searching for something related to The Legend of Zelda and came upon a site describing the four nature elements central to many things, from the ancient Greeks to video games, and TV shows (Avatar: TLA especially). I read more about them, intrigued by what I saw, and discovered this fast-growing religion called Wicca.
Now, before you run away or make assumptions based on what you hear, Wicca is generally not like Sabrina the Teenage Witch or that really horrible movie The Craft; of course, some practitioners make it that way, but in general, the religion is very individualistic (means to each person what they make it mean to them) and not a cult. There are some Wiccans who follow a form of Wicca that combines it with Christianity, and find God through nature. What I began following and believing in was a sort of offshoot of that — finding God through nature.
However, the religion is really an amalgamation of ancient Celtic and other pagan rituals (observing the harvests, lunar cycles, etc.) and some Eastern philosophies, with heavy emphasis on meditation and cosmic energy, chakras, that sort of thing. Terms you’d hear in yoga classes, nothing cultish or Satanic or anything like that. So, throughout high school I considered myself “Wiccan” and observed what I could living in a city. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, so this seemed a natural sort of religion for me, even though I was rather lazy with a lot of the observed rituals. Sometimes I felt more spiritually driven than others, as I think everyone does, unless you’re a nun or something.
Then, I began going to church with Joseph, and it rekindled wonderings about the Christian God and Jesus (or if they’re the same person — a question which we covered some in Limbo and couldn’t really come to a consensus to, which was funny to me). And now? I don’t really know what I am.
It took me a few Sundays to realize that wow, church is a LOT like what some churchgoers condemn in religions like Wicca. Rituals exist just as much in Christianity as they do in Wicca; for instance, transubstantiation, or communion, the first Sunday of each month is a ritual just like offering the chalice to *insert deity of choice* in Wicca. Singing hymns exists in various religions all over. The basic tenets are the same — do unto others as you would have them do unto you, judge not lest ye be judged, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, and so on and so on. And most people know that Christian holy days (Easter, Christmas) were planned around existing pagan holidays (Ostara, Saturnalia/Yule) to appeal more to converts, so why the big deal?
Well, anyway, this entry really isn’t about that. I tend to go off on tangents, if you hadn’t noticed.
The point is, I don’t really believe there’s a right way to find your path to God, or whoever you believe in as guiding you or driving you or having created you or whatever. I believe in science and evolution, but I also believe in some kind of divine spark within everyone. People for ages and ages have searched for some spiritual guidance or answers or some kind of explanation as to why we’re here, what our purpose in life is, and whatever. No, I don’t think we’ll ever achieve “world peace” (insert beauty pageant-answer stereotype here), but I think if people were much more accepting of others’ choices in what moves them, they would be a lot less uptight about things and feel less need to quote Scripture at every given opportunity.
Frankly, I find the idea of a God who wants to be loved even more than one’s own physical father to be something I can’t get behind. Am I grateful for my existence? Yes, even though sometimes life is horrible. But then it’s wonderful in many ways, and it’s hard to be forever grudge-holding. But do I love an intangible person/thing/energy more than I love my parents? Well, that’s a tough question.
And I don’t want to discount anyone if they feel passionately about “God the Father Almighty” because that’s wonderful. If that’s your path to God, go for it! I won’t be offended, and you shouldn’t be by my beliefs either. To each his own, and if I have to search forever for some kind of spiritual guidance or answers or anything, then that’s fine.
Another thing I’ve wondered about is how much we consider the Bible to be fact, and not mythology. In a thousand years, will people view the Bible as we view things like The Odyssey now? Or the ancient Egyptian texts? But that’s maybe another entry for another day.
I’m here for the journey, as Matt said in his (better articulated) blog entry on the subject, and I’m glad to share it with the people I do, who often have much more knowledge on the Bible or bureaucracy within the church or whatever.
Everyone can provide a point of view I haven’t thought about, or knowledge I had no idea of, or contribute something to people, and that’s what keeps me coming back to Limbo. Variety is a good thing, and I think it’s something that’s not encouraged in the Church enough (obviously, if members get panties in a wad over a blog entry, for Christ’s sake). That’s what makes me keep getting up at an ungodly hour (for me anyway, the very definition of “not a morning person) to spend an hour, or more, with a group of people I probably would not have become familiar with had it not been for Kevin’s brainchild.
And what is it Gandalf says? “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take.”
Let’s do this.