Is that really what God meant?
I’ve been in a crabby mood lately and a lot of it comes from my over-consumption of media and social networks; too much crazy-ass stuff is out there. My therapist would tell me that I need to react differently; quit with the whole trying to control other people. She’s right, as usual, but that’s what I pay her for.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year, exploring religion and spirituality. I’ve been reading and contemplating and trying to understand how God might fit into my life. I’m still struggling mightily with what will work for me, in terms of melding beliefs with values, opinions and my own truths. That’s where I’ve hit a roadblock that’s really been bothering me.
My main struggle is with Christianity, since it’s by far the predominate religious practice in our country. Most Americans identify themselves with a Christian God and surveys indicate that about 80 percent of us say we believe in God. I don’t count myself among that 80 percent; while I am coming around to the idea of God/Creator, I don’t identify myself as a Christian. In fact, I am teetering on the brink of flat out rejecting much of modern American Christianity. From what I’ve seen and read, Christianity seems in the midst not of re-birth, but of stagnation and regression.
I’m disturbed by the attitude toward gays, in the name of religion. Gay people are just as much God’s children as any of us. To be segregated from your civil rights based solely on your sexual orientation and certain religious beliefs, is shameful. It’s puzzling to me how such cruelty can be inflicted in the name of a loving and forgiving God. In fact, it makes me so angry, that I’ve found myself saying and thinking things about my Christian friends that I’m ashamed of. I am beginning to bubble with the type of intolerance and judgement that I’m so disgusted with. The institutional religious persecution and rejection of gays in our culture is backward and ignorant.
Here’s another thing that got under my skin. The praising of God for the rescue of the Chilean miners. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it seems as if fervent religious belief shoves aside the amazing capacity of man to invent, innovate, problem-solve and act. MEN rescued those miners. I have no doubt that faith did come into play, as they waited underground for that rescue, but their salvation was not an act of God, it was an act of man, science and engineering. The earth didn’t open up and create a huge stairway for them to walk out of the mine. It’s unsettling to think that we are so quick to dismiss our intellect and capacity as humans in favor of something mystical.
Near our home in Fraser, Colorado, we had a fairly serious wildfire a couple of weeks ago that had the potential to cause a lot of damage. It was close to our home and we were warned that we might have to evacuate. Fortunately, the winds were light, there were extra fire crews in the area and it was contained before it turned into a major disaster. The crews were very well-trained and worked with military precision. Today, I’m reading the letters to the editor in our local newspaper and there was a rather long letter decrying the lack of thank yous to the one entity that saved us all from this disaster: God.
Now, if I were to follow this person’s logic, isn’t it equally possible that God started the fire? All I know is that I sat at the end of the cul de sac, watching huge tanker aircraft dropping tons of fire retardant for hours and hours. I saw spotter planes and helicopters dipping and dropping huge buckets of water on the blaze. Hundreds of hotshots were on the ground building fire containment lines. Those are the ones that all of us wanted to hug and to thank. Perhaps the letter writer’s prayers helped them along; I really have no idea, but I was bothered by the condescending tone heaped on all of us heathens for not publicly thanking God for sparing us.
Maybe I’m over-thinking; being closed-minded. Could be. I am in therapy and reading a lot of books trying to explain the meaning of life, so I guess I haven’t quite grasped it all yet. Here’s the bottom line with religion for me: it seems to endorse rejecting modern life. Science, technology and innovation seem to be cause for suspicion and fear. Mysticism and superstition seem more powerful to some and it scares me. Religion makes it okay to call homosexuals perverts and deny them access to rights that should be guaranteed thanks to the freedom and liberty promised us as Americans. God gave us brains, free will, and science to use for our betterment. He also made some of us a little different; I think maybe that’s a test from God to see how we’d handle people who don’t fit our ideal. Right about now, it would appear that we are getting a D.