Present Tense

Choosing my religion……

I’m not a religious person, although I think that I might like to be. That is why I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying, primarily about Christianity and Buddhism.  I’m exploring and asking questions of the people I know and I’m a little confused when I hear “I’m not religious, but I’m very spiritual”.  What?  So, basically, you can’t quite make up your mind?  I used to smoke a lot of pot back in my wild youth and it was certainly a ‘spiritual’ experience to sit in a beanbag chair, listening to Pink Floyd in the dark.  Wooooooowwwwwwww…….

If I’ve offended any of you ‘not religious, but spiritual’ types,  I hope you’ll forgive me.  I know that when I offend my Christian friends, they’re pretty forgiving; in fact, to all of my Christian friends, thank you for your patience with me.  I don’t really have any Buddhist friends (yet), but from what I’ve read, I suspect they would calmly tell me to quit striving, let go and accept that we all suffer together. Either way is cool with me.

I wasn’t raised with much of a religious education or background, although within my nuclear family we have a Catholic, an evangelical, a Baptist, a former Presbyterian and me, adrift and shopping.  Oh, yeah;  my husband and I were married in the Greek Orthodox Church.  So, when the urge to explore religion hit me recently, I automatically turned to Christianity with a touch of Judaism tossed in, thanks to the Old Testament.  I read a “bible for dummies” book to help me along, since I’m sadly ignorant when it comes to The Bible.  I also read some historical explorations about the stories in The Bible, along with archeological studies of  places mentioned in the Old Testament and it was really interesting.  I am hardly a biblical scholar, but now that I’ve read it, I do feel as if I have some idea what it’s all about.  I will be the first to admit that I need many more hours of study and guidance, before I can opine with even the tiniest bit of credibility about Christianity.

As I was browsing the religious section at the library recently, I came across the books about other religions and a powerful realization hit me:  I am a religious free agent.  Just because I live in a predominantly Judeo-Christian culture, doesn’t mean that’s what I have to be.  I know a bit more about Christianity thanks to growing up here and taking part in the religious holidays, although mostly from a secular perspective, but I’m really kind of a clean slate when it comes to religious beliefs.  I’m all grown up and I can read and study and pick the religion that speaks to me, personally.  That awakening was spectacularly powerful to me; I’ve always tried to embrace Christianity, but have never really ‘felt’ it like my friends or family who are devoted to Christ.

I’ve read several books about Buddhism and want to explore it further.  Buddhism does not worship God or a creator and one could make the argument that it’s more of a philosophy or spiritual practice, than a religion.  This means that before I even get very far in my quest, I’m already a religious hypocrite.  See above:  “not religious, but spiritual”.  It’s starting to dawn on me that this whole faith thing is harder than it looks!

So, I guess my question is this:  Do we choose our religion or does it choose us? My theory is that we gravitate toward the one that is most prevalent in our culture, but I would love to hear your thoughts as I continue my personal wrestling match with faith, religion, and spirituality.

March 6, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , , | 37 Comments


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