Present Tense

What am I missing here??

How do I say this diplomatically?  Oh well, it’s my blog, with my name on it so, here goes.  The more I read and the more I study about major religions, the less inclined I am to call myself a ‘believer’.  Okay, I know; some of you just spit out your coffee.  In fact, I probably just insulted many of you and I’m sorry.  Really.

I wrote about my decision to end my ignorance of religion/spirituality several months ago. I wrote of my desire to embrace religion and that I was going to study with an open mind, with the goal of embracing faith.  I have now completed my own circle; I’m right back where I started.  Faithless.  But, there’s a difference now.  I read the Bible, I read about the Bible, I read about archeological attempts to find some of the locations mentioned in the Bible.

I read numerous Buddhist texts, began meditating, read about Islam and Judism.  I spoke to a lot of people about their beliefs and their faith. I asked a lot of questions of others and of myself.  I still don’t get it.  I tried; I opened my mind and listened and reflected, but belief is a choice that I can’t make.  Maybe I’m not smart enough to embrace faith.  That’s a distinct possibility.  Or maybe I’m too literal or too cynical or too selfish.

The bottom line for me is this:  nobody knows what happens when we die.  Nobody.  Yes, many “believe” in an afterlife.  They have faith that there is more awaiting us after our time on earth.  But, that’s not knowing.  I don’t know what will happen when I die. What I do know is that all of us die and it would appear that since the dawn of time, man has struggled to accept that we all have a limited amount of time on earth and wouldn’t it be great if death isn’t the end.

And then there’s the problem with science and knowledge that can directly refute many religious beliefs.  Now what?  Well, it’s been explained to me that things happened in “God time”, which none of us can really understand.   That’s kind of convenient, isn’t it?  So, it’s back to faith or belief in things that seem for lack of a better word,  unbelievable.

Seriously, I’m not trying to be irreverent.  These are the things that have occurred to me as I dug into religious beliefs.  How can one be so sure about something that is such a huge leap of faith?  I can’t.  I tried.  It seems to me that we’re given our time on earth and for many of us, it’ll average around 70-80 years.  We make choices, good and bad; we live our lives as best we can.  Isn’t that enough?  Why are we so greedy as to demand that our lives never end?  Why do we insist on believing in something that we can never know?  I realize that religions give us rules and ethics and teach us compassion, but in the 21st century, don’t we already know those things?

Think about this:  most major religions were born in a time of extreme barbarism and ignorance.  People actually believed that natural disasters were the work of some god or goddess or demon that was angry with the humans.  By the same token, they believed that some sort of offering or sacrifice would ensure a good hunt or better crops.  We know better now, don’t we?  Probably not; as humans we struggle to explain the unexplainable.  We struggle to love our fellow man.  We struggle to nurture the better parts of our humanity.  Seems like the Golden Rule is a pretty good place to start.

July 9, 2010 - Posted by | Musings

12 Comments »

  1. Very eloquently put, Jane. Your blog is always such a pleasure to read!

    Comment by rachel weech | July 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Rachel, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
      j

      Comment by janelondon | July 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. Jane:
    Don’t apologize. Congratulatons on being interested enough to embark on the journey. You will never be able to back to the place where you started – so embrace where you are now -but I will encourage you to stay on the journey. Everything that you have said about “religion” is true. I hope that you will embark on a journey of spirituality with the same gusto. You are surrounded by beauty, people who love you and potential for a deep spiritual experience. Pursue that -not belief in something that is out of reach for you right now. Good luck and keep moving.
    Amy

    Comment by Amy | July 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Amy, that’s about where I am. My issue is with the dogma and rigidity inherent in religion. I used to make fun of people who proclaimed, “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual” and now, that’s me! Who knew, right? But, that’s another blog post:)
      Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.
      j

      Comment by janelondon | July 10, 2010 | Reply

      • Jane:
        It is my belief that the only constraints ever placed on God’s grace have been placed there by man. Since the beginning of societies – those seeking to control the masses have used access to the prevailing God as a tool for controlling behavior and money. Cultures have “spiritualized” things they could not control, i.e., weather, death, illness, etc. Science has brought those of us in developed nations to a different place. Now, we primarily struggle with religion and spirituality as a matter of the hereafter. However, many still seek to control access to God as vehicle for superiority and entitlement. For me, I see God everywhere, in the mountains, the trees, Evergreen Lake, my friends faces, strangers that catch my eye. I believe that God is in all of us and that whe we notice this beauty or even suffering around us – it is God – showing us and opening our eyes to see our world – moving us to feel joy or sorrow and perhaps take action to right a wrong or feed the hungry,etc. Wow – that was a lot more than I intended to say.
        Amy

        Comment by Amy | July 10, 2010

  3. Jane,

    Thanks for capturing exactly what I’ve believed for years. My ‘heaven’ will be the positive memories people will have of me once I pass. I will die knowing that I have treated others the way I want to be treated and that will be enough.

    Sarah

    Comment by Sarah | July 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. Jane,

    You just summed up all my own conclusions afters years of studying religion and spirituality. I cannot tolerate the dogma or the rigid controls of organized religion. It all just chafes me raw and annoys my very independent mind. I do believe there is some kind of divine power that exists all around us and within us, but I just can’t believe that any one group of people has some sort of special access or monopoly to it. Yes, nobody knows what happens when we die. I just hope it’s something good. It’s one of two things I guess: we go on living in some other form (pure energy maybe?) or we’re just dead and that’s the end. Maybe somebody came up with the idea of an afterlife to make us all behave (like that ever works).

    Comment by Roxanne Rieske | July 10, 2010 | Reply

  5. I think you may have me blocked from posting here anymore…an understandable result of a debacle in another post. But since I continue to see updates on your blog in my inbox I guess you might still be interested in some views from this crazy man.

    Jane…you asked “What am I missing here??” Honestly, I don’t think you are missing anything. I think you finally “got it”!

    There is a wonderfully insightful movie by Bill Maher entitled “Religulous”. He digs at the “big three” and does so with incredible humor as well. I think he also, finally, “got it”! His piece nicely sums things up in a very fun way. But contains a very serious message/warning to “believers”.

    Comment by Greg | July 11, 2010 | Reply

  6. Jane, I am a Life Coach. I work through ONTOLOGY. Although the study of Theology and Psychology are useful, I think what you might be looking for is based out of Ontology (the study of the state of being). There are many branches of metaphysical studies; Theology, Astrology, Cosomology, Psychology, and also Ontology. Looking at Ontology doesn’t solve the mysteries of life after death nor does it look at religious beliefs, but I find that spiritual principles arise out of ontology.

    It is also different that psychology, which looks largely at the psych of the human being (finding out what is wrong with you and finding ways to move past it). I found that once I stepped out of psychology and into ontology, that I was able to see things differently. Psychology, which we’re are all good at, really focuses on the dogma. Ontology focuses on you, despite the dogma.

    Worth looking into anyway. 🙂 Studying ontology, through the two years of my Life Coaching training, changed my life.

    Comment by Cyndi Schmillen | July 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Cyndi:
      Thanks for the note. Are there any books that you might recommend?
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | July 11, 2010 | Reply

      • Jane, I highly recommend “Mastering Life’s Energies” by Dr. Maria Nemeth for a good starting point in this area. She also wrote “The Energy of Money” which is also good.

        Cyndi

        Comment by Cyndi Schmillen | July 11, 2010

  7. I don’t know. I mean, really? We now need coaches to get us through this life thing? Seriously?

    Maybe so. What do I know? I guess things are now so complicated we cannot, any longer, get along on our own. Is this so? If I hear a ‘yes’ then that really depresses me. We apparently have outstripped our natural-born abilities to be here as healthy humans. Did I say that really depresses me? This cannot be true. God forbid this is true.

    Did the coach leave a phone number? Maybe I need to call…

    Comment by Greg | July 11, 2010 | Reply


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