Friday, August 1, 2008

Can I Get an Amen?

I believe in a higher power, I just don’t know what to call it. I’m spiritually adrift you might say, but I don’t really see it that way. I’ve studied many different religions in my quest to fill the hole created when I became aware that I didn’t buy into the theories of those around me. Some remained strictly academic, some kindled the warm and fuzzy, which signaled I might finally be on the right path, but all served a role in my spiritual growth. My hole is filled. Not with the Love of a single omnipotent Essence, but rather with the realization that there is no one true Holy Being and anyone who doesn’t worship them in the exact same way is wrong and therefore doomed for all eternity.

A God (or Goddess for that matter) is only as powerful as the belief of their followers and how far those souls are willing to go to protect or spread that belief. Wait… what? How can a creature that is omnipotent be rendered impotent by lack of belief? Let me rephrase: The NAME of that all-knowing higher power is only as powerful as the belief of its followers. Whether you evoke that name in your darkest hour or breathe it into a pillow as you ride a wave of bliss, it is only as potent as the belief you put behind it.

If you’ve found a definition, a name or even a face to put on that divine creature and it makes you feel whole, then I’m happy for you. I really am. Just don’t expect me (or everyone around you) to share that belief with blind devotion, but then… who am I to say you’re wrong?

I think this exchange sums it up best:

“Kyle, I am sure you are aware that the world is in horrible shape right now. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing a story about war or terrorists.”
“Or murder and just about any other crime imaginable,” Harold added, nodding his head for emphasis.
“Yeah, there seems to be a lot going on in the world right now,” Kyle agreed, letting out a sigh.
“Well, with all of this turmoil surrounding us everyday, it is easy to lose focus on what’s really important.”
“And what’s that?” Kyle’s eyebrow arched.

“Your relationship with God. There should be nothing more important in this world than that,” Harold explained.
“Kyle, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” Dan asked.
“There is no God,” Kyle said indifferently, causing both men to stare at each other in disbelief.

“Beg pardon?” Harold finally managed.
“There is… no… God. I know, I found it hard to believe to, at first anyway, but Nina showed me the light.”
“Who’s Nina? Is that who you worship now?” Other Kyle stared, eyes wide.
“Have you forsaken Jesus for a pagan goddess?” Harold was near flabbergasted.
“Are you a pagan goddess?” Kyle turned to look into the kitchen.
“You tell me,” Nina said, smiling back at him without moving from her chair. “I’ve been called worse.”

Harold craned his neck to peer into the kitchen. “Would you invite your friend in here to join us? Perhaps she could discuss some of her ideas with us.”
“Oh, I am sure she will join us shortly,” he agreed with a chuckle. “You have no idea how happy it will make her to visit with the two of you.”
“Perhaps some of the articles in here might help you to better understand that, not only does God exist, but with his love, the world doesn’t seem so… scary.” Harold handed him a copy of Watchtower Magazine.
“Are these actually quotes from the bible?” Kyle flipped through the pages with apparent interest.

“Yes, you can find a passage in the bible that can be applied to any situation that arises in your daily life.”
“It is as powerful today as it was when it was written,” Dan chimed in.
“More so,” Harold added.
“I have read the bible before, many times actually, but some of these quotes are a little… strange to me.” Kyle confessed.
“We use quotes from the new world translations of the Holy Scriptures,” Harold assured him.
Kyle laughed and shook his head as he continued to peruse the magazine.
“What’s so funny?” Harold asked hesitantly.
“So, what you are saying is that you had a team of people go through the bible and interpret meanings from scriptures that would further your cause.”

“We took no more liberties with the translations than the King James Version did.”
“I’m not saying you did, but we both know an interpretation is nothing more than one person’s view of what a passage is supposed to mean. Furthermore, if said person goes into the task with an agenda, i.e. recruiting others to share his beliefs, then his interpretation is going to be biased.”

“But it’s still the word of God. Surely, you—”
Kyle cut him short. “No, it’s man’s word. God has never put pen to paper. Every bit of scripture ever written was done so by a man.”
“Not just men, but men with a vision.” Harold attempted to defend his faith. “These words may not be directly from God’s hand, but they were clearly written by men who felt his presence. Surely, you can’t suggest—”

“They were still men with an agenda. They preyed on man’s fear of the unknown to coerce him into living what they felt was a moral life. They were nothing more than con-artists with great writing skills.”
“How can you say such a thing? Jesus Christ, the son of God himself, died so you could live and you dismiss such an act as nothing more than a con?”
Kyle laughed. “He didn’t die for me; he died because he pissed off the wrong people and didn’t know how to talk his way out of it.”
“Sir, I will not sit here and subject myself to such blasphemy any longer,” Harold said, rising from his seat.

“Oh, lighten up, Harold. I am just having a little fun with you. How can you expect to convince others to abandon their beliefs and follow yours without testing your own resolve?” Kyle motioned for him to return to his seat. “Besides, you still haven’t met Nina yet.”

I believe that someday I will die and I will be held accountable for my shortcomings and my deeds both good and bad. How I lived my live will determine what happens next. To that end, I live everyday as if it were my last, but I always try to do the “right” thing along the way. I know right and wrong are subjective and really boil down to a matter of perspective, but if it feels right to me, that’s all that matters in my mind. If I’m not breaking any laws and not infringing on the wellbeing of others, how bad could it really be? Will my rejection of well… most every organized religion I’ve ever heard of earn me eternal damnation? Maybe… but which hell would I be sent to?


  1. Fanaticism in any form is not a demonstration of holding the correct beliefs, but rather a demonstration of rigidity and rejection of differing beliefs.

    It leads to anarchy and loss of freedom when carried out to the extreme. I believe that each of us must seek out the Creator on our own, searching out truths to light our journey. Every man's quest for the truth will be different.

    Good blog, James.

  2. Your essay reminded me of an Urdu couplet:
    har zarra chamktaa hai Anvaar e Ilaahi se
    Har saans yeh kehti hai hum hain to khudaa bhi hai

    ( The light shines through every speck that exists/ And with every breath we take we become aware that as long as we are , God is )

    Very well put James! Only I feel, that accountability does not come in the end. It comes in this lifetime itself! karma will teach us a lot. The goal does not lie in the end of it all, but all along the path as we move onwards!

  3. Why does it have to be one or the other? Can't we have accountability all the way through and at the end? Can't those moments of accountability redirect us along our life's path to an ultimate goal for which we settle up at the end?

    Obviously I have a faith perspective on this subject. I can see the points of views of others while I have happily settled into my own. I can't imagine being unclaimed, drifting between truth and falsehood without knowing how to steady myself.

    Good blog James. I think you put words to things many believe but won't say aloud for fear of rejection. It's a shame that the fear exists but then, like your passage, there are many who will jump on the attack if they know you disagree. It's unfortunate and highly unattractive to the faith they are meant to represent.

    So a question... is this THE Kyle? The one with the MySpace account??

  4. Cindy!!!! You don't know what you are asking for!!! :D

    Isn't it so James ;D

  5. Interesting. Like Kelly, I come from a faith perspective and find the whole "create your own religion" thing to be puzzling. There either is Truth, or there is not. And if there is not, then how can anyone declare *anything* to be wrong? For something to be wrong, there must be a right against which to compare it.

    I'm not saying there's necessarily only one way to cross the finish line, whatever that might be, or that the way I have chosen is the right one. But "a little of this and a little of that" just doesn't work for me spiritually or logically.

    I wonder how many other people find Kyle as offensive as the Mormons in your little dialogue. He is just as close-minded and dogmatic in his beliefs as they are. Is that intentional, or is he supposed to be "enlightened" and therefore excused from such things as courtesy, willingness to listen, etc.?

  6. Organized religion was "organized" by men with an agenda. That has been my view for a very long time. I believe in the Holy Spirit but HE/SHE is interpreted differently, by different religions. I've done numerous studies on the Book of Revelations both in the classroom and on my own. While certain sects sell all their worldly possessions every few years, I'm wondering if these writing were perhaps the first work of paranormal fiction.Sorry. That's just my take on it. John didn't like the Romans and I believe this was a text created to warn of Roman not some portent of doom for future generations.

    As always James, a thoughtful post and I wholeheartedly agree.

  7. Revelation (no "s") is certainly full of coded words and phrases (666, the number of the beast, is code for the Emperor Nero, for example), obscure references, and cannot possibly be interpreted literally. You'll find very few people who do. Doesn't mean there's not some Truth to be found there.

  8. Of what use is a revelation that cannot be understood except by a few who understand code language & know decoding?

    Religion is meant for the masses & not just the code experts!

  9. There's enough that's understandable to make it of value. As with most important writing, there are depths and degrees of meaning and different ways of understanding things.

    What might have meant one thing to the early church could have an equally valid meaning to the modern church.

    I am equally impatient with those who say that the Bible must be and can only be read literally as those who say that it has no value whatsoever.

  10. Well put, Anny.

    Mona, I love that couplet and I really like the idea of Karmic justice.

    Kelly, yes it THE Kyle. :D

    lol, Cindy she's one helluv gal, but I don't know if I'd ever want to meet her. :D

    lol, Mona that is correct.

    There either is Truth, or there is not. And if there is not, then how can anyone declare *anything* to be wrong? For something to be wrong, there must be a right against which to compare it.

    Elissa, that's exactly my point and as there is no way to prove one Truth, then we can not say that any religion is wrong... or right for that matter.

    whether the religion you place your faith in is right, is really of no concern as long as it is "right" for you.

    lol, no Kyle is far from "enlightened". He is a bumbling oaf and yes, he embraces his beliefs with the same blind devotion as his visitors.

    writing were perhaps the first work of paranormal fiction Oooh, that is a very intersting take on it, Regina.


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