Thursday, October 11, 2007

Losing My Religion

Detail from a painting by Pisanello, 1436-1438Image via Wikipedia
The events of the past several days weeks have me listening to R.E.M.s "Losing My Religion" again. 
But, this ain't necessarily a bad thing.  I'm tired of the whole religion thing. [WARNING- RANT AHEAD]. 

This part of the song keeps cycling through my head:
That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight, I'm
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it

Oh no, I've said too much
I haven't said enough
I just can't keep up anymore. I've read tons  and tons of books on Christianity trying to make sense of it all. But, right now, I'm done with books on theology and I'm reading books on how to live a better life.  Trying to figure all this out just is too much for me:

  • Atonement theory- why did G-d need to kill someone?  Why an innocent?  Why can't G-d forgive without blood?  Why does He ask us to?  Will I go to Hell if I get it wrong?
  • Trinity- Is Jesus G-d?  Will I go to Hell if I don't believe He is?
  • Faith versus Works- Will people be sent to hell because they didn't believe.  Or will they be sent to Hell because they didn't act? (the parables that are supposed to be about Hell are all about actions, not confessing Jesus with your mouth).  Why didn't Jesus tell any parables where believers who acted like selfish idiots all their lives ended up in Heaven while non-believing people who loved their neighbors ended up in Hell?
  • Do you need to speak in tongues to show you've received the Holy Spirit?  It not, are you going to Hell?  Don't laugh.  A lot of people believe YOU are going to Hell if you haven't spoken in tongues.

And the list goes on.  But, you know what?  It's not these questions that have me losing my religion.  No.  Not at all.  Frankly, I'm fairly satisfied with the answers I have to these questions. Now, I'm able to move on to how do I live my life.  Maybe I'll come back to them.  Maybe I won't.  What has me losing my religion is the so-called "defenders of the Faith"  that keep telling me I don't have enough faith or I have the wrong faith.   I just can't take it any more.

What I've found is no matter how I answer these questions, someone is going to call me a heretic (not a "true Christian") and someone is going to say I'm going to Hell because I chose wrong.   Here's something even more amazing.  Even some Universalist Christians attack me and tell me I'm not a "true Christian" because I don't pass their true Christian test.  At least they don't tell me I'm going to Hell because I'm wrong. But, they don't hesitate to tell me I'm not a true Christian. 

If you think my experience is unique and no one's told you you're going to Hell or that you are not a true Christian, don't get all smug.  I guarantee you that if you exposed all your beliefs to the right people, you'd find some group or other (actually several) saying you're not a true Christian and that you're on the Highway to Hell.  Catholics think Protestants aren't true Christians.  Unitarians think Trinitarians are polytheists (not true Christians).  And, everybody knows the Mormons are a cult.  Those people don't even believe Jesus is G-d!

And, do you want to know the wackiest thing about Christianity?  That is besides the 30,000 plus denominations all telling each other they're not really the true Christians.  It's how we've gotten so brain-washed that we believe that when people feed us pure cow manure we think it's manna from heaven. The more illogical a concept, the more godly it must be.  I get this argument all the time.  A doctrine is so wacky and illogical that it would make normal people puke their guts out must be true because only G-d could come up with it.  Come on. G-d's mind is beyond ours.  His ways are above ours.  He didn't give us one type of logic and keep another type for Himself. Love is not hate in G-d's world. There is no darkness in G-d. I'm told that in the inscrutable mind of G-d would killing the innocent to satisfy the punishment of the guilty make sense.  In the mind of G-d, the smallest offense deserves a lifetime of Eternal Torment.  In the mind of G-d a creature that is made in imperfection with no hope of ever living a sinless life actually deserves torment for not doing more than it was created to be capable of doing. Asking me to live a sin free life or face eternal torment is like throwing a dog off a building and saying "Fly or die."   If a human did these things we'd not only call them illogical, we'd call them evil. But, black is white when it comes to G-d.  If the foolishness of a doctrine makes it more godlike how about this one?  At the end, G-d pulls a switcheroo and sends all the Christians (who lived good lives and believed all the right things) to Hell and all the non-believers and murderers to Heaven?  How's that for inscrutable?  What you don't like that?  How about G-d kills an innocent man and uses His blood to wipe out the debt of all the guilty?  Oh, wait.  You do like that one.

In case my pastor is reading this and is worried about me, I said I'm losing my religion.  I'm not losing my faith. I've found a remnant in Christianity that has given me meaningful, satisfying answers that are consistent with what I know to be the character of G-d.  More importantly, they've given me the room
to ask questions, to say "I don't know" and to even be wrong.  I love Christianity (as I understand it).  My faith remains strong.  Stronger in fact than it has ever been.  I've never had so much faith in G-d's person or Her nature. I've never had so much faith in G-d's inescapable love for me.  I've never loved Jesus more (I'm not in love with Him though- sorry Jesus).  I'm eternally grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for me.  (I'll write more on the foolishness of the cross later).  I've never been more secure in who am and and in who G-d made me to be.  I've never been more happy in a church than in the one I'm attending now.  But, I'm pretty much done with religion- as a system.  I am done with trying to be anyone's "true" Christian.  So, I'm not a true Christian. I really don't care anymore.

Christians love to say "I have relationship, I don't have a religion." There's only one word for that. I'll keep it rated G and say "cow manure". Christians are the most religious people on earth. (Allow me to paint with a broad brush here.  This is a rant after all).  Christianity has become a confusing maze of contradictory beliefs and practices that no one could possibly navigate.  Many Christian churches have more laws than the Jews could ever have dreamed of (don't wear this, don't drink that).  Not a religion!  Please!  There are some shocking statistics (shocking to some I guess) on how few people convert to Christianity as adults.  Most convert to Christianity as teens. Before they think critically.  For every year after the age of 25, the chances of becoming a Christian fall exponentially.  Read that again.  If you haven't become a Christian before you're 25, chances are you won't.  That used to shock me.  Not any more.  The older I get, the more I understand it.  If someone had presented all this to me in my mid-20s I would have told them, please pack up all you your Chick tracts and peddle this nonsense to someone else.  Given all the contradictory, illogical, exclusive and downright disgusting things being thrown around by the "defenders of the Faith", it's no wonder that thinking adults run away from them in droves. Thinking, feeling people exposed to these ideas as adults are repulsed by them.  If it were possible those "defenders" would have destroyed my faith by now. Thank G-d He has a firm grip on me and my faith.  But, I'm quickly losing my religion.  And I'm just fine with that.


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