It's easy enough to see the obvious divide between left and right in our country. But there are some things about human nature that don't manifest so clearly, especially in the area of religious debate.
I grew up in a household where we didn't attend church regularly. Oh sure, we'd make an appearance at the Presbyterian church once in a while, and almost always during the holidays. To this day my mom thinks that the reason I'm not a Christian is because we didn't go more often. But from a very early age, I simply hated church. I even got kicked out of Sunday school when I was four. When my mom asked me what happened, I said "they're liars, mom". Even then I felt a sense of deception amongst those who were there to teach me the "truth".
The rest of my family; mom, dad, and my four siblings, all found Jesus in some form or another. They found their salvation in the Catholic church, Mormon Temple, Lutheran Church and Baptist Church. I spent a few years in the Unity Church, which tends to call itself a Christian organization but is far too liberal to be considered Christian among the fundamentalists, or my mom. But even at my most liberal-chosen church I felt a sense of spiritual "famine" when it came to what they had to teach. Yet it wasn't as if I was on a quest to find my spiritual self, rather it was a search to find others who had found peace of mind in their beliefs, as have I.
I am not your typical Atheist, as I do believe that there is an organizing energy in the universe. I believe you can call that God. But I also believe it's perfectly acceptable to call him Barney Rubble or Bat Wing Snow Fish or whatever makes you happy. Matters not except to your own level of comfort.
Blasphemy, you say. Good for you. But the form my God takes bears no resemblance whatsoever to the God of my youth, nor to the God of any organized religion of which I am aware.
I have grown spiritually over the years. I have fed my mind with the possibility of unlimited possibility, and I read posts by others who get that. And what I see among all organized religions, from Christianity to Islam, is the idea that a book - any book - can contain enough information to sustain the human spirit. They cannot. What we are witnessing in the world of organized religion is spiritual starvation. And no matter how many times you consume the words on the pages of those books, eventually they lose all nutritional value.
I believe they have all lost it over the centuries. And we're left to try to eat the leather soles off the shoes that have carried us through the ages. Signs of a religious famine that are pretty unmistakable in my opinion.
First of all, I see Jesus Christ as a brand-name, and somebody forgot to check the expiration date on the carton, because it's gone bad. I realize how many Americans will react to a statement like that. But as this is America, I still have the freedom to say it.
Praise be to Bat Wing Snow Fish.
It seems every religion finds a savior to rally around, then they take the stories from the past and incorporate them into a new religious stew. It feeds people's spiritual needs for a while, but eventually the nutritional value wanes and the product goes stale.
Inevitably someone figures out that if you put a brand on your particular religion and sell it, it can make you wealthy. Very wealthy. So you have the Catholic Jesus brand, the Protestant Jesus brand, the old testament Jewish brand, the Muslim brand, the Book of Mormon brand, the L. Ron Hubbard Scientology brand. I don't know a lot about Eastern religions so I'll leave them alone for now. Not too many Buddhists or Hindi that I'm aware of smacking people over the heads with their books. However, the Muslim brand seems fair game, as that book seems to stir up a whole lot of controversy and mayhem, as does the Bible.
And of course there are brands within brands of such depth and breadth that I can't even begin to define them. Each and every one packaged and marketed to you, the spiritual consumer, based solely (or soul-ly) on your particular taste. If you grew up loving one particular brand, you might choose to stick with it. Kind of a family tradition. Or you may seek out other flavors and types, all with a similar recipe geared towards nourishing our limited human mind.
But as mankind evolves and changes, our spiritual nourishment needs to grow too. And nature provides all that we need. But there are some ideas that simply must change if we are to take advantage of it. Otherwise we're simply going to starve to death spiritually.
Firstly, we've got to stop buying the expired brands. They're simply not working as they should. And I know, I know... there is no way to the kingdom of heaven but through yada yada yada. Old. Expired. Of no nutritional value to me whatsoever. I've heard the pitch all my life. At this point I'd rather eat swamp mud. So often it seems that, especially among older brands, if you try and stray from the righteous path, there's somebody in place who will scare you back to the straight and narrow. And the scare tactics they use get more and more complex. Kind of started with that whole Hell thing. A tough act to follow, to be sure. But oh, how they do try. Because they don't want you to buy someone else's brand. Don't take it personally, as it's just business.
Secondly, we've got to stop being afraid of God. I have a very difficult time grasping the idea of any living creature on this planet - with the exception of man - fearing God. Animals fear a lot of things, but certainly not God. But of course we're special, designed to fear God. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't God that made us fear Him. Based on even the religious politics of our day, it seems that man is always the culprit behind the fear. It's never been more evident, as the further we stray, the louder and more fearful the rhetoric. If your God makes you afraid, then it's definitely time to find a new brand.
Thirdly, many people don't care a gnat's ass about your organized religion, so stop trying to instill your values on others. In exchange, they will agree not to try and sell you a box of oatmeal from 1966. It's expired goods, and only man packages it into a brand that grows stale and loses it's kick.
I don't believe that your God and my God and Muhammad's God and Sanjay's God are any different. Same nutritional value - that is unlimited - and you're welcome to pick the fruit from the tree at will, and you don't even have to believe in God to do it. Just don't dump it into a box, slap a label on it and say "my brand is better". Because what you get straight from the source is fresh. the menu always changes to give you what you need, and you don't have to dress up on Sundays.
After that, the only way you can ever starve spiritually is to invest all your faith and belief in a box of 44-year-old oatmeal.