I have been thinking a lot about religion lately, and I'm not sure why. A large part of my brain still tells me that it's bunk. God is right up there with unicorns, in odds of existing. There are a hundred reasons mankind would make up a god and no real reason to believe one exists. But still, it's in my head. I come across articles like this, and this, that make me think maybe it's possible to believe in God without being a Christian. The reason I don't want to be called a Christian, even if I end up believing in Jesus in the end, is the same reason I don't want to be called bi, even though I like both guys and girls; too many people have their own definitions for the label. I think Ghandi said it best when he said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
My family is, if you go back far enough on my father's side, Amish. I think that must be mapped into my brain because big shiny churches with flashy gymnasiums and sound systems just strike me as being too Earthly, too materialistic, for God. Spend the money on charity and get yourself one room full of pews with an altar at the front. Let people come in who want to talk about God, and stop trying to lure kids in against their wills with basketball games and rec rooms. I think religion and prayer should be solemn, and I think trying to make it fun is a little undignified. But then, I don't believe people have to be Christian to get into Heaven (assuming Heaven and God exist). In my world, God doesn't discriminate based on geography, and if you boil it down that's what it comes to when you say a person has to pay lip service to Jesus to get in. (After all, what's worshiping but paying lip service?) It's saying that Hindu children raised in India by Hindu parents, taught from birth that Hindu beliefs are the immutable truth, are going to be sent to Hell through no fault of their own while Christian kids raised by Christian parents in the US will get into Heaven. It's luck of the draw and it sucks and it's not how my God, if I had one, would act.
My God also wouldn't make gay people and then send them to Hell. Either he wouldn't fuck with them that way, or he's that callous and then doesn't really give a shit who we want to fuck. And don't give me the Loving Father BS. My mother loves the hell out of me and only has 2 kids, and she doesn't care what movie stars I think are hot, yet God has billions of children and is deeply concerned with who wants Brad vs who wants Angelina. I don't buy it.
That brings me to a book. A friend of mine went out a got me a book, and then hand-delivered it to my house, that really helped her out. This book gave her something she really needed, and I thought "Great, I'll read it and see if it doesn't help me out, too." And I think I got maybe 3 pages into it, which made me sad because I had high hopes, even after I recognized the author's name. But I couldn't get past the intro because the basic premise seemed to throw me off. The book said that God had planned for that moment to happen, for me to be sitting their reading that book (did God know I was going to be on the toilet at the time, or was that just a surprise?), and that God planned for me to heed the words in the book. God designed that moment of my life.
And.... that's when he lost me. Right there, right away. Because even though I can kind of believe in a God who cares how people are, and even though I can sort of nod at the notion of a God who might hear me if I pray, I can't swallow the idea that God cares about every moment of my life, or every opinion I form, or even every choice I make. Because what a colossal waste of time that would be for God! I mean, there are tides of corpses washing ashore in Japan right now, nuclear plants are popping like popcorn, and God cares what I read on the crapper? Sorry, I can't buy it. I'm more of a blurry vision, cynical, sort of theologist. I believe that God (again, if there is one) waits until you're dead and then sort of takes in the whole picture, not the individual moments. You know those pictures they do where it looks like a vaguely pixelated photo of someone but when you look closer it's a thousand little photos of them? I think God looks at the overall collage, not the thousand little photos. Stole gum once? Cured cancer? Never baptised? I don't think it's a hard call for God to make, and I don't think he's sending cancer-guy to Hell. But I do think that some sins are bad enough, over arching and far reaching enough, to be noticed individually. I think some sins become character traits and for that reason color the whole collage. And I think, in a religious sense, that Pride is the worst.
Not Pride as in "I did a really good job on that; I'm proud of it" but rather the Pride that leads people to believe that they can speak for God, that they know His plan and that they share His opinions. No one, even preachers, knows God's plan. And I have the greatest respect for those people who honestly can say, "I don't know why God made this or did this, but I have faith that He has His reasons." And I have no respect for those who say, "God doesn't do those things and He wouldn't approve of it." But then, that's the Amish in me. They believe that hard times are God's way of making us strong, and that His complications and contradictions are to keep us humble and remind us that we can't see His mind.
I don't like mean set your ass on fire God. I like loving just be nice to each other God. And hopefully someday I'll find him. But not today, and not in the book my friend was so nice as to give to me. Too bad no Quakers are Prideful enough to take it upon themselves to write a book about God. Oh, Irony, thou art annoying.