Wednesday, September 2, 2009

religion, spirituality or whatever you want to call it...

I openly admit to not being a religious person.  Not that I haven't attended my fair share of church services...I was baptized Catholic, confirmed Methodist and have experienced several other denominations along the way.  In fact during my early adolescence, I had a really good time meeting some really good people at church.  It was in the United Methodist church that I attended when I was between the ages of 10-14 that I realized that church didn't have to be the stuffy hypocritical experience that I found the Catholic church to be.  At Sunday school we talked about the crazy partying some of the older kids did the night before and there was the expected hooking up on the youth group ski trips and overnighters with other churches.  I also attended a christian summer camp where I again, met some really good people and had a really good time, even learning about the Bible and Jesus Christ...overall, I cannot say I personally have had a 'bad' experience with religion. 

So, why do I say I'm not 'religious?'  I guess mostly it's because of the underlying hypocrisy of most of the organized religions out there.  That, and the judgement...I mean, I haven't read it cover to cover, but I know there is something in the Bible about not judging.  Yet, I see people using religion all the time to judge, persecute, and otherwise hate (another topic, I'm pretty confident is covered in the Bible as something not to do).  Now, I am fully aware of the cropping up of new churches taking a new spin on religion not only to lure more attendees (in case you haven't heard, churches are really hurting for followers...seems I'm not the only one feeling a little bored with main stream religion), but also to feed the overwhelmingly obvious appetites of the new 'spirituality.'

Spirituality, a word that used to be associated with new age, hippy, off the deep end, holistic medicine, incense burning folk living out in the desert tripping on peyote.  It is now a word that is becoming more and more common to our vernacular.  It's a word I associate better with than religion, since it seems to encompass more than just a belief in God, Allah, Buddha, etc.  To me it embraces the entirety of beliefs out there.  Do I believe in "God?" I really don't know (I lean more toward no), but do I believe in something, bigger than you or I? Yes, it's nearly impossible to deny that we are surrounded by forces beyond our control, be it mother nature, the universe, whatever you want to call it. So why must I put a name on it?

The topic of religion is becoming more of an issue around our house now that we have a child, as we both feel it is our responsibility to introduce her to all sorts of options out there and not force our beliefs or lack there of on her.  Not only that, but let's face it, for the most part, the average church has a good deal of good people attending them and can that be all bad.  Church is more than religion, it is a sense of community, connectedness, security...all the things that we as humans truly need to live a fulfilling life.  So how do two non-religious people introduce religion to their child while remaining unbiased?  I think it comes down to the golden rule, which I think most religions are supposed to be teaching but somehow it gets lost along the way...being a good person, someone who doesn't judge others, who helps those in need, who lives their life with integrity, and truly treats others as they would want to be treated.

But why do we need religion to live our lives this way?  Sometimes I feel like I live my life with more integrity than a lot of the crazy right wing religious fanatics that get all the pub.  I mean really, bombing abortion clinics, saying that AIDS and the war in the middle east is "God's" pay back for homosexuality?  How are these acts supported by anything Jesus Christ preached or lived his life by...and how can anyone who calls him their 'savior' truly believe that they are doing "God's" work?  This is when I get really frustrated with the middle of the road, honest to goodness, good people that truly live their lives as Christians...why are you letting these nut cases high jack your religion and beliefs and represent them to the world?

In the end, I'm sure we will find our own way of showing our daughter the good, the bad and the ugly, all while encouraging her to make her own decision as she sees fit. Either way, we will be teaching her to be a good person, to be honest, to be grateful and to never judge. As any parent does, we will do our best to set a good example by doing ourselves what we expect of her.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog, I love the way you write! I too, struggle with this topic, and Billy and I discussed this as well, when we thought about being parents. He was raised in a very religous household, I was raised not in the church, but spiritually, as you say. I think God is everywhere, and in everyone. I think that you and C. will be fantastic examples for S.