Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My hands float up above me.

I only write about the things that interest me and avoid topicz that put me to sleep. Thus why the majority of mah blog postz revolve around pop culture, bookz & dumbazz YouTube videoz, and why politics, social issues & religion nary make an appearance. But after going through some heavy, tragic schtuff earlier this summer, I've found myself thinking a lot about the latter of those three usually-snorefest subjectz.

Religion has always been sumfing I've been aware of, but never cared enough about to ponder over. Everyone always wants to blab about it, warz are fought over it and people base their entire livez off of it, but I've always been deaf to it. The way I see it, I don't subscribe to any specific beliefs, but still respect (and somewhat admire) those that devotedly believe in their faith. However (just like A Perfect Circle), I roll my eyez a thousand timez @ peepz that blindly follow religion like an obligation.

I don't judge peepz that want to go to church, or study this religion or practice that religion, but I would hope that their hearts are fully committed, and it's not just sumfing they routinely slug off to like a familial tradition they secretly wish they could give up to. And I hope that they wouldn't judge me for not goin' to church, but instead watching an entire season of The Simple Life in one seating while taking Fla.Vor.Ice shooterz in mah underooz.

After losing a friend earlier dis summer, I started thinking about faith and I found myself listening to "All Around Me" by Flyleaf & "Alive" by P.O.D. on repeat. Both are Christian hard rawk bandz and while the songz are obviously focused on Mr. Christ, I still got some personal resolution from them. I found myself taking their messages of gratitude and perseverance and injecting it into my own life, without getting that awkward "I'm not religious but some major God fanatic is lecturing me about sin and heaven and hell and trippy naked winged-babies"-kind of feeling.

What about you folkz? Do you have a specific creed? If so, what does it bring to your life? If not, what is your opinion on organized (or unorganized) religion?!


Tam said...

I'm an atheist. I don't believe in a god or afterlife, I do believe in the Golden Rule. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

I don't feel a need for another power to explain things. To thank a god when a Dr. saves a life. Give the man the credit he deserves. I know it works for some people but it's never been something I felt lacking in my life. It works for me, for my immediate family.

I just detest people who claim to be religious then turn around and hurt people either physically or mentally or emotionally. How can you be religious and rape a child, steal money from your friends or beat someone up because they don't believe what you do? In my mind there is no way to ever justify the two and it's just a big fat lie. However there are some really good people out there who do good things for the world in the name of religion and more power to them, it's just not my thing.

I know it's "easy" for me as a Canadian. Someone would rather die than ask you what church you attend or what religion you practice. It's just NOT DONE. Ever! I know in parts of the US though that's common and having to explain you don't believe can be tricky.

john said...

I have no problem with religion, but I have a significant problem with organization of religion. I was raised Catholic, but no longer practice. I have major issues with the Catholic Church (drug addiction is a sin? Completely inappropriate.) as well as several other organizations.

I don't have a problem with people identifying with a spiritual framework, I just with they would use it to guide their own lives, not tell other people to how to live theirs.

Chris D. said...

I REALLY LOVE when you share your serious side with us! :)

Sorry if this is boring or too long, but:

I think how one is raised has a great impact on one's views about religion. I was raised Episcopalian, while it is one of the more liberal branches of Christianity, it still has quite a bit in common with Catholicism (which was my Father's background).

When I was a young boy and feeling very hurt by the world, I fell on my belief in God for support. I prayed and I prayed for God to take away my pain, or set me free from my earthly torture chamber. I cried myself to sleep many nights with a cross clutched in my hand, praying that I would wake up to a better day. It seemed like God never helped me with the biggest things, no matter how hard I prayed. How could a loving God let an innocent little kid suffer so much?

As I learned more about history and politics I became keenly aware of the flaws of the Church. While God may perfect be it was clear that the Church was imperfect. Religion has been used as a powerful tool for the furtherance of deeply evil (or sometimes just horribly misguided) causes for thousands of years.

In my teens I started to feel more distant from my church despite attending services every Sunday, even serving as an acolyte. It was just a family obligation. I didn't feel connected anymore.

I started reading philosophy more, and making a conscious effort to disarm myself of the religions biases with which I had been indoctrinated.

I had a great religious philosophy discussion with the first guy that I fell in love with, right before we hooked up for the first time. The cognitive and emotional intimacy we had in that discussion lead me to be open to our physical intimacy. It was amazing! :) I have not found anything like that since. :( But, I haven't given up. :)

I don't accept any religious publications as the word of God. There was a whole ugly tainted bureaucratic process that went into the selection of what is considered the Christain Bible. The bible is an important historic document. While there is some total rubbish in there, there are also some great parables. I use my own mind to pick the wheat from the chaff.

I don't try to personify God anymore. These days I see God as more of an abstract force beyond my ability to define. Whatever is the basis for all the laws of physics may be God. Whatever is the origin of everything may be God. The intangible connection that sentient organisms have to each other may be God.

I don't expect God to fix things for me anymore. I am the master and commander for the ship of my life. If I am unhappy then I am responsible for fixing it. However, sometimes I still do pray. I see prayer now as more of a kind of meditation. It is a way to think about what I really want from life.

I aspire to be the best person I can be, and to treat others well because it makes me feel good. I don't know if there is a heaven, hell or nothing. I do beleive that when we die we will live on in the hearts and minds of all the people we have touched.

My views are mostly that of Humanism. I don't mind religion that doesn't cause harm. Unfortunately, many religions try to impose their moral beliefs upon EVERYONE. This is a big challenge to marriage equality. Some regions can make people hate themselves for who they are. That is very destructive! Some gay people will NEVER find real love because their religion tells them it is wrong. Some religious cults encourage young girls to be married off to much older men. There some very sick and misguided religions out there.

I encourage people to test their own beliefs, to hold them under the lens of their own God given mind. I really like the Tennyson quote, "Faith lives in honest doubt".

Mel said...

I was raised Presbyterian, but I always found the whole faith thing left me flat. Then in my mid-20s I started reading about Taoism and Buddhism, which made a lot more sense to me. No need to believe in Bearded White Man in the Sky or anything like that - just living right and doing the right thing and not really worrying about things like Heaven and Hell that may or may not be real and that are outside your realm of influence anyway. Ideally I'd like to have a regular meditation practice, but I do yoga and run and let those serve that purpose in the meantime. Ritual is only important to the extent it reminds you of the core tenets of your belief system.

Of course, I still have a couple close friends and mentors who are Christian clergy (Episcopal priests, actually), but they're also more about living their beliefs than being all preachy, whiny, which is really the way it should be.

callonmevalerie said...

I'm not going to make the obvious Stacie Orrico comment . . . oh, yes I am.

I don't think you need to have a religious following or belief to take the songs created in such a vain to heart. There are some songs that are lyrically obvious, and some that hint at it. As cheesy as the song itself is, and knowing her background as a contemporary Christian singer, I still think the lyric "there's gotta be more to life/than chasing down every temporary high" is a nice sentiment that doesn't necessary mean the "more" has to be a higher power.

As a musician first, and an athiest, I can still love and appreciate songs written with a religious context, and take them outside of that context and appreciate them on my own terms.

Growing up in, what I like to call, a "house of science," I'm not apt to believe things that I see no proof in existing. But just because you're not religious doesn't mean you have no sense of morals, or spirituality in the world around you. Music has been my religion and has been what has gotten me through the hardest parts of my life. I suppose melody and harmony are the more to life that I need.

Also - why no Evanescence reference?!

Polt said...

I'm spiritual, not religious. To me, this means I believe in God, I pray to him and ask his help and to help others. I read the Bible and have a presonal relationship with him. I do NOT however follow any organized religion. Nor do I need some guy in a pulpit in front of me one day a week to tell me what God wants from me. I can find that out myself, thank you very much.

And I've found that those who wear their religion on their sleeves and insist on telling everyone ALL about it, are those that usually act least like someone who is following that religion.


anne marie in philly said...

nothing wrong with religion, but ORGANIZED religion is a major PITA!

me - raised catholic, quit in 1977 after I moved away from the parents. have no desire to go back, nor to find another church. not sure if god exists. I prefer to find my own way; I choose NOT to have your (universal 'your') way crammed down my throat.

the golden rule is the best guidepost EVAH! and the only one you need, quite frankly.

{{{{{hugs}}}}} to josherz!

tornwordo said...

So deep oh noooz! I keep it pretty simple. I owe my existence to the Universe and closer to home, the Sun and the Earth. And there are only two prayers that I have for them. Help! and (most of the time)Thank you!

Melody, Destroyer of Dreams said...

I do not believe in organized religion. I find the idea of organizing something as vast as spirituality to be a silly and futile human effort. I really have no problem with others practicing-although I have huge problems with many things that somehow get connected to religion such as money, greed, war, death, raping, shame, prejudice, etc...the list is endless and exhaustive. I think there is something special about our universe-but I do not have any specific way to describe it. All I need to blow my mind is knowing that there was no beginning of time and there will be no end of time. The universe is infinite. I truly think spirituality and science coexist in a lovely marriage that most of humanity (including myself) simply does not understand yet. I think perhaps there may be a day when we understand better the way that energy works and how infinite mathematical equations help to show us this (pi, the golden ratio). Basically organized chaos and a constant recycling of all the energies and forces that create the universe as a whole. Perhaps one day science will truly make the connection between all things we don't understand yet: ghosts, psychic abilities, possession, deep meditation, black holes, dark matter, aliens, how the universe was formed, out of body experience-etc. But who knows-I could be totally wrong haha.

Michelle M. said...

Religion. Hmm... You're going to make me think. I'm on the bandwagon with the anti-organized religion commenters. And as long as someone doesn't try to cram their religion down my throat/convert me/think everyone who doesn't believe what they do is going to hell/act superior/sacrifice small animals and children, then what they believe is fine to me. But the older I get, the more I think people should just keep their beliefs to themselves.

Having said that, I don't really know what to believe. Is there life after death? Will I float around in the clouds? Rot in hell? Come back as an armadillo? I guess I'll find out when I die. And maybe not even then.

Justin said...

Great post, Josh! Awesome way to get everybody thinking and talking about such an interesting subject :)

I'm "on the bandwagon with the anti-organized religion commenters" too. And like Tam, I'm an atheist and I don't believe there is any life after death.

The word "atheism" is kind of misunderstood, though. I usually call myself an "agnostic" because many people seem to take the word "atheist" to mean "I am certain that god doesn't exist" -- which sounds arrogant -- whereas really it just means "I lack the faith that god exists". I am not *certain* there is no god or afterlife; I just don't have the belief that they do. Sometimes I have *really* wished I had that faith -- I think it must be very comforting to have something like that to believe in; but I've just never been able to.

I can say some things I definitely believe are *not* true. I believe that god has *not* "revealed" himself to anybody -- not to Abraham or Moses or Jesus or Mohammed. I believe that *all* of the "scriptures" of all religions are man-made.

I also share Regina Spektor's opinion that an awful lot of people seem to use god as a wish-granting genie -- Lisa refers to this as "god as the universal concierge". It's especially offensive when people pray to god for their high school football team to win or something -- why should god punish the players of the other team? Their parents? Their friends? It's absurd. Then of course you have people purporting to be christians praying to have a plane crash because it's got a liberal politician on it or something -- apparently it's ok for god to sacrifice the lives of all the innocent bystanders on the plane just because of the evil devil-worshipping democrat :)

If there happens to be a life after death, I'll be very pleasantly surprised. Until then, I think it makes sense to just act as if there isn't. If this life is all we have, then we might as well make the best of it, and treat one another as well as we can. I don't need to believe in hell to think that I should behave like a decent person in this life. I don't need to believe in a reward like heaven to do that either.

There was a movie once that also made me realize how ... intellectually incoherent a lot of the ideas about heaven and the afterlife. One was "Life With Father" with William Powell and Irene Dunne. One major sub-plot involves Irene Dunne's character trying to get her husband to get baptized (or, as he pronounces it, "bap-TIZED") because she's very upset by the thought of being in heaven knowing all the time that her beloved husband is writhing in the torments of hell for eternity.

Now, how does that work precisely? Heaven is *BY DEFINITION* a place of perfect joy and happiness in which there is no pain or suffering of any kind. If people who didn't happen to believe the right things or follow the right rituals go to hell, then what happens to all the people who loved them that went to heaven? If they spend eternity miserable that their loved ones are in hell, then it's not really heaven for them, is it? If they don't care about their loved ones, then ... they kinda don't really deserve to be in heaven in the first place ... The whole concept breaks down.

Justin said...

About organized religion, one of my favorite stories involves a friend of mine (Hanna) who grew up in Poland. She's Jewish and all four of her grandparents were the sole survivors of their respective families from the holocaust.

Her eldest daughter married an American Irish guy (Liam) some years ago and when Hanna and her husband met Liam's mother for the first time, they discovered that Liam's mother was *very* conservative and a huge Bush supporter. One of her biggest reasons for being Republican was that, in her words, "The Democrats are so anti-religion". Then she said "After all, what harm has religion ever done anybody?"

This in the house of a granddaughter of holocaust survivors ... (not to mention, what about the crusades, 9/11, the 40 years war, the inquisition, the "Troubles" in Ireland, etc. etc. etc. etc.?)

My last comment has to do with souls and pets and heaven. Of course it is the official position of all or most major religions that only human beings have souls and animals don't.

As far as I'm concerned, though, heaven simply won't BE heaven if there are no dogs in it. If my dogs aren't in heaven waiting for me when I die, then, well, I'm ok with not going there :)

Sexy Trash said...

"And I hope that they wouldn't judge me for not goin' to church, but instead watching an entire season of The Simple Life in one seating while taking Fla.Vor.Ice shooterz in mah underooz."

I just spit out my wine. Wine at 1:00 am on a Tuesday. By myself. You are fantastic. I, on the other hand, am just an alcoholic.

jagira said...

I know it is "easy" for me as a Canadian. Someone was going to die rather than ask you to church or religion you practice. It's just not done.

Anonymous said...

Melody, I'm in total agreement with you, but you already know this because we talked a lot about this very topic! I believe everything that people think is spiritual, metaphysical (i.e. chakras, energy fields, third eye, auras...the list goes one) can be eventually explained by science. Religion serves two basic purposes: 1) to provide comfort in the fact that our lives are meaningful, and death isn't the end but a beginning 2) to explain things that we have difficulty explaining or to even comprehend. Then of course I can get all psychoanalytic, and make the argument that religion eventually takes the place of the "parental figure" in providing comfort & answers by praying to a God (I believe that is part of Carl Jung's theory if I'm not mistaken). Anyway, back to science, to physics, I feel that is why yoga, meditation, and other practices like it are so amazing, because it addresses something that I believe is real, tangible, and explainable. The connection of the mind and body. Not that I've been practicing it myself lately, but once school is over, I would like to get back into again.

I went through a number of phases myself from being totally believing in God/Jesus, going to church, reading the bible etc.; then looking at other religions, especially Buddhism, and Taoism. Also, the spiritual aspect of Native Americans has always fascinated me; it has a deep, beautiful wisdom. Today, I know longer believe that there is a God per say, and not a Jesus. There isn't just any proof in history of a Jesus. There is proof of a Ceaser, Herod, and other figures of the time, but Jesus is conspicuously absent from any real records. I wouldn't neccesarily call myself an atheist, because that is the denial of everything. I'm not sure what I am. I have called myself a humanist, I guess that's the best I could do for now. But science + mind + body is what really defines my belief...for now! I'm constantly evolving!


(I'm sorry that I comment weeks after everyone else Josh!)

Justin said...

I do this all the time, Cindy ;-)