A lot of talk on the internets these days about what g/God thinks, and who g/God loves/likes/hates, and what is means to be religious (well, to be honest, this is mostly surrounding what it means to be Christian…) While I know this is hardly a revelation (see what I did right there?) recently it seems quite pointed toward specific current issues: the abortion debate and same-sex marriage. Granted I live in San Francisco so I am sure that my perspective here has a very obvious bent, but I have been amazed listening to people speaking for g/God, even here. Interestingly, no one is talking about how we should not judge and we should love our neighbor and we should care for those who cannot make it on their own…
It has got me thinking about a couple of things. First of all, I am not traditionally religious insofar as I was not raised within the teachings of a particular faith. But I do believe… in something. I am not sure what that looks like exactly, but I think to assume that everything conceivable is a result of humanity (not to mention the silliness of considering (believing??) that we have the capacity to comprehend “everything conceivable”) is rather limited in view. And I am not just talking about science or evolution, but I am talking about feelings, and connections, like Edward Lorenz thought about and like the feeling you get when you are around someone you have a huge crush on: that shit is real. These ideas inform the foundations of my belief system. Secondly, I have come up around a variety of religious types, from Catholics, to Baptists, to Lutherans (okay, not traditionally super devout…), Mormons (of the traditional & Jack varieties), Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, even a few fundamental Christians, as well as a few other new-agey varieties. I feel like this was a really great environment to see how religion can be hugely beneficial to humanity. None of these traditions seem to fit me perfectly, but I keep my eyes open – perhaps embodying the hope my mom had for me, that I would “have a ticket for all the rides.” I do not mean to make light of all this either. I think to say, as people like Richard Dawkins do, that people who believe in a god are delusional, is pretty ignorant, and even in my darkest days I have not come to the depressing conclusion that more than 90% of humankind are delusional.Frankly, the only thing I find more arrogant than religious zealots spewing hatred in the name of an omnipotent God, are atheists judging people in the same way for holding a different world view. But I have written about this before and need not digress. Lastly, I believe that the energy that connects people is benevolent (if sometimes misunderstood), even when I am in my worst moods, I hold this to be true. This is important to understand my criticisms of those who would speak for g/God.
Even George Zimmerman is getting in on the “I-Know-What-What-God-Likes” routine, suggesting that Trayvon Martin’s death was part of “God’s plan”. I am not sure g/God would like that.
I do not think any divine being would assign mere flawed mortals to speak for it. This is especially relevant when I hear people contest the argument addressing how an omnipotent God would create such a shitshow of a society and the response is: humans mess it up because they are… humans. Huh. Seems like a questionable choice to choose categorically fucked up people to be your voice.
Then (in an effort to get the point), I will say that to say who and what g/God, or more specifically Jesus or Muhammad, would approve of seems horribly presumptuous. To point to a specific line in Leviticus to suggest that the mortally defined unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness shall be denied to a particular group of people, there are a whole bunch of other lines in the bible that are going to cause some major lifestyle changes. This is an interesting look at that list, but I can summarize some of the highlights: no divorce, seafood, pork, gossip, parental disobedience, hanging around with questionable company, inventing “evil things”, etc. That would have shut down the Manhattan Project, People Magazine, Jimmy Deen, the Lohan family on myriad accounts, and the Red Lobster!
Further, to suggest that a woman’s right to choose endorses murder, a clear violation of Exodus 20:13, I have to say I actually can appreciate that standpoint. However (you knew it was coming) to assume that allowing women to have sovereignty over their bodies equals abortion is ignorant and inaccurate: 1) it takes two people to make a baby (as y’all made clear with your whole Adam & Steve argument) and so blaming women for unwanted pregnancy is lame, and sexist, 2) I don’t know one single person who ever wanted to get an abortion. And of course, I feel very strongly that if one is going to hold the belief that there should be no option for abortion, then there also must be no option for capital punishment. I know that Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine spoke to this (among many others I am sure) differentiating between innocent lives and those who are not innocent. But according to the bible , we are all sinners, therefore not innocent, so that argument seems flimsy. And it is making me dizzy. Also, if the option for a woman to choose the fate of her body is to be removed, so must any and all possibilities of rape and incest. Good luck with that. (Flawed humanity and all…)
So, when I hear people say that g/God hates this and g/God does not allow that… I say, fine hold onto that belief, and allow it to guide you in your choices and behavior, and trust that the g/God that you revere has the power to judge how it sees fit. Besides, somewhere I am sure the bible tells us not to judge… (psst: Matthew 7:1-5.)
But mostly, I do not think that any religions teach, or even suggest that one should be unkind, exclusive, uncharitable, overbearing, judgemental, vengeful, spiteful, or really getting on board with any of those seven deadly sins (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony… Wow America, we are in deep.) And most importantly, I think the basis of almost all spiritual teachings I have come across is to extend the love of the faith to everyone, not just people who look like you, think like you, act like you, live like you… not just your people but all people. And I realize it is most difficult to extend the benefits of your faith to those who enrage you – but it’s like working out… if you only work out the muscles you already have and you ignore all the exercises you hate… you are going to be all out of balance. And look really weird.
If you are a religious person and you discriminate against others, you might be doing it wrong.
To be judgmental and spiteful is not our job – particularly if you subscribe to beliefs that suggest there is a final judgement. We would all be a lot better off if people sat back and focused on embodying the unconditional and boundless compassion of all the great religions rather than spending so much time telling everyone else how “they” are not doing it right. Tell your kids how to live, if you choose, but remember, as you would not want to be told how to live by me, or by someone on the other side of the earth, you should respect the individual sovereignty, and sanctity of others as much as you protect your own. Believe in the magic that can set you free.
Do you belive in magic? Yeah.
Believe in the magic in a young girl’s soul
believe in the magic of rock n roll
Believe in the magic that can set you free