I have never set down in text my thoughts on God and religion, and I avoid talking about religion whenever I can. This will be the first post I have ever made that voices my thoughts. It's possible that this post will make me less popular among some readers, but I thought it best to throw my cards down on the table so that those who enjoy my company know what they're dealing with... If any of this goes against your beliefs, please understand that I hold no ill will or any sort of judgment for you. Your beliefs are yours, and you have a right to them. I also feel that in matters of faith, we cannot entirely choose what to believe, that it's something inside of us that just feels right. I did not select what to believe, my beliefs selected me. As with any idea based upon the intangible, I imagine it's subject to change or vary at some point. Perhaps it's a work in progress?
So please read, and judge if you like, but know that I'm not. (And if you're catholic, know that *I* know you're not supposed to! :) )
I grew up Catholic, participating in the weekly mass as an alter boy for many years. All things considered, it's not a bad way to grow up. I took from it compassion, I learned manners, I learned a little responsibility and I learned a bit about community. That said, the church is not the only place where these things can be learned, and perhaps may not even be the best place to learn them, but definitely not the worst.
My problem isn't with God. I believe in something that could be called God. Whether that be an old man sitting on a golden throne throwing lighting bolts at bad guys, or something a little more like a ubiquitous force or state of being remains to be seen. If I had to label myself, I'd have to go with agnostic... If I get to the pearly gates some day, I'd be a little surprised but I've been surprised before. I'm a believer in science, but I don't see science and God as being necessarily mutually exclusive. After all, what caused science to exist?
Take a look around at the billions of stars, and the complexity of reality on a universal scale, all the way down to the atoms that form the things around us. There are far too many variables that had to fall into place just so, for this reality to exist. To think that it is all by simple chance is just a little too unbelievable for me. There is far too much majesty for that.
My problem is with organized religion in general. Please understand, when I say "my problem is with" I don't mean I have a beef with it, or a grudge or score to settle, or that I dismiss it. I respect religion and the rights of those who participate and believe. In truth I admire them in a way. I simply see things a little differently. I don't feel like my relationship with God is or was impacted at all by church or regimented prayer, nor can I fathom why a God who took the time to create me as an individual would want me to do things from which I derive no joy. The faithful would say he's testing me, or that it's a sacrifice to be made to prove my faith / love. Love is not having to prove it, in my opinion.
I think God is what sets our lives into motion, but then leaves the rest to us, otherwise why give us free will? I think he tips the first domino, but in the end what happens is either through our own actions and nature's impact on our course. Like a plinko chip... We know the direction we're headed, but the mystery is where we'll be when we get there. Once we're there, maybe there's a comparing of notes that goes on and we're ushered to whatever game awaits us after that... who knows?
I believe God would want for me all the things that I want for my children. Health, comfort, opportunity, love, shelter, etc. I give everything I can for my children and I seek nothing in return except for the satisfaction of watching them learn and grow and achieve. I love them as they are, whether they thank me or not.
I don't ever want my children to feel like they have to get together once a week to chant about how good I am, or how great my works were. I don't want them to paint invisible signs in the air that represent the thought of me. I don't want them to partake in rituals meant to honor me. I don't want them to end every conversation we have with a magic word. I certainly wouldn't want them eating my body or drinking my blood.
That said, it is nice to get the grateful smiles and warm hugs and pecks on the cheek. When they (currently only one can talk, but...) tell me they love me or thank me for being there, it's without question the greatest feeling one can feel. I would never demand it. I would never expect it. If I did demand it, would it be given genuinely to me, or in fear or the consequences that not giving it would inure? Wouldn't the latter make the words empty?
As I get older, I look back at my life and I shake my head from time to time at the things that I've done or said. I have no real regrets, but there are things I'd do differently, or things I've done that I can't really understand now, though I'm sure at the time, it made perfect sense.
I started to wonder if God looked back and had similar thoughts, and what would they be? What would he say about it on an interview I wonder?
I created the earth and all other planets. I set them into orbit around suns I set fire to. I shaped the mountains. I planted the trees. I carved the rivers. I push the wind. I made the dinosaurs, but didn't care for where they were heading, so I wiped the slate. I created life in more forms than you will ever learn, and yet you ask for my blessing every time someone sneezes.
I put thoughts into the minds of early man, and spoke to many of them directly. I gave commandments, and cradled early civilization in my hands. I asked that word of my existence be spread, and my people killed those who disbelieved.
I myself wrought havoc on those who opposed my devoted. I killed their sons and families. I drown their soldiers. I threw frogs and bugs at them, and little flaming ice cubes. When my followers disappointed me, I flooded the entire earth with the exception of two, who were asked to save the animal kingdom.
I exacted great punishments on those who crossed me yet I sent my son to you, and let you kill him. I then sent him back to forgive those who killed him.
Perhaps I realized my vengeful ways proved ineffective, and decided to show you my love in other ways. Sort of mellowed out a bid, if you will. I have left you all alone for the last few thousand years since you killed my son.
I've turned a blind eye to groups who are killing in my name. A few thousand years ago, perhaps I'd have done the work myself, but like I say, I prefer not to meddle these days.
I allow the births of disfigured and disabled babies. I let good people fall to sickness and disease. I let hearts be broken, and families be torn apart by tragedy, and when you cry out and ask me why, I let my followers tell you that I work in mysterious ways, and you believe it, yet when you are wronged by peers, it's not enough to believe that they're mysterious.
You continue to believe that I am wonderful for all the good things, and you forgive me for the bad. I'm glad my teachings about forgiveness seem to have stuck...
Anyway, all those things are in books written by people who probably made a great deal of money off of them, so in my mind it's most likely fiction. In the end, I might be wrong, and in such a case, God is infinitely forgiving right? I believe my purpose was to raise my kids and love my fellow man (and women) and I do both of those things to the best of my ability. I'll take that case before the big jury with confidence in the final hearing.