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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

it's been a long time coming....

Ok, so my slacker self has finally stolen a few moments in which to while not catch up, because I will never be able to do that at this point, but add some of my own thoughts.
The topic that I want to contribute to is the one of God.
First off I want to add my own disclaimer that the comments that follow this are not meant to step on anyone's toes and that they are strictly my opinion, my non-expert opinion on the topic at hand. Please feel free to disagree with them, harass them, or just throw them out as a babbling pile of crap if you would like, as it will not hurt my feelings in the slightest.
It's funny Nathan that you bring that topic up. It is one that I've been dealing with a lot lately. I spent two months in Utah surrounded by one of the most cult like religions. If any of you reading this are Mormon I respect your beliefs but I don't agree with them. So anyway, spending two months, being the minority, being away from everyone and everything I know and care about, but knowing that I wouldn't have time to form lasting relationships out there because I would be leaving, was frustrating. The culture out there is completely different due to the views on God and the concentration of people that have the same view point and can have an impact on the society around them.
But that's not really what I wanted to address first, if at all, in depth. Wood, I know that we've had discussion after discussion about this, but I have to say I'm compelled to reply. Even with faith, even when you believe in a higher power or a religion, you do not have a one way ticket out of the deep darkness that can fall. Look at Mother Theresa, recently there have been reports that desipte all the good she did, she spent most of her life doubting the existance of God. Theresa was a wonderful woman would did a lot of good in the world, in the name of God, however she doubted.
I also know that you think that I've got a lot of faith, and that I make it "look easy" sometimes. And I'll admit while my faith does take me through some of the dark times, it more often than not results in a headache and at least one deathwish before I can finally find a brightside. What it comes down to is not a religion, it's not beliving in a set of values that are set before you to repeat again and again, it's belief in what you think is right and good in the world. It's the belief that there are angels to take care of you or to watch over you but I really think that more than anything it's listening to your instincts, that still small voice in the back of your head.
To me God is however you view it to make it make the most sense to you. I believe the idea of God is there to help bring order to the world and to help people have something to believe in. If you look at the origins of religion, you will find that many religions stem from each other. Abraham is considered the father of the three major religions today; Islam, Christianity and Judaism. And they are also three religions that typically cannot see eye to eye, how sad is that, and at the same time it backs up my theory. If everyone could believe in the same religion, I guess that would be nice, it would stop a lot of the wars in the world, but at the same time it would also make people too narrow minded. Instead I'd like to see the world take a pluralist view point, one where we can all have a different religion and yet believe in the overall same God. That each of us needs something different in our lives to believe in, even if it's just ourselves and our own free will.
As Nathan commented, which I didn't read until just now, that the sense of belonging does sound more like a cult than a faith. Faith is something that you have to find within yourself, it's not something that a religion can give you. Many religious people I know have gone to church for years and yet they still don't have faith, they are some of the most distrusting, uncaring people I know. To have faith is to have something in your life happen that gives you faith, same goes for love and trust. You have to have reasons for those discoveries and then you have to be able to identify them. I'm no physcologist, as my disclaimer above says, I'm not an expert in any of this. I just know that I don't blindly follow my religion and that my religion itself did not teach me how to love or how to trust. It may have built relationships that have lead to those things, but the religion itself did not teach me love or trust. A structure around beliefs is only as strong as the ties that bind (you may notice an ASA reference in there Wood). If the people in the religion aren't supportive you have nothing more than a cult, so it's important for you to believe and learn from self discovery and supportive surroundings, more than it's important to belong.
Now for a little more personal take on this, although I'm sure you learned a lot about me from my respondings. I have only ever been raise in one religion, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Now for the untrained eye it may seem that I just told you I was Mormon. However, do some research, it won't take much, and you'll start to see that they are completely different worlds. I could sit here and name off differences and try to help you see that I am not LDS, but I've found through my twenty two years here on earth that either you will see that I'm not Mormon or you won't. Not much that I can say will convince you otherwise. But for the remainder of this post I will go on the assumption that you believe me when I say I'm not LDS and that the differences are vast. Anyway I grew up RLDS, my whole family was RLDS and so for the longest time I didn't question it. In my church you are at the age of accountability at eight. This is when you can first be baptized and confirmed and be a full member of the church. Everyone thought at the age of eight I would be baptized and confirmed and that would be the end of it. However at the time I didn't think it was right, so I waited, I wanted to make sure that I was ready to actually commit and follow through on the promise that you make with God when you are baptized, I didn't just want to do it to do it. So I didn't do and didn't do it and didn't do. I didn't ask to be baptized until I was 13. Finally at 13, when I was attending my church's world conference I had a moving moment in which I turned to my mom and told her that I finally knew it was time. The point being that none of it has been easy. Dealing with people that are convinced they know things about my religion because they know about those Mormons, of which I reiterate I am not, dealing with my own doubts about the people that practice my religion with me and dealing with the fact that, as mystical and weird as this will sound, I know things about myself and other people. That last one is not to say that I can predict things, but there are times when I know what the right thing to say or do is, and it's not something I would typically come up with on my own. Now, I know that Wood has witnessed this and has heard me talk about it more than any other person, but it's freaky to me. I still, even though I have that faith you were talking about, even though I know that I have this gift, I still run and I still get scared. And perhaps it's all in my head, perhaps it's not a gift, but I see it as such and I try to embrace it, but a lot of times when it happens I find myself wanting to run away from my faith and at those times my doubts often become overwhelming. So faith is a very two edged sword. Thinking you may have an idea about what else is out there, perhaps even watching over you, it's daunting.
If you want and you don't have to, but i'll put it out there if you're interested in my religion, check out the website at
A few more thoughts on faith and then I promise I'm close to stopping this insane post. The only reason I am still a member of my religion is the fact that my religion is flexible. You can believe what you want to believe about it and not believe what you don't want to. It says that on our website. Maybe not in those words, but it does. For the most part you can also feel free to share your interpretations of our religion and not get people upset at you. Now if you didn't agree with most of the precepts of the religion why you would want to belong to it I don't know but according to the basic beliefs part of the website you can feel free to disagree with whatever you would like.

As a last note because there was a little discussion about the Bible and I can extend this to other relgious texts as well:
The Bible is a human interpretation of events that we as humans cannot fully understand. Or going with the pluralism, it's a way for Christians to write down their side of the whole thing, but as much as it would pain many people I know to say it, the Bible is a solely human creation and while God, or a God may have had a hand in the events the Bible has been rewritten so many times throughout history that it is no longer accurate even if the first original was inspired or written by God itself.

Sorry, but I just thought of one last thing for thought. My parents were watching a show on the History channel and it was saying that they found evidence that when the Spanish Conquistidors landed in Central America they were greeted by a Jewish prayer. Now to me that is incredibly interesting because how would they have known a Jewish prayer unless a Jewish person came and taught it to them. Now to me, and again take this how you will, it is evidence that the records in the Book of Mormon are correct. The Book of Mormon is a record of the Nephites and the Laminites (which from anthropology the conjecture is that they are two fo the central American tribes), and their history with Jesus. If Jesus came and visited them as he did in the Book of Mormon, then they could have learned a Jewish prayer. Now I know that there is no conclusive evidence, and that there are many other ways that they could have learned that prayer, but to me, I still think it's interesting to think that the Book of Mormon is pretty close to what anthropolgists are finding. Ta!

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