As many people today, the concept and institutions involved in religion feel very old-fashioned. In turn, this brings about the question: Is there any value left in religion? Have we lost our faith in faith?
This is a topic I’ve dwelled on for quite a while. Last week, I discussed how I began including prayer again in my normal routine, which, admittedly, has been very beneficial for me, knowing that I begin and end my day on a good note. I even go to bed at night praying, something that I’ve gone in and out of doing but have picked up consistency.
Something I have added into my routine is reading the Bible. I use the Bible app on my phone and have recently been reading through 1 Corinthians. I always knew I had felt unsure about the Bible, that in many cases, it’s outdated to the current times, but there are still great points.
In a way, the Bible is easily translated into a text that can feel devaluing to the potential humanity can have. The blessings and accomplishments you enjoy are gifts from God. Your future and purpose in life is determined by God. If people aren’t Christian, you respect them but still question their eventual place in eternity. Your body and everything you are ultimately belong to God.
I have never been someone to push my beliefs on others. Maybe it was because I myself didn’t know enough about the religion I grew up in to talk about it with others, but mostly, I just despise when people do it to me, shoving their faith down my throat and preaching at me. Many practices and beliefs “Christians” hold feel like the exact opposite of what should be faith. Heck, we fight wars and commit terrorism in the name of religion, no matter its name, but what sense does that make? What statement are you trying to make?
Religion often feels like a business, a capitalistic competition to see who is more right than the other, how many people follow this mindset, what stereotypes they hold, and so much more. So long I’ve felt like I have simply followed whatever I know without really studying what that belief is. From there, I can really make an educated decision on what I want to establish for myself. The phrase “blind faith,” is the essential of faith: while no true proof exists, it brings about questions that we so desperately seek answers to, and with human influence involved, the entire message of what a text is and how we interpret that can be turned upside down.
So what is my point in my rambling? I want people to be comfortable with asking questions. I want us to know what we are signing up for when labeling ourselves as a certain religion or denomination. Think of the number of denominations involved in Christianity alone and prepare to feel overwhelmed, somehow each claiming that they are “more correct.” We take sides. We divide ourselves into categories. We rigidly assign ourselves to specific doctrine and follow it for some peace of mind that our souls end up in a nice afterlife. We are not only fearful of God, but of others outspoken about beliefs not involving the same “man upstairs.”
Although I continue to plan to try reading more of the Bible, I have come to the conclusion for now that I do not label myself as any denomination. I want to take the literal stance of “Christian” and say that I believe in the person that is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Chapters of passages have been written outside of His life, human error undoubtedly present, along with influences from other beliefs at the time. So much of the Bible that we know is a reflection of BCE mythology from Babylonia and Greece. They spun elements of classic stories into something “original.” The Bible and exterior texts not included in the Bible constantly contradict themselves because multiple people are writing it, a past game of Telephone.
Instead of subjecting myself to very specific notions, I admire the person Jesus was and what He stood for, the values He held, the way His life impacted others. I believe that God is present in everything, but we still hold some control of our thoughts and ownership of our lives. We make our decisions on our basic human rights and scientific discoveries. I believe there is truth in every religion and belief system. I believe in treasuring our morals, in trusting our gut instincts, in manifesting what we think and projecting that energy into the world. I believe we all have a reason for walking this earth. I believe humanity is innately good. I believe sin and suffering are constant, but we can choose to pick ourselves up and try again with each new morning. I believe in expressing gratitude for all of the gifts God gives us and the ability to create our own realities. And I’d like to believe that there is a paradise we can all enjoy after death, but we should be the ones deciding on that fate.
We should be okay with being uncertain. With wanting to take our own paths of spirituality and find what best speaks to us, whether it has a label or not. It’s scary to break out from under the umbrella of organized religion into unknown territory, but it’s journey worth taking. You don’t have to leave behind everything you know, but it’s important to say you fully stand behind what you’re doing and saying rather than having it handed to you by others. You have that personal freedom to choose. As long as you respect that right for others, and hopefully we can leave the world better than we found it.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie