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An Explanation for Everything – sort of…

May 12, 2015

Religion has always been a big fascination of mine. My mom raised me up going to a Pentecostal church and I began taking my religion very seriously at a young age. Whether you are religious or not, there is no denying the enormous impact religion has had on the human race both positive and negative. You cannot begin to understand any culture’s history, without having at least a basic understanding of its religion. This applies to my own personal history.

Almost seven years ago, I went off to college, where I began to
reconsider my, at the time, very narrow religious worldview. I started
this blog soon after I began questioning things and lately I have been
rereading a lot of what I have posted on this blog and am reminded
about how much I post about religion, mostly in favor of Christianity,
or God, or whatever you want to call it all.

I have been doing a great deal of soul-searching as of late. As a result, I have been realizing some things about myself. For example, I am a people-pleaser to a fault. I take my own opinions and nudge them closer to the opinions of whoever is in the room with me. At times, I alter them as the words come out of my mouth.

Also, I am an optimist to a fault. I am sometimes blinded by my desire
to find encouragement and positivity that I ignore certain harsh 
realities around me until they come up and bite me in the ass.

This blog helped me realize these things. The religious influence in my life helped me realize these things…

Over two-thousand years ago, something happened to alter the course of
history. A man, a zealot, began a movement that continues to this day
in countless different forms. His name was Jesus.

I used to think I had a personal relationship with this man.

Now, I kind of doubt it.

I also used to think the Bible was the perfect word of God the Creator
of all existence.

Now, I am confident that is not true.

I also used to think that unless the right person had the right
conversation with you at the right moment in time, and convinced you
to say a very specific prayer, then you were damned to spend the rest
of eternity after life in hell.

These things have left a considerable amount of collateral damage to my psyche.

I spent years walking around, thinking I had authority over others
because of my ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus. I thought all my
words were important, the majority of my thoughts holy. Therefore, I
was entitled to judge others.

Back when I thought the Bible was the perfect word of an
all-controlling God, I was unwilling to bend my opinion. My worldview
was narrow, and I was very unsympathetic. People who didn’t believe
what I believed were sinners. I, however, was ‘dead to sin.’ It didn’t
matter what kind of environment they were raised in. If they were not
radiating the word of God, they were damned and I felt sorry for them
and their lost souls.

In the second grade, I said a prayer in Sunday school asking Jesus
into my heart as my Lord and Savior, then again in the fifth grade at
a Christian conference for kids and young adults. That second time, I didn’t think
either worked because I didn’t feel any different than before. I
thought I was supposed to transform into some kind of energetic,
saintly being – all fears and faults no longer there. I blamed myself
for my lack of faith.

In high school, I prayed time and time again to be baptized in the
Holy Spirit thanks to the encouragement of the Pastor of our church
and his wife. But, I never started speaking in tongues. I never went
to school and convinced my whole class to turn their lives around and
follow Jesus like me. I wanted to, but I lacked the courage – or the 
stupidity. Again, I blamed myself for my lack of faith.

If I was really honest with myself, I’d admitted that I really didn’t want any of those things for others as much I wanted it to glorify myself as a holy servant of the eternal God. To solidify my place in eternity as part his exclusive club.

Now, I know I am not any of that and I often find myself
overcompensating for this past. My faults mentioned above are results
of this overcompensation.

I am not a disciple, and I don’t have any more authority than the next
guy – I’m just an average guy with a complicated way of thinking and
an inability to ever be happy with how I communicate those thoughts. I
have no legitimate reason to feel entitled. I don’t have much
authority if any.

Historically, the Bible is a mess. It is full of contradictions and
mistakes, and different agendas – sometimes dishonest and deceptive.
It is more often than not poorly translated.

Not one word of the Gospels were written by Jesus, or anyone who
actually knew Jesus during his physical life on earth.

I have seen first-hand the evil done by Bible propaganda and self-righteousness. 

It is difficult for me to really trust anyone who claims to have all
the answers, religious or not.

I feel a great deal of shame if I say the phrase, “I am a Christian.”

Despite all this, I still go to church every few weeks, sometimes more often than that and if asked, hesitantly call myself a Christian.

I like the atmosphere of certain churches.

There is something to being in a room with a group of people who are
still and attentive.

There is something to the pain-glass windows and the tall, angular ceiling.

There is something to the peacefulness in the air.

There is something to singing a hundred-year-old old hymn.

Perhaps it’s just the student still in me, but there is something to
sitting and listening to someone speak with wisdom for an hour or so.

There is something rather refreshing to humbling one’s self and kneeling down at the altar.

I admit I have no idea what these somethings are, but they seem to be
there. Sometimes I think they stem from the nostalgia for my
upbringing, or just my strong desire I had throughout my upbringing
for that ‘something’.

Other times, I feel an undeniable fire in my heart – a feeling of some
outside force or higher presence. Or the direct, albeit vague, communication with God. 

Whatever it was exactly that happened two-thousand years ago in
Jerusalem, I do not know and I resign myself to the uncertainty.

Something happened though, and if believing in caring for the poor and
opposing the rich and powerful, living life humbly, loving your
neighbors as well as your enemies, and having faith in something
bigger than yourself is foolish and naive – then call me a damn fool.

Here’s what I do believe:

This world was created by some sort of superior being who lives
outside of time and space.

There is a world outside of ours and Jesus, whether the messiah, Son of Man, Son of God or
none of the above, seemed to have come from that world.

Living things have souls. On a molecular level, your physical matter
is replaced every so often. None of the molecules that make up my
physical body are the same as they were when I was twelve years old. 
However, I maintain the same consciousness and have many of the same memories. This leads me to believe that there is something beyond the physical matter that makes up this world that is responsible for the unexplainable, such as emotions. And maybe, just maybe, this soul continues on after our physical deaths.

The Bible is full of stories, and parables, and poems that are
timeless and as useful now as ever. Read the story of Daniel, Joseph,
or the poetry of Psalms with an open mind and tell me they are boring. (Maybe that’s not fair. I’m a bit of a lit. nerd…)

These stories and poems help you explore your soul and learn something
about yourself, like all good stories should, fiction or nonfiction. They’re meant for the soul, not the mind. 

Our perception is more limited than reality. Like a dog can only see
in black and white our eyes do not see everything that is around us.
Even as a child, I did not see everything around me that I would now
because my brain was not developed and I was too inexperienced to begin to
make sense of it, so I blocked it out. I do not believe this concept
changes much as an adult. Other animals hear and see things we are not
capable of hearing or seeing…

We are all connected.

God is not a Christian. No one school of thought has a monopoly on
truth. This is difficult to understand seeing as how no one person can
begin to fully grasp all religions, but I believe all religions have
aspects of truth and probably all kinds of mistakes.

I believe in a loving God. It makes more sense to me than anything
else. None of us has to be here at all, but we were all given the
opportunity to breathe, to live. This is why we are made as communal
beings. It is scientifically proven that communal cultures are happier
than materialistic cultures – wealthy or impoverished…

I see progress all around me. Sure, the world continues to have major
problems. Evil things continue to happen, but I strongly believe
things are improving. Bad things have happened from the beginning of
time. People have murdered and deceived each other from the start.
Sometimes if feels as though things are getting worse, but that is
thanks to the wealth of information around us. The bad is spotlighted
by the news/media/internet/text books, while so much good goes widely unnoticed.

People grow wiser with time, generation to generation. 

Just one example: those who are disabled have it better than any other time thanks to technology. 

Life is a process, all of existence is a process. 

I have seen firsthand and heard countless stories about people’s lives
transformed and changed for the better because of religion or a belief
in Jesus. The church, though full of treacherousness and countless
problem (like any organized group of people) contributes so much good to society. They offer food
and aid to the poor and needy, they help people learn things like
forgiveness and love, overcome addictions, help bring clean water to
those who don’t have much or any, etc.

The Earth is not permanent. Death is a part of life. Everything
decays. Everything physical is temporary. I don’t see why an exception
would be made for planet Earth. But who knows how long it will take for
this to happen? There’s no sense in panicking.

Existence is perfect, because of its imperfection.

Besides, it’s all we’ve got, so we might as well embrace it and
celebrate it for what it is.

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