Inconvenient Religion

“The reason you don’t believe in god is because he is inconvenient.” I have heard this many times as a rebuttal to why a person chooses not to believe in any gods, specifically their god.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28 NIV

TruthConvenient. Not long ago the elite believed that only whites inherited eternal life. I’m not sure where that leaves the Italians and the Spanish, or even the Jewish who evangelized religion and the knowledge of eternal life. Of course, the white men believed this when facing the natives of the Americas and the aboriginals of Australia. Whites were superior, and all others had no souls. All others were beasts alive only to live out their lusts, like dogs.

Ironic. It’s ironic that today you can take your pooch and have it blessed at a local church. Fluffy can spend eternity with you. All dogs do go to heaven, right? That leaves cats outside the gates.

God wills it. Why were these things believed? Are there writings by God stating this? It was believed because it was convenient. The only way to conquer a nation is to wipe out those living there. To conquer, to subordinate, you have to put your foot on the other’s neck and show no mercy. If you see the natives as animals, it’s very convenient.

The question I want to ask other people is, “Do you believe what you believe because it’s convenient?” My lack of belief these last few years hasn’t been convenient for me. It’s been excruciatingly inconvenient. But the truth is rarely convenient.

Strange beliefs

  • Touching a dead body defiles you
  • Women and lesser men are soulless
  • Praying to an ordained man will make you clean
  • Water can be made holy
  • Holy water can save your child from hell

and this is the one that starts it all

  • People are born full of sin and must be saved

New beliefs

  • I was born loved and whole
  • Belief should be personal, not a militant stance
  • If I harm someone, I ask forgiveness of that person
  • Water is good to drink and to wash my body with
  • My body is holy, and it is mine to enjoy
  • Children should choose their lives
  • Sprinkling only gets babies wet
  • Some people are flawed and need help
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Ruthless

There’s a time when we have to face the truth. Ruthlessly walk through the fog and never look back. There’s a time to cling or to fight without mercy. If only we knew when those times were. Because just as there’s a time for ruthlessness, there’s also a time for mercy. For kinda-sorta-maybe. Gentleness is strong also.

I know ruthless. When I was growing up in a small town, I tightly gripped my faith and would not let it go. I believed. And no one could shake it from me. It wasn’t that I was afraid of punishment. No, I believed because I loved. I loved what my faith stood for, the God of all creation and all the stories of redemption that I learned. The prophets that spoke to me from pages of paper and ink. The stories were real to me, more real than any story I could read in a history book.

I was aware of how different I was at that time. Different than the other students in my classes. They let me know with every word and every glance. By the time I was in junior high I knew not to talk about these things. This created a cycle of hiding and shame. I connected to the stories of the lone prophets more and more. They were different and when I read passages like, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb, Jeremiah 1:5 or…Do not say, ‘I am too young, Jeremiah 1:7 ..I felt they were speaking to me. They brought me courage.

It’s hard to say what came first, the hiding or the connecting to the solitary. Maybe if it hadn’t been the Bible, it would have been another story or book. Harry Potter is a favorite of many kids because of his uniqueness. He’s misunderstood. He has special abilities. And in the end he triumphs.

When I was in therapy a few years back, my therapist talked about how common it is for children to connect in this way. It helps them cope. Helps them find a way out of their fear. Sometimes they believe they are adopted. Or they are an alien child. In the old Irish tales, people believed that fairy children were sometimes switched with human babes. Changelings.

As I step away from the religion I grew up with, I’m not yanking my roots away. All the same I know I want to let go of the tradition. I’m not bitter. I’m not angry. In a strange way it served it’s purpose. Like an imaginary friend, the stories kept me company. As I learn more truth it’s easier to let go, a little at a time. I can’t relate anymore to the lone, orphaned child or the misunderstood prophet of truth. That’s not me. And no, it never was, but somewhere inside I felt like that.

When you’re involved in Christianity, your life is constant abandonment. What does God want for me to do? It’s constant proving that you are loyal and dedicated. Jesus said to follow him and forsake all others. Pick up the cross and lay down your life. Anyone who loved their family more than him was not worthy of him. It was ruthless. It was constant. It was merciless.

I’m now picking up my life. I’m dusting myself off and standing. Even if no one understands, I feel stronger just by doing it. I’ve decided to learn more about the world around me. Physical things. Science things. People and humanitarian things. This time of gentleness feels so much better.This is true compassion and love.

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