As promised, and perhaps I should apologize in advance, this entry will be about religion. Now, instead of just posting something and not really stating my opinion and just letting other people go off on tangents, I thought I should tell you what I think.
Of course, by no means let this stop you from commenting. I encourage all discussions and debates.
I want to start off by saying that I think religion has become itself a touchy word. When someone says "I'm religious", people automatically get all sorts of ideas and prejudices in their head. On the flip side, when someone says "I'm an atheist", you again get a fixed idea.
It was only in the last two years that I decided that there was no God. It was a little scary when I came to this conclusion; we're alone in this world. Alone. At least, I found it to be a little frightening. We can't asked to be saved; we can't ask for help; we can only rely on ourselves. Now, I am not frightened by the thought of no higher power; in fact, I think I feel more comfortable about it, seeing as my life is in my own hands, and not fated and in the hands of God. As much as I believe in karma and good things happening to good people, I do think we create our own lives and create our own luck and bad luck.
The primary contacts that I've had with religion over the years have been my French Catholic elementary schooling and my Dad's out-of-the-blue Anglican confirmation when I was about fourteen. I remember in elementary school, I despised Catéchèse (Religion class, for the anglos) more than anything else, and I was a kid who liked school most of the time. My parents never really pushed anything upon me, as they weren't religious. My mother and father had both been baptized, Catholic and United respectively, but they didn't practise anything. Actually, my mother had been boycotting the Catholic Church for years. When she lived in Vienna, she was forced to go to Church every Sunday, in which the priests would speak only in Latin. She said it was horribly boring, and she didn't understand why they spoke in a language that so few people understood. She said people were ostracized if they didn't attend church. She really wasn't a fan of church. My parents had sent me (and my siblings) to a French Catholic school just because it was French.
Over the years, two things, in terms of religious beliefs, struck me and have probably put my stance to where it is now.
First -- Like I just mentioned, I attended a Catholic school from kindergarten to grade eight. I never really thought about it all that much, but I took a lot of what we were taught as being the truth and being facts because they told us that's how it was. One year, we even had an ex-nun teach us. She was scary, though.
In grade seven, I remember sitting with my friend, Joey, beside the computers. We were whispering in English to each other because you could get in some moderately serious trouble for speaking English. Somehow, we got on the subject of the Bible and religion. I remember him picking up the New Testament and saying, "you know, I don't think I believe everything in here."
That hit me with a ton of bricks. I had, until then, accepted it all as fact. Yeah, I thought, yeah, why do I have to believe everything in there? I don't think I do! And that began the ball rolling.
Second -- As soon as he turned forty, my Dad suddenly found his faith. We were all really confused when he decided to attend church again; not only that, but he also decided to become an Anglican. Well, we were confused, but we didn't really care. He didn't get all crazy on us or anything. He didn't tell us that we should go to church. He just liked the church community, and our Anglican church is the most harmless Church ever.
Anyway, since I play the piano, I was hired as the summer organist at my Dad's church about two years ago. Church hymns are easy to play and sing, so I enjoyed learning the pieces, and I was getting paid, so I didn't really mind sitting through an hour of church on Sunday mornings.
I came to the conclusion that I liked the fundamental and basic values that Christianity preaches. If you get down to it, Christianity wants to share the ideas of peace, love thy neighbour as thyself, do onto others what you'd have done onto you, share, forgive, and live peaceably among others. I think all of this is good to live by. The problem is that Catholicism, which I know best, is littered with ideas of "being a good Christian". The basic ideals are fogged up with arguments about abortion, gays, birth control, vice, sin, etc. Why can't you just be a good person, be good to others, and live your life in the best way possible achieving your highest potential? And if you mess up, you try to fix it. You say sorry to people. You can even ask for God's forgiveness, if you want. We all mess up.
Moreover, does God really care if you're having sex before you get that little piece of paper that says you are "legally married"? Does he care that you're using birth control? Do you think Jesus Christ would condemn gays?
A resounding No! I think this is all ridiculous. Jesus is all about love and peace and giving (I just watched Jesus Christ Superstar last night; I love that musical).
That's what I like about Christianity -- its fundamental values. I hate everything else that gets into the way. Remember, church and religion's original intent was to be something positive, rather than negative, scary, and disturbing, as some of it has become.
I will be posting my next installment tomorrow, which will address the issue of safety, violence, and problems that have stemmed from religion.