Religion (Part II)

BY THE WAY, IF I HAVE MISREPRESENTED ANY STATEMENTS ABOUT RELIGION IN THIS POST, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CORRECT ME IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. I MAKE NO CLAIM TO BE ALL-KNOWING ABOUT THE MANY DIFFERING RELIGIONS. AS A MATTER OF FACT, I AM QUITE IGNORANT OF ALL BELIEFS. THAT’S MY APOLOGY AND I HOPE IT IS SINCERE ENOUGH FOR YOU TO FORGIVE ANY MISGIVINGS I MAY HAVE IN THIS POST. To skip to the end and get the basic point I’m trying to get across without reading all the build-up, click here.

So I’m looking thru my neighborhood again and come across a well-written post on religion from “J”. This is the link for it. You should read it.

http://alittlepeaceofme.blog-city.com/read/939608.htm

I wrote a pretty serious post about my feelings on religion the other day. Read it at http://crzydjm.blog-city.com/read/934215.htm

My wife read that post finally the other night and it sparked another discussion with her. She is scared of how our child will be raised (and that is a valid concern for a parent) What’s unfortunate (and this is where faith plays such a huge part) is that noone has gone there and come back to tell us about it. Noone has come and said “THIS IS THE RIGHT RELIGION. THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD LIVE YOUR LIFE”.

I believe in a higher power. Bottom line. The issue I have is that I don’t comprehend how the world can be so shitty with this supposedly higher power watching over us. If I really get to thinking about it, I’m scared of what will happen when I die. So many religions in the world, doing their own thing. (remember my disclaimer? this is where it starts to become applicable.)

Muslims believe that God’s name is “Allah”. Fine, no problem. Whatever suits your fancy, right? Islam embraces the belief that Jesus is not the son of God but only a prophet of God. This is a pretty big difference among the religions. Many religions have different feelings about Jesus’ importance in the grand scheme of things. As far as discipline, you’ve DEFINITELY gotta hand it to the Muslims (not counting the extremists that are blowing up buildings and killing on a regular basis). Prayer is required 5 times a day, no pork because pigs are filthy animals, yada yada yada….I found a site that lists the qualifications to be a Muslim. The following list is the biggies for Muslims;

There are five obligations for all Muslims which frequently are referred to as the five pillars of Islam. These are specific things to do as religious practice, rather than general norms of conduct such as those with which this paper has dealt.

1. Saying the creed (Shahadah). Muslims say the creed several times every day, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is the messenger [prophet] of Allah” (La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah). Shahadah means bearing witness, it is an affirmation of one’s faith.

2. Daily prayer (Salah). A Muslim is supposed to say prayers [these are special prayers revealed through Muhammed, the equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer in Christianity] at five specified times of each day. These times are at dawn, midday, midafternoon, sunset and nightfall. Muslims must cleanse themselves before saying these prayers and then they face towards Mecca to offer their prayers. They kneel down and touch their heads to the ground at various times during the prayers as a sign of their submission to God. On Friday (Juma) men should go to a mosque to say their prayers with other Muslims.

3. Giving of Alms (Zakah). Muslims are expected to give money as gifts (alms) to the poor of the community.

4. Fasting (Sawm). Muslims observe the month of Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours. This is in remembrance of the gift of God’s revelation to Muhammed (the Qur’an).

5. Pilgrimage (Hajj). Each Muslim should go to Mecca at least once in his life if at all possible. The pilgrimage is performed during a special month and there are a number of practices expected during the pilgrimage, in which the pilgrim venerates the sacred shrines of Islam.
And how about them Jews?

They believe in one God (a common theme it seems) as the basis for all creation and morality. A little oddity would be their firm belief in Moses as one of the most prominent religious figures in their history. The Torah is the official name for the five books of Moses (tell me THAT’S not putting him in the forefront of their religion!). The general belief is that people are raised with a “good” heart and can corrupt themselves thru the course of their lives. This seems to be another of those eternal arguments? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Are we inherently good or are we all bad apples? Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Or Red Riding Hood, uncorrupted?

Three prayers a day (didn’t we discuss this?), having a ceremony when you reach maturity (12 years + 1 day for girls, 13 years + 1 day for boys) and are a responsible adult. Doing a bit more research it also appears that the Mohammed of the Islamic faith recognized “the big 3” religions (Christianity, Jewish, and Muslim) and kind of said something along the lines of “let’s respect one another”. Maybe I got that wrong but that’s how I read it….

Christianity (here’s where I come from, an Assemblies of God background) has so many “sub-religions” in it. Alot of people seem to consider Catholicism a form of Christianity. There are so many differences (too many to go into here!!! come on now, this is a BLOG!!!! not a religous forum although lately it has been WAAAAYYYY too serious) but basically the belief is that God is the one and only (there’s that SAME belief again!!!), he caused The Virgin Mary to become pregnant with his child. This child was called Jesus and Jesus was on the planet for 33 years before being brutally put to death (see “Passion of the Christ”) . This is the part where he is referred to as the sacrificial Lamb for all of mankind’s sins. Once he has died for our sins, we owe it to him to live for him, to preach the word of his love and how he had so much love he was willing to die for our imperfections. This is how it’s been told to all of us in the religious community. It’s a great idea and it is amazing that one man would be willing to take the heat for centuries of past AND FUTURE sinners. Baffles the mind.

What I really wanted to say is that although I used the word “agnostic” in my previous post it was more of a questioning, not necessarily denying the existence of a God. Agnostic seems to allude more to an atheistic view than anything else. I’m not an atheist, I believe that he’s up there. I ‘m just confused about it all. It’s only natural and although the pain of losing my sister has subsided over the years, I’m still just as angry as I was back then. My sister has become but an ancient memory to me and that infuriates me. I loved her so much and I still do but I can’t bring her up in my mind as clearly as I once could. My anger still smolders there especially every September when her birthday comes around (she’d be 21 years old this year) and every October when the anniversary of her death approaches.

I think that raising my son in a household that attends church is not the worst that could happen. I want him to think for himself and I am certain that once he reaches a certain age, he will be able to do so but, as I told a coworker a bit ago (Hey there Wiley, bud-ay) all the things that make up a good person are found in church. Do good unto others, be polite, love other people like you would love yourself, share with others, all the “good things”. When it comes time that he is cognizant of his surroundings, I’m sure that we’ll begin attending church again. This is fine with me. I will continue to question how things work and how God can let this planet full of shitty little happenings go on without putting an end to things. As Maynard from “Tool” (sweeeeeettttt) has said in his song Aenema, another flood might do us good….Cleanse the world of all the idiots, all the “bad folk” so we can start anew….Until that day though, I’m stuck questioning how things work. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, it’s a natural human inclination to want to know “why, why, why”. Little kids do it on a regular basis, why does that have to change when you grow up? Since when did we just take everything handed to us and nod our heads. THAT’S my big problem with organized religion, the “sheep-like” mentality of it. I can’t take what one man says to me as biblical fact, maybe I’ve grown bitter I don’t know. It seems to me that if God will speak to me, then HE will be the one speaking to me. A mortal man claiming to know God’s will and attempting to convey that message to me leaves me very skeptical. How much of a personal slant does he give to it?

I had a friend in Virginia who got deep into a church cult. I can’t remember the EXACT name but it’s the church that “kills you with kindness” (it’s a nationwide cult that is on the “watch list”). They call you constantly, they’re the friendliest people on the planet but once you decide to have a life outside of the church, you are a horrible person. A sinner of the worst degree. This buddy of mine alienated his wife and child for this church. He would leave for work at 5am, work til 4pm, come home and change clothes and then head to church at 5pm and then not get home until 11pm AND THEN DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. I was living with them in the spare bedroom and his poor wife griped to me constantly about it. “I don’t know my husband anymore”. I had no clue what to tell her. He consistently kept trying to get me to go to his church with him. I finally relented one evening and went with him. It did NOT go over well. As we’re sitting in the sermon, the pastor singles out two girls, let’s say they were about 10 years old, and begins to chastise them in front of the congregation. He brought these two girls to tears because, as he put it, they were SINNERS. Speaking to each other during his sermon and smiling and giggling and BEING TEN YEAR OLDS was one of the worst sins possible. I didn’t buy it and just stared slack-jawed as he brought these girls to tears AND THEN SENT OUT A DECREE TO THE CONGREGATION THAT ALL CHILDREN SHOULD COME TO THE FRONT OF THE CHURCH. All the kids go up front, except for the one sitting directly behind me. The pastor sees him and says “YOU COME UP FRONT AS WELL, SON” in his bellowing pastoral voice. He gets all these kids up there and then tells them they are all sinners in God’s eyes and they must apologize to the congregation as soon as the service is over. He lines these kids up from the front of the church to the back of the church and as we prepare to leave, all these kids are required to apologize to us for their inequities and their sin. “Please forgive me, I’m a horrible person” type of confessions. I couldn’t believe it and I was absolutely livid. My buddy and I got into our first and only fight that night after leaving. He saw nothing wrong with that little charade. I, on the other hand, was under the belief that Jesus loved children unconditionally and they were his little weakness. He could be in the middle of saving some souls but a kid took precedence. The kids were IT for Jesus. I told my buddy that Jesus would MOST DEFINITELY NOT BE BRINGING THEM TO TEARS for that. For a ten-year old (we’ve all been there), a sermon lasts FOR-EVERRRRRRRR…..Those 15-20 minutes the pastor speaks are the longest in history. I could understand being bored. That’s how church goes, it’s boring if you’re not sure what’s going on.

Holy crap, I’ve really rambled on here. No more “heavy lifting” for the next week at least. Feel free to leave comments but I’ve gotta give my head a rest for a bit. I’m going to find the most goofy thing out there and post it. That’s it for the heavy discussions for a bit.
posted Wed, 12-01-04

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