07 April, 2012

G is for God

You can find a full list of my A to Z challenge posts here. :)

I actually thought about changing my topic this morning to avoid the quite-likely flood of arguments and hate mail, but I decided it needed to be said, for my own peace of mind if nothing else.

I believe in God.

I was raised, more or less, a Baptist. Sort of. My mother was (and still is) an Agnostic who liked to see God applied to a few select things, like weddings, and my father, back then, subscribed to the religion of "I'm going out for coffee". My great grandmother, however, was a regular bible reader, she'd read some most every day while sitting in her rocking chair, and I'm pretty sure she was a member of the Marquisville Baptist Church. She refused to ride in cars, though, so she never attended unless someone made her.

The Baptist part of my upbringing actually came from my Aunt Edna who lived next door. She'd load me up most Sundays and take me off to Sunday School at a different Baptist Church than the one my great grandmother got all the mail from.

Edna finally got tired of my questions and chatter, or just the weekly bother of dragging around a kid who wasn't hers, and I went a lot of years without ever setting foot in a church until middle school. I had a friend who my father called a 'Holy Roller' and I'd occasionally go to church with her. Unlike the rather frumpy Baptists, her church had a lot of standing and reaching up and singing loud and kneeling and screaming that we were all gonna burn in hell. Mostly, it struck me as incredibly odd.

I found these two experiences confusing when propped up against one another and I took every opportunity I could to go to church with friends. I learned about streets paved with gold and lakes of fire. I saw immersions. Took communion once - boy, I got a tsk, tsk from an old lady for that! - because it was being passed right by me and seemed impolite not to. I sat through yawn-worthy services, and services that ought to have come with sweat bands, we were so busy getting up and down and shifting around. I attended services full of 'love your neighbors' and services dripping with hatred for all things. Acceptance and judgement. Love and hate. Jesus and Satan.

I was about 15, maybe 16, when I decided that religion was a pile of hokum. That the guy - and it was almost always a guy - standing up front was making it all up. The things he was 'reading' from the book laid out before him didn't match what I read at home. Did match what I got from the book at home.

I let my curiosity move outward and I read about Hinduism and the Torah and Mohammed. I read about Buddhists and Wiccans and anything else I could dig up. It didn't take me long to decide that they're all hokum, every single one. They're a way for one person (or a group or powerful persons) to declare how other, less powerful people should live. And behave. And, most importantly, believe. If someone doesn't follow those particular rules, well, they're to be pitied, scorned, or despised.

I'm pretty much against things like that.

Across all of human history, we have believed in a creator. I fail to see why calling him Zeus or Allah or Jehovah or Krishna makes a bit of difference. I fail to see why one road to seek Him is any better, or more right, than another. I believe there are as many paths to God as people making the trek. All are correct. Each and every one. At least as long as they don't refute the right of a different person to seek a different way.

Anyway, I do believe in God. I just don't believe in religion. It divides us. It conquers us. It breeds hatred and intolerance. I'd much rather believe in a deity that wants us to get along because, like it or not, we're all stuck here together.


Erin M. Hartshorn said...

Religion divides us, it's true. And when people expect us to make political decisions based on their religions, that divides us, too. Wish it weren't so.

Glad you've found what you believe. Some people search and never do, some search and give up.

Nice post. Erin

Tammy Jones said...

Thanks, Erin. {[huggs}}

VonLCid said...

Visiting from AtoZ, thanks for the post.

I too believe that all paths lead to the same place in the end. From dust to dust. I just wish some people were nicer along the way.

Best of luck,
Von L
The Growing Writer

Manzanita said...

Your post is an interesting study of how you came on your path to a personal deity. Our country was founded on this right and hopefully we can hold onto it. A blessed Easter.

Jean said...

Well said. I believe our relationship with God is personal, individual, and mostly private. I think the public aspects of faith are useful in encouraging or supporting someone else who may value that.

Martin T. Ingham said...

I can appreciate your sentiments about the majority of organized religion, as I've had my own run-ins with charlatans and overbearing pontificators. It is important to seek God in your own manner, and in all things seek the truth firsthand, beyond anyone else's interpretation. I suppose I'm a lot like Thomas Jefferson in that regard.

History shows us why most religions are about restricting human behavior. Most faiths have their roots in primitive times, when savage, perverse people had to be coerced into civility. From there, monarchs and despots co-opted religion for their own gains, using the name of God to diefy themselves and assure their "Divine Right."

It is vitally important that we continue to stand up for everyone's right to believe in their own manner, or we'll wake up one morning to find our own worship restricted.