I know that traditionally religion is one of the topics not to be discussed in polite company, along with politics. However, I disagree. I love to talk about religion. I love to hear how other people wrap their head around this world and their place in it. I find more often than not, that requires bringing up religious ideology and beliefs.
I think that it depends on the spirit in which the discussion happens whether it is a positive or a tense conversation. Is it entered in with an open heart? An open mind? Are you happy that that person is walking their chosen path, or are you secretly hoping to convert them to your ideals? These thoughts, whether part of the discussion or lurking in the back or your subconscious, makes a big difference on the course of the conversation.
I have found that I learn so much about a person and their perspective on life when I sit and enjoy every detail of their beliefs, even including the belief that God does not exist. Appreciating and understanding other view points does not have to change my own, but sometimes it does. I feel I am all the richer for that experience.
Religion, much like culture, is so interesting to me. I love to listen to other ways of knowing and thinking. I love to hear the different traditions and where they stem from. I love to discover differences and am no longer surprised by the vastness of similarity.
I have/have had friends of many faiths: Christian (in all it's forms), Jewish, Buddhist, Bahai, Muslim, Agnostic, Pagan, Atheist, Hindu, and lover of all things without any title or specific church. All of these people have enriched my life. They have all given me information on how to be a better person and how to deepen my own spiritual life.
While there are certainly many people who choose their spiritual path in adulthood, I think most people follow the path set by their parents. It's convenient. It's what you know. It's probably the instruction you received growing up. There is nothing wrong with that. It's what I have done.
I am Christian greatly by default. That is the religious tradition I grew up with. There were many years that I struggled with that path. It felt too narrow. I did not like all of the damnation for others. Especially in light of the fact, very few of my friends were Christian, and I never truly believed that they were going to hell (I still don't). So, I left the church.
I started practicing the Bahai Faith, a beautiful religion, and did for 3-4 years. Julia was dedicated at the Bahai Learning Center on Lockwood, in Kirkwood. My mother baptised her at the ceremony. It made her feel better about us not being at the Christian church. It was very special. That religion taught me so much and I will forever be grateful and love the people I know from that tradition. But, the fact that I was not practicing the tradition of my family was tearing my mother and I apart. Within the Bahai faith, discord is not good. Harmony is important.
Kalyn had been going to preschool at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (GSLC) for three years. It was close to us, reasonable in price, and I loved the spirit in that place (if you need a preschool look it up, it is still fabulous!!). I went to speak to Pastor Tom about my delima. I asked him three questions: What do you think about other religions? How do women figure into your church? What is the church's stance on homosexuality? His answers made me realize that the church I had grown up in was narrow, the Christian faith was not. So, I went back to the Christian church.
I found, in that house of worship, a home that believed what I did and was open to ideas and ways to strengthen it's congregation that might come from divergent paths. Don't get me wrong, it is a Lutheran church that follows Christ, but they did not mind that I thought other religions were equally right in their ways. They welcomed women into all levels of the community and infrastructure. They openly accepted gays, and most recently are allowing gays, who are ordained, to serve while in a committed relationship.
I found a place where I do not have to, after a sermon, explain to my children "well I know you heard that, but that is not what our family believes," like I have at other houses of worship. My husband, who does not subscribe to any organized religion, is always welcomed and greeted and accepted for who he is at Good Shepherd. My father-in-law, who is Jewish, is also openly welcome. We have families at the pre-school that are not Christian that come to our community event because they know we are just happy to see them and will not try to change them, or point out why their path is the wrong one.
This is why I participate so much in my church community. It gives me a sense of belonging to something greater than myself. I can be myself. I know that any of my friends or family members can join my family for events and I do not have to worry about a revival happening around them in hopes of converting them to our way. I know I can listen to sermons with an open heart and mind, because they are being delivered with an open heart and mind. I participate in service projects because they are meant to help all people, not just Christians or people willing to convert.
So, anytime you want to talk religion, come my way. I would love to hear your thoughts, where they come from and how they guide you. If you are hurting, sick or otherwise need help, I will pray for you, because I so believe in it's power. If you ever want to join us at church, no matter what your background is, feel free. There will be no conversion happening. Hopefully just a calmness of spirit and happiness that I find when I walk through the church doors.
On the other hand, if you belong to a cool place that has classes, services, invite me! I would love to come and experience what makes your spirit happy. Is it at a church, a mosque, the synagogue, the park, an NPR lecture? They are all beautiful places with information for living a good life.
So, today be happy. Acknowledge your spiritual self in anyway that speaks to you. I will end with a favorite quote I have heard lately. "Namaste" is a word that roughly means: the divine in me acknowledges the divine in you. So, on the note, have a happy day and "Namaste Bitches!"
(seriously, that is the quote I was talking about, it's freakin' hilarious.)
This blog is a stream of conciousness from my head to the keyboard to the screen. There will be talk of random subjects. If you have delicate eyes, proceed with caution. I like to talk about controversial subjects and sex a lot. So, take heed my friends. This is not a blog for debate, but for love and sharing. If your views do not match my own, love to you, but don't bring the rest of us down. That's all I'm saying.