Religion I think is a good thing, it is like Communism-the theory is sound, but when you put humans in the mix we tend to muck it all up. It is a learning experience to see so many people say one thing and then their actions do not follow their belief system. I am in no way innocent of this, but I feel that I am trying everyday to make changes so I will not be a hypocrite. Having children has brought this into very clear focus because those little human beings actually look up to you whether you want them to or not. They pay attention to what you say and adapt your beliefs into attitudes. Till a certain age they take what you say as gospel or law and that is the way it should be, but we as parents have to be careful what we are portraying to our audience.
I was raised in a devoutly religious household and after I graduated high school my father became a part time Methodist minister. My freshman year in college I wrote a paper in Intro Lit about my life and I chose my father not finding religion till I was 3 years old. For everyone who was raised in a deeply religious setting this is a foreign concept and one that you will never understand. I learned about my father talking to him about the fact that he did not have a deity in his life until after he had a child. Meeting the people I have meet in life I have realized that people that find religion on their own tend to be almost fanatical about religion, whatever one they choose. It has something to do, I think, with coming to your own conclusions about this reality and what you accept as reality and what you accept as faith. Since I was forced to go to church from the time I can remember I had a very different relationship with a higher power than my father and still to this day battle with what is right and wrong. Because in short if you choose wrong, man that is going to suck for a very long time.
Many times my faith in a deity has been tested and it seems to always end up the same way: my faith stays with what I truly believe, not because my father told me to believe it but because I have experienced things that only lead to one conclusion. The biggest realization I made was when my father preached I enjoyed hearing my father talk. So on Sunday, when I lived in B’ham I would make a valiant effort to show up at my father’s church and hear what he had to say about his God. Then there were days and weekends when I would go on a camping trip or go backpacking, with friends or by myself, and I would see him Sunday for lunch or dinner and he always asked why I wasn’t at church. My response was always the same, “I was at church, just not your church.” I think he started to get the picture, but continued to ask why I was not in his church. I started to truly understand the belief that to believe in a higher power you do not need a place, people, or even a ritual. What you truly needed is faith and a overwhelming desire to commune with your chosen God.
Without faith we strive for a very immediate result. The one thing I have learned through the years is that I will never truly be right and will be wrong most of the time. So it is my belief that I should never judge anyone for what they believe. The thing I have found in all my travels and discussions with people of different faiths and religions is that all doctrines lead to a belief in truly being a good person and helping others. There are fringe sects of all religions and there will always be fanatics that take what is to believed and make it say what they need to fit every situation they desire. My faith has always been based on doing good and sending good out to the world. If I have not made this reality a better place once I am gone then I have failed the one I worship. It is my job to bring good into this world that I have seen so much evil within. I do not take it as a mantle or my crusade, but try to surround myself with others that want to help rather than hurt. With so many choices given to us in this modern world it is amazing that we can make a choice at all.