It is amazing that I'm allowed to use my brain. I still can't get over it. Having only left organized religion in January, the phenomenon still fills me with excitement and this undeniable RELIEF. God didn't give me a brain so I could put it on a shelf. He gave it to me as a GIFT, to USE. And then he placed me on Earth, with all sorts of mysteries surrounding me for me to figure out, not the least of which is God himself. This mental stimulation is so satisfying compared to the brainwashed state of my first forty years of existence. Once a person who claimed to make all my decisions based off of emotion, I now revel in the logic of it all.
First things first. The entire Protestant half of Christianity claims as its only authority the Bible. Before, I accepted this on "faith". Now, I can see the inherent ridiculousness. A book that big and obscure can be interpreted in a limitless number of ways. Groups of people decide they like one interpretation better than another, and church denominations are born. Then they make the audacious claim that they are interpreting the Bible "literally" and so, they lay it as their foundation. It is not their foundation. Their INTERPRETATION of it is their foundation.
They can, for example, admit the book of Job was an allegory, given that it has all the literary signs of being one. Protestants want to insist he was a real man. So, our God who is LOVE up there makes bets with Satan that involve our ruin and destruction, not to mention confusion and fear. I'd hate to be a Job, and who can say if that ever-so-perfect Father in heaven is still making those gambles with our welfare??
I promised in my last post I'd talk about my new belief system.
Belief #1: Anywhere you see love in the Bible, you're hearing the voice of God. If the Bible is claiming God did something unloving, that is the human world trying to justify itself.
Example: Imagine living back in Biblical times, and wanting to take over an area of land. You don't want to share it's riches with the existing population, but would rather just take them all for yourselves. So, you claim God called upon you to wipe them off the face of the planet. It's called genocide, people. When Hitler did it, he was (rightly) accused of being the most evil person ever born. When God does it, it's okay, because those were bad people anyway, and this land is supposed to belong to the chosen race. Sort of sick, if you ask me.
Belief #2: Prayer is not like giving a song request to the Holy DJ in the sky.
When it comes to this topic, I cannot get over the EPIC amounts of voluntary blindness that takes place. And I cannot get over how much I used to participate in it. The world is harsh and real. Bad stuff happens. It has to do more with choices people make and physics than anything else. I have no problem believing in miracles. But I have to say: the real world and my experience of it suggest very little to no involvement by God on the physical plain. I understand people waking up to this neglectful-parent-figure God, who didn't protect them from a bad experience, and not deciding to have faith that all things work out for the good of those who love Him. Instead, they quit having faith all together. How can you trust a God like that?
So, why haven't I lost my faith, despite seeing the obvious? Well, it comes down to life experience. I have felt the presence of the love of God within myself. I see that there is good in the world, and much that inspires my awe. I see God in others, and I've watched lives changed by love. And not just a mundane love, but one that is bigger than all of us. I have read and understood the story of Jesus Christ, and chosen to believe it was real. Why? It rang true.
I think God's goals are different than ours. He cares about the heart. I have found deep within myself a place that cannot be touched by the outside world. A place of peace, where I need nothing. The part of me that watches me have my human experience, but doesn't ever get caught up in it. God protects that place with love and joy; nothing can harm it. And I believe everyone has it. The rest of this is just illusion, created to give us true freedom of will.
So do I pray? For things concerning the heart, yes. That is where God moves most often. In secret, changing hearts. And I pray for the connection it brings. A prayer of living life "hanging out" with God, not necessarily using words. Just being there, and enjoying his presence.
Up next: My changed beliefs on fellowship, the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice and organized religion.