God Loves Us….this I know….

Dove of Peace, World Religions

 

Some time ago, I challenged all of us (myself included) to learn as much about a religion other than our own as possible.

I had planned on coming back here two months later to write a blog on my own discoveries but life got in the way.

That does not mean that I haven’t spent a good deal amount of time in reflection of God and Religion.  I also followed through on two of my challenges.  I re-read those parts of the Bible that I skimmed over previously, I read the Mahabharat and some of the Upanishads and I reviewed the basic tenets of Islam and Judaism.  I also spoke to my husband about his feelings on God and Religion (as he was born and has practiced Hinduism all his life), I emailed with a friend of mine who is Muslim to ask her the same and spoke to my cousin who is Jewish.

And what I found did not surprise me in the least.  It only confirmed my own convictions.

We all just want to love God, worship God and do God’s work.

That’s all.

We may do it in different ways or say different things, but we still do it.

I did learn one astonishing thing.  Everyone felt that it is the same God that we all pray too.  Christian, Hindu, Jew and Muslim all felt that it is one prevailing God who watches us and loves us.

I understand that this is by no means the end conclusion and that there would be many, even within my childhood religion, which would disagree and do so passionately.

“The Christian God cannot be the Hindu God!!!”  they would proclaim loudly  “The Hindu’s worship more than ONE God and bow before Cows!!!”.

Or this…

“The God of Islam cannot be the God of Christianity as our God is pure and devout and would never allow the decadence of the West!!!”

Or this…

“Jehovah cannot be the God of any of those religions as Jehovah was the First TRUE God!  All other’s are pale imitations and usurpers!”

And I think that this is the point of the problem.

I think the problem is not God or religion, but MAN.

Growing up, I had many issues with Christianity.  I didn’t like that animal were thought to have no souls and therefore would never make it to Heaven.  I hated that the women were depicted as either sluts or pious virginal wives.  I despised the intolerance.  I loathed the hypocrisy of men and women attending church on Sunday only to go and sin the other 6 days in the week, secure that they were saved because they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savor and no other deeds were necessary.

My Mother and Father did not force us children to attend church after we were old enough to decide for ourselves.  They encouraged us to learn of other religions.  They wanted us to choose for ourselves and then they would honor that choice.

Other kids weren’t as lucky; their parents shoved their religion of choice down their children’s throats.  They talked of hell and fire and brimstone.  Because where I grew up was called the “Bible Belt”, I never had much opportunity to meet and speak with people of religions other than Christian or Jewish.  But I was a voracious reader and I gobbled up religious texts as much as I did Sci-Fi and Horror.

By the time I was 21, my feelings about Religion were fairly set if not a bit crude.  I felt that anyone who stuck with one church and one religion and refused to learn anything new was a bore and ignorant about what God was really about.  I started referring to myself as Spiritual rather than Religious.  If I was forced to list my affiliation, I would put down the religion of my father – Brethren – but it always made me upset that I had to do that.  There was no other choice, either I chose Christianity, lied about it or selected Atheist (which I wasn’t) or None (which I wasn’t either)….I considered myself ALL.  As I grew older, I began to meet people who did practice what they preached and all of the sudden Christianity did not seem such a beast to me.  I found people who’s hearts were warm and welcoming, people who forgave and forgot, people who did their best to live a good and wholesome life irrespective of the death of Christ that washed away their sins.  In essence, I began to learn there was a different side to the religion I grew up with and had never witnessed.

There is several universal truths and one of them is this: kids can be cruel.  However, they have the same cruelness that adults have.  Kids are just more honest and upfront about it.  While an adult will smile to your face and whisper behind your back, a kid will tell it like it is right then and there.

When I was younger and still forming my ideas, I faced a lot of issues from what a few us kids called the “bible thumpers”.  They would yell that I was a heathen for not praising Jesus for saving me.  They spat and said I was going to hell and that their Mommy and Daddy said I was “unclean” and that they shouldn’t play with me in the schoolyard because my family didn’t “attend church” regularly.  Some kinder souls offered to take me with them to their church in the hopes that I could be “saved”.

They would whisper that word as if I had some horrible disease that needed to be avoided and pitied.

“She’s not saved!” they would whisper in the lunch line or at the swings.

And a part of me WANTED to be saved just so I would fit in.  Just so I would belong.  Just so the picking would stop.

And there you have the world as it is now.

Some people go along with others just so they can fit in, belong and so the harassment and torture stop.  It happens in all things; look at the world as it is now.  It’s not just religion that this happens in, it’s in Politics and Society.

I know what your argument is going to be…especially those of you anxious over the terrorists.  You say that they are mostly Muslim.  You say that their religion preaches all these horrible and atrocious things.  You say that it’s condoned in their religion to beat their women and force them to wear covering.  You say they have the ability to declare Holy War on anyone who does not believe in Allah.

And you would be right.  I won’t disagree with you.

But that is not all of Islam.  These things do not define it.

Just as the eye for an eye, animal sacrifice, multiple wives, bigotry, and Holy Wars did not define Christianity.

We all have this evil within our religious texts to some degree.  Yes, ALL of us.  Even some pieces of the peace-loving Hinduism has this.

It’s what PEOPLE chose to do with it that is important.  Just as in Christianity, we no longer chose to sacrifice so much life for an offering to God and we no longer allow the Church to rule the Law of man.  Christians now practice what S. Morgenstern liked to call “The Good Parts Version”.  Some of today’s Christian’s pick and choose what to follow in the Bible.  Some will tell you things changed because Christ came and wiped away our sins and this is why we no longer have to do some of the things we once did.  I call this hypocrisy.  Jesus preached as much eye for an eye as the last man.  That Christians no longer follow all the rules of the Bible is both good in some ways and bad in others, but it does not change that they are behaving hypocritically while pointing fingers and throwing stones whilst living in glass houses.  I prefer the Christians who recognize the faults in our Bible and live to prove these wrong.  I prefer the people who say not everyone is wrong and not everyone is right….only God is, without claiming any ownership to God for their own chosen religion.

Like my father says, you can speak with your mouth but your hands tell a different story.  (This after he suspected I had been digging in my parents garden without permission, I said “No Daddy” and even though my hands were clean, my nails weren’t…also I had left the shovel with clumps of mud, idiot child that I was.)  It’s hard for me to digest that it’s perfectly OK for a Christian to judge another person when the Bible says we must not…that is God’s province.

And the same holds true for the other religions as well, not all Muslims follow the tenets of the Book of Islam any more than all Christians follow theirs or the Jews or the Hindu’s or any other religion of the world.

I don’t believe that God cares how we come to him, I think he only cares that we DO come.

I believe that God does not want his children to argue over him.  I think he gave each of us something to follow because that is what we could best understand.

There are many similarities in the religions of the world, but the most important one is that God teaches love to all things, great and small.  Somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten that.

We are like children fighting on a playground over one Dodge Ball.  All of us want to play with it but with different rules and none of us want the other to have it for their own game.

So what can be done to heal the breach?  I know some people (maybe a lot) would say that it’s too touchy a subject.  Too heated a debate.  But why should it be?  Shouldn’t it be the most sweet and loving topic we all have in common?

If President Obama were to ask me, “What you would do to solve the worlds Religious tensions?”, I would suggest the creation of a UN for Religions.  Where people of all the world’s religions would come together to talk, to share, to compare and discuss.  People who were respected enough within their own that the information they shared with the public would be heard and understood.  I would encourage a World Religious School where the Religious Scholar’s could teach the world about each other’s religion.  Where, in order to graduate in Theology, you had to have gone to study for at least two years if not more.  I would want it that in any Political meeting of Country’s, those leaders from that Country’s religion also be in attendance to give their insight.

I do not say that the world should be guided by religion as that is folly…man must abide by man’s earthly laws.  But entirely removing religion from the equation is not the answer either.  Whether people want to admit it or not, religion plays a large part in what defines us as individuals, people, society, culture and country.  We should have our world’s religious leaders there as well, but only if they are men and women who grasp the meaning of this gesture.  That they can no longer hold on to “us” and “them” mentality but instead embrace “all of us together”.

What are your thoughts on this?  You’re points of view?  You’re opinions?  Have you done your homework?  What did you learn from talking to your friends of other religions?  What did you glean from your reading of another religious text?

Share and let’s ALL be enlightened!

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17 thoughts on “God Loves Us….this I know….

  1. Pingback: Reading Suggestion: Topic – Hinduism « Gori Rajkumari

  2. Heathu:

    Hey Gori Rajkumari! I just recently discovered your blog not too long ago (like literally two days ago), and I just wanted to reply to this post about religion since I’m going through a similar thing myself. Towards the end of last year I was really interested in learning about other religions because I realized that I didn’t really know anything about them. It has been a little difficult since there is so much that goes into religious studies, but I’ve slowly begun to chisel my way through the information. Anyway, I think you are right — that we should share our ideas more and get to know one another, but I think a lot of religious people believe their religion is the only “true” way to get salvation and all the others are going to hell or something. This poses a real problem when you have a lot of people who all believe their religion is the only “correct” one. I do believe that we should be more tolerant of other religions, but I’m not quite sure how to get others onboard if you know what I mean.

    In reference to what did I learn from talking to people from other religions — I was already interested in learning about Islam before I met Urfi, but talking to him about what he believed helped me gain a better understanding of Islam. I still don’t know everything there is to know about this religion, but I have a better idea about it than I did before. I learned about Hinduism from one of my friends as well which was interesting since I didn’t really know anything about this religion. I may not believe everything they believe, but I think I have learned to appreciate some parts of their religions. I also recognize that they really value what they believe and I respect them for that.

    • Hi Heathu!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Please excuse my delay, it’s been so very hectic here for the past few weeks

      I think it’s lovely that you are exploring your obtions with regards to faith. It’s important to know as much as you can about anything before making a heavy decision and one’s faith is the most important and critical of all in my opinion.

      I’ve found that while I am not any one religion, I am so serious in my Spirituality that I feel safe to say that I am all the good parts versions of everything that I’ve learned over the course of the years. I recognize the good in them all, faithfully follow what is morally correct for me and don’t judge what other’s feel is right for them. Unless of course it hurts them or me or someone else. Then I’m going to question, question, question! 🙂

      I think you are on the right path to finding what’s good for you and I support you whole heartedly!!!

      Excellent comment and please keep coming back!

      I really like what you’ve done with your own blog by the way!

  3. Great post! I’ve made resolutions to study more too, not always to the best success.

    My husband says that all Abrahamic religions are basically the same and basically intolerant (all believe there is only one God and that theirs is it). I can see where he would get that impression. I wonder why that is? Is it a basic East-West divide?

    On the other hand, he surprised me by saying that if we move somewhere where the best schools are Catholic ones, we’d send our kids to them.

    Or in India with his dad taking him to pray at mosques sometimes even though in his dad’s region (old Hydrabad Karnataka) Muslims persecuted Hindus severely. His parents took us to a Sufi shrine too, but then his mom worries about Muslims having too many kids and out populating Hindu Indians. Very complex and not at all black and white.

    Is Hinduism more humble or just more pragmatic?

    • Hey Minnesotameetskarnataka!

      Thanks so much for the comment, sorry it took me a while to respond. I got sick last weekend and have been sick ever since. Today I had enough energy to come online.

      I think your husband is right in some aspects. I must admit that I’ve met more people who are intolerant of other religions in Christianity than I have any other religion, however I also have to admit I KNOW more Christians. 😉

      But there is a problem with sweeping generalizations, they just don’t work. Not all Christians are intolerant and unfortunately it’s the ones who are who get more attention. Letting our thoughts wander to the edge of “Well…all of THOSE people are like such and such…” can be more damaging than the lie behind it.

      I think what it comes down to, once again, is the human factor. People want to be RIGHT about something, sure of something and God is the easiest path to that. We all have multiple texts backing this up and history is sometimes written to enable that. Read about the Crusades in some books and it was seen as an honorable and glorious thing, in other books it was nothing short of what happened under Hitler.

      I don’t see Hinduism as humble. Pragmatic is exactly the word I would use. I see it as being just older and wiser in some respects. Hinduism has a great base in philosophy and logic, where most other religions are based on faith alone (or magical occurrences that we just have to believe in). Hinduism allows for science in it’s worship. Buddhism is much the same. Most of the Abrahamic religions are opposed to science fulfilling any of God’s scriptures. I once asked our Paster (Brethren) if it were possible that God USED the Big Bang and Evolution as a tool since no one knew how long exactly one of God’s ‘Days’ truly is. He told me that that was absolutely possible, but that most mainstream religious beliefs didn’t allow that. It was fine for people to believe in water into wine or manna from heaven but not of anything that remotely smelled like ‘science’ to come into play.

      Does that make Hinduism right?

      My answer would be no. There is no right or wrong way. There is only God. I think when we move past ownership of him and start just loving him things will be much better. But is it human nature to do that?

  4. I just stumbled upon your blog this morning. It is so nice to read an opinion that reflects much of my own views. I used to blame organized religion but realized that it is not the books’ fault by the readers’. I am of the belief that all religion originated from one source, just as we humans did. I believe if people stopped being ignorant and claiming that their way is the only way… when all ways lead to the same end life would be a lot different. We are all human and the sooner we learn that we are all in this together the sooner peace will return to us. Religion is the result of culture and it should flow and ebb with us as we change and become intermingled. If people would stop concerning themselves with what others believe or do not believe the world would be a much happier place. I say live and let live… let go of the negative aspects and meld into one united believe in the betterment of all people living on this earth… otherwise we are going to destroy it all together.

    • I’m glad you found me and hope that you keep coming back! I tend to be a little late in my blogging here come of lately but am working to change that. So hopefully I’ll always have some fresh thing to keep you returning!

      I agree with your comment, if we don’t all start working together as one we are going to destroy each other from within. I sometimes wonder if it was always like this and being a child I didn’t see it or if it’s gotten worse with time. Either proposition is a scary one. I would much rather see a change for the better. But perhaps, when some of us lead the way, more will follow?

  5. I absolutely loved this post and it echoes a lot of my thoughts. Raised a Christian, converted to Islam almost 2 years ago, but these days I call myself a monotheist and think there’s beauty and truth in all religions.

    • I think we all go through changes as we grow and experience life and that includes our ‘religious’ preference. You’ve managed to find happiness and peace in more than one religion while remaining open minded to other’s and that’s a beautiful thing. I hope to see you keep commenting and sharing your views and perspectives!

  6. I agree with you cent percent. No religion say you have to kill people. No religion say you should be cruel.
    Peace is the only real thing and I always do my mite to promote peace.
    I have my own religion . It is to love all people and I pray to God that I love them with all my heart

  7. Few would have the courage to have a post on this subject, given the controversial nature of the topic. Good analysis and well documented on your part.

    This sentence encapsulates what all is wrong with ‘organized religion’ -> I think the problem is not God or religion, but MAN.

    I have come to refer to religion as ‘organized religion’ (along the lines of organized crime) when a few people have the power to sway the not just the belief, but also REASON of thousands, if not millions. Obviously, this is not a recent phenomenon; has happened since time immemorial. But since the time I had sufficient faculty, sense and knowledge to independently gauge and determine actions, and the consequences, of religious ‘leaders’, it has only reinforced the belief that ‘organized religion’ is the root of most of worlds disputes. Be it the Hindutva hardliners in India, the Imams of the middle east, the Jewish settlements, the Christianity espousing priests of America.

    Why just can’t people live and let live? If a person is not harming or disturbing another person, why cannot he/she practice any or all faith he/she likes? Why do you have to be classified as a Muslim, Hindu or Christian? Why do you need to go to a church, a temple, a gurdwara, a mosque to ‘practice’ a certain religion? Why can’t you practice it behind your closed doors, out in the field, in the mountain, in the sea; without other people being with you? – Just some of the questions that I have pondered on.

    I used to label myself as agnostic, but since coming to know about Bill Maher, I have become an ‘apatheist’ – apathetic to religion.

    • Absolutely Krishanu. When I brought that topic up to my Priest (that it was a human that wrote the bible and as all humans are fallible, doesn’t that also mean that maybe what they wrote could be too?) he agreed that it was possible but that it was still “divinely” inspired.

      He may have been right, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we all see things from our own prospective and act on that first rather than looking about us and deciding later.

      I feel that God gave each body of people something that they could understand and never meant for us to hijack it as being the end all, be all of God’s wisdom.

      But we are a jealous creature are we not? And want what we want when we want it.

      Thanks so much for your compliment and for your insight. It was very welcome and I hope to see you back again!

  8. I was raised Catholic but for as long as I can remember I have believed that people all over the world should not be doomed to Hell because they have different belief systems.
    I never got it. My young mind would think “So, if a child is born in a non Christian family they are instantly doomed. That is ridiculous!”.
    Now as an adult I do not practice the Catholic Faith. I have studied Buddhism in the past and now I am learning more about the Hindu faith. I really like the way the Hindu faith embraces both the earthly and the godly aspects.
    I really like the idea of the religion of “ALL”. 🙂 Maybe it will catch on?

    • Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if it did catch on? But then I keep thinking back to the Matrix, when the Agent said we are like a Cancer….that they had given us a Utopia to dream about and we rejected it. Says quite a lot about the human condition doesn’t it? Did I just wax eloquent while referring to the MATRIX????? 🙂

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