When I was a child my faith in all things supernatural, ethereal and religious (read Catholic) was pristine, unwavering and absolute. I was the queen of the Wonder Bread catechism - (you know, making Eucharist out of Wonder Bread because it was so full of nothing you could squash it into a flat "host" just like they used at my church! Builds strong bodies (and souls!) 12 ways! wheee!)
But I lost my faith in god when I was eight. My hamster died. I begged with all my 8 year old heart for god to give him back to me - 'he' didn't and that was the start of my doubts. Seems simplistic to those who maintain their faith throughout their lives, with much greater losses, but for me, that event was the crack in the foundation that eventually brought down the house. But I have nothing if not a belief in things being possible - even then and I continued to believe fully and without reserve in other things, like Santa Claus, and that there must indeed be something greater than us.
I no longer believe in the doctrines I was raised with but I think ... I hope... that there is something greater. I don't often discuss my own spiritual beliefs because to me that's intensely private, although I LOVE to talk religion because it still fascinates me. But that's the thing see, there's your personal faith and then there's religion. Faith - that's yours. It belongs to you and it is in you and informs (hopefully) the way you act towards your fellow creatures here on this planet where things are concrete not ethereal. But shouldn't that faith be a building block towards a better world rather than a tool for power mongering and inducing fear or distrust in your fellows? I think it should. I think that's what Jesus was talking about in the bible that is so often quoted by certain groups to chastise and denigrate other people who do not follow their party line.
I guess that's what people do though. They choose to use what they can to push their own views onto others. Because you know, those are the ONLY views that are right. Uh huh. Yeah.
If I may: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I do believe, please correct me if I'm wrong, that that particular quote is supposed to come from the lips of one Jesus of Nazarath. A fellow who quite frankly has my respect, while his so called followers do not. Not all, of course, I mean the ones who bastardize his teachings to suit themselves. It's called the Golden Rule because it pretty much epitomizes, to my understanding, all you really need to be a good person and live a good life. And isn't that what all religions boil down to? Be good. Be good to others and the rest will take care of itself. Trouble is that's just not enough for some people and they feel they have to MAKE everyone believe what they believe. Even to the point that it controls our government.
If I may, yet again: Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. Again from that kooky, peace-loving Jesus. Am I completely off-base to see that quote as a direct separation of church and state? Hmmmm. Always bothers me to see a gift shop in a church. I'm looking at you St. Patrick's Cathedral. And it always bothers me to see government run with a religious bent.
This country was founded on greed and acquisition. Oh yeah, and theft. Beads for land, small pox... a very nice history. It was also, in part, settled by people who were desperate to practice their religious beliefs without persecution - of course they were the first to persecute anyone who didn't buy into their faith: witchhunts anyone? But at least the ideal of freedom of religion was there... you know, to a degree.
I don't know where I'm going with this, just spouting off as usual. Something about Easter brings it all up in me. I guess it's the acquisition of other religion's festivals, hello bunnies, eggs and Passover and calling them uniquely Christian. I make no excuses for my own issues with the Catholic church and Christianity - I have many. Oddly enough many of them have to do with wavering on dogma. Ironic, no? Especially since my other issues are with dogma in general. Aiiieeee. Confusing much? Perhaps I should have studied Theology in school instead of theater.
I suppose my anger at religious institutions and the "I'm right, and you're going to hell if you don't agree with me" attitude is that I lost my faith. I'm angry that I don't have that any more. I'm angry and I'm very sad about it too. I'd love to have the unwavering faith I had as a child. I'd love to have that spiritual crutch of a dogma that I could follow blindly knowing it was the right way. But it's gone. Pffft. So I'm left to those basics that I do believe, that DO make sense. That one simple sentence Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's not always as easy as it might seem, but it's something to strive for, it's something to have faith in.