Friday, February 09, 2007

3 Religious FAQs

These are questions I am frequently asked. If you have had any of these questions, I hope this blog entry will be interesting to you. If you know someone who has any of these questions, feel free to share this entry with them. Enjoy:

1. How can you believe in God?
A belief is just a habitual thought. I've spent my entire life thinking about God, so, believing in God is the natural consequence. Put another way, to believe in something is to focus one's attention on it. I have given a lot of attention to this question, so, naturally, "belief" is the result.
Now, WHAT do I believe about God? That complicates the issue. I'm 40 years old. I don't believe today what I did at 35, or 25, or 18, or 12, or 6. I'm not sure I believe what I did three weeks ago! That I believe seems natural. What I believe is constantly growing, changing, and being worked out.
I'm not married to god-language, and in fact, am quite put off by some speech and vocabularies about God. I personally don't "need" the word "god" for my spirituality at this moment, but in this western culture, we have inherited art, imagery, music, literature, and philosophies that use god-language. So, it is easier to follow the path of least resistance.
What I mean by "god" is the totality of All That Is, ultimate reality, the way life works, the substance of all form, the best aspects of existence (i.e., love, beauty, truth, hope, etc.). I believe in God because I believe in all that God represents. I could call It "Law" or "Love" or "Spirit" or anything else. The power of God isn't in what we call It, but in what we do with the concept once we've identified It.

2. Do you really believe Jesus is the son of God and/or the savior of humankind?
The real Jesus is shrouded in myth and mystery, legend and lore. The stories we have about Jesus were all written to promote specific agendas, many of which are largely unknown to the average person today. So whatever anyone believes about Jesus will involve a good bit of conjecture.
However, what Jesus represents to people on an emotional level is very real and important. The Jesus of our sacred stories and historic creeds represents a path to freedom, empowerment, and enlightenment, and those are things that I not only believe in but also strive to obtain and share. If stories about Jesus help offer some of us an experience of healing or liberation, then the hero of those stories is divine enough and does save us from needless limitation. That does not negate the heroes of other stories, nor does it diminish people who find freedom apart from mythic heroes, but for the Christian, Jesus is (at least rhetorically) the son of God and as such demonstrates that we too are sons and daughters of God, or more simply, that we all are persons of sacred value.

3. What happens to the soul after death?
To answer this one, I simply quote Dr. Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Science of Mind movement: "Immortality is not something we purchase from the Almighty, nor is it a bargain we make with the universe. Immortality either is a principle in nature and common to all [people] or it has no existence whatsoever."
I don't know what is next beyond this life. I don't know what is next for any of us in this life! I couldn't tell you what tomorrow holds. But the energy of life didn't begin in 1966 when I was born and I doubt if it ceases to be after my body stops functioning. I trust that we somehow, in some way, continue to exist beyond this experience of life. I do not believe that immortality is the reward for holding one kind of belief or that it is withheld from those who don't embrace a certain belief. If immortality exists, it exists for us all and the best way to prepare for it is to live this life well. If immortality does not exist, then the most reasonable approach to our one shot at life is to live it well. In either case, our goal should be to live life well. A life well lived will have few regrets, whether it is eternal or not. That having been stated, I continue to suspect that immortality is a reality.

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