Jan 25, 2007

Some Thoughts on God and Religion

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Rising sun In the past few years I have been reevaluating my faith, trying to reconcile the multiplicity of influences on matters spiritual that have nudged me along the path on enlightenment.

I am by definition a Catholic of the Roman persuasion, and I attend Mass less frequently than I once did. There was a period of time when I never missed a service, served as a lector during Mass, and participated wholeheartedly in my parish.

A series of life-changing experiences, however, shook my faith. The events themselves are not worth repeating here, save to say that I - like many other lost souls - encountered circumstances that made me question the existence of God. There were nights during the height of my misery when I shook my fist and cursed God; how, I railed, could there be a God who lets evil befall a faithful servant? While no saint, I worked hard to be a good Christian, and it seemed I was rewarded by being shat upon.

It took me a few years to get past my misplaced anger toward God. I have since come to terms with the period of my life that once seemed unfair, and I understand that I will never really "know" God in this life, at least not in the sense of being able to comprehend why certain tragedies happen.

Wisdom gained from such life experiences certainly has lasting value, though I would never willingly choose to a path of pain simply for the long-term perspective gains. I still struggle, though, when I listen to spiritual leaders who claim that their flavor of faith is the One True Faith, and that all others are lesser (or even heretical) beliefs.

In my opinion there are a great many paths to God, and there are at least as many routes that can lead us in directions away from spiritual fulfillment. Some false paths are more quickly recognized as counter-spiritual, such as drug addiction or an obsession with wealth. Others - like cults - seem to provide the answer to burning spiritual questions, but which snare many unfortunate souls who fall for their Siren songs of false prophecy.

There are also people we meet along the way - call them angels, if you'd like - who live as directional signposts toward enlightenment. Maybe "tour guide" would be a better term for those souls we encounter who seem to have just the piece of advice we need at a moment of spiritual crisis. Perhaps God works through these people, offering us possible paths to inner peace, if only we see their signs.

8 comments:

John Spalding said...

Amen sir! Great post. I feel from the christian religious experience when I started studying methods of social control in class. However, I never lost my spirituality and faith in the human race. O'reilly would say that I am on of those secular humanists trying to ruin the world. I go to First Unitarian Universalist when I need a spiritual home. Unitarian Universalism's 7 principals are basically my beliefs.

microdot said...

There are a few big stones in the forests around here that I have a lot of respect for.....

historymike said...

My spiritual path has taken me down many roads.

I was born to parents who were, respectively, Baptist and Episcopalian. They compromised and we became Presbyterians.

I went to a Lutheran grade school for a few years, and then a Catholic high school.

I dabbled in Eastern religions for a few years before meeting my future spouse.

My wife, who is Catholic, convinced me to convert, but a stubborn Catholic priest refused to marry us because I had not yet completed the conversion process.

We got married in a Unitarian Universalist church since we were not willing to change the date to accommodate the aforementioned recalcitrant priest.

I have yet to investigate Islam or Judaism, but hey - I still have time.

:-}

kooz said...

Michael...

I am former Roman Catholic...turned Independent Baptist.

I would like to say that if you really study all the major religions...you will find in their books that they all claim to be the one true faith.

Of course...being a Christian and Baptist...I believe when Jesus said He is the only way to the Father.

Anyways...I am certain that if your are searching and praying...God will lead you into the direction you are supposed to go. If you don't mind...I will be including you in my prayers that God will show you the way...

The Screaming Nutcase said...

It's probably actually good that you're questioning your faith--that tends to make it stronger in the long run (I fear the people who have never questioned anything).

Maggie Thurber said...

I, too, have 'seen angels' - those people who come along at the right time with the right comment/direction/question that points you in the direction you need to go.

They're invaluable - if you can recognize it..

This was a good post...thanks for sharing it.

Do said...

What a wonderful post. Thanks.

We all have moments - admitted or not - that we question our purpose and our deeds. It's part of the human factor.

There was a time in my life when I would sit and talk with my mom and tell her that if what I was going through was a test being administered by God, then he needed to mark me pass or fail and let me go. She told me that I would know when I had passed/failed. And I did.

It's funny that sometimes our faith is challenged - be it faith in God, in ourselves, in our friends, or just in general. No matter what the challenge it seems as though we all come away a little wiser. Quite possibly a little more tolerant and a whole lot more wide-eyed.

Thanks again.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Mike,

I was born, baptized and educated in Catholic schools through high school.

I was also an altar boy.

I do not question my faith but those representing the faith in the "Catholic Church Business;" and a business it is, the way that they practice it.

However I also do not question the motivations of most priests, nuns, and the lay practitioners, as there are many fine people in the Church and a few scoundrels/degenerates who give the good ones a black eye.

I too have seen angels, but haven't always recognized them nor followed their advice...