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Religious Questions

Despite all philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings – Dalai Lama XIV

What do you base your religious beliefs off of? Is it what your parents taught you? Or is it radically different?

In comparison, when you buy a new car, do you do all of research to find one that you want. A car that you will enjoy driving every day. Or do you buy what your parents recommend blindly? Trusting that they know what is best for you.

If your parents are Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, etc… is that what you practice too? Have you ever explored other religions?

Is your religion the one true religion and everyone who doesn’t practice it, are they going to hell?

If your a Christian, is the Bible the end all be all guide for life? Who is King James? What is the history of the Bible? Who decided on the books that it contains? What was not included in the book? Why the specific order of books? Are the translations to English from the original Greek and Hebrew versions accurate?

Does your religion explain the dinosaurs? There is undisputed evidence that they existed. So where do they fit in?

Does your religion talk about the possibility of other worlds and other alien races? With billions of visible stars, there has to be other planets that contain living beings.

Questioning what you believe is important. Most people question everything in their lives except for religion. Why?

I was brought up in a very religious home. We were very active member of a Bible church. It was a non-denominational church. Later I found out that my father’s family was Catholic and my mother’s (growing up in Sweden) was Lutheran. So the church that I lived and breathed in most of my life was actually a compromise for my parents. It wasn’t the religion of choice for either parent.

Then when I was 16 I did a mission trip through an organization called Teen Missions. My church raised thousands of dollars for me to go on this trip. I was gone for most of the summer months. But while I was there I received very little mail from my church. I sent letters to people almost everyday explaining what I was doing and what a difference I was making in other people’s lives. But I heard nothing from my church. It was a real eye opener for me.

When I returned from my trip, I looked at things from a different view point. I saw things that I didn’t think existed before my mission trip. Church members that had trouble with the law, alcohol issues, teen pregnancies, members that used church only as a social environment. It seemed like 5% of the church members were SUPER religious and their whole life was dedicated towards it. While the other 95% of the church members were there strictly for the fire insurance. You know…. the whole hell thing.

My life has been different since then. I do not attend a church. I am often annoyed by the super religious people around me. I base my Sunday morning plans around the “church crowd” that lets out of a local Baptidome down the street. I explore and read other cultures and religions that move me. But even though I was super religious in my childhood. Now I am not at all.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Michael Koby September 27, 2011, 6:59 pm

    Wish you had brought this up when I was working with ya. This is a topic I really like to discuss. I have a similar background. Raised very religiously, did youth group, mission trips, etc. But as I got older I became very disillusioned with my church and stopped going. A large part of the problem was people in the church who didn’t really live what they said they believed, though they were very active in the church. Recently I read a couple of books that helped me better define where I was and what I wanted spiritually. And I recommend them both.

    The first is “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” by Wayne Jacobson. (http://www.amazon.com/You-Dont-Want-Church-Anymore/dp/0964729229)

    It’s a fantastic book that really takes a cold hard look at what is “church” versus “The Church” and does a really good job of not being overly crazy with large amounts of references and such. However if you want some answers to the questions you ask you should also give “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna a shot. It covers where much of the current thinking and ritualistic nature of the modern day church comes from (and you’ll be surprised by some of it).

    Both were really good, though I only got about halfway through “Pagan Christianity.”

  • Kim September 27, 2011, 7:42 pm

    the problem with people who will defriend all because you don’t buy into their brand of “Christianity” are those very same people I call out as being phony.

    Isn’t their whole schtick to love and accept all? They don’t if they judge you because you have different views. This has been a topic we’ve discussed for the better part of 14 years so I won’t hijack your post here with my rhetoric on the topic just know that if they want to be *that* person … you’ve far passed them because you are honest and upfront with what you believe.

    And truth of the matter is – you don’t owe anyone an explanation. 🙂

  • Kim September 27, 2011, 8:02 pm

    So. This is a topic I discuss often and read often. It’s an annoyance almost really.

    My opinion is religion is really no more than a “operating manual” for how someone believed another should behave/believe and perform. Bibles are simply books, written by someone or a group of someone to document their beliefs or what they were told to write.

    Take for instance Henry the 8th. Very famous King, right? He had his subjects write, at his whim, what his “religion” was going to be and he forced it upon his people. It’s just someone’s thoughts at that moment.

    So if the idea of a religion is to develop a code of conduct, so to speak, what makes any one religion better than the next? If it suits that environment and those individuals who follow it, let them be. If it doesn’t suit, ignore it.

    My issue with the “Christian” faith is this judgmental, better than you, my belief is the only belief crap they spew! I’m going to borrow a Facebook post I saw recently as it fits my point of view here on how hypocritical and nonsensical it all really is to force a belief upon anyone.

    Follow the rules that make sense to you to live a good life and be a good person. It’s THAT simple.

    ** borrowed **

    Kevin Hodges To B(urn) or not to B(urn) that is the question…. On her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative: ——————–…———————————————————— Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination …. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

    1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination n than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
    Your adoring fan, James M Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian).

  • Lisa September 27, 2011, 9:01 pm

    I worked really hard in my childhood and adolescence to “get” religion. I searched high and low—through many different faiths and a dozen Christian denominations—and all I came away with was a realization that religion is about control of the masses by a privileged few. It was demoralizing, coming to that understanding, and it resulted in a steady, fairly comfortable progression into agnosticism as I grew into adulthood. I am confident in my view that religion is a tool used by the savvy to take advantage of the ignorantly faithful.

    Still, even with that understanding, I continue to explore spirituality, which is an entirely separate—but related—subject altogether. I enjoy thinking, reading, and talking to anyone who’ll approach the subject open-mindedly. As an agnostic, I don’t think we’ll ever know anything (about God) for sure, but it’s interesting to consider the possibilities.

    I have a favorite quote about religion, from Deepak Chopra. I saw him on a television show years ago and he stunned me with the following words: “There’s a saying in India: ‘God gave humans the truth. Then the devil came and said ‘I’ll organize it for you, and call it religion.'” — Deepak Chopra (as quoted in the Ancient Mysteries episode “Secrets of Sex: Kamasutra”)

    The idea that the devil set up religion really blew the timid-and-trembling Southern Baptist right out of me. Of course, I don’t really believe in the devil… but the idea that religion is of a sinister source really resonated with me.

    I’d like to read your thoughts on spirituality.

  • Linda Morgan Clark September 27, 2011, 9:07 pm

    Marc, I don’t very often attempt to answer the “big questions” others have – questions such as you raise. I find that to be an exercise in futility, largely because there are a lot of questions that really have no answers – truth can be an elusive thing, you know. So what I try to do is answer my own questions as best I can. I too was reared in a very conservative, and largely unquestioning “Christian home.” However, I sought my answers in college and seminary and private research and study. I’ve never been afraid (don’t really know where the courage came from) to question how things in the Christian tradition came to be and never been shaken in my trust in God (and no I can’t really prove the existence of God) because the answer turned out to be different than what I was told as a child was true. I’ve lived long enough to try the best I can to live by a biblical principle (which Jesus said was the summation of what God required = the “Law”) to love God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. I don’t do either perfectly and on some days not at all, but so I suppose that makes me a hypocrite – and human. As I’ve studied deeply about that principle I’ve come to acknowledge that loving myself, my neighbor and God are really all the same thing. I suppose some would say I’m a heretic. But I’ve yet to meet anyone that is 100% orthodox (whatever that is!) or knows all the truth.
    I’m not into persuading others to follow my truth, but I will share something of what my life experiences have shown me make life worth living. And I decided long ago to continue being part of a community of people who are also having their own experiences, seeking answers and living just as imperfectly as I do. That’s what I call “church” – and, yes, it’s true, we’re a bunch of hypocrites most of the time. But, by in large, we wish we weren’t and that others would understand that church is where hypocrites gather to attempt however they can to touch at least occasionally something or someone larger than themselves..

    • Marc Morgan September 27, 2011, 9:19 pm

      Thank you Linda. It is nice to have a comment from a person with your background. The search for the answers to all of your questions doesn’t happen overnight and should never stop. You inspire me!

  • Gerald Wilson September 28, 2011, 12:28 am

    Marc,you know me,you know I have pretty odd ideas for the most part. So here goes. The short winded version. I believe in reincarnation. I also believe in a Supreme Creator. I believe that our souls are pieces of that Supreme Creator,designed with the purpose of experiencing life and growing as a spiritual being. When we pass we go to the S.C and join with it so that it may experience life through us. Eventually we return to human form to continue learning and attempting to become perfect. We will continue like this until we achieve all the spiritual growth we can and at that time we rejoin the S.C permanently. The S.C is like a large diamond with a million facets. Each facet represents a different god or belief system so that every person can have access to the S.C . Hence the “all things to all men“. Some people or souls need church or organized religion to assist with their growth. Some are past that point..they need no church..no preacher..they need nothing but to live and be. Gathering these lessons to them…seeking that state of perfection that is at the end. Now that is a very basic explanation of it,I’d hate to bore you with the rest. I started thinking this years ago even before the Army ,because of the inflexible nature of most Christians. Here is one point to prove my point. A bible thumper at work was droning on an on about his church and how Jesus was perfect and everything when I stopped him with this. I said..“Jason, is suicide a sin.“ He said “Yes it is.“ I said Well,then Jesus is perfect or without sin.“ Jason said “Yes he is ! He NEVER sinned!“ I told him “BULLSHIT. This is the same Jesus that healed the sick,raised the dead,walked on water and all that right?“ He allowed that it was. I then said “ How is it a guy can do all that an yet he couldn’t get down from a cross! Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed by Judas,told him to do it! Then he went knowingly and willing to his death on the cross. He comitted suicide.“ Jason had nothing further to say.

  • Meg September 28, 2011, 8:36 am

    One of my favorite topics! My religious background was all over the map: Catholic mother excommunicated for marrying my divorced Protestant father, who himself was the nonpracticing descendant of Dunkers. We didn’t start attending church until I was around 10 or 11, and then it was a hellfire and brimstone church led by a distant relative of my father’s. He and my dad eventually had a theological falling out and we stopped going, which made me almost deliriously happy because this was the kind of church that baptized people in icy cold rivers in March, and there was a creepy guy who kept asking my father if he could court me when I was all of 13. I attended a Lutheran university, which was fairly liberal at the time, where I had loads of classes in the history of religions. It was so exciting to consider Jesus from a political point of view, the Bible as literature, to learn about the pagan origins of many Christian rituals, and, most of all, the opportunity to study Buddhism and practice zazen. Later, as a young prof at this same school, which by this time was no longer liberal but turned 180 degrees conservative, I enraged a student when I said the Bible could not be used as an objective reference for a term paper; he demanded to know what I based my decision on, so I pointed out all the dietary laws in Deuteronomy that he was breaking with the fast-food lunch he was eating at his desk.

    Several years after this, I tried to connect with family and friends and provide my son with a better school by attempting to become a Roman Catholic, but that ended disastrously as my son and I learned how the church really operated. Now neither one of us wants anything to do with organized religion. In the end, I find Buddhist thought to be a natural base from which to consider and reconsider life, and Zen in particular a comforting practice, yet I do not call myself a Buddhist or a practitioner. I cannot abide fundamentalism, and I cannot abide politicians who allow it to determine public policy.

  • Helen L. Self July 28, 2012, 6:39 pm

    In my late 30’s I began a deep Bible Study, asking for the Holy Spirit to teach me from the Bible and the Bible alone. I asked simple questions and got clear answers from ‘Thus saith the Word!’ I was ‘born again’ at age 39, and for me life actually began at 40!! I will be glad to do Bible Studies with anyone, just send me an E-Mail and we will work out how to proceed, Sincerely, Helen L. Self

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