“I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.”
Perhaps one thing I developed as a child of Oklahoma is an innate sense of faith. It is something I take for granted; something I assume we all have in common. When I am proven wrong about faith — when I discover the great numbers of beliefless people, I am dumbstruck and a little bit sad.
Faith is often the only thing I have to hold onto, the rest of life’s trivial issues slipping away and seeming increasingly less important. That isn’t to say that my “willingness” to have a belief system has made me apathetic about the world. In fact, I think quite the opposite has happened. Life is filled with meanings — deep meanings. Everything seems so charged and alive, knowing there are forces working around us that are greater than we are.
It also seems that the further I get from home, the more bitter those around me seem about any sort of organized thought (and religion in particular). That is likely just part of working with books. Bookstores attract thinkers. One of the wonderful things about thinkers is that they often arrive at conflicting conclusions concerning existence. I love being surrounded by such a difference of ideas.
Faith seems like a foreign notion here in Alaska. Those of us with belief systems, regardless of those beliefs origins, are certainly not the majority. It is all very unsettling.
But I believe very strongly that the blame for this goes entirely to the religious leaders of the world. In their efforts to speak for God, a contemptuous act, they have alienated too many. With such a variety of people, it is hard for many to feel they belong into the rigid molds cast by well meaning theological dictators. That is unfortunate.
Christianity has already lost one fight. The hypocritical and belittling treatment of gays and lesbians over the decades has pushed us away. Feeling ostracized by an organization we weren’t sure we wanted to belong to, the community seems to have moved on. Faith isn’t important to the outcasts of religious society. And it seems that this isn’t a lesson the Christian community has learned. The persecution continues. And so it does with many groups who don’t fit the ideals of these individual schools of thought… these approved ways of being by the religious communities.
A well-organized effort to cater to and serve those who think for themselves or who don’t fit the exact mold of the perfect Christian could have had a positive effect on the spreading of Christian “values.” Exclusivity, a lesson not found in text, has become the hallmark of a people who cannot see the forest for the trees. They are too busy concerning themselves with superiority that they have not noticed that the power has already been surrendered to the angry and faithless. This is probably true of any religion. I can’t say anything on behalf of those I am not associated with.
It isn’t about these specific religious thoughts, but about faith. Simply having faith is the important part. For myself, I will continue to feel my way through blindly. My own faith is hardly shaken. I am saddened that there are so many without a place to turn when life gets to be difficult. They end up turning on themselves. I don’t feel that it is too late for the major religions of this planet. The most important thing is to eliminate hate. Without hate, the anti-faith movement has less footing. Without hate, support can be found in surprising places. Without hate, there will only be love. Love is something all types of people can support. With more people joining the efforts, support systems are built and mankind can only benefit from such a system.
30 March 2007
When I wrote these thoughts out, I had intended them to reflect a general impression I have gotten from fundamentalist Christian “leaders” in America. I realize that there are still understanding individuals whose values are based on love. I didn’t mean to generalize to the point of excluding those Christians from my argument. And I didn’t mean to say that there is no longer any hope. I think the battle has long been lost, but certainly not the war. In my opinion, it is up to the open-minded members of the Christian faith to bring the message to those who have otherwise been ignored. Those who preach hate have made that task very difficult, as there is now a resistance to faith of any kind.
My family attended a Church of Christ. Not strictly a denomination, Churches of Christ are gatherings of Christian worship where beliefs seem to be individualized. I felt encouraged to come to my own conclusions about the issues of the world and I didn’t have to share those beliefs with the person sitting next to me. This made church very personal for everyone. And that sense that it is your walk with God that makes the Churches of Christ so great. If anyone felt offended by my rant, I apologize, but this sense of increasing alienation is very real. And you should be offended. You should be offended that there are Christians spreading hate. You should be offended by apathy. You should be offended that the values of good people are being routinely dismantled.