This post is going to be about trying to dispel the feeling that some have that I am anti-religious. We don’t need less religion, just better versions.
The answer isn’t less religion — it’s better religion. A religion that moves us toward one another in understanding rather than away from each other in fear.
I know I sometimes come across as anti-religious. But I can tell you that is not where I am. I think spiritual connections are part of what makes us caring human beings and are therefore especially critical to our world today. The rest of the post is about how I evolved into the belief that I learned I share with Gandhi as shown below.
The critical word here is “fundamental”.
My Personal Path Through Religion
Let me start with a little personal history. I spent my grade school years in a Catholic school. It was there that I got my initial exposure to things spiritual. I was taught that the Catholic church was the only true religion. I was also taught that the Judaism had it wrong as they stopped short of finding the true god and that all the other self-proclaimed Christians were actually heretics that broke off the Catholic church for one reason or another.
In other words, Catholics were going to heaven and everyone else was doomed to hell! Even at that young age I thought there was something not quite right about those beliefs. Why would Johnnie, my best friend, not be in heaven with me. He was a nicer person than I was. These simple thoughts started me on a lifelong quest of understanding things religious.
Of course, the Catholic church has changed its mind about many of the things I was told were facts. It would be much later that I learned that much the history of Christianity was founded on fourth through tenth century theologians changing their minds or at least trying to fill in the gaps.
My most recent serious quest in search of religion started about fifteen years ago. After we joined a Lutheran congregation, and I was once again exposed to different beliefs that I could not find in the teachings of Jesus. This quest started much like some in the past by reading the Christian Bible cover-to-cover. I didn’t look forward to that as I knew from previous attempts that at least 90% of the biblical text was boring and had little or not correlation to what Jesus preached. It is pretty much a history book with a bunch of “begots”.
In addition to the biblical read, I started reading books about how the Bible was formed and even some non-secular history around that topic. Twenty books later I came to the conclusion that a large portion of the bible was formulated centuries after Jesus roamed the earth. In fact there is no real definite proof that even the four gospels were actually written by those who sat as Jesus’ feet. Many believe that those texts were named to honor of the author’s heroes, instead of the person who actually penned the text.
I think you can see where these revelations fundamentally changed my view of religion. Many, and probably most things that are considered sins in today’s church were invented by well-meaning theologians through the centuries who tried to put their spin on a growing religious institution. In other words the Bible was indeed written by men who lived, sometimes centuries, after the fact.
I could go through a long list of those examples but that is not the purpose of this post. My religion is based on the teaching of Jesus alone. I am in good company in that regard as Thomas Jefferson, among many others, have come to the same conclusion. I am not attacking those who have different beliefs. We all have a right to believe what we want to or don’t want to believe. That is what “Freedom of Religion” is all about. Next Sunday I will be talking about “Cafeteria Christians” and why that might actually be a good thing.