My Top Four Religious Issues
Let me start this out by saying:
1. I have some major issues with organized religion.
2. I don’t make a habit of going to church.
3. I haven’t at this time in my life read the bible from beginning to end. And I have no intention of ever doing so.
4. I talk to God, every single day.
Let’s tackle issue #1
I have yet to find a religion that I feel suits me 100%. Or one that I feel comfortable changing myself to suit.
I was brought up in a couple of Christian households. When my parents and I lived with my father’s family, we went to church every Sunday. We prayed at night and said grace over dinner. We said a prayer before we drove in the car. And believe it or not, I have absolutely no problem with any of those things. Except the church every Sunday. That I take exception to.
My grandmother is an incredible woman. Flawed, I’m sure as is everyone, but she’s my Gram and I’m afraid I don’t see those flaws. That’s right, I proudly admit that I am wearing blinders. So, there.
When I was young my mother, father, sister, at least four cousins at any given time, and various aunts and uncles lived in two houses across the street from each other with my grandmother as the matriarch of the family and my grandfather at the patriarch although he didn’t live with us. Sorry, Gram if I’m giving out too much info.
Anyway, my grandmother was religious. Because of her my cousins, my aunt, and myself went to church every Sunday when I was very young.
When my parents split, the church and I parted ways for a little while. When my mother and I moved in with my grandfather on her side it was back to church every Sunday. He was a pastor, it wasn’t an option. When we moved out it was back to no church for a bit.
Now here’s what I’ve gathered from my early childhood church experiences. Some churches are about how good you look while you praise God.
Some churches are about how loud you are when you praise God.
Some churches are about teaching the Word of God and that religion’s take on the Word. (Not a bad thing.)
All churches are places for people to watch you while you praise God.
I don’t want to be watched while I praise God. Not by people I feel may be judging me and critiquing my technique. When I pray I want to be focused on God and our conversation. When I learn the Word, I want to be focused on the Word and I want to be able to ask questions. I want to feel comfortable taking notes.
I studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses at one time in my life. I wasn’t a Witness but I wanted to know the Word and I’m one of those people who learns better if I can discuss the material I’m learning. So, to have someone come to my house and talk about this grand mystery that is the Word of God. Or at least one interpretation of it. Well. Darn, that’s right up my alley.
And I had a ball. I learned some interesting facts about the religion and I took away from it what it felt right to take. The person I studied with was someone I’d known before I’d decided to study. Someone I felt comfortable with. Someone I was sure would not get irritated at my strange questions. And I had some strange questions. Because as far as I’m concerned a student’s job isn’t just to learn it’s to ask those questions that may trip the teacher up. Because if the teacher doesn’t know the student has a right to know that. A good teacher will say, I don’t know but I’ll find out. My teacher did that. Thanks Gemma.
Alas, my teacher and I had a few scheduling conflicts and we were eventually no longer able to study together. I had the opportunity to study with someone else, but again, that judging issue came up. I couldn’t think and be myself with someone I wasn’t cool with. I’m a silly non-linear person. And I needed a silly non linear person who knows their stuff to study with.
But all in all the experience was positive. I learned from it that the bible, far from being something to avoid at all costs is chock full of the most interesting, debatable information.
One other pro for my whole JW experience, getting back to the issue at hand, churches. I did go to a temple a time or two. When I wondered what I should wear, I was immediately put at ease, jeans although not recommended were not shunned or even frowned upon. A definite plus.
Before you start to think this is a pro JW forum, let me balance things out a little. Their whole no blood transfusion ideology wasn’t working for me. At all. If I’m in a car accident and you can save my life by giving me someone else’s donated blood, hell, I am all for it.
There was one church when I was little that we use to go to that holds fond memories for me, that I feel worth mentioning here. In St. Albans, Queens is a little church my father’s family use to go to. According to my mom a relative of ours founded the church many years ago. I use to, and still at 25, call it Cookie Tabernacle. I have this hazy memory of being in Sunday school being served chocolate chip cookies and milk. I also remember being the star in the Christmas pageant. Clear in my memory is the tin foil star that sat on my head and the fun of twirling down the aisle guiding Joseph and Mary to a safe haven. And also clear in my memory is the story of Jesus’ birth I’d been told so many years ago.
See church isn’t always a bad thing. Not when you’re the star (literally) of the show.
In conclusion, churches have their place. For some they are a haven of like minded individuals (insert snort here), for others they’re a trial to get through. And for yet another group they’re a sometimes thing. Great for meetings, and gospel concerts, and a number of other things, just not consistent whole-minded worship.
And this brings us to Issue #3. Bibles.
Notice I’m now saying bibles as opposed to The Bible. Do you have any idea how many different versions there are of the bible? No, well neither do I. And I don’t want to know. Okay I do. And maybe by the time this book is done I’ll have found out.
My big issue with bibles is that there are so many versions of them and I don’t know which (if any) of them is the real deal. For all I know the full original meaning of the original version of the bible has been lost.
What this means to me is that I can’t sit down and read any of the versions all the way through. At least not without a study buddy. Preferably, one who’d be willing to delve into the other versions of the bible with me and compare and contrast.
Even then so much of the bible is up for interpretation. I mean this is life and after-death stuff here, what do you mean you <i>believe</i> this is what he meant?! You <i>think</i> that’s what he was referring to?!
So there you go. I’m pretty happy with the relationship I have with God now. Quite frankly, there’s a good chance that reading the bible now will completely screw that up for me.
And so we come to the last of the 4 major issues. I talk to God every day.
Well, I do. When I say Thank God, I mean Thank God. Thank You God for whatever it is you did. When I say Oh God, I mean Oh God, why is this person tormenting me? Or Oh God, did you see what I just did?
I take the rule ‘don’t use the Lord’s name in vain’ to heart. Just because <b>you</b> didn’t hear me complete the sentence doesn’t mean <b>He</b> didn’t.
Also, I don’t so much bow my head, fold my hands, and pray as hold one-sided convos with He who dwells above (and around).
When I go for a walk after the rain and that wet grass smell hits me, and I realize I haven’t stopped to smell the world in a long time, I talk to God. First I thank Him. God, thank you for allowing me this moment. For allowing me this day. That tends to go on into other things. God thank you for my family, they could have been worse. God thank you for giving me what I needed to have a roof over my head and the confidence that I’m ever in need I’ll have the ability to acquire what I need. That I’ll never be without a way to have a roof over my head. And that I’ll always have choices in my life.
Sometimes, I’ll go on and tell him what I’m hoping for out of life, sometimes I just leave it at that, knowing that he already knows what I want out of life. If anything, saying it out loud or in my head is just a way of laying it all out for myself.
So, no I don’t make a habit of saying a prayer before bed. If I think of it, yes, if I don’t then it’s okay, he knows what’s in my heart. I don’t always say grace before eating. I’m always grateful to have food to put in my belly. Again, sometimes I’ll think of it before eating and I’ll say it. Heck, sometimes I think of it while I’m eating and I’ll stop and say it. The point is, he knows and I know he knows.