Monday, June 4, 2012

Religious without Religion

How to be religious without religion?

      Who are you? What are you? On the cable news networks, we are inundated with questions like this. I sometimes become a victim to the limited rhetoric of these news channels that yield nothing in the way of true wisdom. I hate questions like "Are you a Christian," which always goes on more unwieldy grounds to become a question of authenticity "Are you a "true" Christian?" That question always confounds me because it is derived from our political questions:"Is this person a "true liberal" or a "true Christian?" During the holocaust, there were always questions of one's legitimacy in Germany, based on whether or not a person was a true "Nazi" who had unwavering belief in Hitler's creed. The same phenomenon of group psychology frantically dominates the psyche of some branches of Christianity. When Christianity should be dwelling on God, it becomes a bit more pedantic or concerned only with forcing everyone to ideologically align themselves with certain beliefs in certain ideas. Christianity has become far less about "one's proposed relationship with Jesus" and is an excessively convoluted mess of certain diagnostic questions that define someone as a Christian: You disapprove of homosexuality, abortion, and a number of other politically acceptable ideas for the certain political brand of Christianity that one is. While there are a staggering number of denominations, nearly 39,000, each church is still ardently convinced that they hold the authenticated version of the truth. Even though, the Bible has undergone a number of translations and potential revisions, people still believe that the Bible should be read as an inerrant text. It therefore must be blithely unaware of the complexity of history and the large gap of the unknowable aspects of our lives.

        I can't hate Christianity entirely because it is not a monolithic religion, yet I always find myself becoming caught up in the latest session of "hating Christians," much the same way some Christians hate Muslims or atheists; vice-versa. Parallel to this, Liberals and Republicans within our country are reducing one another to a despised caricature of the other. Different forms of these same types of polar political parties are undergoing the same type of clash. Conflict is integral to our existence. Strangely enough, these warring factions sometimes bring undesired technological or ethical advances.  Eventually, the strict knowledge of sexual orientation remaining singularly "heterosexual" will be banished from our doubtful minds. While we may be living in the heat of this particular struggle over our own complexity, we will eventually see that sexuality is fluid, and not static. We are very uncomfortable with new ideas that shed light on the complexity of a universe that is intrinsically mysterious and wondrous. In the best religious theorems, the universe is created "ex-nihilo" or  inexplicably "out of nothingness" Genesis in the Bible begins the same manner as all Shakespeare plays, which are creations from nothingness. Except, those ideas that Shakespeare had were existing in some intangible form before in fragmented ideas that frenetically raced through his mind. These ideas move as rapidly as accelerated electrons in an atom, or as ineffably fast as quantum particles. Before the genesis of our universe, we can't quite define it. The area is left in complete darkness, and sometimes I find some very dissatisfying ideas about the implications of this darkness from some atheists.

           Why are we so obsessed with comfortably nestling in our ideas of certitude? What is so wrong with some small shreds of doubt? I'm always stunned and disenchanted by the way that some atheists will declare that our anomalous universe was truly accidental and nothing exists before the genesis of it or the eventual destruction of it. Reverently, this signifies the large span of the unknowable aspects of our minds. If we just stop seeking more knowledge about ourselves, our modern ideas will remain crude and slowly become pretty primitive. The whole act of distinguishing people based on their sexual orientation is yet another rendition of limited categorizations of human beings. Throughout high school, I was disgusted by the persistent fear that teenage guys had of being derogatorily defined as being "gay." Then again, I never quite understood the insistence by some of my gay friends made that they wanted people to know that they were gay, almost to the extent where it dominated their entire definition of them.    Personally, I don't really understand the whole sexuality category. Who cares if someone is heterosexual or homosexual? Then again, I've always been kind of gender blind as well. I always hear people made silly comments about the inherent differences between men and women, as if they are requisite differences for every man or women. Sometimes, I find myself reading things about human development, and I stunningly discovered that all human zygotes begin mysteriously without a gender, and eventually the baby later develops a gender. Except, the initial form of life is not strictly one gender or the other. Even in the womb, the "boy" or "girl" still has not been conditioned by the world's weird ideas of what defines a "man" or a "women" Every color that they see is not masculine and feminine just yet.

            Its interesting to note that the Genesis account begins with a "man," who is not profoundly obsessed yet with these distinctions. The metaphorical creator within the story has still not instilled him with the need to rashly define things. Definitions are not bad; they help us differentiate people. When Adam names the animals, he is not creating a hierarchy for them just yet. Instead, he is only trying to distinguish them one from the other. The categories are mere evidence of the diversity of the world. As the world evolves, our language cultivates more "labels," to further distinguish people. The whole spectrum of human civilization is a insatiable thirst for knowledge, yet these clashes are caused by our refusal to accept doubt into our lives. We sometimes allow the categorizes to become ways of denigrating others. The apple in the "Garden of Eden" or our own egos dismiss the complexity of the universe and eventually our categories become religious objects in of themselves to find the means to disapprove of others, revile others on the basis of how we judge them according to our strict objectifying categories. Webster's own definition of "religion" seems very restrictive:: "relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity." It is so cerebral that it is contingent upon one popularly acknowledge anthropomorphic form of God. Also, does "faitful devotion" leave room for doubts and persistent questions

        Strangely enough, the word "spiritual" is the antithesis of religion as it is defined in these emotive terms:" of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit." Essentially, the word "religious" is more neurotic and static, it relates more to certain prognoses of what defines a "religious believer." Spiritual only means that someone has an emotional proclivity towards exploring the deeper questions of our existence, and God is seen as the mystic tradition views him as, which is "unknowable." Perhaps, I'm spiritual, but not necessarily religious. I have no beliefs, but a great burning desire to ponder the deeper questions of our existence. Maybe, an artist, a philosopher, and a mystic all have the same function, which is to reflect on the world beyond the boundaries of conventionality. Our ethical duty lies not with keeping people dangerously fixed to literal notions of the universe, but to help people discern more similarities beneath  thin layer of our "labels." One of my current favorite writers, Dorris Lessing, in her novel The Summer Before the Dark,  boldly illuminates people about the mortality of our superficial beliefs and the immorality of our doubts and thoughts concerning the terribly complex elements of our world. Maybe, being "religious" is not the right term for those who feel like outsiders in our polarized world, the better term or the more appropriate term for inquisitive thinkers is "spiritual" because it based in the uncertainty of our emotions.


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