“A church is not a museum for the good, it’s a hospital for the broken.”
Religion: the most controversial topic of discussion one can face. What is religion? What does it mean to you? In a time and age where it’s getting harder and harder to justify the merits of faith, religion is falling to the wayside. After a series of corruptions and a constant struggle to explain wisdom and enlightenment, religion is beginning to break down, piece by piece and give way to a violent world, led by those without faith, without a guiding light inside of them, those without a sense of morality and a compass that points in the right direction.
Whether you’re praying to a giant Santa Claus in the sky or an alien dragon in the sea, religion isn’t about magic tricks or gimmicks to make the world danger-free. Religion is an inner peace, it is a mindset of “there is something greater than me and I know that human existence isn’t the end of it all.” It will ground you and put things into perspective. It’s a spiritual and intellectual enlightenment which gives unto us, a sense of complete lack of control. Until man can accept that he isn’t in the driver’s seat, we will continue to grab the steering wheel and wreck that metaphorical car. People suffer from a power-high. As soon as we believe we are in control, we tend to think as though the world cannot stop us. The delusions become grand and the power becomes addicting. We then disregard all that has been built before us. We disregard the lives of others as their existence is meaningless in comparison to our own.
Religion isn’t about control. Religion is about release from control. It’s about understanding that the world is full of terrible things and having the wisdom to accept it. God (or whoever you pray to) doesn’t create chaos. Man creates chaos. God creates peace.
“We moderate our basic violent tendencies to avoid the consequences of our actions.”
Life is hard. Life will always be hard. We need inspiration. We need a positive voice in our head telling us that we can’t give up, that we have options, that we don’t have to let the world take all that we have. It will. The world has become a terrible, dark and lonely place. It will drain you, but only if you lower your guard and give it the opportunity. Everyone has the opportunity to be great, to change the world. That isn’t a right reserved to a chosen handful or a select genetic logarithm. Greatness comes from accepting that the world is what it is and having the inner peace to push and push and push, to exist in that dark, hollow room and glow from the inside, bright enough to illuminate every dark corner of the world.
It’s a mental challenge. It takes a fight, a fight that not many are prepared for. It requires a mind to think for itself. It requires a mental release from your anger and your pain. You need to understand that it’s not as simple as restricting a violent piece of technology, like a gun. In the current state of the world, those who have this built hate and aggression will find a way to expel it. They will utilize every resource they have to obtain a violent release and will then free themselves from the control of the anger in a terrifying way that immortalizes their behavior. They internalize the notion that their life no longer has a chance to have meaning. They cannot make a positive difference. Every path leads towards a violent end so they might as well vent that anger in a way that outdoes all who came before. The media will make them into a star. They will have their 5 minutes of fame, regardless if they survive the ordeal or not. If they don’t, if they take their own life, it is to keep the control.
Instead of allowing the stressors of life grow until they can no longer be hushed, it is our responsibility to communicate and to carry each other on our shoulders from time to time. That is what religion is to me. Seeing the weakness in another and bearing their burden without asking for anything in return. It is noticing the quiet frustrations of that disgruntled co-worker and asking about their day. Giving them a chance to let off some of that steam so the pressure doesn’t overwhelm them. We are all complex, intricate, mysterious beings. We thirst for privacy but demand to be seen and heard. We’re stubborn. We don’t budge. We close our eyes to the opinions of others. With the added layer of social media interaction and what the internet brings, we’ve become a dangerous, volatile cocktail that can ignite at any moment.
There are fewer and fewer outlets for pain while the sources for hurt are growing exponentially. dictate your actions when you’ve witnessed someone else partaking in similar actions. Whether that’s a copycat murderer or a group of teenagers trying pot for the first time. We inflict more mental pain on each other than at nearly any point in history. We hide behind our keyboard force fields and ignore the pain because we don’t see it happen. We give our 140 characters and walk away. In a media-driven society, we continue to act as sponges. We absorb what we see and subconsciously or consciously, then we tuck it away and use it as justification for our actions. It’s so much easier to vindicate ourselves when we see that someone else has already paved the way, so to speak. Then it becomes a manner of outdoing what they have done. When we live in a society doused in violence and aggression, it’s easy to use that negativity as inspiration, in a similar manner as listening to angry music while frustrated. It amplifies our aggression.
We try our damnedest to shelter our youth from this pain but instead of teaching them the right from the wrong and how to think for themselves about how to handle the pain, we instead refuse to foster their strength and thus, create weak minds that collapse under the pressure of the world’s pains. We’re mass-producing a mindless herd of sheep who lack inspiration and the wherewithal to make a difference in the world. It’s a temporary generation of “Gimme Gimme” who want to achieve more than anyone in the history of the world but don’t realize in rushing their lives, they won’t bear any meaning.” The journey is the important part, not the end goal, a lesson that is lost among the common core-fueled lack of thinking.
We’re Preventing them from learning how to push through adversity. We’re culturing their entitlement by hiding them from people who push them, from mentors and coaches and teachers who see more and expect more. They need to learn to be uncomfortable and take their ambition to a higher level. They need to grab hold of their doubts, strap on a jetpack and go higher and further than they ever thought possible.
The world is becoming increasingly cold and we are creating a sensitive culture and lifestyle which lends itself to unnecessary tension and an on-edge mental approach. Every small spark of hatred or even words and actions that are balancing the fence of being mildly offensive light the powder keg that has built up and it creates an explosion where there shouldn’t be one. Overreactions are becoming the norm and now that everyone has the option to have a voice without the responsibility that should follow, we’re seeing all too often that people are giving up. They’re snapping. They’re exploding. There’s no freedom, no release. We’re all nastier and ruder and more hurtful than ever before. But we hide from it and internalize it. We avoid the issues as we shovel them deep down into our consciousness, until we realize that our conscience is packed so full that we are standing on a mound of hate and hurt. Then we’re trapped.
The point is that religion is not a book of spells to protect us from witches or goblins. Religion isn’t the absence of science or enlightenment. It’s the application of life and learning to the acceptance of a higher being. To be truly wise in the ways of religion you need to understand that religion is surrounding and encompassing everything in life. It is not a mutually exclusive ideology. Religion should be a part of every aspect of your existence. Whether you pray to a deity in the sky or to a pig skull in the woods (yup… that’s a lord of the flies homage), you pray to acknowledge that you are not the focus of this world, that your life isn’t the determining factor of whether or not tomorrow will come. You are important, please don’t misconstrue that. You have a purpose and you should embrace it. I can’t tell you what that purpose is. It if your job to understand that yourself. That is the enlightening factor of your life. I can however tell you that your purpose isn’t to tear this world down, it isn’t to vent your anger and frustration by ending the lives and potential purposes of others. Your purpose is not to dim the glow of those who are shining their brightest in that dark, hollow room because your glow isn’t as bright as you’d like it to be. Your purpose is to shine your brightest. The darker this world gets, the harder it may be to maintain your light, but oh how much brighter your light will be.
The more I see and read the opinions of my so-called “Christian” friends, the more i understand the reasoning behind the points of view of my non-religious friends. Christianity, and religion in general, has become so bogged down by the negativity and pin-point rule making that it is causing a major rift in the way we all think and approach faith. Things like humor, tattoos, marriage, equality in general are all sensitive topics that bring a fiery, passionate debate. I won’t get into the specifics, but rather a general rule of thumb for thought. I have seen a variety of posts about how other cultures use certain practices or hand gestures or poses as worship to their gods, therefore we cannot move our bodies in such ways for it is worship to those gods. There is no possible way for me to disagree more. When I do something like stretch or do a yoga pose, it isn’t to show worship to a different god, it’s to stretch out my sore body. The only way for me to worship another deity is for me to consciously give it my attention and my faith. There are so many cultures and subcultures throughout the world that any hand gesture or body contortion could be seen as a form of praise or exaltation, if indeed you search hard enough. As my rule of thumb, if you aren’t giving something your heart and faith, you aren’t worshiping it. That remains true for the Christian God as well. Unless you can give all of your faith and live by the wisdom that is displayed to you, then you aren’t doing it right.
Adversely, I saw a post (several times) in which someone found an old renaissance painting of Adam and Eve during their fall from grace. There was a text overlay saying “In every depiction of Adam and Eve, they have belly buttons…. think about that for a second.” Before I get into why that’s illogical evidence I want to note that there was a swarm of comments thanking this person for posting this photo and that religion was fake for this point alone. Now the truth, Adam and Eve were never photographed. They were never drawn from life. These paintings are from around 1400 AD, long after their death. These paintings were made by an artist who used a variety of models (human models with a mother and therefore a belly button) in a variety of poses. THEY ARE PIECES OF ARTWORK AND ARE NOT EVIDENCE. I find it hysterical that people just see such things and regurgitate them as “fact” and spread this manure across social media outlets and actually gain followers from it. It never once occurred to them that a painting was not a perfect representation of a person who lived thousands of years before the artist. If I were to paint a picture of Cleopatra with a giant wart on her nose, that doesn’t make it a factual depiction of her true identity. It’s my expression of how I thought she looked. And these artists had absolutely ZERO source material to base their image of Adam and Eve. Selfies weren’t invented yet.
I think we are getting to that tipping point in history where so-called “Christians” are hiding behind single passages of scripture and losing their wisdom as they clutch their bibles and beat others over the head with scripture; scripture that is out of context and doesn’t directly apply to life as we know it today. Christians are guides. We are lighthouses. We are supposed to find those stranded in the dark and bring them to enlightenment. We aren’t judges. We aren’t here to give dirty looks to anyone who is lost or shut out.“They will know you by your love.” Not your judgmental looks and attitudes.
We don’t have to make the same mistakes as those who came before. We have an opportunity to be different. We have an opportunity to love. We’re all sinners and we are all in need of love. Jesus even said it himself, “I come not to save the self righteous. I came to save those in need of a redeemer.” I feel hurt for those suffering, but I feel nauseated by those who fashion themselves devout Christians while they judge others without knowing their struggles. You are pushing them further from God. You’re creating more darkness as you shut them out of your light. You throw them into the dark closet of hate in which they’ve lived and you lock the door. Every single person on earth knows struggle to a different extent. We are here to lift each other up when that struggle takes us off of our feet.
I cannot speak for other religions but I know for my own, faith should never be the origin of, nor the catalyst for war or hate. Yes we have to defend our faith and our rights, but our religion should not interfere with our diplomacy or our ability to respect the lives of others. They should complement each other. I say it again, we are a lighthouse. We are a trail guide towards wisdom.
Life isn’t a game of “this or that.” Life is finding an understanding of both sides of the coin and realizing that each has its merits and its faults. There is no black and white set of rules that applies to all of life. you must therefore learn to think about life and asses what is right and wrong using your own wisdom. Life is a tricky puzzle without a direct solution. That’s why religion terrifies the logical mind. There is no answer. There is no way to statistically break down whether it is true or false. It’s a mystery. It will always be that way. So I beg of you, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, stop treating religion like a measurement tool against the righteous and wicked in the world. It’s a path to a better life, full of respect and unwavering, altruistic kindness. God will have his judgement. That is not the job of any man.
We don’t need a world without religion. What we need is a world without hate. For some reason those two words have morphed to become synonymous rather than the opposing views that they should represent. Society is being forced to a tipping point and we are all on the fence ready to jump. So make your choices. It doesn’t matter what you decide just do it to be a better person and help shift the world in a positive way. That’s all religion is supposed to help you do anyways. It is a way to find peace within yourself rather than allowing the woes of the world to ignite your hatred. Eventually, if you head down that path, you’ll find righteousness and enlightenment anyway. I hope and pray that I will meet you all at the end of that long journey up the mountain. I won’t force you to walk the same pace or even the same path as me. Your life is not and will not ever be the same as mine and I can’t expect you to live as I live. So take your time, learn from your mistakes, but whatever you do, keep pushing along; one step at a time until you get to where you need to be.