My lack of interest in provocative religious debate is attributed to an upbringing that lacked pious rhetoric. My heathen background left me ignorant to religious philosophies, so marrying a man who checked the “Jewish box” had no bearing on me. While sharing a story, a friend said “He is a good Christian” in front of my then husband that further opened my eyes to the divisiveness around the topic of religion. Without hesitation, my husband’s peaceful rebuttal was, “You mean, he is a good person?” The interaction caught me off guard, and after careful reflection I gained respect for his simplistic response to her innocent and risky label, which triggered his negative childhood experiences as a Jewish boy. I know many Christians who claim “Jesus as their homeboy” and abuse this affiliation by not following the rules of a “good person” to make themselves appear self-righteous. In the same vein, I know people from other religious affiliates that fall into this same trap. In my humble opinion, it is a dangerous proposition to assume one is good based on religious association alone.
Lesson # 1 Religious labels divide us
Why are we so quick to boldly confess our beliefs as right without understanding the other perspective? What I admired about my husband’s simpleton response is that it was not fraught with his strongly held beliefs while breaking down Christianity. He was simply amending a statement that more of us should adopt. My lesson was further enhanced during our marriage when I invited his father to our home on Easter Sunday and he brazenly replied, “I am Jewish, I don’t celebrate Easter.” This ignorant response to an opportunity to spend time as a family was appalling and all at the hands of differences in religious beliefs. Shameful, but I will admit it was a very pleasant Easter Sunday that year.
My fit and fearless journey began as a physical one and has morphed into the emotional and spiritual realm. As I continue my spiritual journey, I acknowledge that in order to know what you believe you have to challenge your own life by asking deep, thought-provoking questions. My inquires led me to a Beth Moore bible study, which has gifted me more questions than answers. As I research and reflect on my religious beliefs, I am more disillusioned by the contradictions and high spirited, self-righteous debate over doctrine, dogma and rituals. You don’t have to go far to see religious, political, ethnic and economic labels are hurting our society and disintegrating the very thing we all hope for in life; peace and happiness. My disillusionment is leading me to the spiritual practice of meditation. No labels there!
Lesson #2 Never stop learning and asking questions
Religion has evaded me for most of my life and immersion in this spiritual journey leads to more questions than answers. If I were to label myself, I would say I am an Angry, Immature, Convenient Christian searching my soul for the spirited good person HE made me to be. If you strip away the label, aren’t we more alike than different? While Training 2 Find HIM, I will continue to grapple with life’s simple rules good people follow and will remain open to all types of people from all walks of life.
“God is consciousness. There is essentially nothing in the universe but mind or consciousness.” Yogananda