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April 26, 2004

Still looking, no worries.

In the Bible I'm up to Chronicles. As for my opinions on this book, and all I thought, are they not written in the annals of the kings of Judah? Duh.

I've concluded that's it's much easier to get in touch with God when one is vacationing on a small island in Thailand. Not that I'm not still in touch with something, only that I've been markedly distracted by my life of late. My thoughts wander from the spiritual to the fact that I need to buy corn flakes for breakfast tomorrow.

I spoke to one of my oldest friends the other day, she's been a Christian for as long as I've known her, and I was telling her about my search and the issues I've been having trouble reconciling. She essentially told me that I was rationalizing things too much, that spiritual things don't play well with rationality. Maybe this is true, perhaps one has to let go of one's concept of what's rational in order to accept something so seemingly irrational (to me) as the belief in an elusive higher power. If only it were that easy.

I continue to think that the world contains too much unexplainable order, and this -- if anything -- keeps me looking for the source of this order.

April 20, 2004

I was raised a Catholic, and I spent most Sunday mornings bored in church (or skipping church), and I spent many a Monday night bored in PSR (religion class). I have two distinct memories of PSR class: the first one is a memory of being told that there were these things called "mortal sins" that would send you to hell no matter how much you confessed, one of which was skipping church on Sunday. It's quite a thing to be told in a roundabout way that you are damned to hell before you even hit puberty. The other is a memory of being ridiculed by the students AND the adult "teachers" because I was different (a nerd, if you will), and having little pieces of paper stuck in my coat to make me look stupid. Not the most positive Catholic education one could hope for, and a valid justification in my book to avoid dealing with religion for many years.

Now I'm thirty, and when I think back on these PSR experiences, I think that the teachers probably thought that volunteering to teach religion to kids was certainly enough for a ticket upstairs, and maybe they were right. But, do they screen these people? Is there any sort of test? It's clear to me that some of these people should not have been teaching impressionable children about religion. That "mortal sin" talk messed me up good, and while I was no stranger to being ridiculed for being different (a nerd, if you will), the last people I would expect to be doing it is my adult religion teacher. I mean, if your adult religion teacher is making fun of you for being different, there must be something to it.

Many of my recent thoughts about religion inevitably come back to these childhood memories, and I wonder how different my opinion of religion would be had I not been exposed to this religious negativity as a kid. Perhaps I'd have a website called "I am not looking for God."

April 12, 2004

Jesus Christ -- Choose your own savior.

April 11, 2004

Today is Easter, which is a Christian holiday with roots in paganism. Thus, the confusing Easter Bunny with his chocolate eggs, and the strange egg-decoration that occurs. Originally Easter was a pagan holiday celebrating fertility, until (I assume) Constantine decided that Christianity was the way of the future -- the end result being the strange combination of Christianity and paganism with which we celebrate. I could be wrong about this, but I don't think that I am.

Over the last week I've realized one of the main things that keeps me from wholly accepting Christianity. At the heart of Christianity is a really beautiful belief system that essentially teaches love and compassion for all humanity. The reality of Christianity, and of many religions, is that once people get together and start worshipping in groups the essential truth of the religion gets lost in interpretation. Why must there be so many different Christian faiths, when the fundamental truth remains the same? Why must there be Christian faiths that teach hate, that believe that their Christianity is the correct way and that other Christian faiths are wrong? I feel that were I to accept Christianity I would have to start my own church based on what I believe, but in the end even that would just add to the confusing mess. If there is a God, this surely isn't the way he wants to be worshipped, is it? Shouldn't there be some sort of consensus, instead of this mess of "I think what the Bible says is..." and "No, the Bible really means..."?

April 09, 2004

I've been both busy and without an internet connection at my apartment, lest you think I am dead or abandoning this search.

I continue to make my way through the Bible, linear-like. In the last couple weeks I have gotten through Ruth, 1 Samuel, and 2 Samuel. Ruth is very short, and is basically about what a good daughter-in-law Ruth was. The Samuel books both revolve around the life and times of King David, and are full of Biblical stories and references used elsewhere in art and literature -- "David and Goliath", "Absalom" (of William Faulkner fame), "David and Bathsheba" (of SC Cleveland fame). I had trouble deciding whether David was a good guy or a bad guy -- the Bible seems to want you to think he's a good guy because God is on his side, but he sure does some shady things during his life -- the way he took care of Bathsheba's husband is particularly harsh.

I saw The Passion of the Christ a couple weeks ago -- I ended up buying a bootleg as it had yet to arrive at theatres here. I'm confused as to exactly what Mel Gibson is trying to do with this movie -- so full of blood and relatively devoid of spiritual content. There are some beautiful flashbacks, but they were momentary escapes from the perpetual brutality of the film. I'm just a layman, but after I watched it the main impression I came away with was of how intensely bloody it was, not about what a great guy Jesus was and how he suffered for us. Was this Gibson's intent? I don't know. As for the controversial portrayal of Jewish people in the movie -- I haven't read the New Testament, so I don't know how they're portrayed in there, but in the movie they seemed a little too eager to kill Jesus. Not "bloodthirsty," mind you, just a little too eager.

April 02, 2004

If there were to be evidence proving that God exists, what kind of evidence would it have to be? Would we have to actually see God, or would a repeated experiment proving that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." be enough? Would something supernatural have to happen? Would God have to do tricks?

Further, would spirituality be the same if there was undeniable evidence of God's existence? If the mystery of God was no longer a mystery, would religion still maintain it's popularity? Would churchgoing increase, or decrease? Is the idea of faith such a fundamental part of religious belief?

These things I wonder about while riding a bus today.

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