Maybe that's not the message I was supposed to get, but it's the one I went away with.
I have a nephew who converted to Catholicism, one who is a Jehovah's Witness, my mother attends a Methodist church, my sister goes to the Church of the Nazarene (I think?), and we have a whole host of heathens.
I am officially a Presbyterian, a denomination I found extremely comforting after my years as a can't-quite-get-there Baptist. I actually started attending the Presbyterian church when Sweet Girl was about four years old because it was the closest one to where I lived in a previous wifetime. Then their piano player resigned, and I took that job. It meant leading the choir (8 members strong on a GOOD day) and leading the congregation in singing the hymns. All while playing the piano. After our minister moved away it also meant that I was responsible for choosing the hymns, which meant I could pick the ones I knew how to play well. Then I also inherited the job of typing, copying, and folding the church bulletins every Sunday. And I taught Sunday School.
No wonder I joined the legions of heathens. When I was working on my doctorate, I needed Sundays to study and write. And do statistics. So I resigned from playing the piano in church. Sorry, God. And although it's been more than 4 years since I graduated for the FINAL time, I haven't gone back to attending church regularly.
There are so many religions out there. And devout members of every single one of them are convinced.... CONVINCED..... that their beliefs are the correct ones. Who is to say that one set of beliefs is better than another? I used to voice that question aloud in the adult Sunday School class. I wasn't very popular there. No wonder they asked me to go teach the teenagers. But think about it..... if a person is born and is exposed to one set of beliefs only, grows up practicing those beliefs piously, and dies sixty or seventy years later without adopting the "right" set of beliefs, is that person destined for the fires of hell? Whose fault is it?
I think that's what I hated most about being a Baptist. The message was that if we didn't go out and save the masses, they were doomed to the eternal fires. What if I missed one? What if I knocked on a door and no one answered and I turned away and it turned out that they were just in the shower after all, and they wound up going to hell because I didn't get the chance to tell them about their one shot at salvation? Oh, the pressure!
All this is to say that I have created my own religion. Anyone can join, and the rules are really easy.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Be kind to other people.
- Be kind to animals.
- Treat the earth with reverence and leave it a better place than you found it.
- Enjoy nature, music, art, books, and people.
- Believe in a superior being if you want, and allow others their own beliefs without criticism, persecution, or condemnation.