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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Losing My Religion

Hello, everyone!  Before I begin this blog entry, I'd like all of you to take a look at the "Additional Links" section of the blog on the sidebar.  There, you'll see a link that says "Interview - May 9, 2012".  If you click on that, I did an interview for a blogging website.  So, definitely check it out, because you'll learn a lot more about the person who keeps bringing you these blogs to read.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can begin with this week's installment of the Thursday Confession.  And unlike last week, where I waited until the very end to confess, I'll come right out with it and post my confession now.

THURSDAY CONFESSION #19:  I consider myself more spiritual than religious and probably haven't set foot in a church pew in over 15 years.

And I'm perfectly okay with that.

Because this post is the story of how I ended up "losing my religion", so to speak.

Now, the above song was recorded by R.E.M.  It was a huge hit for the band in 1991.  But it also happens to be a song that best describes what my own religious stance is.  I know that it seems a bit odd for me to bring up the subject of religion in a blog about pop culture, but these days, it seems as though religion is talked about a lot in the entertainment industry, in the media, and even in political firestorms (all you need to do is look at the recent news coming out of North Carolina for more information on that one).

The below story is one that I ended up writing a few years ago (I think in 2007 or 2008), but surprisingly it still holds up in 2012.  And, I wanted to share this with everyone just so everybody could see where I'm coming from.  It's not intended to attack certain groups, but it is designed to make people think.  No matter what kind of reception this entry gets, I am happy that I wrote it.


There are some big mysteries out there in the world. Mysteries that have remained unsolved for billions of years.

Do ships really disappear in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle? Whatever became of Amelia Earhart? 

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

These are questions that have plagued mankind for years.

Another biggie? Is there a God?

Of course, I don't know for sure if there is or not. I don't think it's ever been proven. Or, if it has, I must have dozed off during that news report.

I would like to think that there is some sort of spirit or guiding force steering us throughout this life. I would also like to believe that when our bodies die, our souls go on living. Of course, I can't really say that it will ever happen. I am not dead. I haven't even had one of those near-death experiences that you hear about. You know, the ones where you are out of your body and trying to process whether or not to stay living or have Jennifer Love Hewitt guide you towards the light (on the now defunct series Ghost Whisperer). But, I still like to believe that we have guardians looking out for us while we live our lives.

So, I guess in answer to the above question, I believe in the concept of there being some sort of God out there.

But, does this mean that I feel as though I have to show my faith by waking up at the crack of dawn every Sunday morning, putting on a double breasted suit and tie, head down to the church and syng hymns and pray for a couple of hours?

Not on your life.

I get that some people are church goers, and I respect that. For some, going to church can be a calming, and peaceful thing. Some really get into the sermons, and the hymns, and the general feeling that they are in the house of God.


And, don't get me wrong...I did attempt to give the church a good try. As a child, I liked going to Sunday school, and we did a lot of fun things there. And, I have to say that I did seem to get some of my current belief system from the short time I was there.

But, as I grew older, I developed my own belief system, and along the way, going to church on Sundays became less and less a part of my belief system to the point where I stopped going altogether.

I do not mean to offend anyone by writing what I am about to write next. These are my beliefs and my beliefs alone. I don't expect all of you to believe the same way that I do...all I ask is that you respect my beliefs, and I will do the same for all of you.

The truth of the matter is that I don't really need to sit in a church pew to have strong feelings of faith. If there really is a God out there (and I do believe in the concept of God), wouldn't he want you to show your faith and love towards your fellow man (or woman, as the case may be) anytime and everywhere?

At my job, I often work most Sunday mornings or afternoons (which according to the Bible is a sin...GAWSP!!!), and during the hours that church is in service, the store is completely devoid of all customer activity. Then sometime around noon, we get a mad rush. I often joke about the sudden rush of customers that seem to crowd the stores around that time. It's almost as if they were told at the sermon that they must shop or they will be subjected to eternal damnation or something of that nature.

So, it kind of makes one scratch their heads when you see people coming into retail establishments after going to church, and just being absolutely rude to everyone around them.  Did they learn absolutely nothing?

It's one thing to sit in a church and promise to be respectful and courteous to your fellow man, your community, and God himself (or herself). It's quite another to do it outside of a church setting. It's absolutely astonishing how some people seem to have one personality inside church, and have a totally different one somewhere else. How can one can pretend to be kind and good while singing hymns, and the next day be evil and selfish in a different venue?

It's fine to be religious, and it's fine to practice whatever religion you want to pursue. I admire people who have such a strong belief system, and am friends with quite a few people who do.  But, it really annoys me when people act religious when it suits them, and when it doesn't, they seem to feel that it doesn't matter.

I feel that if you are to practice a religion, whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Protestant, or whatever other religions there are out there, then be proud of whatever it is you follow.

At the same time though, I never could stand people who had this superiority complex that their beliefs were the best and that nobody else mattered. As far as I'm concerned, this is where the respect comes in. I may not believe in the same things you do, but that doesn't mean that I think mine are any better than yours.  Be proud of who you are, but also be respectful of who others are.

And, you know what? Don't force a religion onto a person. Let them make up their own minds. I am a strong believer in the fact that a person should choose what religion is right for them when they are old enough to decide for themselves. I believe in this so much that as of right now, I haven't even been baptized anything yet.  You see, my family always believed in letting all of us children make up our own minds when it came down to making our own choices.  If we decided to follow Christianity, they'd support us.  If we decided to become Buddhists, they'd support us.  If we decided to worship Satan...well, I'm not sure how they'd react.

The point is, I'm glad that I have the power to make my own beliefs and choices.  Over time, I may find a religion that best suits me. Then again, I might not. 

I don't mean to compare choosing a religion to buying a new shirt at the Gap, don't get me wrong. I'm just saying that we all have our own distinct personalities, and that we all have choices to make it our lives. And, if given the choice between having a religion chosen for me, or choosing my own, I'd rather have the choice myself.

I guess you could say that I'm a believer in "individualism". Not exactly a word I'd use to describe a religion, but for now, it's how I live my life. And, frankly, I've never been happier.

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