Thursday, September 06, 2007

Religion: A Commitment We're Willing To Die For.

I enjoy the comments I receive on this blog. I am thankful for very little spam-attempts (I delete them ALWAYS) and little negative feedback. Thank goodness I've not been "flamed". I am thankful that you all seem to understand what this blog is about. Now that I'm getting truly healthy, I sometimes wonder if I'm not just narcissistic.

The feedback I receive keeps me plowing the field. I rejoice at the news that someone has found benefit from roaming my musings. Now that I'm out of what seems like the "up and down" of recovery, I'm sometimes at a loss as to what to share with you all.

The idea of a "blurblet" was proposed. I think that is shorter than a real blog post, but longer then a 132-character tweet. I miss twitter.com when its down for maintenance. Yeah, I'm a geek.

But I have spoken of religion, God and all of that. I got some very intriguing feedback from a reader. I reproduce it here as an introduction to my response.

Question: If you know that you're praying to the same God, why take a step backward in the Divine Plan? Are you aware of who Baha'u'llah even is? I'm not going to go into too much - my blog should help a bit. I'll check to see if there is a comment from you, before we start a dialog.

Oops, this person believes I'm WRONG! Wow, I thought it was just us Christians who threw those stones. I have spent hours pondering doing a blog about the issue of religion. I've tried to answer this person's questions about why I left a faith which is the foundation of his life. I tried several approaches. I am not sure if I'm being unclear, or my answers are too upsetting for him.

Basically, at the time I was a member of the Baha'i faith, it was all in my head, it didn't get to my emotions. I didn't change that much. I loved knowing that I had everyone else over an intellectual barrel. They were still in "religious" grade school, while I was in "religious" college! (try believing that without growing an amazing ego behind it.) I didn't feel inspired by my fellow Bahai's, we were all at the same level. I hated Christianity because that was my family's religion. I doubt I need to say more.

When I got sick enough and scared enough to take a second look at the Bible, I felt a power from what Jesus said, who He was and what He claimed He was doing. Eventually, I became Christian because I was sick enough and desperate enough to really make a change. I would have run down a street naked, if someone had told me doing that would heal me. (Thankfully, I walked, fully dressed to an altar, instead.)

But how to deal with people who don't think, or believe as I do? I've known really aggressive Buddists - whose evangelism makes the Moonies look week! I've also been mentally tackled by Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. What lies behind these efforts is a commitment someone has made to a belief system they sense has "changed their life".

I never challenge some one's testimony. How can I argue with a person who KNOWS that a belief system got them off narcotics? When you are approached on the street by someone with "the word", I find a polite way to deflect the encounter is to inquire as to how they found their faith. It takes the tension out of the meeting. I can praise health and self improvement whether or not I agree with the doctrine. With that initial tension gone it is easier to decline their invitations.

But here is what troubles this conservative Christian. What if my way IS the only road to heaven, while everything else is a sham and a lie? If what I believe is bunk and the New Age folks are right, I get to try it again until I get my karma straightened out, or whatever else I need to learn in the evolving, reincarnating school of the Spirit. At worst, I'm slowing my progress.

But, if Jesus is right and its Him or hell, is it cool for me to side step the issue and not discuss the possibility that you have been deluded by a lie? A lie which could cause you to spend eternity in hell?

Granted, some Christians have the sensitivity of rocks, around these issues. If we are right, we should be the most healthy, centered and tactful folks running loose. It's okay, go ahead and let yourself groan now. As a group we appear, on TV at least, to be completely out of our minds.

I have been in social situations where someone has engaged in what I think of as Kamikaze Witnessing. Witnessing tactless and brutal enough to spawn lifelong atheism in its victims. I apologize for all of that. People can believe correctly and still be the idiots they were before becoming Christian. It took me almost twenty years in the faith before I really got around to growing up. Or as it is known among us as getting "sanctified".

Sanctification is where you stop fighting God and He turns you into a balanced, healthy and more Christ-like human being. The real Jesus is a cool dude. I've never had a problem with Jesus, but occasionally, some of his followers make me want to commit murder. "Oh God, can I send this one to Glory, NOW?" Actually, I've learned to talk less and pray more. But I still have a mouth which gets me into trouble from time to time: "Excuse me, do you know you are acting like an idiot?" Funny how that gets under people's skin... Yeah, I'm not all done yet either.

I hurt for all the people who believe everything under the sun, except Jesus. You'll notice that all other movements are tolerant of everything EXCEPT Christianity. I actually know a person who is waiting to be "picked up" by the Mother Ship. She believes when they come for her (!) they will take her to her real home on another planet, in another galaxy. And I get laughed at because I believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ?

People gag on the Christian message because it implies Absolute Truth, accountability and a time limit for making your decision. Why worry about change if I am just going to reincarnate anyway and I can work harder in the next life? But, if there is a real God, with real feelings and spiritual laws have eternal consequences. Ew, that is creeps ville. So explains the continuing push to get "God" out of all public life.

I heard a former Nazi Party member explain that it wasn't until religion was suppressed from social discourse that the Third Reich really took off. He wept as he apologized for what his country did in WWII. He felt guilty for "just going along, to get along". He was a teenager, but knew he should have resisted being a Nazi.


I truthfully can't explain "original sin". But look around this world, is it getting better or worse? It seems to me that mankind keeps coming up with gruesome and grosser forms of evil every day. Ever have to teach a child to lie? If we are basically good, where does that "lie" come from?

Some Christians get all exercised about what heaven will be like, or what kind of resurrected body they will have. I really don't care. I do care that since finding Christ, or rather, letting Him "Save" me, I'm really finding healing, peace and joy. I can't fix this world, but I can work on not being as big an idiot today as I was yesterday. No other movement ever gave me the courage to truly face myself, warts and all.

1 comment:

Kevyn Bello said...

Although you do describe yourself as a Christian, a Christian who fully believes in how mainstream Christianity describes Him (full man and full God who incarnated Himself upon this earth, and through His sacrifice, took to Himself the wages of mortal sin and death to bring those who believe in Him, life everlasting), can tolerate other spiritual traditions without adhering to their specific exclusivism.

For example, I am reading much on Shin Buddhism because I believe that it is the best vehicle for me to express my devotion to Buddha. Yet the only way one can escape this eternal round of birth and death and enter Pure Land, one must have unfailing devotion, True Entrusting that Amitabha Buddha's Grace is sufficient to bring us "to the other shore." Otherwise, all good works, meritorious practices, meditation, prayer, etc. have no salvific value.

Although the Shin Buddhist acknowledges that True Entrusting in Amitabha Buddha as a Saviour for all sentient beings, or a Baha'i seeing Baha'u'llah as the most recent Messenger of God, or an Arya Samaj Hindu who sees that adherence to the sacred Vedas and God alone is the only direct path to God Himself, etc. one can still exercise the many things that the Baha'i "Manifestations of God" professed.

Did not Jesus say that those who do the works of the Father shall enter the Kingdom, to judge not others, to love all peoples as one's self, even amonst his Gospel-of-St.-John's claims to being the Ressurection, Life, Way, Truth, Bread, Door, Gate, etc.?

People come and people go; religion harms one and edifies another. Yet all peoples should acknowledge that although one may belief in eir respective Truth, this doesn't mean that tolerance, a great yet unpracticed virtue, can not be exercised towards those of a foreign faith tradition or differing opinions. I wish you many blessings from my one God towards your Covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ!

A Baha'i,
Kevyn Bello.