My journey with/about God has been nothing short of turbulent, one in which religion lost to spirituality and as a consequence, i haven’t been to any church for years now, at least from the “I’m going to worship him from that place” perspective.
As a child i grew into/around a strong Catholic indoctrination. I knew there was one almighty, omnipresent, all-powerful God. But even as a small child when i went to church i looked around and wondered “why so serious?”. Church was always this solemn place where people went to meet God, and he was one helluvan ominous(threatening not evil) being! But it was for a moment because my brother and i usually got into a lot of mischief little ways into the service.
Still, was a diligent christian child; started catechism, even though it was conducted in Kikuyu, a language i hardly had spoken control of(still don’t up to now), but i could memorize the syllables and verses well enough to pass, and even aspired to be an altar boy. Had my first experience with cliques…the altar boys were a clique! You know…noses up in the stratosphere, thinking they’re the shit and nitpicking at your attempts to do something to make your mum proud… While I’m not one to hold a grudge, I make a point of never forgetting the face of anybody’s who’s ever discriminated against me for whatever reason.
I became an altar boy later when i was 10, for 3 mass services, before realizing servitude to the church is not one of my inherent virtues. Even told one of the other altar boys to go fuck themselves once when they ordered me to go and serve in church, coz I was needed at a certain Easter mass. OK, I never said “fuck”, seeing that it hadn’t yet made its way into my vocabulary, but i used an equally obscene and demeaning phrase. After that i got no more requests to serve the church. Ironically I was the one that made it to seminary, albeit a junior one.
Seminary was the next step in defining my relationship with God. I may have lied my way into it by faking religious fervor, but it still ended up helping me anyway. There was theology, i got to read the Quran, the Bible(more than 10 times), got exposed to Buddhism and many other religions.
I started questioning religion and the role of clerics in determining our destiny with God. I questioned God, why was he so manipulative and vengeful in the old testament; why was he still kinda manipulative in the new testament with Jesus… I mean if Jesus was God’s son, why would death scare him or even hurt him in the long run? His dad is God goddamnit! In fact, Jesus should have been looking forward to the release crucifixion and death would bring, to return to his true form! Nevertheless my faith increased, i believed we were all here for a reason and ignored the obvious bias that becomes apparent when you apply the logic that God makes everything happen for a reason…what about the children/people who suffer and are killed even before they even get a feel for the joys in life and living?
After seminary my faith was eroded steadily. With some things you never notice. Your faith gets steered in a particular direction and you never realize it till something significant happens…or a series of events. My episodes always erode my beliefs, whether religious, spiritual, secular or emotional(even now). I judge myself by how I recover from that. My spirituality was almost completely gone by the time i had my meltdown(triggered by other major factors other than religion). You can’t have God without being spiritual. Running to religion when you don’t have any spiritualism in you is like spitting on molten lava…pretty useless. Yeah, i was fucked.
I was hopeless and lost, and not willing to see a shrink because they’d have used my lack of spiritualism as a reason for my breakdown yet i knew it wasn’t. It was just a side of me I had ridden on luck, especially knowing that my mind was made for questioning and i wasn’t exercising that where my beliefs were concerned. I had to fix myself at least some way…the basics at least, financially, emotionally etc…the works. Emotionally was hard, went through a period i was apathetic to even the immediate family as i bonded with them from scratch. Ok, not scratch scratch, but you get the point. Financially, socially, and spiritually too. This entry is about the spiritual aspect.
I knew days of darkness, went full atheist, then tried at the whole worshiping mother nature angle, but as usual my mind was grasping at something at least halfway logical to believe in. And even when i denied the existence of God, there was still one thing whose existence i couldn’t deny…mine. “I think, therefore i am” ~ Rene Descartes.
You never realize the importance of such a statement till you’re faced with the question of your existence. So I dropped all the bullshit of looking for God in the church, and expecting clergy and religion to fully guide me. It has been an interesting journey so far.
I believe no religion is incorruptible and many people confuse that corruption with the image of God, not realizing religions were created by mankind as paths of enlightenment to understand God better and get close to Him. While the forebears may have had good intentions, their descendants not so much. They chose to litter the pathways with obstacles and occasionally set up shops to assist the weary travelers…at a cost of course! As the conniving religious people grew, they introduced the concept that it’s ok to be poor or give up your basic rights and some comfort for the sake of what they made you believe is waiting for you in heaven….nirvana. To be frank, what they’ve done is convince people that they convert material wealth into their heavenly equivalent, but no they didn’t stop there. They have convinced many people that it’s actually ok to suffer because it makes what is waiting for you in heaven even sweeter! That that’s why even Jesus suffered, to show you it’s ok to suffer and that God actually wants you to suffer! That is raw description of most religions, and poor people are willing to believe in them because they are looking for an explanation, or rather the silver lining for their suffering. The danger in all this is that there is still resentment towards the well to do, just that they’re rarely voiced…unless a revolution happens!
To understand God, you have to accept just one fact, that you can never understand God. The baseline should be: no understanding of God is absolute and every attempt should be taken as an individual’s effort to create a relationship with a being whose manifestation is neither obvious nor directly observable. It’s all purely faith! Questions like “if there is a God, why does he let some people suffer so much while some are always born to never know the feeling?” are the obvious firsts and you will have to ask yourself that at some point too.
I’ll tell my understanding of that.
It’s hard to tell the reason why things happen to some people and not to others, but when you look at it critically, it’s always as a result of other human actions…natural disaster are negligible when you put suffering as a result of people and suffering as a result of nature side by side and even then we’d most probably be referring to natural disasters as a result of climate change. So we’d be down to earthquakes and volcanic activity as the contenders for significant natural disasters that humans don’t have direct or indirect control over; and even in the case of some earthquakes, it is debatable.
I believe the Bible was written by people inspired by God, but they wrote it explaining and describing their “visions” and experiences based on how they could effectively tell it or express it. Nowadays we have audio/visual aids to express or even reproduce observation but even then we can never effectively project the original. That’s why it’s prudent never to take the bible literally, maybe their culture involved a lot of symbolism, and we also have to remember the bible has been translated several times. And context! The bible is a collection of books, some literature was deemed fit for a book of God while others were dropped, so even in terms of context I’m not convinced we have that part complete. Maybe some books were perceived as too extreme for that culture…we may never know. Every culture has that content that is censored because it may not comply with the current moral yardstick. While the scriptures are cryptic a lot of times, one message always comes through, not a message about morals or imposing your beliefs on others, but to look out for the well-being of your fellow human beings. Simple! That has been the universal truth, from the Bible, Kabbalah, Quran…etc… All(most of) the suffering we see, most of the time, is a direct result of intentional misinterpretation of the scriptures and making your doctrines prevail!
All we ever think of is ourselves and satisfying our selfish immediate needs. We have managed to convince each other that the resources are too few, and that their distribution can work only one way…the pyramid structure…small apex, large(big fucking!) base. That once the human beings at the top of the food-chain are satisfied then the access of the resource moves to the next level and so on. This would be ok had we been looking at sating the needs of the special/disabled first since they probably need special attention. But no, the apex represents the needs of the upper echelon, who in all essence aren’t even that special, just extremely lucky. And…and, combined they make less than 10% of the total population, and the needs being taken care of are of unnecessary extravagance!…and use up the same amount of resources as the rest of the populace!
I don’t like capitalism that much…sometimes i think if it was agreed we give up property rights until we came up with a more “fair” market/governance system, we could actually stem the way we’re misusing resources, then crying at how little they turned out to be. Then again, when i think of putting some things in the hands of people with so much vested interest and shameless lack of integrity i shudder at the thought of that unknown alternative. Plus that would be expecting some higher force to intervene and solve our problems…much the same way we expect God to do it for us, then curse and deny his existence when he doesn’t do as we bid. The solutions to our problems lie within each individual, getting rid of the selfishness and jealousy that convince us that we have to one-up everybody else to feel happy or content…and actually be of service to people other than ourselves.
Another question I’ve faced as a theist would be the relationship between Jesus, the holy spirit and God. Some people ask it with a smirk expecting you to falter. It is kind of annoying, when somebody, rather than ask you the question to trigger a healthy debate, asks expecting you to show a chink in your faith and then they’d feel better about themselves. What they gain, i don’t know.
Like i said before, no knowledge of God is absolute and my ideas of him are mine, maybe influenced in one way or another by others. When i think of God, i think of him as all knowing and omnipresent, but what about Jesus and the Holy spirit, what is their place with God? For me it all boils down to semantics. The Holy books were written long ago, describing the same thing thousands of years later we are expected to understand in the same light. The Bible, for example, has undergone numerous translations since then with each translator trying to stay as true to the words contained as possible while at the same time creating sensible literature that could be understood in the evolved culture. Let’s look at English as an example, the English spoken and written in the Victorian era greatly differs from what we use. While future generations will benefit from detailed audio/visual examples, ours doesn’t have that luxury, in usage of past material.
I have started to believe that, the concept of Jesus as the son of God developed because there was a need to illustrate the relationship in a way the people at that time could understand. Had it been a matriarchal society I’m pretty sure Jesus would have been a woman. Maybe it was God’s way of reaching out to the people, using the relationship between a man and his son to show how strong the bonds between him and Jesus were. By explicitly saying “I am Jesus and Jesus is me” the people would probably have responded with a “God sed wha…?” and the whole meaning of the sacrifice would have been lost to history.
And maybe the Holy spirit is the collective of what is good in us which is a part of God. It is God and it is us. We are individual and independent in awareness of self, yet the same before God. Maybe that is what he was trying to say when he said we are in his image and we dumbly assumed he was talking about our corporeal existence and lordship over the other animals.
My point is we try too much to make God into our image. We impose our idea of him on him, and what would make us happy into the image of what we’d expect heaven to be like, we think of classical music and running through fields with neither jutting rocks, thorns nor entangled grass to trip us. If i was to use the same beliefs i’d say that my idea of heaven is one endless never-fading orgasm! See, we think of heaven as we would perceive the most satisfying event/place/moment to us. We try to impose the same image on others who don’t believe the same as us because we want them to see as we see, but spirituality is something you go into without edging or nudging, and it’s something you should never force on somebody else, especially children! The only thing i pray is that even though i may not be able to visualize heaven for what it is, at least let me be with my loved ones, with all the good in them.
If i believe in a superior being above me, what is there to prevent there being another being above him, and a superior being to that…kind of like a reverse of the old saying “Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum…”. Simple actually. It would imply that our understanding of God is so far off tangent that the argument is rendered moot…what sense would there be in debating an all knowing, omnipresent God if in fact he answers to one above him? Would have our references to a superior God be linked to the actual superior God or to the one the debate partner is inferring to? See, it goes in nonsensical circles.
So far I am happy my faith in God is holding up! Science doesn’t scare me, neither do i resist it, and more knowledge and belief in science(physics) doesn’t destabilize my beliefs, rather it brings me into awe at how yet complex the structures are that came together to bring me into my corporeal reality; and my ability to change the world around me by simply being.
What people don’t realize is how special they are, how they believe in God or whether they believe in God at all. As long you value other human life the same way you would your own you are on the right path. According to physics you are the not so random result of impossibilities, as is everyone around you. According to the scriptures you’re still special. Just choose what defines you wisely and don’t go shoving your beliefs on other people. Let them see you and if they find you worthy they will follow. You don’t have to change the whole world for it to be better, change your world. The world appreciates no matter how infinitesimally small the positive change.