December 29, 2007

What I don't know, what I believe, and what I'm reading

Unlike 90% of my known readers (I'm guessing), for me Christmas is not about the birth of Christ. For me it is about looking back on your year, expressing love to the people in your life, being a better person to everyone, being thankful for now and hopeful for the future. My understanding is that the celebration and the timing of the holiday are a union of both Christian and other traditions anyway. But this is besides the point. The point is I am a decided agnostic (not an oxymoron to me).
"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." ~ Freewill by Rush 
This will not come as a shock to most of you (I am still guessing). I don't subscribe to any one line of thought or belief. There are certain problems for me with most any organized religion. Yet I do not lack faith or grace, and I consider myself a spiritual person. I simply don't know what ties us all together or how it all began, and nothing I have read so far rings true. I am not holding out for ultimate proof, but what I believe needs to make sense to me.

I believe that evolution is a driving force in our world and species, but don't discount something divine involved in the beginning. When I think about the world as a whole, I'm not sure it can all be explained by chance.

I think there is something that ties us all together, but I think of it more in a horizontal plane rather than looking to the sky. I believe in the human spirit more than any other.

I am always interested in knowing, but I am comfortable that there will always be the unknown. I don't know what happens when this life ends, and at this point in my life, I am OK with that.

I have a (strong) moral compass and I have often wondered where it all came from. I am sure there is some hardwired nature involved, but a good portion of it came through the nurture of my parents, relatives and friends. I was taught to think about others and the world at large mostly by the example and practice of my parents.

I honestly don't know what people think of me with regards to my lack of defined religion. I don't know if they think me damned or not. No one has tried to save me yet, so I suppose not. I clipped this out of the paper 15 years ago:
"I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged."
~ Thomas Jefferson to Mrs. Harrison Smith 1816.
Religion has become a hot topic, at times so hot that people cannot discuss it. Along with politics, religion seems to be a taboo topic, at least outside party lines. Though this may go against the sentiment of Jefferson's quote, since I do not have a defined religion I feel it fair to share some of what I believe:
  • I don't think things "happen for a reason". Things happen, and people try to find reason.
  • Life is difficult. Once you accept this, you transcend it.
  • If there is a higher power, he/she is not involved in day to day minutiae of our lives.
  • I believe in doing what I feel is right because it is right. I am not waiting for my reward in heaven (or here for that matter).
  • The long-term benefit almost always outweighs the short-term gain.
  • The way you live your life is the best way to show what you believe.
  • I believe in this world and I am not looking forward to the end of days.
  • If there is a heaven, I don't believe there is just one. As most religions damn those that don't believe in their book/God, that damns us all.
I have intended to read the Bible for some years now. I purchased a NIV study Bible a year or so ago, along with the book "Don't Know Much About the Bible" by Kenneth C. Davis. I got started but didn't follow through. I will be joining The Weakly Sherpa from the Dawg Run in his structured reading of the Bible beginning January 1st. As the Bible is always at the top of "books to read in your lifetime", this is long overdue. I may or may not share this journey with my readers, but I'm sure it will be a worthwhile experience.

1 comment:

Holly said...

I COMMEND YOU MY FRIEND! I was so excited reading this post. Your honesty and vulnerability with your "90%" is inspiring. You are doing the admirable thing in really searching for truth and answers your way, and being honest about how you feel about what you find. I love it. I'm reading a book right now called "Blue Like Jazz" written by a flaming Liberal Christian that I think you may enjoy. He's ( Donald Miller ) got some great things to say. Anyhow, thanks so much for sharing this with your faithful friends. Rock on!!