07 May 2012

My Thoughts on Faith: Can't We All Just Get Along?

I would call myself a spiritual seeker.  I've always had a tough time believing there is one path of faith for us all, and that all the others are wrong and lead to condemnation.  I've studied quite a few religions, some in great depth, and found beauty and wisdom in them all (along with some bits that are less palatable, another thing all religions have in common).

And while I love the seeking and the search for truth and knowledge and faith, so much about religion just confounds me to the point of depravity.  The idea of eternal damnation, for example.

In Christianity, if you don't believe in Jesus as Savior, you get tossed into hell.  No other religions are allowed.

In Islam, if you don't believe in Muhammad as the one and only prophet, you go to hell.  No other religions are allowed.

I can't quite figure out what Jews believe about it.  They have a hell, but it may or may not be as bad as THE hell.  It may just be dark.  I don't know.  If someone Jewish could explain it to me, I'd really appreciate it. 

In Hinduism, you don't get sent to hell forever, just for a lifetime.  Or two.  Or three.

Buddhists don't believe in hell, but they do believe we're reincarnated over and over again until we get it right, which, given how many mistakes I'm guessing I average per lifetime, might as well be hell.

Pagans can't agree on what really happens in the afterlife.  Trying to figure it out has given me one hell of a headache.

Obviously, I approach the subject with a certain amount of irreverence, because it becomes too dismal and depressing otherwise.  But in all seriousness, religion is so frustrating.  They all claim to be the ONE truth, and that something extremely bad will happen to you if you don't accept their one truth.  They all have devout believers who would die for their faith.  They all have records of miracles and history and proof.

I feel like I should just throw a dart and pick one at random.  Even then, three-quarters of the world will expect my soul to languish in some sort of eternal (or not) damnation.

Why can't we see these different faiths as the different faces of god, with each teaching us something different?  Why do we have to be herded into different worldview with threats of fire and torment?  Back in the day, it made sense for small, persecuted faiths to need a way to keep believers despite threats from the outside world, and the idea of hell was great for that, I'm sure.  But I truly don't believe that a loving Father God would condemn his children to an eternal punishment.  What's the point?  The reason for punishment is to teach, to change, but if the punishment is forever, what is it teaching?

I wish I could experience the different faces of God, of the Divine, without having to worry about all this, without that little voice in the back of my mind whispering that I might be choosing wrong.  We don't need to fight about who has the best religion.  God is big enough for everyone.

Also, I do believe that God really does kill a kitten every time someone uses a superfluous apostrophe. 

That is all.

Image: Winnond

ETA: I just want to add that I'm really not trying to offend anyone with my short asides into religion.  These are my way of working out what I think, and I'm not trying to make statements about the people who practice these faiths, only about my perception of the workings of the different religions, if that makes sense.
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