Playing the belief game

coexist

“The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.” –  Mahatma Gandhi

Where do you stand on God? On Jesus? On heaven? On hell? Do you have to “play the belief game” for your family, friends and co-workers to fit-in, to live in harmony? I consider myself a Universalist if I had to put a label on it. I believe in the divine, the spiritual, but I also believe in the divinity of humanity and nature. I think there is a place for all faiths, all religions, and all practices, provided, at least for me, one of their core beliefs is to do no harm to others.

As I have written before, I have attended the same Presbyterian Church for thirty years. I sit in the same pew every Sunday. I sing the hymns, I read the bible verses, I listen to the Sermons (sometimes I draw) and I put money in the plate. But I can do all this without feeling like I have to believe or accept all of my denominations ideologies.

Now some of you more pious Christians may believe that I am a heretic, hypocrite or simply a fraud. I have even had one fine aristocratic southern Baptist gentleman describe me as a wishy-washy idiot. I really didn’t think that was a very Christian thing to say to me but it is the kind of sentiment that has helped me form my beliefs.

I am not a religious scholar with an advance degree from Princeton or Yale but I know a fair amount about the Christian faith, its origins, its players and its history. I have studied the words and thoughts of many of the great theologians. Thinkers that had all the answers and others that were full of questions. I have had an interest in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, and Buddhism for twenty years. I have skirted around Hinduism some with my Buddhist studies but have never spent the time nor have I found the resources I needed to delve into a deeper examination of this faith.

But back to my point about a faith’s core belief to do no harm to others, it is my opinion that these communities of faith, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and Buddhist all subscribe to this doctrine. It is also my opinion that all of these religions have and continue to disregard this very basic and simple tenet. There are examples of this throughout history and even in the newspaper today. If you want to debate the definition of “do no harm to others” then you are part of my problem with your faith. Harm is harm, it is physical, it is mental, it is everything you and I can or could do to hurt someone.

So why am I a Universalist? There is no perfect faith but there is a perfect path, a path of respect, compassion and love. If your faith, if your beliefs have you on this path then carry on. But if you feel an obligation to convert, to proselytize, to defend as a starting point before you can dispense respect, compassion and love then maybe it’s time to reexamine your journey.

“God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.” – Ramakrishna

 

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About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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33 Responses to Playing the belief game

  1. Suze says:

    exactly! Couldn’t have said it better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sure I do agree that there is no “perfect” faith – but I’m not sure I agree that means there is a “perfect” path away from the Church. Indeed, just because there is no “perfect” faith does not mean there is no “best” faith.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting, do you have a “best” faith? Is it simply the “best” faith for you? Or do you consider it the “best” faith of all the faiths?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, to all three questions.

        Liked by 1 person

        • And for those that don’t share your belief about your “best” faith, what, in your mind based on your “best” faith, happens to them?

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          • Happens to them? I’m not sure I understand your question. But I know that they achieve less for God than they otherwise would. In a way, you’re simply asking, “What do you mean by ‘best?'”, which is a fine question. The answer is, what is “best” is what conforms closest to the will of God.

            Liked by 1 person

          • They achieve less for God because they don’t share your beliefs? Because they don’t participate in what you deem to be the “best” faith?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Let me ask you this: what does anyone achieve for God if they seek only their own happiness, and not His?

            Liked by 2 people

          • Well where you and I differ is people dispense love, compassion and grace without any thought of God. They do it because they feel it in their heart. If their actions make your God happy so be it. But too many of God’s “people” have forgotten the message of the scripture, the example of Christ. Again, if your faith makes you a more respectful, compassionate and loving person to all of God’s creation, have a safe journey. But if your faith makes you judgemental to those in need who don’t believe as you do, then you aren’t achieving for God but for your own righteous ego. At least, that is what I believe.

            Liked by 2 people

          • The goodness of any person, be that person a Christian or not, is irrelevant: all goodness comes from God, even if that person can’t see it. Christians’ principle witness in an age of atheism is to show that the goodness of their neighbors is of the Divinity, not mere application of animal will.

            As to the remainder of your comment: you differentiate between people who follow a certain faith, and those that do not; you set forth as much when you say “too many of God’s “people” have forgotten the message of the scripture, the example of Christ.” Respectfully, there’s no higher ground for you to be found in maintaining a false form of universality, because you do, in fact, prefer one form of faith over another. And you may try and maintain that it’s your own personal preference you would not wish on others, yet you clearly do want others to believe as you do.

            I don’t find any error in your belief that your particular faith is better or best: but I do find some mild hypocrisy. Ultimately, you would certainly agree that being a Christian means fidelity to Jesus Christ, not to a “path” or a “way,” but to a Person.

            I do not wish to seem combative or mean-spirited or angry; I’m genuinely interested in continuing this discussion with you, and I respect your faith and have enjoyed your thoughts on this matter (even if I suspect we may never convince one another of the rightness of our respective positions).

            Liked by 2 people

          • My goal would never be to convince you of the rightness of anything other than how you treat others. Simple as that. My “faith” if it has to have a name is of blend of many spirits. Here is what I think I know, the Creator, whatever name you are comfortable in giving It is more open minded than His/Her’s followers/believers.

            Liked by 3 people

          • May I ask, how do you know that the Creator is more open-minded than its believers or followers?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Easy math, listen to us, watch us we are a mess. Open minded with a sense of humor.

            Liked by 3 people

  3. Agreed! There is no perfect faith but perfect path …true. Knowledge of humanness and sense of Universality feels very spiritual to me …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. manqindi says:

    Its not the beliefs , its the believers who wreak disharmony

    On 10 December 2016 at 06:02, Ends and Beginnings wrote:

    > ends and beginnings blog posted: ” “The essence of all religions is one. > Only their approaches are different.” – Mahatma Gandhi Where do you stand > on God? On Jesus? On heaven? On hell? Do you have to “play the belief game” > for your family, friends and co-workers to fit-in, to live in h” >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At one point in my sobriety my ‘religionist’ family and friends chastised me for embracing the ‘ungodly and unbiblical ‘ theology of Alcoholics Anonymous. Today I know that sobriety is heaven, recovering addicts are my spiritual brothers and sisters, and I know what keeps me and millions worldwide sober. It has nothing to do with scriptures, right theology, his god or her god. I may go to hell (according to them) but what they don’t fathom in their narrow theologically correct dialog is that I have spend many years in hell already, I have seen it and tasted it. Most of those self-righteous folks haven’t a clue. Thanks for reminding me of spiritual priorities.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Nice post as usual. I follow no “faith” – I believe all religion is an attempt to improve humans. And it does (on the whole). Exploring your own spirituality, without dogma and creed made by others is very scary. Following a Faith feels more secure. But all faiths have some of the things I believe in them. I am a Panentheist. So I could find something in some particular Faith, that might suit my rebellious nature. I never join “groups”. Hate labels.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Patty says:

    Universalist…for me that equals ‘human’.
    Great post. Again. XxX

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m in a similar situation. I am secretly an atheist, but I have to act as though I’m a Christian to keep the peace with those around me. Nice to meet you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Christianity seems different to me as it appears to be the only religion that asks believers to love their enemies… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kertsen says:

    ‘ The divinity of humanity and nature ‘ but we know from dire experience that nature is amoral , she kills the good , the bad and the ugly , she does not discriminate or plan , she is neither good nor evil. Humanity is different we have a moral conscience , not that we always listen to it, but it does help to shape our lives. The religious would claim the conscience is divine but the humanist would reject such a notion believing that somehow the conscience evolved with the mind of man over thousands of years. With the conscience comes the good/ evil view of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “but we know from dire experience that nature is amoral , she kills the good , the bad and the ugly , she does not discriminate or plan , she is neither good nor evil.” sounds like humans as well. I would pick natures decisions over humans any day.

      Like

      • kertsen says:

        Nature makes no decisions only humans decide and some neuroscientists doubt if that is true by concluding we have no free will. That is not my opinion I believe we have limited freedom within the scope of human nature. Humans can show concern and kindness as well as aggression and bitterness.

        Liked by 1 person

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