Dancing outside my comfort zone

Have you ever been slammed for posting your opinion?

A few days ago, after listening to an incredibly beautiful rendition of “Mary Did you Know” by Pentatonix, I was prompted to post the following comment:

 I love the song even though it’s really a religious song which doesn’t apply to me, personally. This version is hauntingly beautiful.

What followed was a dozen posts, some agreeing with me, some understanding what I was saying without judgement, and then, there were those who I put into the category of “the only right way to believe and have faith is mine. All others will go to hell unless they see my light.” They include the following:

 1. Just maybe it’s trying to tell you something – really listen to the words. God bless you in a special way.

 

2. So sad to see people turning from faith. Just know that God is always there and waiting should you ever need him. I understand issues with “religion” just know that God only wants a “Relationship” with you and that is not found in ANY church. Prayers are for your salvation. Peace and love to you all.

 

3. There will come a time when you find out that it DID apply to you. So sad.

C.M. posted a very well-written response I’d like to share before giving you my response to quote number 1 above.

 

I don’t believe in god or the idea god was born from a Virgin so to me the lyrics don’t really say anything. They tell a story I don’t believe occurred. But I can respect those who believe it including PTX themselves and that such beliefs bring people a lot of peace, as long as they don’t take those ideals too far. And I respect it as a beautifully arranged and sung piece of music. I was happy to see several non-gospel songs on this album as going too far down the religious track can alienate a lot of people who don’t believe or have issues with religion.

Finally, here is my response to number 2 above:

 

So sad to see people believing that their concept of faith is the only one instead of embracing the diversity of our fellow humans, not only in looks and ideas, but also in beliefs. Coexisting means appreciating and even reveling in the fact that we do not all believe in the same things. I pity the narrow minded for they never allow themselves the opportunity to learn about those around them right down to their very core. They hit the spot that says “their god isn’t my god” and immediately say “something is wrong with that person.” Don’t you realize that by denying the rest of us in our own wholeness, you are denying an important part of yourself as well?

Not being one to get into a pissing match on someone else’s page, I simply answered “LOL” to number 3 and left it at that, knowing full well that I would at some point address it right here.

Why have so many people throughout history used religion and their so-called “faith” as an excuse to spew hatred and spread misery?

This morning, a dear friend shared the following and I think it sums up what I’m trying to say farMaya Angelou-hate better than I can say it (though you know I will expound further). From the Romans to the Crusades to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, man has seen fit to criticize, browbeat, discriminate and even murder those who follow a different “faith”, though, in every case, this really means “religion”. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my definitions, nor will I think any different of you if you do. I’m simply sharing my take, here.

In my opinion, religion has very little, if anything to do with a person’s faith. It is simply a man-made construct to bring people together, quite often for both a sense of community and to do good works for those less fortunate. But it is also misused on far too many occasions as an excuse to give small groups the power to think for the masses who then become mindless parrots for a bunch of dogma they don’t even understand. “Religion” in and of itself is simply another man made institution, ripe for abuse and no different from our political system. Individuals rise to power and dictate what the masses may do, believe and accept. Same sex marriage, anyone? How about homosexuality? Abortion?

“Faith”, which is too often erroneously used interchangeably with “religion”, is found in the heart of each individual, though many doom themselves to a life unfulfilled by stifling their own inner voice in order to conform with the beliefs and expectations of others. “Faith” is connecting directly with our Source, under whatever name we choose to give it. “Faith” can certainly be honored while following a particular religious path, provided one allows oneself to think outside that religion’s box. In a lot of cases with regard to Western religion, that means eschewing the belief in “the one and true faith” and accepting, even embracing the many different paths the people around us follow.

Here’s a news flash, folks. A man named “Jesus” did not die so that we could be absolved of our sins by accepting this man as our freaking savior. As far as I’m concerned, that’s about as meaningful as a mother telling her child “wait until your father gets home” instead of dealing with the child’s misbehavior herself.

We must all take responsibility for our own actions.

How’s that for a unique concept? You screw up, you have consequences. You can’t go into a predetermined building, confess your crime and be protected from those consequences. And why should you be? Without those consequences you wouldn’t learn…you wouldn’t grow! Consequences are a part of our learning experience. How audacious to say “just believe, unquestioningly, what we tell you and you will no longer have to face those nasty consequences every time you screw up or act unkindly.” How blind and unthinking to actually believe those words.

We’re intended to make mistakes along the way to becoming caring, thoughtful, giving people. Being a good Christian or Jew or Buddhist or Muslim or any other thing you might call yourself isn’t about going into a building once a week to be preached at or going through a bunch of preordained rituals called “praying”, it’s about giving love freely, respecting other people and their differences, being kind to everyone(and I know from personal experience that this one is tough!), and forgiving yourself and others when those inevitable mistakes occur.

I don’t claim to have mastered any of these things yet, and may not even do so in this particular human existence, but each mistake I make, each lesson I learn does bring me closer to my own Divinity, just as it does for everyone else. Passing judgement on those of us who don’t believe as you do, in my opinion, makes your road a little longer than mine because your lessons still involve learning to think for yourself, trusting your own heart and not only accepting but embracing the fact that others believe differently than you do.

Religion does have a purpose, but giving people an excuse for their bad behavior tarnishes the word for the rest of us, and causes it to leave a bad taste in our mouths. “Religion” and “Faith” might once have been synonymous but that day has passed.

I welcome and appreciate your comments, but please keep them friendly, addressing the issues, not the poster, whether that poster is me or another commenter. I realize that this post will elicit strong feelings in some, but you can still express those feelings in a manner which promotes an interesting discussion as opposed to a fight.

My gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful for the people who have woken up and embraced everyone’s right to believe as they choose.
2. I am grateful for the lessons I’m given to teach me to be more accepting and less judgmental.
3. I am grateful for the people who fire me up with their myopic views because they remind me to keep my own mind open and accepting.
4. I am grateful for my progress on the path to reconnecting with my own Divinity.
5. I am grateful for progress which comes into our lives in so many diverse ways.
6. I am grateful for abundance: challenges, love, lessons, peace, harmony, opportunities, charity, harmony, health and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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