Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Don't Like the Label "Christian"

     Occasionally I will get the question, "Are you a Christian?" Through my assumptions I decide what the motivation of their question is and I always am quick to answer "Yes." And I know I'm right to assume that their motivation in asking the question is never a good reason. It is most always gonna be a question of judgement. That if I answer "No" I'm doomed to the fires of Hell for eternity unless I put this correct label on. I guess my biggest fear is hearing somebody preach to me, as if that's the worst thing in the world. Or my other fear would be them asking me why not and then having to go into a long detailed explanation of my spiritual journey. Because it is literally 20 (almost 21) years in the making. I also fear that once somebody knows that I don't consider myself a Christian I will always be "that guy." Whenever the person who knows is around me, they won't think about the good time we might be having together, it will always be, "this guy isn't a Christian" and our relationship will never be the same. Why do we need this God as the main topic of our lives? I believe I have found a way to not let it be. Is it not possible to be a good person and not have God be the center of this motivation of wanting to be good?
     You may be thinking, "Wait, so you DON'T consider yourself a Christian then?" Not so fast... Don't come to any conclusions yet. I merely don't by your definition. First off, let me just say that I don't like labels. So I don't even like to call myself a Christian by my definition either. What is my definition? I have an idea but I won't go into it. It doesn't matter. I think the question people should be asking is, "What do you believe?" Because there are many definitions for the word Christian. But then again what a person believes shouldn't matter too much. It matters if that effects how you live your life, whether you live ethically or more on the selfish side. Not whether you pray to some higher power or not. I'm sure a lot of you people reading this disagree with me. I tend to get the same responses on each post.
     I'm thinking at this point I should remind you again what I believe (even though I just told you it shouldn't matter). Despite me giving hints in each blog post, it's always good to be reminded. Also, I change what I believe quite often so it is good to be updated. I believe that there is some form of higher power out there. I call this power God. I believe God is mysterious and acts differently in each individual situation. That could be why there are so many different beliefs out there. Why some people are convinced God has given them visions or has told them to do something. I also believe that most likely God isn't actively involved in the world today, which is why there is so much suffering. That it is our job to attempt to make the world a better place. I don't believe in Hell as we know it. I believe that the punishment of eternal suffering is way too harsh. I also acknowledge that if there isn't a hell then there's the possibility that there's no heaven either. And I'm getting better at accepting that. I certainly hope there is some sort of life after death though, but I think people shouldn't focus on the reward of death and instead think that there must be some reason we are on this earth other than to see if we can make it to Heaven and not Hell. I hope you can see past our different beliefs. I hope we can all just get along knowing we don't agree with each other.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Perfect World: Is it Possible?

     One of the themes of this year of service and learning is that the world is messed up. I had always heard the phrase as a child, "Life isn't fair." That was always thrown around like it's no big deal. So if life isn't fair, why do we try to make it fair? Is it even possible? I'm not so sure it is.
     What sparked my interest in writing this blog is this trip we're on to Arizona and Mexico to learn about the border. I've never been opposed to illegal immigrants and I've always thought that our government should not make it so difficult for people to come here. Since we are mainly here to learn about why it IS wrong to have a border like this, I knew that part wasn't going to be the issue for me. What filled me was this feeling of hopelessness. Seriously, what CAN we do?
     Another thing that I've been hearing throughout the year is about the food industry. Why we should be buying locally grown fruits and veggies and grass-fed meat. I completely understand this issue. What gets me is how expensive it is to live this way. Most people do not have the kind of money to eat ethically. It's pretty hopeless if you ask me.
     We can stop the mass production of corn but then I'm sure there is going to be another issue. Can't say what it would be yet but I truly believe there is no such thing as a perfect world. I can't stand it when I try to be a good person and live ethically and then people tell me I'm not doing enough. Not to point fingers (okay, I'm pointing fingers) but I hear that a lot from two of my roommates, Tyler and ben adam. I love them to death but that part of them kind of bugs me. They are good at making people feel guilty. But I'm not sure they have all the answers either. My prediction is that no matter how hard you try to make the world a better place, there will always be another problem that comes up. So do I sacrifice everything to try to make it better with the possibility that at the end of my life I realize it was a complete waste of time and I didn't accomplish anything, or not do a thing and be considered selfish? It is a lot easier to choose the second option because people want to play it safe and make sure that at least THEY are living life to the fullest. I feel like I'm gonna get a lot of flack for that one but I try to be honest. Let's just all be honest with ourselves.
     Despite all that I am still trying to make the world a better place. I may not be doing enough but it's at least something. So why do I try at all when I'm pretty sure it's hopeless? I don't know. Maybe I would rather be considered just kind of selfish rather than selfish.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Quotes That Influence Me

Here are a bunch of quotes that I really like. If you combine these into one they basically explain what I believe. These are all available to see on my facebook...

"Do not let what you CAN'T do keep you from doing what you CAN do."

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
-Anne Lamott

“When the stakes are this high- when calling God by the right name can make the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, it is impossible to respect the beliefs of others who don't believe as you do.” 
― Sam Harris

"An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that deed must be done instead of prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
(I'm not an atheist but I love the quote. too often do we rely on God to fix all the problems of the world)

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

“I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. OTHER CULTURES ARE NOT FAILED ATTEMPTS AT BEING YOU; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit."

It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.

"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind"

"A lot of what the Church discusses is not about the compassionate path of Christ, it’s about what kind of lifestyle is acceptable and approved of by the Church when God knows what they’re doing behind closed doors. You have a lot of people waking up every morning who feel paralyzed to act because of these judgments. All around us, people are not only experiencing physical bondage but emotional and mental bondage behind perfectly groomed lawns." - Tori Amos

"Can't we all just get along?"

"Magic is only science we don't know about yet."
-Natalie Portman in Thor

"Your ancestors called it magic... but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same."
-Thor (btw these quotes from Thor aren't me just being nerdy. they actually play a significant role in what I believe about God)

“Jesus, as a philosopher is wonderful. There's no greater role model, in my view, than Jesus Christ. It's just a shame that most of the people who follow him and call themselves Christians act nothing like him.”
Bill Maher

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."