Me, I can’t turn my brain off. Even while doing mundane things (sometimes especially while doing mundane things) I am busy questioning, pondering, musing, and speculating.
One of the things that started me on this rather bizarre spiritual journey is some research I started doing for a friend. Said friend has been going through some *really* tough times, but is finally interested in some sort of spirituality again. He told me he was investigating Hinduism and Buddhism. In order to (hopefully at some point) have an intelligent discussion with him I picked up a book about the world’s religions and began my research.
I was utterly stunned to realize that, quite frankly, ALL the world’s religions have asked similar questions about life, the universe, and everything. And many of them have come up with suspiciously similar ideas – with different names attached. Particularly as I read about Christianity with (as much as I could manage) an outsider’s more objective point of view – I started wondering….. why do I believe Christianity to be exclusively True, when at least 2 other major faiths, and many minor ones – believe *their* brand of faith to be exclusive Truth. Logically speaking, that’s not possible. We can’t all be Exclusively Right. My evangelical friends would remind me that Christianity is the Truth, and the others are imposters – the worship of demons. Umm, really? ALL the ones that came before, as well as ALL the ones that came after? So, Stone Age man had no access to Truth? Native Americans living here before the explorers came had no access to Truth?
Oh, well…..they were justified (in a backwards compatible sort of way ) by Christ’s death and resurrection before they were even born. I begin to ponder the strange and circuitous things I and others have said in order to “prove” Christianity.
Meanwhile, in order to give my spirit “time off” to heal and rejuvenate – I’ve purposefully been avoiding most outside Christian sources (books, websites, studies). Even (I know, horror of horrors, my Bible). The curious thing is, before we left our last church, I felt like I heard God speaking to me all the time. And I was SO tied up in knots trying to please Him, or fearing that I’d displeased Him.
In the past few weeks I have realized that – it’s pretty quiet inside me head. Pretty much just my own thoughts rattling around up there. Which makes me begin to wonder (especially as I read up on the history of religion), have I simply been talking mostly to myself? Not that I’ve given up belief in God, but have many of my (supposedly) God-speaking thoughts been simply my own intuition and reasoning – me talking to myself?
Am I an apostate and God has withdrawn from me? If so, why do I still give thanks for life and breath and family and safety? Obviously to give thanks I believe there is a sentient Being capable of receiving it. Why do I still rejoice in nature’s beauty? Why do I still, at some very deep level, still feel and believe in God’s presence? And yet, when I see how fervently many Christians feel they have to “defend” God (if He, or She is God, how and why could we defend Him anyway?) it troubles me. Looking from the outside in, these defenses sound no different in scope than the defenses of those in other religious systems, and even those in cults.
And, the weird thing is – many Christians will tell you that people who “stop believing” do so because they want to sin, or act immorally. Actually, I have to say, in the past few weeks some of my bad habits and unproductive ways of doing things have lessened. I can think more clearly, work more effectively, and react to situations more appropriately than before. I’ve been (on the whole) more patient with my children, less of a procrastinator, and done less impulse spending. So….those are good things, right?
If my belief system makes me prone to all sorts of nervous tics and unproductive habits – then, that would not be a healthy and wholesome belief system. Hmmm… It’s dangerous to go to church with an open mind, or so it would seem. One might start questioning many things.