I have a pretty solid belief system. It doesn’t really follow any particular organized religion. In fact, it sort of just fell into my brain one day, and I never really told anyone about it, I just silently joked to myself that it’s called Tanyaism. One day I’ll elaborate on the whole idea of it all, but today, let’s talk about Jesus.
I grew up Catholic. I was Baptized; had First Communion and went through Confirmation. The whole Catholic Caboodle. My Grandma Shirley was so proud.
I never loved Church, but I didn’t hate it either. It was just kinda boring, and we were never allowed to eat beforehand so I was always hungry. And sermons made no sense. Kinda just felt like this dude was enjoying hearing himself talk. The mono-tone music wasn’t super enjoyable, but at least I got to sing, right? Sunday school was cool, but I got too old to go. Anyways, it wasn’t my favourite Sunday experience, but we always went with Grandma and Grampa, and we always got donuts and hot chocolate (and sometimes waffles) afterwards. So it was alright.
Anyways, shortly after I was Confirmed I began to think about the Bible and all these stories and scriptures – and basically there were a bunch of things that just didn’t make sense to me, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. So I started asking questions. My Grandma was a proud Catholic and I considered her to be my in-house Bible-expert, so I asked her.
“Did Adam and Eve really populate the entire earth? If so, how did different ethnicities come to be?”
“Did Jesus really walk on water? Or was it sort of a figure of speech?”
“How can God be everywhere at once?”
“Okay so God is all powerful right? How does this Devil guy even compete then? Can’t God just squash him with his little finger?”
My grandma didn’t really receive these questions too well; AKA had a pretty epic freakout on me for even considering this heresy. And I mean, I get it (now – it was a bit confusing at the time). For her, her faith saved her. My Grandma had a fair share of struggle in her life, so for her, finding God and Jesus really helped put her life in a healthier direction. She was the most faithful person I knew, so that’s why I wanted to ask; but all I really learned at the time is that you don’t question Grandma’s God.
It’s okay though, I’m a practical kid, and in the case of God I just figured if no one would answer my questions, then I would come to my own answers. And since I couldn’t think of any logical answers to my questions, I decided that there was no God at all. I was 13 and a self-proclaimed Atheist. (I did not tell Grandma).
I stayed really committed to that belief for a very long time, almost a decade I think; basically until a friend of mine was willing to field a few of my (very cynical-atheist originated) questions. He was of Christian faith and very patient with me (I think I was kind of a dick) – but he said something to me that made my brain twitch.
I asked him (probably with great disdain while rolling my eyes) “How is it possible that God is listening to my prayers over here, and then someone else in Australia, and someone else in another part of the world. Sounds a little too much like Santa Clause to me.”
My friend casually explained that his belief is that there are more dimensions than solely this physical plane that we are aware of. And God isn’t human, so he’s not limited to the same linear forms of travel and communication that we are.
And that was enough to crack the door for me to go from a firm “No. God does not exist.” To “Maybe I will think about it.” – and poof. I became Agnostic. I still wasn’t sold on the whole God thing, but I now felt that I had to leave room for error. Which I did for quite some time – until that shifted to my own weird conclusions (ref: Tanyaism).
I have many, many friends that grew up with a similar story to me. They grew up in the Church. Their questions weren’t welcome. They themselves felt unwelcome because of the rigidity and judgement of their institution. The way we experienced it was: This place is boxing me in with a bunch of rules, and they won’t even tell me why! So we dropped our religion and went on with life.
The trouble is, a lot of people still carry those wounds. The ones where they felt ignored, or judged or restricted. They never made peace. So they still walk around to this day, complaining about the horrendous system that is the Christian Church.
And that’s a damn shame.
I mean. On one hand, I get it! I’ve been there. Felt burned and rebuffed. There were (and still are) a number of things that just don’t make any sense.
But what I’ve noticed since then… I have a lot of friends that attend church. And they are some of the best people I know. And yet, some people avoid Church-going friends because they’re worried that they’re going to … I don’t know actually… what are they worried they’re going to do? Throw holy water and burn them? Lecture them on their sins? Projectile a wooden cross at their forehead while running away shouting “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!”?
For whatever reason it might be, I know a lot of spiritual people that avoid church-goers. (And vice-versa – but I’ll also save that conversation for another day). They judge people for going to church. Which is HILARIOUS because that’s why they left the church in the first place. Judgement, exclusion etc etc. And now here we are on our spiritual high horse doing what was done to us. Kind of hypocritical.
The reason we have all these different religions BECAUSE one size doesn’t fit all. You’re allowed to have your faith, and love to worship the shit out of that faith every Sunday – or whatever day of the week you prefer. Or believe that you die and turn into dirt, your consciousness fizzling into thin air.
We have almost 7000 languages on this planet, a full spectrum of different colors, millions of food options… We GET to be different. We get to choose what feels right for our own heart. You are allowed to believe in exactly whatever way you want to. Wear whatever color you want to, speak whatever language you want to. So I don’t understand the harm in letting someone else believe (or not) in whatever way they want to without getting all emotional and opinionated about it.
I don’t identify as a Catholic anymore. Or Christian, or Evangelican, or [insert other Christian/Religious systems here]
But I’m cool with Jesus. I’m cool that his story inspires people to live their life in a better way. I am glad that people have somewhere to turn when their life gets hard.
Just because you had an experience where the church hurt your feelings – or even if it’s that you feel the church has abused it’s position in history (or currently)… could you avoid making that the fault of Joe-Buddy down the road and his wife. They’re not going to church to try to take over the world, they’re going because they are worried about paying the mortgage this month and they’re turning to Jesus to find comfort in sharing their worries and fears. This is harmless people. And arguably a healthier coping mechanism than some of the alternatives.
And if Joe-Buddy actually is a judgemental, self-righteous, holier-than-thou asshole. Make sure you hold him, himself responsible – because even though he might try to manipulate a bible verse to justify his poor actions. That’s not the church’s fault. That shit is HIS.
Jesus is cool guys. He did some seriously cool shit. He gave some dude his shoes, cause he felt he needed them more, he smushed mud on another guy’s face to get him to see (I mean, the scientific data support on this is low, but it’s the thought that counts!) – he said a lot of smart stuff and gave people hope. And he still does. Like, come on. He sounds alright. He may have occasionally been a bit full of himself – but so were the Beatles. Fame can get to anyone. We can all still take something away from his life and story.
You might not believe me, but you can even go to church… like, this week, and just sit there and listen – and you won’t leave brainwashed with an I Heart Jesus T-Shirt singing This Little Light of Mine. You can just listen. And you might get something out of it.
Maybe not. But maybe.
I am smart enough to know that this is way over-simplified and there are so many political implications to peoples’ issue with church and organized religion. But take it easy on me, I only had time to write a blog. Not a book. So this is what you get. Think of it as Grade 2 Religious Studies: Let’s all be nice to one another and get along.
I’m just saying; if you get all judgy and avoid people because of their belief… you’re missing out on meeting a buttload of cool people. Just like you’re a cool person, and I’d be bummed if someone chose not to be friends with you because of what you choose to believe.
Now, please excuse me while I dust off my rose coloured glasses and mix some Kool-aide. I have a Tanyaism service to attend.