Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shopping for God

I am not sure about God, on one hand I feel if there is a God, God has a lot of explaining to do for things like the suffering of children, massacres, the holocaust and of course the awful untimely death of my first wife in front of our kids.
But, there are many people who I love who have died and whom I would love to see again. I like to think my first wife is an angel waiting for me in heaven, along with some other angels like my parents and sister and some dear friends.
I like to think some day my first wife, my current wife, kids and grandkids and lots of other special people in my life will get together sometime and throw a hell of a party!
I do not understand or believe that God would create thousands of religions then leave it to his and/or her creations to decide, out of that mess, which particular religion is real.
What if God was a choice, like a coat? What if we could shop for a religion, maybe have it tailored for us?

Here is what I would look for in God and a religion:
  • It needs to be life affirming.
  • It needs to value love and acceptance over punishment and hate.
  • It cannot use guilt and fear as leverage over its members: for example to date only in their religion or pay the church a tithe, not out of love, out of fear of dire consequences for non compliance.
  • I believe we are all perfectly ourselves: I do not want any religion that says you owe anybody an apology for being yourself or being true to yourself is a sin, as long as you are not hurting others.
  • It needs to be sex-positive: I do not want any religion that forces celibacy on its leaders and/or says a sexual practice, including kinks, that are pleasurable, not physically harmful and are between consenting adults; is a sin.
  • It needs to be respectful of the diversity of relationship styles: I do not want a religion that tells folks how they must define their intimate relationships, including marriage and divorce, or tells them if they are non-normative that they are sinners.
  • It needs to be trans friendly: I do not want any religion that says a person does not have a right to be the gender they know in their head and heart they are, no matter what kind of genitals they are born with.
  • It needs to be accepting: I do not want a religion that says non-believers are condemned to eternal torture in fire.
  • It needs to be non-misogynist: I do not want a religion that says women who have gotten an abortion are murderers or denies the right to women to determine what is right for their body.
  • It needs to be shaming free: I do not want a religion that says it is a sin to celebrate your body and that you have to hide it in layers of shame.
  • It needs to be based in now: The test is it has to make you a better person, to respect people without shaming of ourselves and each other. The test is will practitioners live a better life even if there is no God, if you are your own God and/or if we all are each other's God.
To me this leaves out many mainstream religions that punishes people for their spiritual beliefs, and practices not to mention sexual practices, sexual and/or relationship orientations and/or their gender.
I believe now is the only time that's real. Eckhart Tolle, in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment said, “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”
Putting off, or deciding not to, live a whole life for the sake of an afterlife seems to me to not be life affirming but rather to be life denying. That seems pretty sad to me. That is not what I want in God. That is not what I want in religion.
Mark 8:36 says, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" Does forfeiting your soul mean to waiting to start living? Does this mean you have to be intolerant because the Bible tells you so?
Is it forfeiting your soul to live in the present, to respect the rights of others to be who they are, to fail to live life as well as you can, to ignore the well being and diversity of the human experience? Does the Bible say, thou shalt be a bigot?
I don't think so. I refuse to accept that.