From 4th to 8th grade I went to a Catholic school. My mom was determined that if she couldn’t give us a dad, she would give us God. When my 8th grade year rolled around and I was getting ready to enter high school, my mom gave me the choice whether to continue my Catholic education in high school or go to a public high school with the rest of the heathens.
I picked the heathens. When I left middle school, I left religion behind. I was never forced to go to church again. It wasn’t a conscious choice that I was walking away from religion. I’m not even sure why I chose to go to public school. I didn’t know anybody there. I guess I’ve always just wanted a change in some way.
The next time religion crept into my life was in the form a college course on world religions. I was fascinated. It was in that class that I read “Under the Banner of Heaven.” It was a book about the mormon religion in its most polygamous form. It was a great read, but did nothing to convince that I needed that kind of religion in my life. Somewhere between middle school and college, I moved to Tennessee. The “bible belt.” There were some Catholics there and plenty of Catholic churches, but they paled in comparison to the Baptists. It was like there was a Baptist Church on every other corner and everybody I knew seemed to be a preacher’s kid. It took me a while to discern between a preacher and a priest, but it didn’t matter because neither were for me.
In my 20’s I went through a Rasta phase because it was more of a lifestyle and less of a religion, I loved most of what they taught, but there were some beliefs that they held that didn’t sit right with my soul.
For a really long time, I searched for my “religion” because growing up, it seemed like if you didn’t have religion, or Jesus, specifically, you were going to hell in a handbasket. I always loved meeting people from different religions. I loved their perspective and their beliefs. I found over time that most religions had a “creation” story from the Christians to the Cherokee. They all had a set of “rules” that you should follow if you want to get to heaven or God or paradise. They all had stories or parables of some kind to teach the lessons. And they all thought they were the “one true religion.”
I’ve always had a problem with “one true religion” for many reasons that would take way too long to explain here, but the simple answer is that there are too many “religions” for there to only be one “true” religion. And if that’s the case, what happens to everyone else? They still believe in God. And if God created us all, why would he only take some and not the others depending on what “religion” they practiced? After all, is God really “religious?”
It never really made sense to me. So eventually I started checking the “spiritual but not religious” box. I have always believed in a god of some sort. A creator. A being. A puppet master. Call it whatever you like. I have always believed there was something bigger than me even if I didn’t know what that was.
I’m way more comfortable with the idea of “one true God” because it’s easier to believe that if there is a God, then he/she should be happy with the fact that lots of people are trying to be better people in the name of their religion. Even if there are lots of people who hide behind “religion” and are just shitty people, I think the majority of the “religious” are just doing the best they can.
Last week, Flea Market Guy and I went to a spiritual center not too far from our house. We had heard about it from our neighbor and thought maybe it was a cult. We didn’t intend to go to the place. We were actually out exploring and noticed that it was right down the street from the shopping mall we were going to check out. We decided we would stop on our way back.
I looked at their website before we got there. It said you had to make an appointment for a tour if you wanted to visit. We decided to at least pull in and see what all the fuss was about. Mostly, we were curious if it was a cult of some sort. We half expected to be greeted by and armed guard. It was nothing like that. We pulled up, went into a house that was the designated office space. We talked to the receptionist. And then, like divine intervention, she said that they had exactly two more spots for the tour that was starting in less than five minutes. She asked if we wanted to join it. Hell, yes we did!
We were actually there before anyone else so we got to sit and talk to our tour guide for a bit. After everyone else got there, we watched a short film about the founder of the center which spurred FMG and I on a quest for enlightenment, if you will.
To make a long story short, this guy is supposed to be God on Earth or a man with “God consciousness.” It’s a really hard concept to grasp, but the short version is that Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, and a couple of other religious figures of previous centuries also had this “God consciousness” or were God on Earth.
I’m not here to get into a religious debate about what’s real, what’s not, what’s sending me to heaven or hell, if there is such a thing, because I know some people have their religion and that is the be all end all of the conversation.
If you are one of those people, I applaud you. I wish I could have unwavering faith like that. However, I am not one of those people. I love that there are different opinions and theories about God, who he is, what he wants from us, and how to get closer to him.
After all, regardless of religion, isn’t the main goal to find your creator and maintain a relationship with said creator while finding your purpose in life?
I think so.
It doesn’t matter what you call it: God, Jesus, Universe, Creator, Jah, Jehovah, Almighty, Father, Puppet Master, I am, whatever. I think all that matters is that you look at the facts and make your own determinations.
The facts for us the other day were that this man created a spiritual center where people can go and walk through nature, 500 acres of it to be exact, and find themselves. And maybe even find God. And whatever his beliefs and the beliefs of the people who worship him, I think anything that’s going to expand your consciousness and get you to question life and existence is a pretty cool thing.
Since our first visit, I’ve been back one time to explore the trails and the buildings. I even checked a book out of their library. It was written by their founder. It’s called “Discourses” and it is a pretty deep piece of literature. We’ve been reading a chapter a night but really we could read a paragraph a night and then dissect it.
It’s all very interesting and quite advanced theory spirituality.
I’m all for anything that’s going to either a.) make me a better person b.)expand my mind or c.)teach me some of the things that others believe.
I will still treat it the same way I treat most religions, which is take the good parts and leave the rest, but that’s the great thing about humanity and spirituality and free will. We all get to choose how we live in this life. And if there is only one true religion and I’m wrong, I guess I’ll cross that fiery bridge when I get there.