Tuesday, March 17, 2015

You Asked, I Answer (God, Religion and Spirituality)

This week I’m going to address a single question from my Ask Me Anything post because it is quite profound.


Francie asked:
Do you believe in God/dess?

Religion is a topic that I typically steer clear of unless I’m discussing it with someone that I know (without a doubt) is broadminded, accommodating and respectful of differing views. Because I’ve learned the hard way that even people who swear up and down that they are tolerant are often the first to get hot under the collar and become judgmental, aggressive, irrational and outright abusive when you challenge or disagree with their beliefs. Or non beliefs. Because atheists can be jerks, too.

So my initial reaction to this question was to answer that this is a subject that I don’t really want to touch upon. But after giving it considerable thought, I decided that without getting too deep into it, I can give a general idea of where I stand.



Let me start off by saying that I grew up in a very traditional Christian home with very conservative parents in a very conservative community. Religion was (and still is) extremely important to my mother and she was determined to instill her strong faith in her children and raise us to be godly.  As such, my brothers and I were enrolled in Sunday school and taken to (a paternalistic) church regularly. And everything we were taught there was practiced at home.

I happily complied until I reached my teen years, at which point I began to question everything I’d been taught, even challenge it. So I set off on a journey of spiritual exploration that lasted for many years and it wasn’t until my early thirties that I finally formulated a belief system - or rather a philosophy - that resonates with me. And one that is continuously evolving.

Here is a condensed version:

- I am spiritual but not religious, which means that I do not subscribe to any organized religion. I prefer to be a free spirit.

- I do not consider myself a Buddhist but the philosophy of Buddhism speaks loudly to me.

- I believe in reincarnation, the evolution of the soul and old souls (guides, gods or whatever you want to call them).

- I have adopted bits and pieces from many different religions, beliefs and philosophies because each one offers something that appeals to me.

- I respect and admire all beliefs, religions or philosophies, and I’m always interested in discussing and learning more about them. With tolerant people.

- I believe that all differing views have something valuable to contribute to this world, and that we should keep an open mind and learn from them.

- I do not believe that any religion is right or wrong. It is all a matter of perspective. And perspective is an individual’s reality.

- I believe that we all have the right to determine what spiritual path we want to follow. Or not. And that no one should be persecuted because of that.

- I respect devotees, agnostics and atheists equally unless they are intolerant and abusive toward people with differing views. There is enough room for all of us on this planet.


Now, does this answer Francie’s straightforward question “Do you believe in God/dess?” Not really. But her question is not that simple. Since I am not an atheist nor a devotee, but rather a free spirit that walks to the beat of her own drum, it’s next to impossible for me to answer with a definite yes or no. There are so many grey areas and so many intricate details to my spirituality.

But if France had asked “Do you believe in a single, male, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God?” this post would have been much shorter. And after reading this, I'm sure you know the answer.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone. And if I have, then we simply aren’t compatible.

Have a lovely day, everyone.


For anyone interested,  here are a few more posts I've written that relate to this topic:
Freedom Of (And Freedom From) Religion
Stop Dragging God Into Everything
Is There Anything After This Life?
Hometown Memories: Sunday School


41 comments:

  1. I think you expressed your beliefs really well here :) You are right, it is a tough subject to tackle, not knowing if you will offend anyone; you certainly did not offend me :)

    betty

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    1. Politics and religion. I avoid both like the plague. Unless I'm discussing them with 'reasonable' people.

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  2. Hello greetings and good wishes.

    Most of us follow the religion of our parents and I am one of them. I do this because I don't want to spend my energy and time looking for something else. I believe what was good for my parents is good for me also.

    I am a Catholic and my three children are Catholics but my eldest son loved and married a Hindu. No one has any problem with that. But his son has been baptised in a Church.

    I am living in a place where there are Hindus, Muslims, Jews and people following many other religions. There is perfect harmony here and every one respects the religion followed by others.

    We have a common sense and we have a right to follow what ever we wish such as spirituality or Atheism or Buddhism or any thing else. It doesn't really matter. In the end all of us will die and go and no one really knows where. I prefer to believe there is an after life because it gives me hope. But many people don't believe in after life and I have no problem with that. I believe every one has the right to believe what ever they want. We have only one life and we should live our life the way we want and believe what we want. The primary purpose in this life is to live a happy, contented, peaceful life.

    So, you are right to think and believe what you want. The most important thing is your happiness.

    Interesting quotes.

    Best wishes.

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    1. Like your blog posts, this comment is thoughtful and beautifully written. Here in Canada, it's very much the same. There are many different religions being practiced. And there are many individuals that practice no religion at all. Others are undecided. And everyone does this side by side, peacefully. As it should be. Because we should all respect another's choices when it comes to such a personal and fundamental matter. Thank you for this, Joseph.

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  3. What a beautiful post! This also describes my philosophy of life better than I could ever describe it myself. Especially the part about Buddhism. And the part where you say atheists can be jerks too.. You betcha! I know a few who are just as intolerant as a few definitely not all,) of the evangelical Christians I know. Intolerance is just plain sad....

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    1. Jerks come from all around, Mary! Every single group has them.

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  4. I agree with everything you said! I believe that the most important spiritual principle of all is tolerance. Any religion or spirituality which is intolerant has profoundly lost its way and fallen into error. If everyone practised spiritual tolerance, wouldn't the world be a much better place by that simple action alone?

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    1. You bet it would, Debra! Spiritual tolerance would be a huge step toward making this world a better place.

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  5. I really like that final quote.
    I'm in agreement with everything your wrote. I think most of us are. Well stated, Martha.

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    1. Thanks, Robyn. Religion is a touchy subject and I just skim the surface unless I'm discussing it with people who are open to different opinions and ideas.

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  6. I totally agree with you! Having been raised in an organized religion, (and raising my kids in this same said religion) I got burned out. Now, my religion is spending time in the great outdoors.

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    1. Indeed, Linda! Spending time in the great outdoors is my place, too.

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  7. I seemed to have followed along a very similar path as you, Martha.
    You did explain yourself very well and I doubt if you have offended anybody.....it's just not in your nature to do so.

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    1. You are right, Jim. It's not in my nature to offend anyone. But some people take offense in the most basic discussions of religion. Not that it really matters because I don't bother with those types of people anyway.

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  8. It's a question very well answered.

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  9. Wonderful post I also like that last phrase well said ! I am of no religion but I do believe there is someone upstairs looking out for us and that we do have spirits that walk the earth and have had past lives and I like to think there is a heaven ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

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    1. It looks like you've also carved out something that works well for you. And that's what it's all about. Thanks for stopping by, Country Gal!

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  10. Thanks for sharing with us about your beliefs, Martha. It does take courage to publish the beliefs closest to our hearts, because its easy to imagine we'll lose friends by doing so (and sometimes we do).

    Although I don't believe the same way as you on most points, I do really like your first line, "I am spiritual but not religious, which means that I do not subscribe to any organized religion. I prefer to be a free spirit." Organized religion is for the most part very confusing. I am a Christian, but there are so many denominations--I prefer not to join any of them, and have friends from all of them!

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    1. Rereading your post, I agree on more points than I at first thought, but I won't go through which I do and which I don't--will leave you guessing on that! ;)

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    2. It doesn't really matter, Bethany, which points we agree on or not as long as we respect our differences, which it seems we do. I admire your strong faith and I thoroughly enjoy reading the posts where you include it. Many of the things I learned from my parents by going to church and Sunday school are still with me today. Religion is something that I enjoy learning about and I also enjoy discussing with people their beliefs, particularly when they are completely different from mine. I have a natural curiosity about the diversity of this world and the amazing people that are a part of it. Anyhow, I think you are a well-rounded, intelligent and thoughtful young lady, and I've no doubt your family is very proud of you.

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  11. Hey, I have said that some thing myself (that quote from Moby Dick), I didn't know that was in there!
    I can't speak intelligently about religion, so I don't even try. I love the Lord, I know that, I just wish my faith was stronger.
    It seems to me that some who call themselves religious are very intolerant of others. Same thing applies to some who are atheists or agnostics. We should treat everyone with respect. We are all people.
    I appreciate the time it took you to put your thoughts together on this post.
    Gee, I sound as serious as a heart attack. Insert smiley face here to lighten the mood. :-)

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    1. That's it, Kay! No matter what we believe - or not - at the end of the day we're all people. And we should respect and take care of one another. It's really that simple. At least for me.

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  12. wow great answer Martha, not given lightly!

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    1. Thanks, Christine. It did take a while to put it together. But I enjoyed doing it. Made me think about a few things, too.

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  13. I remember doubting stuff I heard in church when I was about seven. I believe all religions are man-made. If there is a God or gods, then they are quite silent.

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    1. You have to choose what feels right for you, Adam. And if this is what you believe, then that's what is true for you.

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  14. My parents were Christian, but had soured on their home churches, so they brought my sisters and I up with the Unitarian-Universalist church. Pretty much everything you say would fit in very comfortably there. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It sounds like the choice they made works for you. And that's what it's all about. I'm happy with where I am in my life and I'm always open to new things if they fit. Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. Well said. You straighten out a few things in my mind. People must be open minded and tolerant when it comes to religion. Those who aggressively go out to recruit converts are definitely not welcome in my mind.

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    1. Yes, people should be open minded and tolerant. That would certainly help solve many problems in this world. Unfortunately, it's not that easy for many.

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  16. I think the Dalai Lama said it all .... my religion is kindness. My husband and I always say we belong to the Church of 'do unto others' .... it does really come down to how you live your life and with tolerance of so many wonderful people in the world. How boring would it be if we were all exactly the same! Really great post today.

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    1. The church of 'do unto others'! I love it. That's our philosophy, as well.

      The world would be pretty dull if we were all exactly the same. Diversity is a beautiful thing.

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  17. Written well and ended brilliantly.

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    1. Thanks, Wonder Woman! I hope you are doing great over at your secret lab.

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  18. Well done, Martha!!!!
    I like your answer!

    Happy Tuesday
    Smiles

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Margie! Have a great day.

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  19. I believe God is everything, everything that is good, kind and love. It can be the Christian God, Allah, Mohamed, a flower, a new born baby, music what ever bring us peace. I believe God has many faces to please and welcome all of us. There is no room in my believe for rejecting anyone or battling over who is right. We are all equal and free (at least morally free) to take full advantage of the abundance that surround us for the little time we were selected to walk on this earth.

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    1. That is a fantastic way of putting it, Richard. Live and let live. It's that simple. Imagine if we all did that how much peace there'd be in this world.

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  20. I really enjoy your view of the world Martha. Glad you are able to share it with us. Cheers and have a great weekend! It's finally Spring!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Jen. I appreciate that. And it sure is spring!

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