How does one go about simplifying their Faith? Gazing into their bellybutton, of course. 🙂
All of my life, in every variation of almost every religion there is, there are experts and elders and theologians who are there to explain what it all means to us… and rather than laying it out it’s often served up in riddles, rules, regulations, politics, and literalist evangelistic extremist shite.
I’ve been on this spiritual journey with a lot of, mmmm, reeducation. That meant that for a while, even as I remained faithful, I moved away from particular teachings and beliefs from my childhood household (bigoted, racist, homophobic, abusive, etc. directly against what Jesus spoke) and from the Catholic Church’s political stances. If I said anything questioning things with my many questions, I was shut down in Catechism classes. I couldn’t say a word at home because, well, it wasn’t safe. I knew that my answers weren’t going to come from individuals who came from my childhood or they would shut down my intellectual curiosity. As a girl, I was allowed to be intelligent and intellectual as long as it was book smarts and I toed whatever line was being cast that week.
I had to wait until high school and then college when I had the ability to do my own research with more resources at the ready. I had to learn to keep my thoughts and additional questions to myself. If I didn’t I was being disrespectful or blasphemous. Questions were a weakness of faith rather than a desire to learn of my faith and its history. Facts didn’t matter.
I committed to learning more about my faith and my Jesus, historically and factually, but I had to do it all on my own most of the time. It was a determined choice. At first I felt guilty and as if I were disobeying my father. I felt like maybe God would be disappointed and think I was being unfaithful. Imagine how delighted I was when I learned that Jesus commanded us to question everything and become learned and educated, like… about EVERYTHING!!! It is our duty to be educated in the laws of the land, politics, nature, society, as well as religion.
We’re not to be mindless sheep. We are, instead, to be part of his flock by choice so that he can be a proper shepherd to us, and we can still retain our intellect and curiosity.
Jesus knew that these things (politics, nature, society, religion, law of the land you live in) are mutually exclusive even though they are intertwined… and at that time when Jesus walked the Earth with us, religious law was their societal law. There were reasons for that, actually… practical ones. I won’t go into it here, as I’ve discussed it before. Likely will again.
And yet Jesus challenged their societal laws and religious laws. He challenged the self-proclaimed leaders of the faith he was born into. He challenged the politics of his society and of the Romans. He encouraged us to be rabble-rousers and to think for ourselves in all things from the perspective of an intellectual (imagine that, a religious man who was an intellectual and educated). He appreciated the Earth and what it provided, while teaching us to look forward to the Grace of God.
Even when he laid out the pathway to God and Heaven, simplified and with Grace, he felt it incredibly important that we know we are to question anyone who claims religious authority of any kind. I know I’m harping on this but here he was, with the Word, spelling it out straight for those with education and then softened for those not as learned as he was, using parables just as Abraham did in the OT. He straight out stated that the Old Laws with the only exception being the Ten Commandments were to be done away with. Only his teachings mattered now.
Jesus simplified. He directed us to challenge. He directed us to educate ourselves. He directed us to simplify. He directed us, therefore, to be Conscientious in our Faith and Belief.
I wonder if I can summarize?
- I believe in the Apostle’s Creed
- I believe in the Ten Commandments
- I believe in Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit
- I believe God is there for me and every single one of us in every single moment of my life
- I believe in Heaven, but I’m working out my concept of Hell based on biblical parables, discounting all other writings
- I believe God loves every single one of us as we are, as we feel, as we think, in our efforts to live good and balanced lives