What if I’m wrong?
I am ashamed to admit that I was in high school before I discovered that people of the Jewish faith worshipped the same God I did… that they worshipped God at all. Imagine my shock when I learned that we read the same scriptures, or at least significant parts of them.
Imagine my further chagrin when I realized that up to that time my entire religious education had been narrowly designed to deny me any knowledge of how similar other faiths were to mine. To say I was angry that I had been held in the dark and told lies was a gross understatement.
I had this epiphany when I was probably 14 or 15. Books are glorious things and reading dangerous to bigotry and ignorance. It was at that time that I became interested in learning about religions other than my own familial one.
I had been raised by a mother who was raised by a mother who held very literal views of the Bible and what was written therein. My grandmother and mother were good people. Though they could be kind and thoughtful, they were also terribly ignorant about people of other faiths and what those faiths held true. They were religious bigots ~ to this day, that concept is one of the great inconsistancies of Christianity that I cannot reconcile.
Over time I found most religions have more commonalities, than we do differences. I found that many of the cherished traditional parables, and the morals they taught, were almost identical. We have many of the same prophets, many of the same tenets. I have to wonder if monotheistic religions follow the same God, and just have different names we pray to. We are not so dissimilar if you take the time to look. Even when you study multi-thestic religions there are so many similarities in teachings of love and acceptance, peace and earthly stewardship.
I think it was during these early teen years that was also the beginning of the end of my blind acceptance of organized church doctrine. The more I read, the more I learned, the more I saw what I felt to be hypocrisy and un-Christ-like inequities.
How can you espouse brotherly love, and at the same time hate someone simply because they don’t agree with you? How can you teach tenets of ‘judge not’ and in the same breath tell someone they are going to spend eternity in Hell. How can you debase another religion in an effort to bolster your own? Why is it not enough to stand firm in your own beliefs without needing to question another’s faith? In a society of who can ‘cast the first stone,’ I don’t have a rock small enough to throw. Who am I, who are you, to judge anyone?
At one church I attended when still in college, the choir director would go off on tangents about how the Pope was the anti-Christ. It was very bizarre.
Another friend contacted me not so many years ago, soliciting donations to help fund a mission trip his church was planning. When I asked him where the mission was going, he said Ireland. Ireland? Not some third-world country where there were still pockets of primitive natives? Apparently his church was organizing a trip for missionaries to go Ireland to convert ‘the natives’ from Catholicism to Protestantism. I just didn’t get it. (He didn’t get a donation either.)
My faith in God, Jesus and all that goes with that has stayed pretty much stable for the better part of 30 years. It’s all the other minutia ~ things like who is a sinner and unworthy of God’s love, or who is right and who is wrong ~ that has changed. What is basic to my beliefs, is that there is only One who has the authority to decide those issues.
Hubs accuses me of baiting my mother on matters of religion. In the most fundamental way, he’s right. My mother is not nearly as narrow minded as she once was, she is much less rigid in her beliefs, but I just want her to think. To not give me a rote answer to my questions, to automatically repeat back to me Chapter and Verse, but give me real in-depth answers to hard questions.
I’m not asking questions that many could call heresy just to aggravate her. I’m asking because I really want to know the answers. Not what we have been indoctrinated to repeat, but real answers that require you to go beyond what we believe to be the only truth.
The most angry I ever made her was when I engaged her in a debate about what denominations other than Christian-based religions believed that was in conflict to our beliefs. I asked the unthinkable:
“What if we’re wrong?”
For me, my faith doesn’t come solely from my early education, but from a real sense for me of ‘this is right.’ I still have questions and will continue to seek answers to those questions. I also believe that I might not get those answers until the end of this life.