Updated: Mar 17
Guest writer for "The NZDream" blog
Today I woke up with religion on my mind, guess it's because it's a Sunday. I am a Christian, though not an avid churchgoer. I choose to read good book and watch sermons. I honestly find most practices off the mark, though justified by verses. I feel people turn interpretations of the word to fit their liking, per each different conversation, and to judge and belittle, which I feel is the opposite of what Christianity or any other religion is meant to do.
It's worse for me nowadays, with the millions of churches and 'men of God' popping up, dragging absurd and questionable teachings and practices.
This brings me to my bone of contention. I do not and will never understand wars, murders, and massacres emanating from religious beliefs. Is religion not for peace? Is it not for forgiveness? For nurturing the best in you? For love? Along with the guidelines provided by belief, as in the Bible and Qu'ran? Why then, does it birth hatred and bloodshed, lamentation and loss?
ALL because I am Christian does not mean I am biased towards Christians or against any other religion. I see no sense or justifiable reason to do so. I might not be an expert, but I have had my fair share of experience with other religions, like Islam and Hinduism, but I know enough to say, they preach no war. They preach brotherhood, love, humanity, and forgiveness, too.
Here are my two cents, live and let live, be human above all. We are all the same in many ways, though different from what we can comprehend. Besides the same flesh and blood that runs in our veins, we all have souls, emotions, and needs, which are basically universal. We all want acceptance, understanding, respect, and love.
Religion to me is as personal a choice and decision as is love. It's a matter of one's heart and what fits and sits comfortably with you. What works for you as an individual? As long as your personal choice of belief, and application of same, affect no one else and theirs. Neither should it be judgemental and forced, unless they welcomed. You can merely advise and state, not seek to impose your views.
If someone chooses to believe in ancestors and carry out all requisite practices, sacrifices are included. It is their rightful choice to do so. As long as their acts do not harm or directly affect anyone else, they have every right to go their way without judgment or scorn. If it works for them, it is real religion to them, as yours is to you. Why then, would you think their religion is wrong, all because it settles not into yours? It's a two-way type of thing.
The moment, say, someone who is Christian attacks this traditional believer, the boundary is broken. Because religion is personal, meaning, this then becomes an attack on the person too. Then urging the traditional believer to retaliate and defend, not only his religion but himself. How? By dishing out his own attacks and belittlement of that, which he despises in Christianity. An unnecessary war started if you ask me.
If you do not believe the same as the next person, the best way, for me, is to respect that their views and opinions differ from yours, as we are all different per individual. Accepting someone else's choices does not mean implicating yours, rather, you stand firm and hold to what works for you. Why not leave, where your personality does not fit in, then argue and try to prove everyone else wrong in their perceptions? Why not just flock with those who blend with your beliefs?
Religion is a lifestyle, a part of a person, as much as their choice of clothes and food. You don't find it proper to walk into someone's house or life and tell them what to wear, or what to eat, all because you do not fancy their taste and choices. Instead, you merely look, though with spite and scorn at times, and respect their independence and right to live as they choose. Why then does it seem proper to impose on someone's belief and judge it carelessly? It is an integral part of a person's identity.
I have friends whose belief is completely diverse from mine and even a partner of a totally different belief dispensation, yet we co-exist in peace and harmony. You will find us, more than often, discussing religion, our views on its application and practice, where we differ, and where we collaborate. Even when we differ, we find no explosive peak that breaks us and pushes us to hatred. We agree to disagree and continue to live as friends and humans. Each understanding not to overstep their views on the other's choices.
It's amazing, how, if you take time to step back and observe, without bias, all these different religions echo the very same sentiments, just in different ways and wording. It is, at the core, the same principle that most of these religions exist by. Misinterpretation then digs differences, where mere wording was interchanged, and replaced.
For example, Scientology believes the world came into existence through the big bang theory, while Christianity affirms "in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God", it further says before creation, the earth was dark, formless and void, until God spoke the word, and everything came into existence. It is, according to Christian values, God himself, who will destroy the world he created, in the end. He is to create another new world, afterward, blameless and occupied by the Holy.
The Qur'an submits that "the heavens, and the earth were joined together as one unit before We clove them asunder" (21:30). Following this big explosion, Allah "turned to the sky, and it had been (as) smoke. He said to it and to the earth: 'Come together, willingly or unwillingly.' They said: 'We come (together) in willing obedience'" (41:11).
This, then, means, the elements, and what was to become the planets and stars, as we know them, began to cool, come together, and form into shape, in conformity with the natural laws that Allah established in the universe.
The Qur'an further purports that Allah created the sun, the moon, and the planets, each with their own individual courses and orbits. "It is He Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon; all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course" (21:33).
While on the other hand, In Hinduism, the universe is millions of years old. And, in tandem with the Hindu belief in reincarnation, the universe we live in now, is not the first, or will it be the last.
According to Hinduism, the universe was created by Brahma, the creator, who formed the universe out of himself. It says after Brahma created the world, the power of Vishnu preserves the world and human beings, all creations.
Brahma is the creator God, who works always with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, to maintain an unending cycle of universes and life. All three are aspects of Brahman. More like the Christian 'Holy trinity' (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). It is believed there are eternal cycles, with universes being created, existing and dying, followed by recreation, existence, and death, all over. There is no beginning and no end. Hence, the basis for the Hindu belief in reincarnation.
It is, in Hinduism still, Shiva, who will ultimately destroy the universe, as part of the life and death cycle. Which then, allows Brahma to start the process of creation all over again.
WHAT I read from all the aforementioned is the sounding unity, of all their pivotal and founding beliefs, though practiced differently, and worshiping is given to different gods.
All, to me, agree that at one point, which is, that the world as we know it, was nonexistent. They all echo the emptiness in their own wording and stories.
Secondly, they converge on the fact that 'something' occurred, which brought life and the universe into existence. The 'big bang', 'God's word', 'Brahma's creation', or 'Allah', there is a bigger thing, in all religions and stories of creation, which none of us can truly explain, that occurred and caused everything to come into being.
It is a personal choice, then, which theory you choose to live by, though all speak of non-existence, creation of form, and a transition we all do not know, or understand. Religion gives us some form of answer and peace to exist by, though not truly answering definitely, how creation came into being. Seeing we all are honestly clueless, what then, gives you the right to proclaim someone else's view wrong, and yours correct? We all are, in truth, merely postulating and believing second-hand beliefs passed down.
ALL the above-discussed beliefs, agree, that there is a force, bigger than all of us, that controls life and death and everything around us. Christians call it God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit(the Holy trilogy); Islam gives that honor to Allah, while Brahma, Lord Shiva, and Lord Vishnu are for Hindu. All agree that there is some Supreme being, far from us, though close if you believe, so close to heart. Even Scientology gives credit to science, for this. The same foundation and. Principles, just different wording, I think.
More so, they all believe at some point, the world, as we know it, is going to come to an end, and a new one will come into existence. A purge of evil and non-believers. For Christians, that's rapture and heaven. Watchtower preaches this vehemently, the creation of a new Eden. Islam too believes in life with Allah and God, after all, is ended. Hindu mirrors this with their belief in reincarnation.
With all this considered, there is a possibility you might be worshiping wrongly in your own right. Your savior is as big and important and vital to daily life as the next person's God. In that light, It is worth noting that there are a lot more religious sects out there that have and believe in entities and saviors, similar to the Christian Jesus. Right from the holiness, the persecution, death, and rising after three days, though theirs is not the Jesus we know, neither do they call them by that name. Like the Egyptian Horase and Krishna of India. Probably unbeknownst to most Christians.
These are all similarities and preachings of the very same word in different manners, dialects, and interpretations. I take it. I see way more similarities than differences, hence, my lack of understanding of why blood is shed! Where, in theory, do the pivotal guiding traits of most of the beliefs concur?
Maybe it's not religion that we are fighting, after all, we fight each other, for our own hateful reasons, and hide behind religion. Just like we do, with race, nationality, and gender. To think that these battles we wage, go as petty as Christians fighting other Christians, because they do not belong to the same church, or do not interpret the Bible the same. Just a bunch of hogwash, in my opinion.
My brother once asked me a question that still keeps me thinking, " imagine, being a Christian, then dying and going to ' heaven', only to find out that all your life, you believed wrong, it was Allah or Buddha and his teachings you were supposed to have followed! Imagine having spent a lifetime despising and attacking, even murdering other religions, only to find out they are the martyrs! Or vice versa. What would you do then? It will be a little too late. Why not just live as a good-hearted human being, rather? ". Just a human being, with humanity!
But then, these are only my thoughts and perceptions. Maybe there is something I am missing. Maybe it's just my randomness digging too deep, or in the wrong spot.
Well, for now until that is proven so, I reiterate, LIVE AND LET LIVE! Be HUMAN above all! Colour, location, status, religion, are mere appendages to humans, no reflection of how you should treat them. Do unto others what you would like them to do unto you. If you do not appreciate attacks, belittlement, and judgment of your beliefs, choices, and person, give the same as you expect to others and theirs. You reap what you sow, literally! If you respect, you get respected. If you listen, people also listen to you. Be yourself and allow others to be themselves, the favor will be returned. Love and humanity precede religious differences or any other.
I believe in being a good person, living peacefully with others, accepting differences, embracing similarities, finding forgiveness, and loving without judgment. That is religion for me!
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