Sunday, June 23, 2013

Losing my religion (this would definitely be better with a picture)

Can I just say that I miss the days/weeks when I had a lot to say in this very space? Even though I have not been able to describe my life as exciting, I could always find something to write (or complain) about. Although today's topic is not exactly thrilling, it can be considered controversial, so there is that. :-)

Welcome to religion/belief in a higher power and how people fit into categories, which I envisioned in my head while trying to fall back asleep this morning. Here is my view, numbered only because it made it easier (yet I do picture this on some type of number line). Note that some people can fall into more than one category, and I did not include devil worshipers, wiccans, or things which I know nothing about.

The believers

1. The dangerous religious nut
These people talk about God (Allah, or whatever he/it is called) and are convinced that that deity has told them it is perfectly acceptable (and are even encouraged) to kill others if they deserve it, the "deserving" typically being people like United States citizens (particularly soldiers), people of other religions, minorites, abortion doctors, and sometimes their own family members.

2. The religious joyous
This group knows God is in control and is taking care of everything, so there is no need to worry about too much. Life is good, and even if it is not, that is okay, because heaven awaits. I truly think this group is lucky. They are positive people who lead a happy life and often bring joy to others. How can that be bad (unless the fall into the next group)?

3. The extremely and/or openly religious
These are the ones who regularly talk about God, Jesus, and/or their church, and will try to convince you to find the way/see the light/whatever, typically via a door-to-door campaign. Often these people pray in public. In fact, I worked with someone like this many years ago. I had just broken up with my boyfriend (now my husband), and he was in a car accident the next day or day after. I was telling this very nice coworker about it in the middle of the door-less copy room, and she proceeded to grab my hand and lift it up, and then she started to pray in a not-at-all hushed voice. I had never felt so uncomfortable in my life and I am pretty sure I started praying that no one would walk in (but I did appreciate the gesture).

4. The religious hypocrites
These are the people who talk about God/doing the right thing and are often the most active members of church, yet they are the very same people who won't hesitate to gossip about others, have an affair, or steal from an organization or company. A couple of congresspeople come to mind. I sometimes include in this group the people on Facebook who constantly post about God and Jesus yet won't hesitate to say that they would like to kick so-and sos butt or that so and so is a real b!tc#. Spare me.

5. God is first
I know a few people like this, who live a religious/God-centered life where God comes before everything else. I admire these people, who tend to be pretty moral, and are regular church/temple goers. You have to have a really strong faith/belief to do this, and there is pretty much no room to be self-centered, self-absorbed, or materialistic.

6. Where most believers probably fall (wish I could come up with a catchy name)
My guess is that the majority of people who believe in some sort of a higher power generally live their life by putting work or family first (before God/higher power). They go to church/temple every week, only on holidays, or never. They pray or meditate daily or every once in awhile. I realize there is a big gap between those at the more religious end of this group and those who never set foot in a place of worship, but I just don't think the two ends are so far off...

However, I would like to have two sub-groups of Group 6
6a. Those who try to do the right thing and be kind to others most of them time
 I don't need to say too much about this set, which is where I hope most people in Group 6 fall, though my guess is some people are knocking on the door of 6b.
6b. Those who tend to do the right thing only when it is convenient or when they are "forced to"
Think the jagoff football player who headed down the wrong path and is now trying to make amends (yet in all likelihood will, before too long, do something else stupid). Or the person who gets sick or finds himself in a bad position and then begs God to help him. That person tends to forget about God pretty quickly after the crisis passes.

The non-believers

1. The just-living-our-lives non-believers
I feel fairly certain that most non-believers fall into this category, which I am basing on the majority of those I know. These people tend to live a decent life and do the right thing because, well, it is the right thing to do. They are guided by the law and human decency, and they don't need God or a church telling them what to do. But if you want to follow a religion, that won't bother this group. I am sure there are sub-sets in this group as well, but they are just not readily apparent to me.

2. The used-to-believes
These people often fall into another non-believer category, but they deserve a group of their own. I am pretty sure there are a lot of people who started off in this group before moving to another one. These are the people who grew up being forced to go to church or who have had a bad experience (think altar boy). Sometimes neither of those things happened, and they just looked into other things (evolution, the Big Bang Theory, etc.), which just made more sense. This group also includes those who had some tragic or awful event that made them question the existence of God. There are a number of people in one of the Believers groups who are one event away from this group...

3.  The anti-religious
These people forever denigrate religions, calling the belief systems a waste of time/a lie and/or the followers stupid sheep. This group is often pretty negative and sometimes hateful. Fortunately, I think this is a pretty small group. At least I hope so.

4. The morally baseless
Since there is no God and no afterlife, why bother being decent? At least that is what I surmise these people think like. Money and/or drugs is their god, and they are going to live a fast, fun, materialistic life, because this is all they are getting. This group is the saddest, in my opinion, although they do run pretty close to the dangerous religious nuts. The only reason why I "ranked" this group as slightly "ahead" of the nuts is because some nuts are very focused in their hate and do less damage. The morally baseless often ruin many lives with their drugs and guns, and those effects often last generations and ruin entire communities. I like to think the nuts run less deep, but what do I know.

 ***
Although I like to think I managed to find a place for most everyone (though I am hoping my dear blog readers will weigh in), I left out one group, those who are kind of straddling both groups: the people who just don't know what do believe and/or who are struggling in their faith. Maybe there is a God and maybe there is not. Or, if you are like me, you really, truly hope there is a God and an afterlife, but you are just not entirely convinced like so many others are (one way or the other). It is odd and/or ironic that someone like me, who used to attend daily mass, questions things as much as I do. I doubt too many people include this in their prayers, "God, if you are real, and I hope you are, can you please do X?" But when I am not hanging out in the "where most believers probably fall" group (in 6a, of course), I am living on the fringes or no-man's land. 

How about you? Where do you fall? What categories did I miss? Too many or too little?

Until next time...

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