Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To Be or Not to Be: That is the Question!

Over a hot cup of coffee this morning, Madelene and I got into a discussion about my blogger friends and their responses to question #4 on my previous post. That seemed to ring a tune for most readers. I even received a few emails over this topic and some ‘not so nice’ emails, but that’s a given when you get into religious beliefs and the lack thereof. It all started with my questioning of someone’s statement to me which was absolutely baffling and had no logic in it whatsoever: “I’m Atheist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic and Agnostic.” It’s impossible, (yes, I said impossible) to be Christian and be all these other religions, especially Atheist. The reason why I say this, is because to be Christian is to believe that Christ died for our sins and the only way to get into heaven is through believing that Christ did this for us and that He is the Son of God. How can a person be Atheist, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim? The Jews believe that Jesus was just a prophet, not the Son of God. The Muslims believe that Allah is the only way to get into heaven, with the perk of 72 virgins in the afterlife to boot. For me, when people say that they are “all” faith-believing in every religion, it’s basically the concept of ‘they want their cake and eat it too’. I don’t feel that I’m being harsh with my opinion and belief on this, I just don’t understand it. There is no logic behind it. Even though there isn’t “scientific proof” or “logic” behind religion or spirituality, it’s the logic behind the thinking, the mindset of having a belief system. What do you believe in? What don’t you believe in? You can’t have all, unless you are Agnostic and believe that there is ‘something out there greater’, yet not sure. I’ll take that. But to say you believe in every religion is just mind boggling to me.

A blogger and friend named, Mark had written in my comment section: “You be Christian and I’ll be Christian with you, be Buddhist...hell, me too, Hindu...sure why not?” I can put it in another light that’ll make that statement seem a bit silly: “You be Irish and I’ll be Irish with you, be African-American...hell, me too, Chinese...sure why not?” When the fact being, I am not from Ireland, neither are my ancestors as well as all the other backgrounds I have listed. It. does. not. make. sense. See, the problem I have with someone saying that is to me, I feel that they may be “appeasers” in life. My friend had said something similar to what Mark had stated. This friend is desperately seeking acceptance from society on many levels, and to do that, religion is one of the biggest focal points - or as she calls it - “spirituality”, which I can respect. But when it comes down to brass tacks, it just doesn’t mesh. I tend to get that glazed look and wonder if they even believe in themselves. For me, it’s the same concept as what my dad always always said: “If you’re gonna steal --steal big!” (I know, not a great role model, so just bear with me.) If you’re going to believe in something, especially the afterlife, why not believe BIG? By dipping into every religion - a little bit here, a little bit there - you’re telling me that it’s not the religion that you’re trying to fit into your life, it’s you trying to fit in with society. Or maybe some people view religion like Greek mythology: simply fascinating stories. I don’t know.

I’m asking some questions for a variety of people:

1. If you are solely Christian or Catholic (trinity-based), does it seem logical to believe that Jesus is the only way to get into heaven, but you can still worship other gods and/or not believe at the same time?

2. If you are Muslim, can people of your faith believe in other gods?

3. If you are Atheist, do you believe that Jesus, Allah or Buddha is the only way to get into heaven?

4. If you believe in all religions as well as being Atheist, then please define “Atheist”.

Mind you, I am not trying to get people to agree with me, I am just trying to absorb all of this. I encourage opposing views on this, which I know I will get, and perhaps I can learn from those opposing views because right now, I’m totally lost.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nurse from hell,
When Mohandas Gandhi ended his 3+ weeks of fasting to stop the war between Hindus and Muslims in the great Partition of India in 1947 he first remarked "I am hindu, I am muslim, I am buddhist, I am jain, christian, etc."
He was rising above the seperation of peoples that causes such violence and suffering. It was then that he became "Mahatma".
To rise above the seperation of people is a gift. We all have it.
I am a Black Lesbian Christian Man.
And I wish the best for everyone!
Pattie

John Sorrentino said...

You are dead on:

1. Yes. He even said so much. “I am the way, the truth, the light…”
2. No, in fact you will be punished severely for even suggesting it. Muhammad had followers killed for this. It is well documented.
3. Hell no, you don’t even believe in heaven.
4. This is the statement of someone who is ignorant of other belief or has not looked deeper into them. Each religion presents it’s own value system. It is unique to each faith. They are by no means interchangeable.

Deb said...

Pattie: Explain the logic. It doesn't make any sense. And when something doesn't make sense, it's without truth or 'made up'. I love you to pieces but GOD I wish I understood it a bit better. I’m not asking you what someone quoted, I’m asking you what faith do you solely believe in? Not to just stop segregation of religions, but to really stand up for a faith you believe in.



John: We agree on many things and I am glad that you broke it down. The opposition of our argument fails to break it down in an understandable and logic way. I am trying to get someone to explain all instead of saying, "I am a black lesbian Christian man", coming from a white transexual woman who claims she has faith in ALL religions. I’m so confused. :\



Anonymous said...

"It doesn't make any sense" therefore "it is without truth" Walt Whitman said "Do I contradict myself? very well then I contradict myself. I am human, I contain Multitudes." Your mind is small if you cannot grasp the part of life that does not make sense.

" You're forever talking of differences -- I've finally recognized a pet theory of your's. When you speak of the great difference that is supposed to exist between you and me, for instance, it seems to me that this difference is nothing but your strange determination to establish differences" - Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmund

We are both women Deb. I'm just a bit taller! :))

You may also want to revisit # 2 in your previous post Dear. You list "Things" that annoy you and you include a group of "People". This is you are aware (I am sure) an incredible insult ! Think of the Lesbians, Blacks, Men, Christians, etc... who could be grouped by some as "things",,, just think about it, say in 1930's - 40's Europe?

You may need your meds now!
Pattie

Deb said...

Pattie,

I agree that trying to understand God’s work, whatever God(s) you worship is like fish trying to comprehend algebra. #2 on my previous post about transexuals, I do understand that IS the “great insult”, but through my experience with transexual women, I have come across very angry ones and those who are argumentative, even if we agree! For instance: Remember this post you had written for my blog? Well, even though I agreed on certain things, you would then argue with me. You have also rattled my cage with insults, regarding many things (which I can get into on a personal basis), to which I never understood. It’s almost as if you have this underlining resentment toward me that I cannot pinpoint. We are always at odds, disagreeing about everything under the sun, and even if I say, “I respect your beliefs”, you turn around and laugh at my belief in Christianity, downgrading my faith into a huge joke.

It’s not only you. I have been through this with my other transexual female friends. Why is it so complicated? Why can’t it be as simple as saying, “I’m a lesbian” or “I’m this” or “I’m that” ---it always goes into this mishmash of “all these people don’t understand me” type of thinking. There is a lot of effort into being friends with a transexual woman ---not just YOU. I love you, ---you know that, but it is so complicated, to where I am content with being clueless of who “you” are. The past few years we have been friends and through those years, I have come across many mixed emotions, underlining statements and even giving the “great insult” to the lesbian community. I do understand why the lesbian community is so scared of befriending a transexual woman now. I get it.

You said: ”You may also want to revisit # 2 in your previous post Dear. You list "Things" that annoy you and you include a group of "People". This is you are aware (I am sure) an incredible insult ! Think of the Lesbians, Blacks, Men, Christians, etc... who could be grouped by some as "things",,, just think about it, say in 1930's - 40's Europe?”

#1. Your condescending “Dears” is something I can do without.

#2. To tell you the truth, I do accept all the gays & lesbians, blacks, men, and any other religion that isn’t of my own, but I will tell you that I have a hard time trying to understand transexuals. I tried. I tried to even let you voice yourself on my blog, but even when I agreed with you on things, you became combative and practically bashed me out of insecurity.

You are just one instance where I have had my limit of “trying to understand you”. I’m not sure if it’s the influx of hormones you’re taking, or if it’s simply not ‘fitting’ as well as you’d like, but this “friendship” of ours is over, only due to the negative aspects of it all. I don’t know even know how to speak to you verbally anymore, hence why we hardly talk anymore.

You said: “We are both women Deb. I'm just a bit taller!"

I agree, you’re definitely taller. ..

I’m going to leave it at that.

Again, through my own personal experience, and not because of ignorant thinking, I have come to believe that being transexual through surgery and/or hormonal therapy is unnatural and quite possibly dangerous. If this is the “great insult”, then so be it. But don’t say I didn’t try to give it a chance.

Yes, “I may need my meds now”, but you may need less estrogen to level yourself out.

If you are offended or disturbed by my writing, then you may not want to visit my blog any longer, Pattie.

Be well.

Dominica said...

wow. you've hit an obvious nerve here in many people. i can only come from my perspective...my journey...
but i think it's alright to be confused...it's alright not to be able to figure it out...figure a lot of things out...it's alright not to know exactly what all you believe and will fight for....most of the time as we get older our beliefs change anyway....

i used to be a die hard (what most would consider) CHRISTIAN....BUT...i learned the bible, went to seminary, and knew what i believed!!! BUT.... on my journey much of what i once believed i no longer do. i found that although outside i was "on fire" for God...inside i was shallow...hallow... got caught up in what i call RELIGION.

but really, who can define what it means to be a Christian anymore?

all i know is that the camp i buddied up with promoted spiritual pride and spent more time in the four walls than outside, memorizing scripture to flaunt, and basically ignoring the greater matters such as living a life marked with extraordinary service to mankind like Jesus did....

your question about what do i believe? stand for? call myself?

labels...who needs them? give me 100 humans concerned about humanity...their spirits and their every day lives...(like food, shelter, productivity, skills....) and i don't care if they call themselves Christians, Muslims, New Agers, Jews....i'll work beside them to address the most critical global problems in our world today.....

i don't know what i am...(if i need a label). i am a spirit.
i have studied various "religions" and all have positive aspects....

my journey is mine. yours is yours. everyone is on their own journey.

well, i don't think i helped you any but i enjoy your spirit.... and guts...
you can't go wrong with beginning each day in silence and prayer and shining the light within you all through the day!

Anonymous said...

Dear Deb,

1. I do not worship period. Not anything, or anyone.

2 I have never in my life used the term "Dear" in a condescending manner. I use it rarely and completely as a term of endearment.

I hope you come around to understand a bit more.

Good luck,
Pattie

Deb said...

Dominica: Well that’s the thing... People are labeling themselves all religions which I find to be very confusing. I’m Christian, but I have a personal relationship with God. I choose not to call it “religion”, but more so “a personal relationship as a Christian”. I say that “I’m Christian” because I do believe that Christ died for my sins. I also respect other people of different religions too. I just don’t understand how someone can be a Christian and a Jew at the same time. I appreciate you stopping by and giving your input!

Pattie: Then you just contradicted yourself. If you claim to be Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim, it’s mandatory you “worship” one of their Gods. Now you’ve made it even more confusing for me. :\
I don’t think I will ever understand how you can be a Christian and a Jew at the same time. It. doesn’t. make. sense.

Restaurants Around Monroe, NY said...

When I struggle so much with a philosophical question about faith, I personally back away. The debate and discussion will, most likely, not bring you closer to peace. Seek the peace directly instead. There is a point where religious beliefs diverge, based on specific tenets -- but there are enough commonalities to love and appreciate. In the meantime, for me, none of that takes the place of deep prayer -- not even my own religion. My *beliefs* and *religion* are not enough. It is in my deep, prayerful search for God that I find some peace. I offer this with great humbleness. Mary Agnes Antonopoulos

the walking man said...

2

Man is not the brightest creature of creation but he is the most loved by God because of the potential he represents.

What I want to understand is why do you need rules to tell you what sin is? Some say I sin if I refuse to believe this or that and I say I am spiritual, living as much in my spirituality as God lives in his.

I condemn no one to death eternal because The Christ has shown that life eternal was the goal all along for man.

Long before Christ came there was the garden, there was no religion in the garden only a (in the Jewish texts) a choice to be made. Humanity could have chosen to eat from the tree of life but instead were seduced by darkness into eating from the other tree instead.

We are still reaping the fruits of that choice, we are still finding new ways to know both good and evil.

That one of the prophets God sent was also the one who saved man does not negate the teaching of all the others regardless of what "religion" sprang up around them. I accept the adherents to any faith for faith is power but I reject all religions. Because there is falseness preached in the name of them all.

In the end God is the only teacher of man and has been the only true teacher of man ever since man became an eternal being as he was in the beginning. I do believe the Jewish texts that tell us man became a mortal being after being born a spiritual being and that when God sent eternal spirit back to man, man became an eternal being again. Yet it is God that teaches man how to live spiritually now, not religion.

the walking man said...

I can tell this is going to run on so I have to split it into two.

1

Let's look at this from a different perspective for a minute Deb...The struggle is about life, life fighting death/light and dark/good and evil.

Humanity came into the battle long after the war began if you believe almost all of the creation literature available regardless of which religion it belongs to.

The war was about the supremacy of spirit. Was the first spirit, the one that we generically (in Christianity) call God (other religions name the supreme spirit)going to cede his creation to his first born (in Christianity that would be Lucifer)and so the battle began.

What you ask is for a way for humanity to understand its place in the battle between God and Satan. Where, in my opinion, you err is in thinking that man is the primary goal of the war. Whoever wins wins the prize of owning all men.

What exactly was it that Jesus did that was more important to man than say Buddha who lived 500 years before him? They both pretty much told man to live in the same way. Krishna also said much the same as Buddha and Christ (with a slightly harder edge to the words) BUT in the teaching all three said basically very similar if not the same thing so what was the difference?

All three were major players in the world of man when it came to developing conscience so what was the difference?

Come back to what the SPIRITUAL struggle was about...good vs. evil, life vs. death.

Christ died at passover for a reason and played a slightly different role than ALL of the other prophets regardless of the religion that came after they had died.

He was a MAN whom God had chosen to die paying forever the the debt of sin man owed for his darkness. Instead of a yearly ritual, once Christ died the debt of ALL men was paid by a man.

where year to year for thousands of years an animal was used until God chose the time and the person then the debt was paid.

BUT it was in the bringing that man back to life, to live eternally that was the real victory. But it wasn't man's victory it was God's god had defeated forever and proved to the force of death that death had no hold over anything in creation, not the spiritual portion or the physical portion. LIFE won.

When I say I believe all religions guess you could say I also believe none of them.

Buddha said live well by treating others well, Jesus said the same, even Mohamed said the same. But that is human life, mortal life.

If Buddhists (et al) can not get into "heaven" (eternity) because what they believe is a sin or error than Christianity by the same logic is in error because its texts say that The Christ in dying paid the sin for all man for all time and in being reborn to life eternal proved to man that mortal life is finite but life is itself eternal.

Religions as we know them today are both good and evil depending on how the individual uses them. ALL religions sprang up after the main actor was well dead. in fact Buddha told his adherent s to NOT codify his words yet they did anyway.

Deb said...

RAMN (Mary Agnus): Exactly---it’s your personal relationship in deep prayer that will seek peace. I totally agree. And, for whatever religion you practice, the main goal is the personal relationship with your creator. I don’t dislike those who practice different religions, it’s just that I am confused over people who practice numerous religions, with different gods who also claim being atheists. It’s mind-boggling. Thanks for your input!

Mark: Thank you so much for breaking this down for me. I’m so happy I finally understand someone who can explain this to me! So DOUBLE thank you! Now I see where you are coming from. Can I safely assume (with a label) that you cross the line of Unitarianism? Perhaps, Agnostic? I know I’m labeling, I’m just trying to place it in a more black and white learning process for myself. I love hearing the teachings of Buddhism due to its positive enforcements and spirituality, however my faith always is with Christianity. Due to my faith that Christ is the only way, I’m not sure what I think about ALL people getting into heaven. And you’re right, if God gave His only son to die for all of our sins, then the sin of not believing may hold true to other people of different religions. THAT makes more sense to me. Again, THANK YOU.

You asked: ”What I want to understand is why do you need rules to tell you what sin is? Some say I sin if I refuse to believe this or that and I say I am spiritual, living as much in my spirituality as God lives in his. “

Speaking generally in a Christian-minded way, in John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father (God) except through me.”

So my faith, my belief isn’t about rules & regulations as it is more about having faith that I rely on ONE source. For me, by believing in various sources to get into heaven, then it basically means that I have little faith in Jesus.

Religion can be a negative word when it’s used to hurt others, and those out to kill in the name of God. But this response you have given me has cleared up many questions I have had regarding how people can accept all religions. I still wonder if it’s because of the uncertainty regarding what’s preached, what has been written in the bible by ‘man’, which is inspired by God (so I believe), and through the corrupt churches that leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me understand better! :)

Mark said...

Deb,
I can appreciate your confusion over the response that a person is one thing yet all things. You are correct, if you are truly Christian and subscribe to tenants of that faith than you surely cannot be a Jew or Hindu. We are all one, this I believe, however the beliefs we hold do create separation and to not acknowledge that is to not see reality or to not understand that which you say you believe. Good thoughts, thanks for sharing.

the walking man said...

Deb...In Hebrews chapter 11 I believe it defines faith. In that definition it has no religious significance. Faith is the evidence of things before they are seen, the title deed to something before it is owned (paraphrased) faith is power.

Remember in Job...Job said "That thing I have feared is come upon me and that thing of which I was afraid has happened to me." That was his faith, he believed that evil would happen to him before it happened and THEN it did.

In John 14:6 THE CHRIST said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

The spirit that was delivered to man was that same spirit that Jesus had within him right? Unless a man has that same spirit he can not be spiritually present with God now. BUT and this is where I become Christian in order to receive that spirit one must know that Jesus is first raised and must have FAITH that God raised him from the dead. I own eternal life right now even though I am mortal because God through raising Christ showed me, proved to me that death had been defeated.

Does this mean that all other who have a different faith are not filled with a good spirit? Are all non Christians evil? I think the Mahatma's would argue that they are as eternal as I am.

If you look way back near the end of the Christian book of Revelations it talks of a second resurrection where men are raised and judged according to their works as to their worth to eternity.

I am not a Unitarian either and definitely not an Agnostic, God knows me and I him, in the sum of my belief because I tend towards the Gnostic more than the Agnostic.

I am simply a human, living as I was born to live. That spirit which created all of the cosmos both the seen and the (so far) unseen found me one day wandering through the streets of the city and asked me if I was interested in learning a few things.

Yes it all started with Christianity but along the way I learned that just about anyplace is a good place to start but if you stand still on a road you never get anywhere. This life is not meant to be concerned with the "how will I live" of today but rather "what do I need to know to live eternally"

Jesus, Buddha, Krishna all said that if we will simply live today that God knows our needs and will somehow see to them, that we should be concerned with knowledge of truth.

Max said...

I can only answer point 2 of your questions.

One of the fundamental pillars of Islam is the oneness of God. To be Muslim is to believe that there is only one and only one God.