Last week on Facebook I posted what I thought was a somewhat funny and rather benign comment. If you missed it here’s what I said:
“A woman who just started following me on Twitter has a bio that reads: Christ follower/ Wife/ Mom/ Dr. of Psychology/ Blogger of joy, life and parenting. That is the exact bio that makes me NOT want to follow you.”
As far as mocking religion, I wasn’t. I mocked professing that religion in a Twitter bio. And I would do that across the board about any faith. I’m an equal opportunity mocker. I pride myself on that. If I see an opportunity to mock, I take it. Just ask my kids. Poor things.
Did I make a snap judgment about a person without much information? Yes, but that’s what a Twitter bio is, and the judgment wasn’t made without having spent several decades on this planet and having made an observation or two.
The issue lies not with those who practice a faith. It’s when people use that faith as evidence of their moral superiority that I run into a problem. Including it in, say, a Twitter bio gives me a little taste of that. In my experience the people who go about their business without making a big fuss of how they’re going about their business tend to be the modest, humble, decent ones. Those who hold their religion up as if it’s some kind of proof of being a good person are the ones I’m leery of. Of course neither case is absolute, but one is shown to be a decent, kind, generous human being by one’s deeds not the labels she affixes to her name.
I’ve also found the people who are the most vocal about their religion (say, putting it in a Twitter bio) are frequently the least tolerant, least flexible, least accepting and least nonjudgemental. Again, not always the case, but often those who are fairly religious can’t see an argument from another perspective because their views come from a divine power and are therefore indisputable. The trouble is religion’s not based on any fact only belief, one that grows out of texts written by groups of men thousands of years ago. This doesn’t preclude anyone from believing, but in my book it does open up the teachings to questioning. Religion has taken care of that issue by teaching the flock not to question. But the bible, as with any religious document, is subject to interpretation, and when followers pick and choose the teachings and interpretations that suit them and then claim it as God’s word, we run into problems. The trouble for me is not with a belief in God but in organized religion, which is man-made and therefore subject to all human vices and failing.
These reasons I believe are why religion has always made me uncomfortable. I’m aware of the danger in it. Mostly that humans have a hand in it. If you need some evidence just take a look at our current state of affairs. We happen to be pitted in a battle against extremists of the Islamic faith at the moment, but it could be any religion, and at different points in human history it was. Religion by it’s very nature is exclusionary. It says one group’s beliefs are right and by virtue of not being a member of that group others are wrong. But who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong?
It’s my belief that God loves us all, man, woman, child, gay, straight, trans, human, bird, bee or tree. We are all God’s creatures. Isn’t that what the Bible says? But organized religion is a human creation, and humans are fallible. I grew up Catholic, though not in a religious home, but when I realized the beliefs espoused by the church didn’t align with my own, I stopped practicing. It first came with the realization the Catholic church, as with most other religious organizations, was a sexist institution. I didn’t believe that’s what a true God would want. It didn’t make sense for a God who loved all people to show preference for some while subjugating others. I would stand up for my own rights before I’ll let any man, religious or otherwise, tells me what my rights should be. And that’s where my separation from the church began.
That’s not to say I don’t recognize the good religion can do or the solace and comfort it has provided many people, one of them being my mother-in-law who has always been active in the church and depended on it when she was raising all of her kids as a widow and single mother. Or the man I married who is a good Irish Catholic boy. Or my aunt who is a nun. Guess who her favorite in-law is. That’s right. The heretic.
We haven’t even touched on the “blogger of joy” line in the bio. That might be the most objectionable statement of all. If there is one thing above all I’m not, it’s blogger of joy. I’m more a blogger of cynicism. I think it’s great if you seek joy and even better if you find joy, but if you always espouse joy, I’m a little skeptical. The human condition calls for a full range of emotions, and if you only display one it rings false to me.
I think God’s pretty hip to who’s trying to be a decent human being and who’s not. She doesn’t miss much. Simply claiming to be a follower of Christ doesn’t automatically get you into the pearly gates. Basically I believe God placed us on Earth, said do the right thing and washed her hands of us all. I think God is probably pretty sick of us with all the bickering and fighting and finger pointing and destruction of the planet. I know I am, and I’m not nearly as good as God.
The other day I caught a clip of Stephen Colbert interviewing Ricky Gervais. You all know how much I love Stephen. I would convert for Stephen, but in the exchange Gervais had a point, and even Stephen had to concede that.
Perhaps I’m wrong about all this. What do I know? I’m not God.
And neither are you.