The end of year is always a time of reflection, as we wonder whether we met those New year resolutions, as we grade ourselves for becoming better or worse, closer to our dreams or not, as we look back in gratitude for seeing the end of a year which many others did not. Whether be are believers in a divine entity of not, it’s a spiritual time. Whether you are a believer or not, you have probably wished someone a Merry Christmas, even if only to respond and avoid being churlish.
This spirituality, the warped nature of our world religions and yet the necessity of faith are the musings on my mind at this time. My experiences this past year led me to question and analyze my faith as much (if not more) than I did when I first began believing for me and not as a result of socialization. And though I still consider myself a Christian I must admit many times this year I’ve bordered on Agnostic.
Why? What made me doubt my faith? Many things, none of them new, just increasingly alarming. The increase of “men of God” who warp the word of God to suit their motives and are in the business of selling miracles rather than building faith, the ‘believers’ so easily misled because they pick and choose what part of the bible they read, the increasingly popular admonition that we are not supposed to question our faith- just believe, the increasing hypocrisy and judging among faith groups which encourage (even demand) that you condemn another for basically sinning differently from you, and of course the increasing prejudice against other faiths like Islam and lack of tolerance with people who believe differently. Then of course there have been the unexplainable, why a young child would have to suffer so much pain in their short life, why the population of one country is being massacred brutally with no just cause and of course, why Grace would cover me but not another who in their innocence obviously deserved it more. Like I said, the reasons to doubt faith systems aren’t new, there have always been.
But for each of these reasons to doubt, I’ve found two more reasons to believe. For every charlatan there’s been one true evangelist (and they are rarely leading a church), for a prejudiced acquaintance spreading messages of condemnation on social media, I have been blessed with friends who know their faith isn’t threatened by another person’s believing differently, for every unexplainable act of evil, there has been an unexplainable act of good. For me that’s enough to keep believing. But for others I know they (with good reason, probably) just can’t believe that easily. They call it faith for a reason. It surpasses logic, BUT- and this is the point of this post- it doesn’t or in my opinion shouldn’t, defy logic.
God gave us brains, I don’t think he gave it to us for décor. We ought to use them. These brains question, these brains think things through. How ever they think according to what we feed them, so read, whatever your faith book is, read it but not only with your brain, read with your heart and soul. But not just your faith books of choice please, read everything, every genre you possibly can. Read as widely as possible to learn from humans as much as to learn from God. Aren’t we supposedly made in his image? Why do we discount each other’s divinity then?
No religion truly promotes evil, each religion is tainted with cultural norms and the author’s personal bias. After a year of examining all I believe in. I would pick faith and humanity over any systematic religion. I have seen little difference between the the two major world religions and more difference between the denominations and groups within these religions. At the end of it all I must agree with the line in the movie “My Name is Khan”: There are two kinds of people in this world irrespective of what or who they believe in- good people and bad people. So I thought I would end a year fraught with religious intolerance, by spreading a simple message. Forget the religion and find your faith; with it I hope you see reason to believe again despite all.
I would also like to take this time to thank those friends who while making practicing their own faith and making it clear why they are believers, also made it clear they are not fools, they are tolerant and (perhaps most importantly) that they are struggling- because believing is a walk not an accomplishment. We’re all trying, none of us perfect.
So “thank you” Malaka Grant, Marriam Lally, John Gwan, Lucky Omaar, Elizabeth Elango-Bintliff, Derrick Focho, Ngum Ngafor and many more. Thank you for demystifying religion by practicing faith and in so doing encouraging me to believe in mine.