I was born and raised Catholic. I was absolutely bored in church and religion classes, painfully so. The times my attention would be swayed to the bible was when we were being taught the actual gospels of Jesus. What I knew at that time was that the example in Jesus' message was not what I was seeing on display at the church or in our culture.
I saw Him as a rebel and his overwhelming message was compassion. I could feel the yearning to live this way, but a culture told me that way was wrong. I struggled to believe the church who worshiped this man, but seemed to me to not model his teachings. This left me with an inner yearning to know about the compassion of Christ, but found church after church fixated on other church matters, mostly of a political motive. The message of compassion as drawn out by the more prominent message which was conversion of non-Christian. This eventually saw me leave the search for a Christian church all together.
A deep knowing of God led to me to look at Christianity from a much more objective position. I wanted to understand the gap of Christ's message and what I experienced as the major themes popular culture. How could these messages of compassion be so different from what messages were coming from the church. This led me to explore God from a much more metaphysical perspective while studying what people were getting from the bible that would make Christ's message so superficially political. It didn't take long to find the greatest critics of the church, atheists.
Though I never strayed from the knowing of there being a God, I certainly found the connection of Christianity's political popularity and it's members so far away from what Christ taught. I became very interested in how the bible came to being. I read books such as Misquoting Jesus, which I found to be a well written objective piece written by a bible scholar. I came to know that the bible that we find today was not the same word of God as was passed on from the days of Jesus. Full books were dismissed and new books were added along the way to today's modern churches.
I began to see that if someone wanted to actually know the word of God, they would be required to learn the language in which the bible was written. What was interesting as I explored the trueness of the bible, I still deeply connected to Jesus' messages. I found myself trashing the bible and exhalting it in the very same conversation. As people found this to be hypocritical, I found that most people need to either believe the whole thing or nothing at all. To me this was throwing an important baby out with the bathwater.
I began to become aware of what I was unconscious. Through painful experiences, I found where my behavior was incongruent with my values. My childhood wounds were directing my life in many ways. I finally figured out how are behavior can be so incongruent with our values. Wanting to uncover all of what I was unconscious of, I created my greatest self challenge of my life. It seemed that if I learned the compassion of Christ, I would have to step through what I thought I knew, to uncover what I wanted to know. I wanted to know how to live loving everyone, not just the people with whom I agreed. This led me to constantly be in state of self awareness. If I was angry at someone, I needed to find out the "why" within myself and find it's root.
This path led me to discover how deep judgment limits our perspective of the world. It is much more profound than the superficial understanding I previously held of Jesus' words, "Judge not lest he be judged himself".
How I see the bible now. Jesus speaks of a devil. I have come to know the nature of the devil, which easily imatates the nature of the secular understanding of the ego. I have come to know that the devil as the absence of virtue. However, the nature of the devil is not sway by means of taking a person directly to hell, but rather to convince the individual of their righteousness, through the counterfeiting of virtue. Take the popular notion of telling it like it is. This seems fundamently sound when following the understanding of the virtue of honesty. However, honesty, doesn't guarantee sincerity. For those wanting to live virtuous lives, the devil will give you all the teachings of how we can counterfeit virtue for the sake of superficial living.
I have come to know something more profound than love, from challennging myself to walk in Christ's modeling, I have found joy The absence of judgment brings joy, as a sacred invasion, into my life. Have I been saved by Christ, you betcha! I'm saved in every moment and I'm eternally grateful for the relationship I have nurtured and learned to play within. I'm not saved because I became a Christian, I'm saved because I've set myself free from judgment.
What about the belief of whether or not Jesus even existed? Why should I care when I know I'm becoming the best version of me on this path.
What doesn't work... shoving "evidence" in the face of your opponent. Your opponent will watch the same video you do and see something completely different. Yep, that next "perfect" proof meme isn't changing anyone's mind.
What works... Living according to morals and virtues.
We live in a world where people can see the same thing and have completely different perspectives. When we can't come to a consensus, we are living under the agreement that there is no unifying way to live. (see nihilism) A lot of our frustration comes from not coming to consensus.
Morals and virtues are the glue that "unites" us. Does anyone know what a virtue is anymore?
Here's the thing, we're all in this human thing together, so people get to choose what they believe. This doesn't make them wrong. (This is the hard part to stomach, but necessary)
If you believe the world is a place where we are better together, then the work is done by living moral and virtuous lives. As parents, we need to teach and model virtuous living. Modeling to people that unity makes the world and our experience here better.
Humility is a virtue and great at rooting out unconscious hypocrisy. Lashing out in "justified" anger is not the "right" anger. It is modeling nihilism.
Most people are unconscious to how they come to their beliefs (see fear) and are easily swayed. They learn what to believe by watching others.
Which scenario are you modeling? Nihilism (arbitrarily chosen beliefs) or unity (virtuously chosen beliefs)?
As for me, we live in a culture where virtues do not trend, leaving them as something that must be personally harvested daily. What isn't top of mind, gets no attention and then does not appear in the world I want. And without daily conscious attention, we ARE the unconscious ones blowing in the wind.
This message gets refrigerator space to remind me when I react, I have a place to return to find peace. Peace is a virtue.
C.S. Lewis called the devil, Screwtape.
Passive aggression is finally making it to the light of day and is revealing the sinister nature of the ego or devil. Everyone has not fully succumbed to the nature of this rascal. Well intending people are succumbing to fear of their own personal demons and joining to help the cause of Screwtape's mission. The interesting thing is that Screwtape convinces us of our goodness, often with shiny labels of a religion or ideology to hide behind it's unquestioned indoctrinated values.
The only way to know our pure goodness is to question and stand against our fears.
Remember that not everyone is a bigot and has lost sight of their soul entirely. Help people realize the good that comes from overcoming fear.
We hit a speed bump along the path of life, then we begin hearing from our fellow journeymen and ladies, "just let go and let God". Ugh, this is so airy fairy that it has literally made me nauseous to hear people exclaim it.
I get it now, nausea be gone! We as humans are constantly trying to control our world. We try to control ourselves by constantly telling ourselves what we should be doing, how we should be doing it and why we should be doing it.
Once we think we have some control in our lives, we point outside of ourselves, in our righteousness, and believe we know what is right for others. We even bring this into prayer that is ripe with condescension. "I will pray for their soul." Blek, ugh blek.
Finding God is OUR journey to finding the depth's of ourselves. Knowing our own soul and connection to the Divine. The distraction is the belief that we've got it all figured out.
When Carrie Underwood sings, "Jesus take the wheel!", I do not hear, "be a good Christian", I hear focus on compassion. Jesus spoke about compassion over and over. Compassion for others and self compassion is the process to deepening within ourselves. Letting go and letting God is about removing the incessant need to control myself and others.
Know that God is working in your favor. Know that God exists and is working in perfection for others as well. Sending love and blessings to people is not patronizing or condescending, it is the verbing (action) of God. Control is the very nature of being human. We don't have to know this in a heavy sense. We can know the distinction between control and compassion on very humorous level. It is the act of making it heavy that keeps us in a dysfunctional loop.
I said it, I don't have to respect your beliefs. No amount of crying or whining will change this, especially if it is me whining to myself. (see self compassion)
I respect anyone's beliefs that are meant to uplift them and good for all mankind. I'll go further and say that I embrace all beliefs of this nature. Studying and learning other beliefs has helped me deepen within my own. We're all in this together.
Beliefs that are based around controlling others are a danger to individuals and mankind as a whole.
What you might call the devil, satan or what CK Lewis referred to as Screwball, I call the ego. The nature of all of these are some level of control.
Control is a human disfunction. It could be said that needing to control other humans is the only thing that separates man from God.
I'm not against beliefs that are based in control. I'm FOR compassion, the very opposite. If I'm against anything, I'm using a form of control. I'm not a fan of my own hypocrisy when I'm aware of it. I laugh at it when it hits me in the face, and then I correct it.
The people screaming the loudest for others to respect their beliefs are the wolves wearing sheep outfits?
Religion gets a big hit here, but if you think its just about religion, you might have sharp teeth dressed up in your nice wool outfit and not even notice. If you are human, this is about you. This is about us. We can't walk into a church, a yoga class or a Wendy's where this disfunction doesn't show up. Nobodies off the hook, including mwah.