Let me first preface this by saying obviously this isn't addressed to all atheists. I like to separate people in religion into two groups, it's a little elementary and probably has a billion loop holes, but bear with me. There are just those who simply are religious. They go about their daily lives, you might know they are religious, they might attend church or wear a sign of their religion on them, but overall, your impression of me isn't "Oh, it's Joy and she is a CHRISTIAN" because I'm not squawking about it 24/7. It's a part of them, but its not the only part.
Then there are those who are believers. They're the ones that have a religious counterpoint for a lot of the content you may express, they think that their views should apply to all, they go door to door, they proselytize and they think anyone who doesn't toe the line is wrong or pitiful. Frankly they annoy the hell out of me. But I believe the same applies to atheists. There are those who simply go about their daily lives and that's it. Then there are those who BELIEVE it, and I often find that they have a lot of similarities to those religious believers. So for all those who go about their daily lives and don't feel the need to mock, or argue with, or need folks to justify their faith, please mosey on.
So, this letter goes out to the believers.
I'm a Christian, I'm not an idiot. I believe in a higher force, but I don't believe s/he is sitting on a cloud pulling some puppet strings. So when you ask me if there is a God, why do they allow x, y, z to happen, I'm going to get frustrated. Why? Because faith is a pretty personal thing and we all interpret it a little differently. For example, I believe in evolution. I think Darwin is right, he's great. There's no way on Earth did we just appear happy little creature living amongst dinosaurs (though that would be my kids dream come true). Science is great! Yay science. I live in awe of all the advances we've had in just my time.
I can't prove or disprove anything. It's faith, it's believing in something that is hard to believe in. I can't argue the finer points of religious texts, don't ask me to. I'm going to shrug. I have read the Bible and I can recall lots of things, but asking me to figure out what Leviticus 2:13 means, I'm not going to be able to help you. I try to learn and spend time devoted to learning, but lets be real here, I have a life outside of religion. I have three kids, I'm constantly on the go, I keep adding more things to make my schedule insane, and I'm not a theological scholar. What I can give you is this heartfelt explanation of why this is important to me, but really, I'm not even interested in proving or disproving to you, it's not that important to me.
I'm not a conservative. Not by any stretch. I am a Canadian progressive Christian, the reason why I specify Canadian is that to identify as a Canadian progressive, it means you're pretty damned left wing. I'm not a Communist, but I believe wholly and fundamentally in things like universal health care, a good social fabric for those disadvantaged, anti-oppression concepts, same sex marriage and full rights given to those couples. I wouldn't belong to a faith group that didn't believe in this. I believe in birth control, I use birth control! I believe in reproductive rights and will fight like a rabid trapped African Honey Badger to anyone who tries to take them away. YOU HEAR THAT HARPER????? I think being a social conservative goes against my brand of religion. Above all else, I believe in loving thy neighbour as much as I love myself. I'm not always good about that, but its the thing I believe most important in the Bible.
Speaking of which, I don't follow it word for word. Yes I guess I pick and choose? Does that make me less faithful? I dunno, who am I to judge, who are you? Ultimately, I guess when I get into the afterlife and God is pissed, I'll know. But I don't live in fear or worry of that. In fact, I don't live in fear of God, I don't make certain that I don't wear mixed fabrics daily. I even break the 10 Commandments from time to time...hell, I'm separated, AND I'm in a relationship not with my husband and using birth control, you put it together! I swear, drink, dance. I'm not a goody two shoes and I don't keep the company of goody two shoes. The Harper Valley PTA moms at my kids school believe I'm a hussy for Christsakes (see?). I believe God loves me, flaws and all. I try to be a good person, I try to be a loving person and live with forgiveness, honesty and good motivations. Do I always succeed? Hell no. And while I don't get a spiritual time out, or go to confession, I do in the end, in my day to day life reap the consequences, even if its just feeling like I let myself down and that's a pretty shitty thing.
Back to all the thousands of itty bitty rules, I don't follow them. Really, how the hell is anyone supposed to, they're insane? Good grief! I use the Bible as a larger guide for life. I love parables and from them I get my larger messages. And really, they're not all that different from examples people have set in your lives and how you aspire to those examples. For me, I get those examples and I have these stories which I believe were divinely inspired.
Do I know that there is a God or that Jesus rose from the dead plain as day? I admit, it's a bit of a stretch. I can go into detail, but it's long and I'll spare you. I'm a Capricorn, true and true, if I can't see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, it's hard for me to grasp as real, but sometimes even us old goats have to make a leap of faith. Like love for example. I mean, you can touch someone who says they love you, they can do many things for you, build a life, have kids but they can lie (Not that *I* have ever experienced that! lol). And while you can make a very good argument that faith has no tangible examples, I believe there is, with every good deed and person who comes into my life or works hard to make the world a better place against hatred, or evil. Maybe I'm just manufacturing these things in my mind, but really, every time I see good against all odds and compassion, it just reinforces this belief I have way down deep inside that we are all connected in a spiritual way and I cannot wrap my head around all this energy and thought and love that people have, simply ceases to exist when we die.
If you're tsking me, that's fine, you don't have to believe what I believe. You might even think I'm some misguided fool. But overall, I'm sure you'd find me a funny, cheerful, caring and pretty smart person to be around. You needn't pity me, and I guess what I'm asking is to not be generalized. I don't want to be lumped in with Tea Partiers, and I don't do blind faith very well. I make a point of never pressing my religion on anyone, well directly...that whole thing about being progressive has a bit to do with my spirituality, but point is, I'm not telling you to be a Christian, I never will, I don't believe in it. If you don't believe you don't believe. That's it, end of story...oh and by the way, I don't believe you're going to roast in hell, I don't even really believe in hell. Betcha didn't see that one coming? Not all of us are alike. I know ministers who anyone can sit down with in a bar and you'd never know they were ministers. They will sit and have an academic discussion about their religious texts with open minds and hearts and not once try to make you convert. But really, get to know some of us before you write us off. This applies for folks of different religions too, they're pretty cool too.We're as varied as grains of sand...sorry, cheesy cliche, next time I'll write with more caffeine.
Why my religion is important to me is that it helps me to see the good things, which in turn inspires me to do good things. That's a good thing eh? But before you assume that simply because I'm religious, I'm motivated by fear, hate or blind faith, get to know me. My spirituality has no place for negativity, its there to get me motivated by love, even if I want to go biting people in the face, which is a daily occurrence, so really, the world benefits from me being religious, and considering there is an Incredible Hulk Joy lurking somewhere deep in side, it's probably a good thing that I'm a believer.
I've taken some time to kind of explain where I'm coming from spiritually, for greater understanding between folks, but I don't have a burning need to justify my faith. It's just there, like my love for my kids, or sweets, or swimming on a hot summer day.
So, I wish you well in life, going about your daily business, as I do, and enjoying the good moments thoroughly. I hope you wish the same for me, since all in all, I'm a pretty awesome person, even for a religious person. ;)