First…an important disclaimer: this post isn’t about sugary egg whites. (Might I suggest Pinterest? You can find anything on that fucking site. Good Ol’ Fashioned Divinity)
No, this post is about an often-divisive subject, so if you’re easily offended, PLEASE keep reading and stretch that narrow mind. I promise your brain won’t fall out, no matter what the bumper sticker says.
This week’s post was inspired by my daughter’s study of religion in her 6th grade Social Studies class. What I can deduce from her thoughts on the class and the homework itself, there’s a definite sway towards Christianity happening.
And that sticks in my craw.
I have no problem with her learning about religion in school.
But I do have an problem with one religion being given more attention than the rest.
I have no problem with kids of other faiths sharing thoughts and ideas about their beliefs, in fact, I encourage the exchange of ideas.
But I do have a problem when other kids criticize my daughter because we deliberately do not attend church. Persecution, even from the under 12 crowd, should not come as a shock in our current state of affairs, and yet witnessing it happening to your child first hand for something so deeply personal makes me ill.
I choose not to attend church.
It doesn’t not mean that I don’t know about world religions, or hold any misgivings about what they espouse.
On the contrary, I minored in Religious Studies and majored in Anthropology. If anyone has a good handle on different peoples, cultures, and faiths, it’s me. It’s because of this knowledge, that I don’t practice Christianity. I could write an entire book about the whys and why nots, but that’s a discussion for another week.
So when my daughter asks if its wrong that she doesn’t attend church I have to take a deep breath and explain…
No. It is not wrong.
Your dad and I decided when you were born, that we would let you make up your own mind about what you believed. If you ever want to go to church, I will gladly take you. I will also ask that you attend other services in other religions, so that you can understand them across the board.
I would like you to believe in something, whether it be divine intervention, natural energies of the earth, physics, magic, god, goddess, Zeus, Harry Potter, Giant Donut in the sky, or aliens…as long as whatever you believe makes sense to your heart and feeds your soul.
Because religion practiced out of fear of eternal punishment does not do those things.
Because religion that bases its forgiveness and kindness towards others on if they’re judged worthy of these gifts, does not do those things.
Because religion that puts you in your place, makes you feel less than, or takes away your autonomy or ability to chose what’s right for you, does not do those things.
In other words, I want you to understand that Divinity resides in you. The system of belief that you surround yourself with must honor this Divinity.
Because you are the Divine.
Your brain is capable of phenomenal things. It visualizes and conceptualizes. It controls your body, it’s thoughts, your will and it drives your existence. It’s so amazing that it can create gods, and myths, and religious systems, and therefore, god is in all of us and we are god.
So You Are The Divine.
And when you understand this, you will also understand that so is everyone else.
Divinity resides in all of us.
(I call this the “Everybody loves their babies and mommas” theory. No matter what faith, race, ethnicity, country, political party—all of us love our babies. All of us love our moms. Not a one of us wants harm to befall those we love—no matter if we pray five times a day towards Mecca, or say fifty Hail Mary’s for last Saturday night).
We all benefit by recognizing the divinity in one other and understanding the connection we share.
We would not hurt the divine.
We would not alienate them for what they do or don’t do on a Sunday morning. We would not spew hateful rhetoric in their faces for who they love, or for how they show their divine, or the color of the carton they’re contained in.
We would treat them worthy of their divinity just as we would treat ourselves in ways worthy of our Divinity.
So gentle readers, I don’t care if you worship in a synagogue, a church, a temple, a meadow, or in your boxers on the couch watching Star Wars all Sunday morning (Side note, Star Wars; highly Buddhist…look it up, fascinating stuff. Buddhism and Star Wars.)
I don’t care how pious you are or what percentage of your paycheck you’re throwing into a golden plate every week.
I care that you are honoring what should be the cornerstone of every religion; treating others as you would like to be treated. Loving one another. Forgiving one another.
I care that you stand up when you see injustice. When you see someone hurting another, when you see someone defiling the divinity in someone else.
That’s all that really matters.
That’s what the beautiful divine in each one of us is for.
So study the religions, know what they’re about and what they espouse. Then come back to your own heart and, as Whitman once so artfully wrote,
“re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul;”