Let’s Talk About Religion.

It’s time for some real talk.

I’m at a confusing spot in my life right now. I grew up Lutheran and went to church all the time. Once my siblings and I got confirmed (in our teens), we weren’t forced to go anymore. And for a while there I didn’t go at all. I still believed in God, but didn’t feel I needed to be present in church to have my beliefs. A year ago I started going again, this time on my own at a new church. At first it was great, and I really felt like the void in my life was being filled. And then as time went on, I stopped going. And now I really don’t want to go back. It’s complicated.

See, I believe that religion is a personal thing. I think everyone has their own beliefs, whether they be about one God or many Gods, or maybe no God at all. As much as I want religion to be part of my life, when I go to church it feels like I’m pretending. Like I’m acting, or performing in a way which the people at my church would approve of. It’s like I have to hide a lot of myself, and just go with the flow of the service and say the things they tell me to say, sing the songs they tell me to sing. I can recite the Lord’s prayer by memory, like many Christians, but I don’t know how strongly I associate with the words. They’re just words to me, and the meaning behind them is completely separate and often gets passed over. I can read from the bible, but don’t really chime in to what the words are trying to tell me. And it feels like I’m faking.

Another problem I’m facing is that I’ve always kind of picked and chosen which parts of my religion I choose to agree with. I believe in God, but I don’t believe he created everything, which seems like a pretty fundamental Christian belief. I don’t believe that you have to choose either science or religion. I believe in evolution. I don’t believe that Noah’s arc ever existed. I believe that God is watching over me and listens to my prayers. I don’t believe that the only options for the afterlife are either heaven or hell. And I also don’t believe that being present in church and singing about your faith makes you a better or more “worthy” Christian.

Now I’m just left at a standstill. Do I need to associate with a religion? Can I have beliefs from multiple religions? Do I get to pick and choose what parts to believe? Can I practice yoga, meditate, and feel connected to some Buddhist ideas, and still be a Christian? Can I even call myself a Christian without believing in creationism?

What do you think?

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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

10 responses to “Let’s Talk About Religion.”

  1. teddylee01 says :

    great post, i agree with everything you said..
    especially the acting part… i love everything about the catholic faith, but couldn’t connect while i was at mass… i found that God is universal, so i started reading up on all the different religions… everything has great qualities.. my roots might be catholic but it’s not going to limit me…
    Can you still call yourself a christian if you do those things? why not, no one can speak for God and tell you what is wrong or right…
    i think it’s great your open minded…

    • janinerussell says :

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes! I guess religion is more of a journey than I expected. And I guess you’re right, no one can tell me whether or not I “qualify” as a christian. Thanks for commenting!

      • teddylee01 says :

        people try to speak for God which is a joke…
        you should put a post when you find other religions or things you found interest in….
        your welcome Janine

  2. Christopher C. Randolph says :

    One problem is that there is so much nonsense than has been incorporated into religion that it is often difficult to find God through the fog.

    I am guessing that you truly want answers to your very valid questions. By asking your questions you have taken an important step that many nominal Christians never do. Question anything! That is the only way you will receive any worthwhile answers.

    My recommendation is to begin reading your Bible yourself. Don’t worry or even think about what you have been taught. Just pray to God each time as you begin reading Him to guide your understanding.

    • janinerussell says :

      Hmmm… question anything. I like that. When I talk to people about religion and how their religion feels about certain issues I often get the “well I’m not exactly sure how we feel about it but…” and it just makes me insane. I had the “we” as if having similar beliefs puts you in an exclusive club of people like you. I will definitely keep looking for answers. Thanks!

  3. eddy says :

    “Do I need to associate with a religion?” It is not necessary. You can create your own religion too. Mix and match. Or have no religion at all. Every choice is okay.

    “Can I have beliefs from multiple religions?” Absolutely.

    “Do I get to pick and choose what parts to believe?” Absolutely. You’ll never find any religion in the world with which you’ll agree wholeheartedly. To expect a religion to be perfect is expecting a lot from people of olden times. Things change all the time so we should always stay open to new things and always question what part of our religion doesn’t make sense anymore.

    “Can I practice yoga, meditate, and feel connected to some Buddhist ideas, and still be a Christian?” If anybody tells you that you can’t be a christian if you believe in Buddhism then you should run away from them. Fast.

    “Can I even call myself a Christian without believing in creationism?” If anybody says that you can’t have conflicting views related to their religion and must believe in everything they are saying then run away from them. Very fast.

    “What do you think?” I am not trying to force my view on you but here’s what I think about religion. There’s spirituality within every religion. The basic values of every religion are spiritual. So I believe in spirituality. Values of kindness, compassion and love. But I don’t believe in any religion. I agree the most with Buddhism but I don’t agree completely with any one religion. I believe that religions were a good invention of humankind but now we need to move on to a higher form of faith.

    Religion is for the masses. Just follow the rules and don’t worry about anything. We’ll take care of the rest, of your life and afterlife. That was religion. But now people are awakening and don’t want a system to follow without any questions. They have questions and they want them answered. They need answers. Religions aren’t good at that. Spirituality is. It is a higher form of faith. You are your own teacher. You explore the universe outside and the universe within and you try to answer your own questions. You keep an open mind always. That’s spirituality.

    You have begun on the right path. Just keep walking.

    • janinerussell says :

      Haha, you make it sound like there’s a lot of running I should be doing. I wonder what this “higher form of faith” you speak of would look like. I think we get too stuck in our ways and believe that the way things have always been is the way they ought to be, and not seeking other answers is very limiting. I wonder what would have happened to my views on spirituality if I had grown up with Buddhist parents, or Muslim, or even Atheist. Would I be asking different questions? Would I still have conflicting views? Thank you for your response, and I will keep walking with an open mind and see where it leads me.

  4. Gerri says :

    Be good, be kind, be grateful. Whatever you strongly believe to be true, is your own religion. Follow your heart and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.

  5. Nihar Pradhan says :

    Beliefs are fundamental to life. Religion becomes the vehicle. We are the driver and if drivers are good, religion is on track otherwise we see the distraction and detour from the track…though every vehicle has a common purpose, to transport us, so does religion but we translate it into multiple meanings which create difference of view and conflicts. After all it is a belief!!!

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