Sunday, I posted a bit of a rant about a different twist on a haunted house, and in the comments, a bit longer rant about organized religion in general.
It never ceases to amaze me, how many people email me on a subject rather than comment on a post.
Not complaining, mind you. I get a little warm fuzzy feeling each time I look at the email account for this blog and see that someone has written me. It means people are paying attention, and going to the effort to look beyond the front page for my email address.
But some of the emails regarding Sunday's post weren't exactly flattering. And a couple contained exactly the sort of "Come To Jesus" posturing and bullying that I was complaining of in the first place!
So I'm going to clear up a few things.
First off, I don't hate god, God, Kali, Buddha, Apollo, Pan or any other deity. Regardless of what one of my more vehement emailers may think, I do have a quite healthy relationship with deity. I just don't feel that I need someone else to guide me in my beliefs.
As for why I use the term deity rather than God, well, it's a case of having far too many people assume that I am their particular stripe of invisible-being worshiper, and poke and prod at me when they figure out that I'm not.
My issues with organized religion come from bad interactions with said organized religious types, be they congregation, parishioner, or leader. I don't believe that any god would approve of some of the things done in their various names, and thus far have not found an organized belief system that I can agree with totally. I honestly don't feel that a deity cares whether you are in a church, temple, or sacred grove or not.
I'm not saying that I haven't met great people who believe very firmly in the tenets of organized religion. For one, an insightful and caring retired pastor from South Africa whom you may know as Bayou Renaissance Man who is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of what faith should be. During hard times, he has offered an ear, counsel, and simple loving friendship to me, and it has been much appreciated, even though most of the time I just can't bring myself to burden someone else with my worries. I respect and like Peter very much, and more so because he doesn't push his beliefs on others, simply makes sure that they know he is there if they do wish to talk about something.
Another is a Born Again Christian preacher who has that black-church-with-a-choir passion about his beliefs, who I had the great fortune to meet while I was at school. He felt very strongly about his relationship with God, but he never pushed. We had several religious discussions over the two years I was at the college, and I have no doubt that we'll have more. The great thing about this man is that with all of his passion for his faith, he never once made anyone feel like they were wrong if they didn't believe the same things he did. He would listen, and discuss, and think about the things they said. He has the kind of generous heart that is all too rare in this world. He smiles when he preaches, because his faith makes him happy.
Far too few people in this world can truthfully say that their faith makes them feel happy.
Is it so wrong to feel that my beliefs are no one's business but my own? Who does it hurt?
For that matter, who does it hurt if your neighbor worships at an altar in their living room rather than one in the church on the corner?
Or if someone wears an Ankh rather than a cross?
Good people are good people, regardless of what name they call their higher power. Everyone believes that they're right about the organization of the afterlife, but no one knows. That's why it's called faith.
Let your neighbor have theirs.