I remember being told when I was young that if you weren’t baptized, you couldn’t get into heaven. I received this tidbit of information when I was studying to make my first holy communion. I remember not liking this idea at the time and I even asked, “What if other kids don’t know about God and Jesus? How can they be baptized if they don’t know about them?” To my dismay I was told that is why we have to spread the word of God, because it doesn’t matter how good of a life you’ve led, if you’re not baptized, you’re not getting into heaven. I didn’t know much back then, but I knew that this sounded like a bunch of bologna to me.
This now brought up another question: So if I’m baptized, I can live a horrible life but still be able to get into heaven? But the person who’s lived a good and humble life, but isn’t baptized, is turned away at the pearly gates? How fair is that?! As an adult I now realize that there’s a lot more to that notion than what I’ve eluded to here, but for the purposes of this blog, I will leave the discussion of religious doctrine to the church hierarchy.
BUT, like most good little Catholic girls, I accepted what my elders told me and moved on. Never really gave it much thought until I got into college and began studying literature from around the world. To be more precise, religious texts like the Koran, the Baghavad Gita & the Satanic Bible. As I read, studied and learned more about these pieces of literature, the intent behind their words helped build a bridge into my own world. I wasn’t so different from these people ‘worshipping false gods’. Some of the things written in these texts were similar to what I read in my own Bible. Yes, there were even similarities in the Satanic Bible. If any of you have explored this work of literature, then you know that its more about proving modern Christianity as hypocritical & unrealistic than it is about worshipping the largely accepted definition of ‘Satan’. However, I digress. When you cut away all the fat from these religious texts, what lies at the heart of all of them is….The Golden Rule. “Treat others as you would have them treat you.”
WOW! This realization tilted my world. As a child I somehow got the notion in my head that we (Catholics) were very different from all those other faiths. That we knew the secret. We were right and they were wrong. Not sure if that was the church’s intent or if it was a notion I drudged up all on my own. Of course I was okay with this idea for the longest time, having spent the majority of my life surrounded by nothing but Catholics. I went to Catholic church on Sundays and Catholic school during the week. As a child, your world doesn’t get much bigger than that. But an interesting thing happened my sophomore year of high school. My father lost his job and I was forced to go to…dun dun dun….public school! Say it ain’t so! lol
On the surface, my education continued on as usual, minus the fabulous catholic school uniform the boys all loved. Bummer! I made friends from all walks of life and that included various faith systems as well. I had friends that were Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Atheist, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist…you name, we had it. Our varying religious beliefs never really mattered much to me until one day, I was sitting at the lunch table with a group of friends and the topic turned to religion. I remember the conversation being somewhat judgmental and scrutinizing of the Catholic faith. Now, I may have interpreted the conversation all wrong (teenage girls tend to do that) but I remember walking away feeling deeply hurt and sad that someone would judge me solely because of my beliefs. My interpretation of the conversation that day is neither here, nor there because, more importantly, it sparked a fire in me to read and study, understand and digest exactly what it is that makes us all so different.
I gotta tell ya, and some of my family and friends out there may vehemently disagree with what I’m about to say (Yes I know I said that this blog isn’t linked up to any of my social media websites, but I’m feeling continuously pulled to rethink that decision and in the event that I DO decide to share this blog with family and friends, I have to cover my ass with said statements lol), most of the Gods I learned about were just like my own. So what to do with this revelation? Well….I thought about it, mulled it over and generally pondered this thought for quite sometime. But then one day, I realized I had formed a belief that I didn’t even know was there! It was a belief that each of these Gods (including my own) are really all one in the same. I know, I know….I’m a heathen for even thinking such a thing!
But I found myself wondering that, if God really is the great teacher, then why would She present herself in only one form? Wouldn’t presenting himself in different ways so that more of his children could understand and receive his love and guidance just make so much sense? You teachers out there understand this concept, knowing that not all children learn the same way. Consequently, you have to adjust the format in which it is presented, otherwise, some of your students will get left behind. So I wondered, “Why can’t this same concept be applied to God?”
Over time, this became my personal truth. I can’t even narrow it down to a specific day, week or month, as it was more of a gradual and soft acceptance of the idea. I thought it a fabulous notion that God could be having one big masquerade party! And depending on where you lived, you got to see a completely different and fabulous costume, complete with traditions, holy days & even a different entourage! Imagine that! Life is really just one big concert with God as the main act. She has all these fabulous costume changes, different music tempos, altered lighting and backdrops…all to create a different mood so as to speak to each and every one of her fans! Kick Ass! Now THAT’S a pretty cool thought! We’re all at the same concert, showing love for the same artist, having our worlds rocked by fabulous music that speaks to each and every one of our souls! It’s like one big Woodstock, Lollapalooza, Rock Fest, Telluride Bluegrass and Country Stampede all rolled up into one. There’s something for everyone and it can all be sourced from the same location! What a thought!
Now I know I could be wrong, and I probably am…but, what if I’m not? The most notable people in history are the ones that have not been afraid to challenge what’s currently accepted to be right and true. George Washington, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King….the list goes on and on. But its people like this that aren’t afraid to ask the question, “What if what I know isn’t all there is to know and what if all I’ve experienced isn’t all there is to experience?” How would entertaining this idea change your mindset about your life, your world, your faith? How would that, in turn, affect other people’s lives? belief systems? politics?
I have a small passage that I’d like to share with you from an author whose books have helped me alter my interaction with the world and to understand the notion of right and wrong in completely different way.
“If you think you are right about everything, who needs to talk to God? Go ahead and act on all that you know. But notice that you’ve all been doing that since time began. And look at what shape the world is in. Clearly, you’ve missed something. Obviously, there is something you don’t understand. That which you do understand must seem right to you, because “right” is a term you use to designate something with which you agree. What you’ve missed will, therefore, appear at first to be “wrong”.
The only way to move forward on this is to ask yourself, “What would happen if everything I thought was ‘wrong’ was actually ‘right’? Every great scientist knows about this. When what a scientist does is not working, a scientist sets aside all of the assumptions and starts over. All great discoveries have been made from a willingness, and ability, to not be right. And that’s what’s needed here.
You cannot know God until you’ve stopped telling yourself that you already know God. You cannot hear God until you stop thinking that you’ve already heard God” (Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations With God-An Uncommon Dialogue-Book 1, pp7-8)
Whoa! This passage stopped me in my tracks when I read it. Did it do the same for you? God cannot tell me his truth until I stop telling him mine. We can change the world just by changing our minds. Truly, we can. It’s not hard. We women do it all the time. It’s like a right of passage in the world of estrogen. We change our minds every time the wind blows, for cryin’ out loud! Come on, you can do it! I invite you challenge your beliefs. Ask the hard questions. Do you believe what you believe out of fear? Afraid to challenge what you’re parents taught you? Or are you scared your friends will judge you? (I’ve personally wrestled with this one) Do you even have any beliefs about God at all? Do you believe what you believe out of laziness? Because its easier to have someone else do all the work and just tell you what you’re supposed to believe, than it is for you to actually forge a relationship with God on your own?
This world is in a whole lot of hurt. If you don’t believe me, just turn on CNN or MSN. They’re more than happy to tell you how the world is ‘goin to hell in a handbasket’. Do you believe them? Do you believe me?? Just because we told you so? Stop and think. You’re body will tell you what’s true and what’s not. We all feel truth in our bodies, just like we can tell when we’re being lied to. Don’t dismiss it. See it for what it is, look straight at it and it will disappear. That which we resist, persists. As long as you fight that you already know all there is to know about God, as long as you think you’re ‘right’ and they’re ‘wrong’, as long as you continue to separate and elevate yourself and continue to foster that thinking in others, the world will never be at peace. All conflict is generated from a feeling of separate-ness. Once we begin to see that we’re really not all that different, that we all want the same things out of life and that we all experience the same emotions, we truly can begin to heal the world. <que Michael Jackson’s song, Heal The World>
Look I know this blog may sound ridiculously naive and you probably think I walk around wearing rose-colored glasses…maybe I do. But change is gotta start somewhere. If not now, when? If not me, who? I think the following quote from Forrest Gump sums up this little blog in a quirky, but perfect way.
“Don’t ever let anybody tell you they’re better than you, Forrest. If God intended everybody to be the same, he’d have given us all braces on our legs.”
P.S. Sorry for the length….I’m sure a future editor will tell me that I’m too ‘wordy’, but O well! Love it or leave it.