Monday, May 7, 2007

Religion...why are people so rigid?

I know I said that my first serious post was going to be about a bunch of upper-class men making decisions for women, but I have a different topic on my mind right now. Religion.

I was raised Catholic. I went to First Communion, Confirmation, Reconciliation, etc. As I grew older, I began to question a lot of things about the Catholic church-- the role of women, the formality of the service, the lack of connection between the people and the Homily-- and as a consequence stopped attending church. I still did (and do) believe in God, but I could not connect with the church I was raised in. The entire situation haunts me to this day. I miss the ritual of mass and the calmness that it brought me. I have tried a lot of churches since then, and I have learned what moves me spiritually -- and it is not a packed auditorium with bands, lights and a lot of media or judgmental preachers spouting hate of other believers simply because they do not belong to the "right" church.

Not long after we were first married, Kevin brought me to Yale Avenue Christian Church (YACC) in Tulsa, and I felt at home. It is comfortable for me-- there is the "ritual" and focus on worship rather than distractions. We do go to the "modern" service with a small (but not overpowering) band that serves as accompaniment and videos to support the pastor's sermon, but the focus is still on the worship.

All of this brings me to the real topic of this post-- Why are people so rigid when it comes to religion? Why is it that so many churches work against one another rather than together? This is a sticking point that has bothered me for years. Why is it that some people believe that you must subscribe to their exact belief/church or you will go to hell?

One of the things about YACC that continues to draw me in is their tolerance of others. One of their "value statements" is this:

Commitment to tolerance and openness. We recognize that diversity is important within our common mission. We do not seek to provide "black and white" answers to the complex questions of life and faith. We are committed to providing the framework within which to seek God's will and guidance to help bring order to the chaos of life.

To me, this is the embodiment of what I think society should be about-- religion or not. The tolerance of others. As a society, I think we are too quick to judge others-- whether it be homosexuals, atheists, mothers, etc. We are too quick to believe that our way is the only way, and any other way will end negatively, when in fact, there are many ways to live and be respectful of people who disagree with our beliefs.

In no way am I saying we all must come to an agreement about every aspect of life, but if we all were to respect one another and accept each person (or group) for who they are, society and life could be a lot more pleasant for a lot of people.

Back on point-- why are so many churches an all or nothing decision? Why must one church be right and another wrong when if you look at the foundation, they believe the same thing?

I have so many questions when it comes to religion...this could be a never ending post, and I think that my questions about religion could easily be applied to society as a whole. Maybe others have answers...or something to share?

2 comments:

Christina said...

I think it's just people using religion as an excuse for xenophobia. A legitamization of the fear of "The Others". I've known plenty of religious folks who were open, caring and accepting, even if you didn't share their beliefs. If you look at most religions, this is really what they are saying - don't judge others, the golden rule, etc.

It is natural that we want to feel that we are better than or better off than others, but most religions try to teach us to supress that feeling (just like it is natural for us to get angry, but we should supress the desire to run amok and hurt or kill others). The people who are so rigid and judgemental are just twisting religion to support their base instincts. Jesus taught acceptance, not judgement. I hope what I'm saying makes sense...

Carol said...

It almost sounds like my "home" religion -- Unitarian-Universalist.

Carol

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