Thursday, September 27, 2007


I have railed against man's application of religion on many occasions on Poetic Leanings. I think I am correct in doing so, but it is important to remember that it is not really religion, or more accurately, an honest belief in God that I am taking shots at. The problem in the United States, and many other places around the world, is that too often religion has nothing to do with God, and even more often the most devoutly "religious" are not acting from a place of love, tolerance, understanding, compassion, joy, inclusiveness, and peace.

My belief system centers around the idea that, for me, God and religion are mutually exclusive. I see religious doctrine as being man-made; where God has been shaped and created into a human form, complete with human frailties. My love of God comes about through a direct connection with Him/Her via good works, appreciation of all living creatures and things, and the desire to attempt to do right by the world.

However, that is not to say that I am correct, or, more accurately, that my beliefs are right for others. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism or any other religious movement has merit if, and only if, the observation of that religion is centered on love, tolerance, understanding, compassion, joy, inclusiveness, and peace.

Every religion has within it a fork in its road of practice that can lead it down a path of either inherent goodness or badness. The person who exhibits the qualities mentioned above through their religious practice is a good person and receives my complete respect and appreciation. If a particular religion is a path to positive energy flow then my personal beliefs are irrelevant. Observe, believe and be a good person. We will be fine with each other.

If a person practices a religion from a perspective of intolerance, such as for gays or some other religion, they are twisted in their beliefs and are no longer observing anything more than a worthless set of words and customs. The same is true if religion is used for anger or fear, dominance over others, or is forced upon those with a different set of beliefs.

This is where al Qaeda's religious beliefs lie. It is also where the extreme elements of Christianity in America reside. The need to INFLICT one's beliefs on another through any controlling mechanism, whether via legislation or violence, is a betrayal of God and is devoid of any positively influenced beliefs. Condemning a person for how they were born is a violation of God's loving principles. Hating another person or people for not observing in the same fashion is a denial of God.

I'd be happiest if we could show our love to God in our own ways; quietly or without infringing on those who do not agree with our approach. I would respect another man or woman's love of God, if he or she loves all other people as best as possible because of this love of a higher being.

I have seen the best of religion and love of God in many faces and places; from the meditative dance of the spirit to a church saying goodbye to a beloved pastor to a group such as Habitat for Humanity to rituals such as a Bar Mitzvah or supportive sitting of Shiva to the stopping of a day's chores to kneel and pray. I have also seen the worst of religion; in the destruction of two buildings in New York, one partially in D.C. and a plane in Pennsylvania. Or in the doctrines of a wealthy church in Rome built upon narrow-minded preachings and in the taught hatred of Madrassas in Saudi Arabia. Lastly, I have witnessed it right here in my own countrymen and women who use it to hate, fear, discriminate, isolate, denigrate, and even kill.

When did loving God become hating Him/Her so much through these negative manifestations of religion? I'd like to see more of the good, and it sometimes seems so hard to find in a sea of misguidedness. But it is there; I know it is.