the shallow end of religion

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Convergence, God and Time, Personal, Serious
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

religious diversityAnswers fall within the context of questions. In religion, some think all the questions are the same or one answer fits all questions–like using a hand grenade or atom bomb. We’d all agree that if God exists, God knows all the questions and answers. A problem I often see is good people skipping God and mixing up answers and questions. For instance, one might ask, “How do I find peace?” and one might reply, “Carry a four-leaf clover.”

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Q & A – The Shallow End of Religion

Atheist or philosopherHow do I find meaning in life? Answer: Ask the right question.

Buddhism: How do I avoid pain and suffering? Answer: Don’t desire anything. Practice self-denial and right actions; Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. If you screw up, the wheel turns and you can try again with maybe a bit of Hinduism. If you do it right, you’re in Nirvana (literally a “blown out” flame; see Judaism)

Catholicism and Christianity (nominally)How do I get to heaven? Answer: Be baptized and/or join a church and be good. If you get it right, you’ll go where God lives and be rewarded (see Islam). As a Catholic, if you get it wrong you’ll spend time in purgatory, but it won’t matter ’cause you’re baptized. As a do-gooder you’ll go to hell because no one is completely good and percentages don’t count–game over.

Christ FollowerHow do I know God personally? Answer: Look at Jesus and do as he did–love unconditionally. If you do it right, you’ll meet God. If you do it wrong, you’ll meet God, but not the way you expected.

Confucianism: How do I relate to others? Answer: Obey the rules in your Five Relationships. If you don’t screw up, life should be good and you’ll fit in. If you do this wrong, you’ll be an outcast.

Hinduism:How can I live a life in harmony with the universe? Answer: Obey the Shastras (a collection of spiritual laws) and believe the Brahman (supreme absolute) is something and nothing, then placate thousands of not-so-absolute gods who reveal the Brahman’s character. If you screw up, the wheel comes around again and you might try leaning into a bit more Buddhism next time. If you get it right, you get out of the cycle of rebirth and go back to nature (see Shamanism).

Islam and Mormonism: How do I differentiate myself from Christians and Jews? Answer: Be better and more religious than Christians and Jews.  Fight infidelity. If you get it right, you’ll go to a heavenly utopia where you’ll find God, peace, gardens, thrones, family and good food. If you get it wrong, you’re going to hell–game over.

Judaism: How do I become one of God’s Chosen people? Answer: Obey the Law of Moses. If you screw up, expect trouble, but it doesn’t matter, when you’re dead, you’re dead (see Buddhist Nirvana). Some Jews believe you might end up in heaven or hell depending on if you are indeed among the Chosen (see Islam).

Scientist: How do I know something? Answer: If you perceive a thing, it has a cause–find the cause and you’ll know something. If you do this wrong, you’ll be uneducated and confused. If you do this right, you’ll know a lot. In the end, you’ll find nothing is something (see Hinduism) and then you’ll discover faith and ask a better question (or not, see Atheism).

Shamanism, pantheism, naturalists: How do I become happy and get the elements to treat me well? Answer: Be good while superstitiously placating the gods and nature. If you screw up it doesn’t matter because bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. You are worm-food. If you get it right, it still doesn’t matter ’cause you are still just worm-food.

A final question: What makes Jesus so special? Answer: Everyone else died. All Jerusalem saw Jesus die and come back to life. Jesus said, “I am the Son of God. I am the way, truth and life–no one comes to the Father except by me.” He taught, healed, raised the dead, herded fish and swine, cast out evil spirits, and preached to thousands–he was spectacular! Almost everyone from Capernaum to Jerusalem celebrated him as THE MESSIAH who would lead God’s Chosen into a new historical era. Yet, to their disappointment and dismay, he quietly surrendered to the Jewish leadership and the Romans and was tried, executed and buried. But after a few days he emerged from his grave. He first appeared to some women, then his disciples and others, saying, “Make disciples–love as I loved you.” Jerusalem was shocked. His followers formed THE WAY and declared, “This same Jesus you killed is alive and says, ‘repent and love one another.'”

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, suggests Jesus was either a lunatic or, indeed, the Son of God. If your question is, “How can I personally know God?” the answer is Jesus.

Tr8: Ask the right question and share your answer.

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