Blue sky cathedral…

A few days ago, I read an article about how millennials are turning away from religion. A college friend shared it. She’s a devoted churchgoer and she thinks it’s “sad” that so many people are turning away from religion. I was intrigued, so I decided to share it with my own friends.

The first person who responded clicked the “sad” reaction. I was perplexed by that, so I wrote this:

I don’t think it’s a sad thing. Some people simply aren’t into religion, and many people have suffered abuse in religion. If they are happier outside of it, that should be alright.

I grew up mainstream Presbyterian. For the most part, I don’t miss going to church, even though I went for most of my childhood. When I was growing up, everybody went to church. Most of my friends were Baptists or Methodists, but a few were at the Presbyterian church with me, and I had a few Episcopalian friends. I didn’t have Catholic friends until I got to college and started mingling with people from Northern Virginia again. It wasn’t until later than that that I encountered Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish people, and Muslims.

A lot of people my age have quit attending church, and it sounds like a lot of younger people have, too. I didn’t hate church… well, I shouldn’t say that. As a child, I didn’t like it because I found it boring. My mom was always playing organ and my dad was in the choir, so I sat with the wife of a man who was also in the choir. She kept me occupied. But for me, it wasn’t really a family thing. I know in some families, religion and church attendance is important and part of being in the family. For me, it was almost like it was optics. We didn’t say grace at my house, or bedtime prayers– at least not beyond my toddler years. My dad was more religious than my mom, but I really think it was a social and musical outlet for him. For my mom, it was a source of income. And I went to church because they worried what people would think if they didn’t take me, even though my parents rarely attended the same church.

The guy who clicked the “sad” reaction wrote, “some of us seem to have found a really secure, not so corrupted home church – though not within the doctrine we were raised.” So I responded,

Good for you. If you like church, by all means go to church. I’m for people doing what makes them happy, as long as they don’t hurt other people.

I think it’s much sadder when a person feels “trapped” by religion because if they stop believing or acting like they believe, they’ll be disowned. The LDS church was used as one “reason” Bill wasn’t fit to see his daughters. Of course, that was complete bullshit, and the truth about what happened is now becoming very apparent to his younger daughter.  

Every day, I read stories written by young Mormons who feel forced to go on church missions or be disowned by their families… Or people who have to hide their sexuality because of religion and the threat of being ostracized. For too many people, religion is used as a means to control others or an excuse to be closed-minded to other people’s lifestyles or politics.

It’s not just the Mormons who are guilty of this, of course. That just happens to be the religion that affected us personally.

But if you’ve found comfort in religion, great. I am happy for you. Personally, I didn’t have a bad experience with church. I just don’t think it’s a tragedy that some people have turned away from it. Not everyone needs church to be happy.

Just this week, I read a thread on RfM written by an 18 year old guy who is upset because he doesn’t believe in Mormonism, but is scheduled to start his two year mission in Tampa, Florida next month. He doesn’t want to go. His believes his parents will kick him out of the house if he doesn’t do his two years of door knocking for the LDS church. He came to RfM to ask for advice– ideas on what he can do to get out of the mission, yet not wind up homeless.

I know it sounds far-fetched that loving parents would disown their child over something like religion. Sadly, this was not the first time I heard or read of such a thing. In fact, the Mormon church is rife with stories about adult children who have found themselves cast out because they don’t believe in the religion, or perhaps they suffer from what the church calls “same sex attraction”. Lots of homosexual Mormons deny their sexual orientations and try to live the straight life in the name of religion. It’s not fair for them, and it’s certainly not fair for their spouses, who will never truly be attractive to their partners.

Not long ago, Ed Smart, father of kidnap victim turned activist Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He and his wife, Lois, have six children and are divorcing after many years of marriage. I’m sure Mrs. Smart is devastated by this turn of events. She’s not alone, either. LDS writer, Carol Lynn Pearson, who is still a devout believer, was married to a homosexual man and had children with him. After it became clear that her husband is gay, Pearson got a divorce. Her ex husband later contracted AIDS and died. Fortunately, his family, including his ex wife, still loved him very much and were by his side as he drew his last breaths. Carol Lynn Pearson’s daughter, Emily, went on to marry Steven Fales, a homosexual man who had been raised to believe that he had to marry a woman to be able to make it to the highest echelon of heaven. The marriage failed, just as it had between her parents. Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone involved if homosexuality weren’t deemed sinful? It would have been so much easier for everyone to find partners with whom they were sexually compatible.

I’m picking on the Mormons here, but that church is certainly not the only one guilty of screwing up members’ lives by causing people to feel shame for simply being who they are. Life is already difficult without people coming over to your house, looking to see if you have a coffeemaker or judging you for the DVDs in your collection. Moreover, people are very busy. Sundays used to be for rest, but a lot of people are forced to work on Sundays. Maybe they would like to be in church rather than at work, but maybe they would prefer to stay home and rest.

Personally, I don’t miss attending church. Bill is not a fan of organized religion and doesn’t want to go to church anymore. But he’s one of the most soulful, spiritual people I know. He believes very much in God. He doesn’t believe in organized churches, although he has said that if he had to go back, he’d go back to being Catholic. That suits me fine, although I am not Catholic myself and know little about it.

Another friend wrote that she finds God when she takes walks in nature. I can relate to that myself. In fact, Rhonda Vincent sang a song about it.

I think you can find God anywhere… if you seek God, that is. Not everyone believes, and that’s not necessarily a sad thing.

As for me… I can’t say I’m an atheist yet. I believe in God. I don’t care about church. Some people find comfort and value in religion, and that’s fine with me. Many of my family members are devout Christians, even though they cheer for Trump. I find that hard to reconcile, since Trump pretty much is the opposite of a Christian role model in my opinion. For me, the music was what meant the most… and sometimes if a pastor was a good speaker who was wise and kind, I would relate to that. But I don’t feel like I need to dress up and go to church every Sunday anymore. Don’t shed a tear for me, though. I’m fine, and so are a lot of other people who live just fine without their weekly dosage of religion.

I will admit that I love this little chapel, though… We used to have a view of it from our backyard when we lived in Germany the first time. Wurlinger Kapelle

The “Word of God”…

Yesterday, while I was listening to the extreme winds and more episodes of Under Arrest, I noticed an email I received from the “Word of God” mailing list. I sat there and pondered it for a moment, then wondered how in the hell I wound up on such a list. I posted the status on Facebook, which got a bunch of laughing reactions from my friends, many of whom know me personally. My friends know I’m not exactly a God fearing person. Maybe that will be to my detriment. Who knows?

I have mentioned previously that I am not quite an atheist. I do believe in some form of higher power. I’m not quite sure what it is. Maybe it’s just a form of higher consciousness. It could be more of a psychological thing than a religious thing. But I don’t go to church, and haven’t in many years. I don’t read the Bible. I never did read much of it, even when I did go to church. I see the value in church, but mainly as a social outlet. I’d go for the music and companionship… and maybe, if the minister is intelligent and a good speaker, I’d go for the message. But I’m really not religious.

So how in the hell did I end up on the Word of God mailing list? They were sending me Bible verses with a link to a Web site. I noticed at the bottom of the email, there was a disclaimer calling it an “advertisement”. That made me hit the unsubscribe button. If I were religious, I’d say that religion has no place as a business entity. In fact, the monetary aspect of religion is probably what turns me off of it. If there is a God, and God is this great, magnificent, omnipotent being, then there should be no need for money to have a relationship with God.

I almost wonder if someone subscribed me to that mailing list like someone might send porn to another person as a prank. But then, usually with an email address, one must actively click a link to make the subscription stick. That requirement, no doubt, cuts down on the pranksters. It’s harder to stop someone from doing that with snail mail. If I were a really nasty person, I might sign up my enemies to some kind of exotic porn magazine that comes to their house. That wouldn’t go over well, particularly if they were religious… or maybe it would? Josh Duggar is supposedly a “Christian”, but he was busted for cheating on his wife with exotic dancers and molesting five girls, four of whom were his own sisters. The Christ I was introduced to would never condone such actions, but then, I have noticed that a lot of Christians are the type to live by the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra.

Speaking of the Duggars… I remember when their show first came on the air. Michelle Duggar gushed about their “JOY” philosophy. Jesus first. Others second. Yourself last. But I’ve watched them since, oh, 2004 or so, and they’ve gone from being relatively “humble” (or as humble as Boob can be) to becoming downright wealthy. They’ve made their money using a medium that they used to swear was evil… the television set. Nowadays, TV has been usurped by the Internet, and the Duggars are all over that, too. Many of the adult Duggars are partnering with companies to help them sell their stuff, rather than getting trained in legitimate professions. Oh, okay, so Derick Dillard is in law school now, so he can give a “voice to the voiceless”. I’m assuming he’s going to be fighting for “pro life” initiatives and taking away rights for people who aren’t like him. Again… that doesn’t jibe with the Jesus Christ I learned about when I was a churchgoer many years ago.

The older I get, the more I think people should just plain be more accepting and peace loving. It’s easy to think that, but hard to live it. I admit, I get angry about things and I want justice. When I see something that doesn’t ring true or make sense, I question it… probably much to the annoyance of other people. It used to annoy my dad when I’d argue with him about things, although I come by that tendency honestly. My family, particularly among the males within it, is chock full of opinionated people who will argue to the death. I no longer have a desire to argue to the death, but I also don’t want to waste my time on bullshit. And sorry, but I think a lot of religion is about 99% bullshit. Much of what you can find in a religion, you can find in other places. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect other people’s rights to worship, but I don’t have much respect for nonsense or simply believing in something because it’s been written in an old book somewhere… particularly when the old book is full of contradictions.

Anyway… the sun is out now, and I’m thinking I need to walk my dogs before I end up in a wheelchair. For some reason, I’ve been waking up with excruciating hip and lower back pain lately. I probably need to exercise. So I’ll end here with a song… I’ve shared it before on my old blog, but I like to recycle.

If you listen to some Christians, they’ll warn you…

I’ve shared this one, too… but it works today.

It probably is…