"I went to Castroville Public Library today and got a library card. It was meant to be a ploy to talk to the library people so I could fulfill some of the requirements of a homework assignment I am working on, but that didn't end up happening. I was looking through the stacks and spotted several titles just sitting there saying "read me!" that are caught up in tremendous holds lists at San Antonio Public Library. So I also thought that CPL library card would be advantageous if I ever want to read something that I can't get quickly enough through SAPL.
The library is very sweet and cozy. They don't have all that many books, but they sure do have the charm. They have pictures and quilts on the walls. It's all very cute. Then I noticed that they have a little stand that at my library in SA uses to hold our Oxford English Dictionary. Their stand was used to hold a big dictionary and a bigger Bible. I suppose this disturbed me a little, as I have conditioned myself to be suspicious of Christian teachings and even more leery of creepy followers who think it is their duty to preach at me. I mean...they had the Bible placed at the same level as the Dictionary. One is a book of Hebrew mythology and the other is a solid listing of linguistic facts.
I suppose this isn't a very charitable thought, but I can't help the workings of my anti-Bible brain. I had to consciously stop myself from proceeding with the thought and remind myself that Christianity is a valid spiritual expression which keeps many people in the world feeling fulfilled [and restrained]. And that to many people [I have seen evidence of this] the message of the Bible is greater than error-free spelling and correct word usage. I have to remind myself to respect the trappings of Christianity every day, in fact lately I have been trying to read the Bible in small doses.
My major problem with traditional Christianity is this: I don't believe in Hell or Satan because I don't think that a loving God would punish feeble humans for an eternity for minor wrongdoings that they committed in a mere 70-or-so years on Earth. I don't like portrayals which give God a human sprinkling of emotions and pettiness. I don't think that any form of worship is the One Truth, I think they are all valid. Because I think all religions are valid I don't see any need for proselytizing.
I've found it difficult in the past to be a person who believes in God but rejects major principles of the most widespread religion in my area. It's isolating and a bit disheartening. I did the whole Wiccan thing as a teenager, but largely gave that up because it required a lot of rituals that I was too embarrassed to perform. Then I labeled myself plainly Pagan, but was still too lazy and embarrassed to do any rituals. Then I thought of myself as more of a Deist, but thought there's no point in trying to know a god who creates the world and then unconcernedly steps away. So then I thought I was mostly a Nothing who believes in Something. It's just odd. But then just because so far I'm a Nothing doesn't mean I have to give up Everything.
I have lately found that reading in the Bible about the life of Jesus is very inspiring; I love the lessons about treating others kindly and doing good works that benefit others without expecting returns. I like the thought of lived religion. Living your beliefs. The Bible was written by men, but may have been inspired by God. I don't know. I don't take it literally, and maybe I interpret it in a way that is unorthodox...but I suppose everyone takes it the way that inspires the most good in them. I'm also reading the Bhagavad Gita at the moment which I find significantly more intriguing.
The speaker in the Bhagavad Gita is the Hindu Krishna, the incarnate son of God. Many of his teachings are similar to the teachings of Jesus. My favorite verse thus far:
"However men try to reach me,
I return their love with my love;
whatever path they may travel,
it leads to me in the end."
Bhagavad Gita 4.11
What I'm trying to say with all of this philosophizing, is that I like to take my inspiration from different sources. And I must learn not to discount any source due to a personal prejudice, however just or unjust. Or discount a source just because it doesn't line up with ideas about what I should or should not be reading. Just take things as they come, and enjoy what they have to offer."
Since I wrote this I have attended Quaker meetings, a non-denominational church and a Pentecostal church. I still find that lived religion is the key, but I have since discovered the importance of the Holy Spirit of God in human life. I would hazard to suggest that the Holy Spirit is the key to living your faith completely. Since I wrote this post the Bible has become the single most important book in my life, and I can hardly believe that things would turn out this way! Since I am such a new believer I still have lots of questions and lots of exploring to do, and I hope that writing my thoughts in this blog will help me figure a few things out.