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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Do You Believe?

Controversial Topic Alert!

"We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I always think about religion a little more around the holiday season than any other time of the year because I want to believe in God and we celebrate Christmas because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus...disguised with tree trimming, photos on Santa's lap, gift giving and overall over indulgence. I have to admit I sort of subscribe to the latter. Once again, I am probably going to be biting off a lot more than I can chew with this post, but here I go!

When I say I want to believe in God, I really do. It's a lovely concept but I can't wrap my head around the thought of some holy and just God existing when there is so much scientific evidence to prove that he doesn't. Aside from that, if he did exist, why would he allow such heartache, cruelty and devastation to this world and to good and kind people?

It seems to me that most people turn to religion when they need something; guidance or help through tough times, grief, loss, or illness. I think I have been through enough grief and loss for one lifetime and I didn't find any comfort in God when I lost my parents or was going through a divorce and I honesty don't think he has anything to do with my current journey to find peace or spirituality. On the other hand, I'm not angry at him or anyone else for that matter over any of it either. I didn't once believe and then turn away, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I believe one can be spiritual without being religious.

I did not grow up with religion in my home. I was baptized and find a little comfort in knowing that, but remember as a family we stopped going to church on Sundays when I was three or four years old. I have attended services of many faiths and celebrated Muslim, Hindu and Jewish holidays with friends and Christian holidays in my own home.

I know my father was an atheist and we stopped going to church because he thought the people attending the services were hypocrites; they would curse, drink, lie and cheat and then "go get right with God" on Sundays so that they could sleep a little better at night. I think my mother wanted to believe but was probably agnostic.
What I am and have been most of my life is agnostic as well, but it wasn't until I started thinking about this post that I actually looked up the definition. According to Wikipedia:

Agnosticism is the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims—particularly metaphysical claims regarding theology, afterlife, or the existence of deities, spiritual beings, or even ultimate reality—are unknown, or, in some forms of agnosticism, unknowable. It is not a religious declaration in itself, and an agnostic may also be a theist or an atheist.

The concept of religion is prevalent when it comes to raising a child and both parents need to be on the same page. In our home, I hope that we will try to talk about as many different religions and religious holidays as possible to give some perspective different traditions, helping put the Easters and Christmases in context by discussing them in the same breath as Ramadan or Yom Kippur or Vesak. That's means a lot of work; comparative religion has never been an area of expertise for me, but I'm open and willing to learn. Perhaps we can invite priests and rabbis into our home to help educate you so that you can make your own decision on which path to follow.

It's December 1 and Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa will be here before we know it so I encourage everyone to think about what the holiday means to them.

To me, the holidays are about being spending time with those you love, bringing out your inner child, singing carols, sipping hot cocoa, stuffing stockings, delighting in the pure and innocent joy on the faces of children on Christmas morning and the magic of Santa Claus. I also think it's a perfect time to reflect on the blessings of the past year and the hopefulness of the new year approaching.

The best is yet to be, no matter what your beliefs.

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Blogger Leah said...

I couldn't agree more with you. I tend to not think about the religious aspects of Christmas since I'm still unsure of my beliefs, so instead, I think about all the love that surrounds the holiday. I am so thankful that we've been able to share Christmas with the Vasconi girls. You just can't have Christmas without children. They go together. And now with Lucas, it only makes the Christmas season that much sweeter.
While I was in Dallas for Thanksgiving, they all decided that this year, all of the family members are only going to buy gifts for the children in the family. Fun, huh? Maybe one of these years, we'll do that too. But for now I still enjoy buying gifts for all you "older" people! : )

December 1, 2009 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Sluiter Nation said...

Oh Tonya! Thank you for pointing me to this post! I think we stopped going to most churches because we just couldn't worship God (who I do believe exists), with so much hypocritical distraction. I believe in a greater power...I call it God. I believe that Jesus taught love. I don't know if Jesus was just a really good man with a good idea, or if he was more. I don't think it matters. People get wrapped up in what is "real"...but it's the moral of the story that matters...not whether the story is fiction or non.

I just want to teach love instead of hate.

March 8, 2011 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I would have to say that we are probably agnostic as well. Religion is different for all people and that is fine but I think it is good to learn about different ones as I am going to start doing with my daughter. Thanks for sending this to me.

April 27, 2011 at 9:53 AM  

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