Wife Swap and Trading Spouses seem to be on a religious kick right now. The trend at the moment is to put families with diametrically opposed religious views together and watch the sparks fly.
The Baptists usually come off as being wrapped up too tight, but the New Agers they'be been using lately seem to have the wit and intellect of heavily sedated pre-schoolers. It is this problem that I want to talk about today, because both sides are as guilty as each of doing the same thing, which is bascially latching onto a viewpoint and an associated peer group and avoiding anything that might questions their beliefs.
"Unbalanced Mercy is weakness and the fading out of the Will."
What I believe is still a work in progress. But the things I am sure of are the result of twenty years of discussion, dissection, verbal battles and sudden realizations. My faith is not lead by a fuzzy bunny. My beliefs are not espoused by Mr. Fluffy.
If you surround yourself with people that all share your view, then your views never get challenged, and you never get to defend your beliefs to anyone - including yourself.
But that is the whole point. Belief has to be questioned. Faith has to be tested. And I will guarantee you that regardless of your religion, if you don't find a way to test it yourself then the Universe will, and you will be hoisted with your own petard. Ultimately the only person you have to convince is yourself. The only person you are competing against is yourself. But who and what that 'self' may be is open to debate. We are more than what we see, touch, hear and occasionally smell. There is a part of us which touches the Earth and a part which touches the Heavens and it is that higher part that needs to believe that we believe, that needs to know that we are not fooling ourselves.
This above all, To Thine own self be True.
That is not an excuse to go out and become some kind of religious Zealot. Shouting louder and putting down other people's viewpoints with hatred and even violence simply demonstrates your own insecurity about your beliefs.
I have noticed a lot of similarities between Christian Fundamentalism and Islamic Fundamentalism. I'm not talking about the bible or the root of their beliefs. I'm talking about the 'spin' that both put on their religion. Family values (whatever the hell they are - usually they seem to involve a secondary role for women), abstinence, rewards in heaven, proselytizing, fighting the good fight because God is on your side and not the other guy's.
"Unbalanced Severity is cruelty and the barrenness of Mind."
You may have noticed that more than a few countries are destabilizing and converting to Islam, then becoming enemies of the West. Mostly in Asia, but it is also spreading to Europe, and undoubtedly the US. The right wing conservatism currently running this country is, ironically, going to make it easier for the process to occur here.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-muslim. Neither am I anti-christian. But this fundamentalist bullshit has very little to do with any religion and serves only as a convenient label under which to oppress some areas of the population while claiming you're doing it for the greater glory of God, Allah or Jahweh.
We have become a society of extremes, when there is always a middle ground. We seek out tension to quicken us, or we run from challenge altogether. War represents one example of deviation from this middle path, exploitation is another.
Find the middle ground. Question your own beliefs, and don't be afraid to have others question them too. For that matter, question other people's beliefs but please - do so with love and respect and out of a simple childlike desire to know and understand not to mock and villify.
Find the middle ground. It is more fun there, believe me...or not...