I’ve been thinking about this for a while. It was spurred first, by my
friend Don’s “This I believe” post (s) on his LiveJournal and then by a
letter to the editor in our local paper regarding Washington state passing a
law making it illegal to discriminate against gays. This particular letter
to the editor was (very well) written by a Christian who stated that not all
Christians are bigots. It was the comments that set me off. Since when did
Jesus (who I at the very least believe was an historical figure and one of
the many manifestations of god/dess in this world) teach hate and
intolerance? One of the ignorant bigots who feels that Christianity should
shape our laws questioned what I believe. (Because obviously, if I don’t
believe what he does, I don’t count as having beliefs)
And this is my response to the bigot,
“My beliefs don't matter here anymore than yours do.
Belief is not science, fact or law and has no place in government.
But with that said, just to placate you. I attend a church (which has roots
in several world traditions including liberal Christianity), give to charity
(time and money) volunteer in youth mentoring programs and programs that
support the arts and breast cancer research.
I do not believe in irresponsible, unprotected sex or irresponsible
reproduction. I do not believe that an adult can get informed consent from a
minor, especially if that adult is in a position of trust.
I do not believe in lying, cheating, stealing or bombing the crap out of
another country to get control of their oil.
I believe that who someone loves and chooses to build a life with in a
committed relationship is no one else’s business.
I believe that education and healthcare should be available to everyone, and
that the world would be a better place if people gave a crap about something
else other than themselves and material possessions.
I believe in personal responsibility and hard work.
I believe that people should walk their talk. (i.e.; live your
faith/morality/values by example, not be a proselytizing, hypocritical bigot
trying impose your "stuff" on others, while completely ignoring the base
message of love, peace and tolerance)
I don't need your interpretation of your book/religion/faith to tell me how
to be "moral" or "good".
/internet news rant…
So this lead nicely into the “This I believe” theme that Don started a few
I believe that there is an “energy” or “spirit” in this world that is
I believe that humankind interprets this energy or spirit in a manner that
they can understand and relate to. That would explain to me why each “god/dess”
is depicted in the image of the culture who is telling the story. (really,
what thinking person can honestly say than an innocent child born to a Hindi
family is “going to hell”?)
Yes, I believe that god/dess is created in the image of humankind, not the
other way around.
I utterly and completely believe in energy/spirit/deity/insert term of your
I’ve felt it, had it coursing through my body, and have shared it with
I have connected with spirit in a Yanduchi Youkut sweat lodge, and seen the
protective spirit during the bear dance. I have had spirit course through my
body during an earth centered ritual. I have seen the hope of new life at a
midnight mass in a Catholic church. I have felt the awesome power of nature
and been swept away by the awesome spiritual expression of gospel music.
To feel a “divine spirit/energy” is one of the most powerful things that we
can ever experience in our lives. I’ve felt it more strongly in nature than
anywhere else. No matter what your religious belief/tradition is (or lack
thereof) how could one not feel power and energy in the canyons of the
Colorado River, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Giant Sequoia forests
or the power of the ocean pounding the Northwest coast?
I have shared the energy of others in ritual where we raised and directed
energy towards a specific purpose such as healing. I have felt/sensed
manifestations of that energy in various cultural forms. This, I believe, is
how we experience “the divine” in a way that we can understand and relate to
I do not believe that any one tradition or religion holds “the truth”. I
believe that as humans, we can only do our best to interpret the divinity
and energy in the world and learn from/work with it in whatever form we can
relate to and understand, and ideally do good works with it.
I believe that fundamentalist religion of any sort does nothing but dilute
and ultimately pervert the original message and ideals. I saw a bumper
sticker the other day that said, “Who would Jesus bomb?” Good question. I
would ask fundamentalist Christians who believe in hate, bigotry and holy
wars to examine the tenants of their faith and why they would desecrate the
teachings of the savior they claim to be in service of.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Christians (only the hateful
fundamentalists, which are a sadly vocal minority). Some of my best friends
(heck, even my Mom) are Christians. (I was raised in the Methodist church
myself, and later became a Unitarian Universalist “with strong Buddhist and
pagan tendencies”) I believe that radical Muslims who kill innocent people
in suicide bombings are heinous. I think that Wiccans who berate and put
down those who do not follow their specific tradition as “fluffy”,
“willfully ignorant” and “not real” are no better than the bigoted
fundamentalists of other faiths that they want to “defend themselves
You see, for the most part, I believe that true experience of spirit is
individual. I do not believe that by being baptized, being circumcised (male
or female), being able to trace your initiatory linage to a man who created
and brought a religion (created from several “legitimate sources”) to this
country in the “ancient time” of 1956, or any other religious rite makes you
more “legitimate” than anyone else. Everyone has a right to believe in these
things, but when they use those beliefs to control and degrade others,
they’ve lost my respect. As far as I’m concerned, they are as far away from
true spirit/energy/deity as anyone could possible be.
I don’t deny anyone the right to believe and worship (or not) as they
I object to their trying to push their beliefs on others or use their
beliefs and “religion” as an excuse to attack, berate and control others.
I am privileged to know wonderful people from a diverse range of cultures
and traditions, who take their faith very seriously. I respect that. I
respect them, because they do not feel the need to push their truth on
others. Rather, they live by example and bring a unique thread to the
tapestry that is our spiritual (and mundane) life.