I have spent the past few years as an observer to the polar-opposite beliefs of Christians and Atheists. Each side trying to convince the other of the legitimacy of their belief.
As one brought up a Christian I moved through a position of taught and accepted belief to a questioning curiosity of those taught beliefs to if there is a God it’s not God as I was taught but an inclusive and forgiving entity that I call Love (without any conditions at all – obvs!).
That belief troubles some.
Love is never enough I am told (even though each sacred text says it is). Because, just as with a belief or disbelief in a God we have distorted to work for us – so too we distort “Love” to make it work for us. We make everything *transactional. And with transactional comes investment and return on that investment. That works with my bank account, my job and salary, my learning a new skill, and the myriad of “life choices” I make each day. But Love is none of these. Nor is Love “just” a sequence of chemicals and electrical impulses. It may be that science can explain the raw materials I am gifted as a living being, but it cannot explain for me how Love never gives up on anyone – least of all myself!
I have been taught my whole life my place in life. Firstly as a baby where there were no rules, then as a toddler where there were rules, then as a young man where the rules had to be those I took on board as my “values”, then as an adult where the “legal penalties” of breaking the rules were added to the infinite number of accumulated Rules of Living. Threaded throughout is “ethics and morality” which are not “rules” but rules all the same. An expected personal and cultural right/wrong way of applying a “rule” where a rule does (or does not) cover that exact circumstance.
And there it gets murky.
As a Christian ones turns the other cheek (transaction and investment-reward). As an Atheist that makes Christians easy pickings (ditto). I see Muslims persecute Christians, and Christians persecute Muslims – see every faith somewhere persecute another faith in the name of “God”. Which is why “morals and ethics” become very blurred and why I think we so easily accept a mainstream “belief” we can belong to – rather than end up questioning each (and belonging to none). Mainstream belief needs compromise – and Love does not “need”.
Which is why “Love” becomes transactional. Giving me to you for nothing is weakness – and who in their right mind wants to “belong” to that club?.
So “belonging” – needs transaction – needs investment. My “reward” is community, recognition and esteem. And that often come above Love without condition.
I see that in racism, religious enmity, economic class division, countries rated as 1st – 3rd world, and generally where any “difference” is seen (and abused) as a “weakness” (to those not of that “difference”).
Yesterday I scanned a Facebook thread initiated by one comment. The comment was under a post by the UK Prime Minister using Facebook (as another Leader uses Twitter). The comment was a simple short observation by one ordinary person: that our individual behaviour-choices was why the Coronavirus is spreading again so quickly.
There was upwards of 400 antagonistic dismissive and insulting responses. Mostly “shut up you stupid-ignorant-brainwashed-believe anything” person. Some of: “there is no virus” … “this is a global conspiracy” … “no one is dying” … “the hospitals aren’t full of Covid patients”. And then this: “I haven’t changed my behaviour at all, and all my family and friends are okay – even those I don’t like are all all okay”. Just like those who brag they stay safe only by carrying a gun. Which is conclusive evidence one must carry a gun.
Hello – I have never owned or carried a gun my entire life and I am as safe as you.
We find “facts” to support our choice of beliefs – rarely the other way around.
All my life I have believed in something that those who “believe in science” told me was untrue: “There is no God there never was a God and there never will be a God.” Always with the taunt: “Prove it – prove your God to me to my personal scientific satisfaction!”
And now I see the same certainty flipped on its head: “There is no virus there never was a virus and there never will be a virus. Prove it – prove your “virus” to my own personal cocktail of non-science beliefs.”
When it comes to belief “logic” doesn’t work. Belief weaves a web of evidence to support something another person will dismiss as having no merit at all. It is why I keep coming back to Love (without condition).
Health Warning: my belief carries the same personal cocktail as any other belief.
Where transaction does not exist. Where science is not the deciding factor nor religious (or secular) belief either. Love that transcends death and embroiders life and living with threads of gold-dust. Love that has the power to make a second last forever and forever last a second. Love that is rather than does – but does because it is. Love that changes me without ever asking you to change – but often finds you changing anyway because you are always safe. Love that is blind to all the labels and markers and boundaries we impose upon each other and ourselves.
Love that cares not for what you believe – but for who you are right now. Love that can withstand the impossible – and heal impossibly easily. Love that can never be “with conditions” – or else is not love at all. Love that frees each of us to choose whether to stay or go. Love that empowers us to stay or go by offering that freedom. Love that can read a thread on Facebook and need nothing at all. Not even the addition of a comment.
Having seen how “facts” from all sides are simply created (and trashed) as suits each of us … I think Love is the answer always.
(If I allow)
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I see Muslims persecute Christians, and Christians persecute Muslims – see every faith somewhere persecute another faith in the name of “God”.
I would disagree with you on this. These are people, and they have been around for several millennia, that don’t really follow their faith but, rather, use faith as a means to validate their hatred. I see them as the minority in their respective belief systems, much as radicals in any group be it sexual, racial, religious, or whatever grouping you can devise.
I have seen Muslims come to the side of Jews after a terroistic attack. We have a Messianic Jewish church/temple share their place of worship with a Methodist group. Every year the local Scouting contingent hosts a Jewish holy season (Lag BaOmer) wherein Muslim and Christian leaders attend and speak of their beliefs, common grounds, and differences. A local Catholic university hosts a colloquium where speakers (and attendees) have been from every “God” centered religion: Jew, Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant.
These are the true followers of their faiths, not the usurpers who use religion rather than follow it.
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As always your words add so much, thank you.
From the outside I am not so confident of your confidence. The labels make a great headline and no end of whatever “faith-full” in front of the camera will offer a confident on-message reply.
I remember volunteering for a winter night shelter one year – run and funded by a string of local churches (in partnership with a locally funded charity). For six months each church provided was one night every week food, shelter, clothes, personal hygiene stuff as well as beds and bedding. I asked why I had never seen anything in the local news and there was no answer. Just as with your examples, there is good stuff – but rarely does it merit any public discussion.
So whether “true” or “untrue” followers makes little difference when the public message is “brand” rather than Love without condition.