Saturday, May 16, 2009

True Belief

Emotions and idealism. A combo that could be wonderful or troublesome. The energy of Aquarius works through the lens of our darker personalities, those secret selves that we keep hidden from the rest of the world. The line between hope and fear is so blurred and interconnected that it becomes difficult to separate the two. We'll see reactions that are rooted in the way we think things should be rather than the way things are.

A friend of mine, who I've always admired for his faith and spirituality, recently wrote a note regarding faith and religion that I found fascinating. He writes:

"Has anyone gotten the feeling of their religion isn't really holding up to what it promised you in life?? I've been like that recently. All of the politics, hierarchy, and bureaucracy within the church is very sickening to me. Plus, another thing, who want to worship in a religion where the priests, pastors, and ministers tell you that you HAVE to do this or you are going to hell, or you won't get to heaven very easily that way.? How can an all-Loving God damn a person to hell?? Its unthinkable-- unfathomable!! Has anyone noticed how God changed from the Old Testament as a wrathful and jealous God, to the New Testament as a peaceful and loving God?? Yet the Bible says that God is neverchanging. I don't know how to take this information... The Bible is almost a book of contradictions... so can you blame me for being confused??"

An excellent point and worthy of an idealistic view of life falling short. Many people look to religion to explain, to relive the confusion, and offer comfort. When the base of a religion is so contradictory, it can be difficult for followers to draw comfort. Often, it's the rigidity of religion, the rules, that enable the loyalty. After all, children seek structure and though the allusion is unflattering, people do turn to religion out of hope and fear.

There are some wonderful things that religions of varying degrees and cultures have to offer. If there weren't, they wouldn't survive as long as they have. Yet faith is a very personal thing. People who share religions may not share exactly the same faith. Life experiences change the views slightly. Life is subjective, and though religion is supposed to be objective, the faith that accompanies it is not. We view religion through our own lens, just as Aquarius is being filtered through the moon, the most intensely personal of all planets. We are each individuals and explore faith in widely varied ways.

My friend goes on to say,

"Variety is the spice of life, and what better way to explore other beliefs than to actually experience them yourself! Besides, Life is about exploring different possibilities. As some of my Christian friends told me, every religion has some truth to it-- its just some believe they have more of the real truth than the other. I am going to do some exploring and find other great truths that I can find."

What a great suggestion. I grew up with Jewish heritage, but do my ideals and beliefs really represent Judaism? I wanted to find out, so I sought out a quiz online. I found one test that would ask questions and based on the answers would show how closely the beliefs aligned with various religions. My answers were as follows:

1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
2. New Age (96%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (93%)
4. Mahayana Buddhism (88%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (76%)
6. Liberal Quakers (73%)
7. New Thought (72%)
8. Secular Humanism (69%)
9. Scientology (69%)
10. Taoism (66%)
11. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (64%)
12. Hinduism (55%)
13. Reform Judaism (55%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (54%)
15. Nontheist (49%)
16. Jainism (46%)
17. Orthodox Quaker (45%)
18. Sikhism (43%)
19. Baha'i Faith (33%)
20. Orthodox Judaism (30%)
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (21%)
22. Islam (19%)
23. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (16%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (15%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (7%)
26. Roman Catholic (7%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (4%)

How interesting to find that my own beliefs did not align so easily with the traditions that I grew up with. Out of 27 choices, Judaism show up halfway down the list. While the test is hardly perfect, it certainly shows a fascinating interpretation of ideas. So as my friend suggests, perhaps it's time to look around and see what the world (not just religion) has to offer. We can develop more ideas. As Chris Rock says in Dogma, it's better to have ideas than beliefs.

Religion is widespread, but faith is personal. Go exploring. You never know what you may discover.


  1. Religion's a sticky topic to tackle - I enjoyed your piece, Jared - and taking that test. I came out as 100% Secular Humanist..... I was, once upon a time, loyal to the Church of England (protestant), but no more. The test was accurate, I think - apart from 7% of Jehovah's Witness in me - wonder where that came from!!

  2. Thank you, Twilight! Glad you stopped by. 7% JH, huh? Ah well; it's somewhat accurate for me too, but some of it was surprising. I think religion is a fascinating subject, but from an attempted objective point of view, and definitely sticky. I like exploring, though. :)