Religion, faith, belief or, whatever we want to call it, well, it needs looking at again don’t you think?
“In the Beginning”
Well, I guess different faith system believe different versions of ‘the beginning’ but, even so, it seems a good place to start!
In the belief system I was thrown into as a child it was all very simple. It was never discussed, it was always these absolute facts:
God created man, man got bored so he created woman. Woman was weak and easily influenced and did the only thing God had, for reasons no one can fathom, told them not to do so, God cast them out.
Sure, that’s not quite any text I have read but then, let’s get something very clear here just adopting a little logic shall we. God did not write the Old Testament, neither did Adam and neither did Eve so, someone who was, without any doubt whatsoever, not there, did write it, indeed, several different people.
So, who wrote the early bible?
Safe to say, it was not the kids of Adam and Eve, shall we ignore the elephant in the room (except there were no elephants), the obvious somewhat weird relationship between Adam and Eve. Let’s take that a little further shall we, their kids, Cain, Abel & Seth, all guys. Adam and Eve supposedly lived 900 years, again, somewhat strange as no dating system yet existed. Yet, in those 900 years not one mention of you know, a girl. Had they a daughter then one of the other three, if not all of them, would have needed to have sex with her to begat the spawn of the planet and, if not their sister, their mother? I think we can say from all biblical references with the exception of Jesus, there were no virgin births and yet, pretty soon we had a heavily populated planet full of a lot of very bad people with the exception of Noah and his family. That God (or maybe not) that the incest had stopped by this time.
So, we have already established that really, the story of the creation was, for a very long time indeed, passed down through the generations and we are all aware of how well that works out for accuracy which brings into question a great deal of detail. But, this is what I was taught as absolute fact which cannot be questioned, indeed, I remember trying to a silenced room and then told not to question the word of God … except, it wasn’t the word of God. Way back I established that ‘God’ did not write it any more than he is writing this or, maybe he is, he works in mysterious ways.
On that note, one thing we are all taught as Christians is, The Lords Prayer which starts with this line:
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name
There we go, right there. We actually have no accurate record of God’s name, it certainly isn’t ‘God’ so, huge fail there. When were we given this because, sure as night as day, it was at a time when we surely knew the name of God? Jesus gave it to us so, in historical and literary terms, quite recently. So inaccurate were the writings of the New Testament, let alone the old, it was never mentioned, nothing, the name of God totally lost in time, the one thing Jesus told us to be hallowed about, we were meant to honour that name and there it was, Gone and the best we can do is to guess at it.
Interpretation or translation, take your pick
Much if not all of ‘the Bible’ was written in Hebrew, I am not an expert here and confess, some of it could have been written in Greek or, indeed, Italian or Latin, lots of different people had a hand in it.
Even if we accepted it was just written in a language we do not understand as, indeed, the way it was written really is very difficult to translate with any efficient accuracy. Even if we accept it had to be translated, how much can we trust those who translated it. Indeed, it’s rarely said to be translated but more, interpreted.
So, what’s wrong with interpretation?
It carries bias whether intentioned or not. For example, have you ever been in an art gallery and watched some ‘experts’ talking. They will say things, about a painting done hundreds of years ago, what the artist was ‘thinking’. That is an interpretation based on their own take on what they have seen or heard. This might not be an issue except that we are told we have to follow the Bible to the letter. But, what if the interpretation was just wrong? Not intentional, they just presumed it could mean one thing but it actually meant something else. The trouble is, the beliefs of the day will have clouded what they were have thought was meant.
Is man sleeping with man as though with woman to mean a homosexual relationship? To many, of course, yes it does. Could it not mean something else though if we knew more about how they lived back then.
It was very much stated in a military context whereby men were having sex with each other not because they were homosexual but because they were horny and any port will do in a storm. What the passage was actually doing was telling civilians that they were better offering them up their underage daughters rather than making them do what was unnatural to them. Clearly there is something very questionable about selling off a mere female child to a bunch of soldiers but, this is what they believed was the right thing to do back then. From that interpretation, the whole notion that the author was attacking homosexuality is just incorrect. Much the shame as eating shell fish (I just had some prawns so I should clearly be put to death). Mixed fibres, working on the Sabbath (depending what you follow that is either Saturday or Sunday so difficult to know who should be stoned there)
So, we had all that Old Testament stuff and much of it was really helpful at a time when coming up with any rule based system was problematic. Along comes ‘Jesus’ (Maybe not his real name, see accuracy of writing above), and he effectively acknowledged how useful it was but rather taught that his followers were now meant to follow his lead, he alone spoke for his father ‘God’ so, his words and his words alone were the direct words of God. As we established previously, very little in the Old Testament writings was said to be directly from God, yes, thank you Moses, I’ve not forgotten you’re part in this.
Since the coming of Jesus religious groups have been really busy.
The Jews argue that actually, Jesus was nothing special, a profit at best. The Muslims rather went with Allah, Latter Day Saints, John Smith other religions just going way out there doing whatever. The Catholics, bless them, still proclaim to have a direct link with God and claim to speak for him and, only they can rewrite the bible or add addendums to it because it was what God wanted them to do. The Church of England only exists because Henry VIII of England couldn’t get his own way and divorce his first wife.
Now, we can each individually decide which faith groups have it right and which wrong, I’d argue, most of them, the majority and the largest of them, have it wrong.
Who is right?
Effectively, no one can claim to be absolutely right and those who do must be absolutely wrong because, quite simply put, they were not there.
What most of these people taught us, add Jesus and Allah in there (Not sure what the Jews are holding onto to), both of those spoke of peace, love, understand, respect and so on.
Neither wrote anything, to my knowledge, about having to have strong religious leaders dictating to ‘their’ followers how they ‘must’ live their lives.
Jesus really gave people one simple choice, follow him and his way of thinking and, it’s all cool, you will be rewarded. He may or may not have mentioned heaven, that actually really doesn’t much matter. For Jesus, doing the right thing was the reward in of itself. Imagine if you had the power in yourself to improve the life of someone else, isn’t there a huge emotional reward in that? I know there is because of all those videos on TikTok showing people doing it and how many likes they get so … lots of people instinctively know that. It is this knowing which means we ‘get’ it.
Do we get it if we are mean to people all week then go to Church on Sunday, say a few prayers and go home ready to start another week of being mean? I think not.
So, what of going to church?
Back to interpretation again. Whoever said that ‘church’ was a building or needed someone wearing a dress at the front telling us what to do?
Have you ever just been out some time and suddenly you look around and everything is just perfect? That is the church of God, that is where you will find the meaning of the whole faith thing.
Take this, just a road. But look beyond, all that crisp whiteness, a perfect high cloud sky, that’s perfection right there, see beyond the barriers.
The classic sunset, trail lights from planes carrying people living their dreams, that’s the church right there
Water, all over the place providing and sustaining life, that’s where the church is, that is where we find our spiritual leader.
We can find the true meaning of religion all around us if we just look and this is what was trying to be conveyed over the thousands of years since anyone tried to tell anyone else. Stop, look, feel and understand. When you feel that magic, share it.
How has religion been corrupted?
Church of England: Only started so that one man could go back on a promise he made to someone. Several hundred years later it is ruled by an adulterer who married the woman he was having sex with whilst married, that’s not idle gossip, it’s the truth. But, at least I am free to say that.
Catholic Church, they’ve added so many things to what their followers must and must not do as though they are the direct orders of God, most of those things go against what Jesus taught. They are also, as are other faiths, about any part of the Old Testament they feel doesn’t need to be followed and which does. They do not know, God does not directly speak to them or any part of their faith but they force their followers to believe it or be cast out. They have a huge wealth whilst people around the world starve to death. Their Pope makes is very clear he believes that homosexuality is a sin because those who the Catholic church chose to interpret the scriptures were told to latch onto anything which divided and weakened. Let us not be under any delusions here, to control people you must threaten them and weaken them, create division and force them to choose. Is this the art of a loving faith in line with the actual words of Jesus who said nothing about homosexuality, nothing about men being superior and so on. But, at least I am free to say that.
Muslims, That is about as much as I dare write about them, that certainly should not be right from any faith group?
Jews, Likewise, we are not allowed to say they do anything at all wrong, it’s just strictly not allowed. Anything they do has to be right, it cannot be reported otherwise, indeed, their belief system is classed by many as a ‘race’, a state which cannot be disagreed with. The holocaust only happened to them, not to the gays, to the disabled, to the Polish or, indeed, anyone Hitler chose to get rid of yet, it has to be seen as a Jewish thing, one only the Jews were victims of, they managed to get their own country on the strength of it! Crazy stuff. But, at least I am free to say that. though I will be condemned as wrong because, this is the way for some reason.
It’s an old cliché but
Why can we not all get along?
Religion stops us, we have to be right in our own faiths because that is what the leaders of those faiths tells us, only ‘we’ are right and ‘they’ are wrong. What if there was no ‘us’ but just ‘we’? Wouldn’t that make for a better place? Just people being kind, showing the love, getting along.
It’ll never happen.