Tuesday, May 23, 2017
I don't really believe in God. I don't really disbelieve either; I'm not an Atheist, nor is my belief (or lack thereof) formal enough for me to consider myself an Agnostic. I don't question the existence of God so much as I remain unconvinced either way. I don't know. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it: I don't know.
Technically, I'm still a Catholic, I guess. I was raised Catholic, confirmed Catholic, and attended Catholic services for years. But I don't go to the meetings anymore, and I don't pay my membership dues. I attend Christmas mass, with my Jewish wife and Jewish daughter, because it's something we've always liked to do on Christmas Eve. I respect the Church. I am no longer a part of it.
I respect your faith. Because, I don't know, you may be right. The Christians may be right. The Jews may be right. The Muslims may be right. The Wiccans, the Buddhists, the Atheists? I don't know. Maybe Corporal Klinger was right, in the spec M*A*S*H TV outline I concocted for a Radio And TV Writing course in college, as Klinger's quest to be dismissed from the army as a crazy person led him to fabricate a religion based on the divinity of The Lone Ranger. Hi-Ho Silver, Hallelujah!
Okay. That last one is not right. The others? I don't know. Neither do you.
And it's okay if you believe in something that can't be proven. That's why it's called faith. You may be secure in your belief system to the point that you take it as fact, as...well, Gospel. I have no problem with that. Your beliefs are yours to embrace, yours to proclaim, yours to accept as truth. Faith. Faith is not a sin. It only becomes a sin when it is forced upon others. It becomes evil when believers kill on its behalf.
I have attended many Christian services over a span of decades, mostly Catholic, some Protestant. I have attended a number of Jewish services. I recently attended my first Muslim service, a funeral at The Islamic Society Of Central New York. I confess (har!) that there have been a few occasions when a priest or preacher said something from his pulpit that pissed me off, but even the worst of them never struck me as a murderer. More often than not, the Christian services I've experienced have been celebrations of love and hope. The Jewish services I've experienced have been celebrations of love and hope. My sole Muslim service experience was a celebration of love and hope. Religion isn't evil.
But religion is often used as a cloak for unspeakable evil. No God--no God--sanctions the slaughter of innocents. This I do know. Zealots--mortal zealots--pervert what they think is The Sacred Word, and use it as license to commit heinous acts that will condemn them to damnation eternal, as the God they worshiped looks on sadly, and says, How could you so misunderstand my command to love?
I believe in love. I believe in a spiritual bond that connects us all, without silly regard for our many differences. I believe we can be better. I believe that hatred is strong, and I concede that hatred will win many battles and we will have cause to question our faith. But I believe love will prevail.
When will love prevail? I don't know.