So, let me start out by saying I do not identify with a particular religion. No I am not a satanist nor do I believe religion is wrong. I just can’t choose one. Kind of like the kid in Life of Pi. I love that movie.
What sparked the idea for this particular blog post was a conversation I had with one of my newer Co-workers at my pizza job. He must’ve heard I worked at a church so he approached me in a friendly manner and said he’d heard that I was a Christian and looked as if he was going to proceed with a conversation about it. I had to say something, it felt wrong so I told him I wasn’t, I said “honestly I don’t really have a religion”. Immediately he was needed for something by another Co-worker, so I proceeded to set the timer on the dough proofer. I felt weird, like I needed to back that statement up with some sort of explanation for my response. I found myself thinking later why I cared so much, I guess I just didn’t want people to see me for someone I wasn’t. I did not want him to think I worshipped the devil, because I don’t, or think that I was a hippocrit for working in a church. So I approached him at a slower time and explained my statement. I told him I believe in God and I believe in Jesus and his good values, but I also believe in things that conflict with some religions but are widely accepted in others. So I have a hard time identifying with just one and he understood, hopefully.
In the 9th grade we read a book about Siddartha Gautama aka Buddha and I decided I wanted to be a Buddhist. In the 11th grade I became good friends with this girl who is Muslim and later on down the road we went to her house to eat and I learned alot more about how she lived. We ate this delicious meal made with this pasta-like food and goat meat. I like goat, alot. She seemed almost embarrased at first when she told me how her mom and brothers go get the goat and how they slaughter them. She told me about Halal, and everything she was saying made complete sense. I have always believed in respecting the animals I eat. Although there is some controversy about Halal slaughter, I personally believe the animals we eat should be respected but also comfortable. Halal is good because the animal never have to suffer the stress is up a slaughterhouse but s not done with a sharp blade there can be some discomfort and that’s the part that conflict with me a little. But just because it’s my belief doesn’t mean I cannot be respectful and learn. I feel that’s how we need to approach religion. When she saw my acceptance and enthusiasm to learn more about her lifestyle we proceeded to talk for several hours about being Muslim and I..yes you guessed it, wanted to commit to Islam. I didn’t, but I continued to learn more about it and was even present when she did Salat, I really enjoy learning about all kinds of people as well as their religion.
The downside is, I’ve seen and understand the horrors that some things from religion can bring. I have seen happy and beautiful couples not be able to elope because of their genders and sexual orientations, both of which they were born with and didn’t choose. They love who they love, and that’s that. It angers me that couples who beat on each other, use each other, are arranged, or doing it for the wrong reasons and can get married because of something so irrelevant as gender, but people who truly love each other can’t due to the same reason. And why is it that marriage is practiced among many religions but gay marriage is prohibited because it goes against Gods word. Well what about the people who don’t live by God’s word but get married anyways? And why is it that that particular rule of marriage, that’s based off Christianity, applies to everyone in a giant melting pot of backgrounds and religions? I think about these kinds of things all the time, and I know.I am not the only one.
I do not see this as a bad thing, in fact I attribute this to my upbringing. My mother never really guided me when it came to religion except to believe in what truly resonates with me. I mean, I went to Interfaith camp, twice. But I am glad I did! The first time I was at camp was 2009 and it was one of the most confusing weeks of my life! We attended sessions to learn about different religions. I changed my mind 3 times about the religion I fit best with but I ended up choosing Buddhism and Islam and decided there’s a way I can make that work. I was 13 and I did not see any limitations when it came to what I believe in, there shouldn’t be because It’s what I believe. The second time I attended in 2011 I was already aquainted with the idea that I just don’t have a religion. I found it alot easier to just learn and accept rather then try to categorize myself. I was more involved in the other kids and learning how their religions go with their lives. I even participated in Shabbat, which is the day of rest for Jewish people. It was alot of fun to experience something like that.
Categorizing people is something I truly despise because it makes easier for others to discriminate. If we’re finding these boxes to put people into and these ways to group them, were only making it easier for hate and stereotypes to develop. Being competitive is a part of human nature and there’s always people who will think their group is better and deserves more because of their skin tone or financial status or choice of deitie(s). There will always be inequality as long as we’re broadcasting the differences between people as a negative thing. For example, If you’re a Christian but you go up to Muslim and tell them they need to be saved in order to skip on hell because that’s what you believe, or you’re Muslim and approach a Buddhist and say that their religion makes no sense, or here’s the big one NOT ALLOWING PEOPLE TO MARRY EACHOTHER are just as bad as a racial slurs in my opinion! And I see it happen all the time. But religion is such a touchy thing that I don’t see much done about it when it does happen.
I am glad my mother taught me not to just go with something that I don’t agree with just because it lies in the values of my religion. I am so grateful for this. Growing up, I attended many different types of gatherings for different religious backgrounds. In turn I found beauty in many different religions and learned a lot about different people by being around them and hearing about what they belive in. I found truth and love from many and it caused me to be really open minded and always respectful to everyone’s beliefs, unless it can cause serious. harm to others.
I love my church, I have met the nicest people and the greatest kids there. I listen to the sermons from the nursery and have never felt uncomfortable or out of place just because I am not particularly a Lutheran. They are all very inclusive and accepting to all shapes, sizes, skin tones, sexual orientations, and ages. They take pride in this and as a result everyone is really awesome. Like I mentioned before I believe in a Higher Power and Jesus and I have to problem reading to the children about the great things Jesus has done, singing songs and teaching them to love everyone. The children never ask about my particular religion and it’s not my place to explain all of that to them. So we just dont, and it’s never an issue. For this, I am thankful. I love my life, my jobs and the church.