I have come to a conclusion that can no longer be denied publicly.
The Christian faith, as it exists today, is not a thing I want to be associated with. No longer will I refer to myself as Christian, even on forms that I fill out.
Until recently I identified, when necessary, as Catholic because I was baptized as an infant into the Catholic Church and have never found a church that was comfortable enough to make me change my mind.
The very idea of getting re-baptized during my time experimenting with North Florida churches was offensive to me; it would be an insult to the original baptism, and (in my mind) a demonstration of lack of faith in the Lord rather than a reaffirmation. Why wouldn't the original baptism "hold"? Is it because it was performed on an infant? Don't infants deserve the protection of your Lord, too? Is it because it was a Catholic baptism? I got news for you: the Catholics may be corrupt pedophiles, but they were baptizing people in the name of the Lord for hundreds of years before Martin Luther and John Calvin were gleams in their daddies' eyes. I'm pretty sure that the Lord understands the spirit behind a baptism and wouldn't judge an infant's soul based upon the life choices of the person pouring the water. There are plenty of truly good and Godly preachers who lived lives of terrible sin before finding their Lord.
I believe in Jesus Christ, but that is not the entirety of my belief system. Many of my beliefs, while evidently amenable to the Jesus that we read about in the New Testament, fly in the face of today's "establishment" Christians.
I won't get into the outliers like the Westboro Baptists. They offend everybody and, if Hell exists, that's where they are bound.
No, I refer to nearly every facet of modern Christianity, or at least its public face. The insistence upon everybody living up to their idea of morality, based on a twisted view of the Bible. Their insistence that the United States' religious freedom only applies to Christian sects. The seeming abandonment of the Golden Rule. The destructive policies of so many ostensibly Christian legislators.
So many other reasons ... when trying to list them extemporaneously, my mind goes blank. It's like trying to pick a single gnat out of a cloud in order to photograph it, and then another, and another. All of the reasons blend together. But I'll tell you a little bit about what I do believe.
Last week I freed a wasp from a spider's web. It was only stuck by its feet; the little critter probably landed there accidentally and the spider hadn't come to try to tame it. I reached for a wing, and the wasp tried to sting but couldn't twist around that far. I carefully picked it up and immediately let it go so it could fly away without needing to sting me. And that it what it did. It is exceedingly rare that I get stung, and I believe that it is because stinging insects know that I am no danger to them.
I allow spiders quite a bit of latitude both indoors and out. The way I see it, if a spider can find enough to eat, let it eat. There is one rather large spider that has made a series of webs in my living room over the past couple of months. It has moved from one corner of the room almost to the opposite end. I never see anything in its web, but it has survived.
When I tend my plants, I talk to them. Not all that uncommon, really. But I also talk to the weeds and the trees when I take a walk or a hike. I talk to the birds, the snakes and the slugs. and I have nothing but good things to say to them - at least, most of the time.
Just because a person looks "respectable" doesn't mean that they are. Some of the meanest people I have ever met didn't look like thugs, they looked like churchgoers; some of the nicest looked downright scary at first glance.
Very few among us are all good or all bad. Nothing is 100% yes or no, good or bad, black or white.
Several years ago I noticed that while watching TV shows about geology, I would wince when somebody took a hammer to a mountainside in order to break a piece off for study. "The rock is already eroding! If you break it, it will erode even faster! And that hammer had to hurt!"
Oh yes, the Earth itself has a form of awareness.
I don't believe in a single Judeo/Christian/Islamic God, nor do I believe in a Pagan panoply. On the other hand, I don't discount either as a possibility. They just seem less likely than a global consciousness. I'd like to go into greater detail but I don't want to ramble and I want to post this while I'm thinking about it.
But the next time I have to answer a question about my religious affiliation, I'll have to say, "Other". As Jefferson said, I am in a sect by myself.
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