Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I am married

It sounds weird. But I had to do it, we had to do it. It wasn’t the timing I wanted but I have learned to accept that. We wanted to make sure we took advantage of an opportunity to be legally married, before it’s possibly taken away from us by discriminatory hate mongering religious zealots who do a good job of twisting God’s words to promote intolerance, the opposite of what God would really want.

Do I believe in God? I’m not sure what to believe in. Believing in a divine being is weird; it’s pretty implausible. But here I type this on a plane and hope God helps to guide my plane to its destination safely. So I suppose I believe in the goodness of God. And I believe in the proud traditions of people who have been free to worship God, and I like and respect those traditions.

Do I fear God? No, not at all. I think that’s the problem with the majority of people. Why would you fear God? That’s powerful preacher speak to make people worry about their destiny so they’ll spend forever in church or temple donating vast sums of money to help avoid the wrath of God. It’s a form of fear mongering that plays to people’s uncertainties. It’s manipulative, but I think most Americans living lonely lives in suburbia like the power they get from being a part of something that protects them from God.

Personally, I’ll take my God unprotected. If a supreme spirit exists, it is unfathomable to me that I should fear God. That I need to speak my sins aloud to be forgiven .

Let me take a traditional view. God has done so many wonderful things, creating a beautiful world with bountiful food and an abundance of specimens that should live in harmony with one another. God has enabled us to make art and music, to talk to one another, to visit one another, to care about one another.

I try to live my life doing good things for good people, and although I’m not always successful, I think I’m pretty good, and I think a lot of other people are also here to do good things. And they do those good things without fearing God.

A child’s prayer goes, “God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.” It doesn’t go, “God should be feared and if we don’t do what the religious leader says, we will perish.” If anything, God’s greatest accomplishment is that we were given free will. Free will to do whatever we want to do and be with whomever we want, and think whatever we want to think. Free will does not come with consequences of fear.

If there is a hell, as envisioned in stories I know nothing about, surely it is for people who try to restrict other people’s free will, who try to interfere in love, who feel that their way is the only way. The Jerry Fallwells of the world, the Hassidic Rabbis, the High Priests: all of the fundamentalists who think they are right –and only they are right – are the ones who actually have it all wrong. And it’s a good thing they believe in Judgment Day: if they start now, they have an opportunity to separate themselves from archaic texts that have been misinterpreted time and time again. But they won’t. They will continue to be sheep as part of a flock that respond to their shepherd’s dog out of fear.

If there is a heaven, it is for people who respect others, afford others dignity through caring and their deeds, and spend time with others, doing peaceful work to make the world a better place. It’s for people who enjoy their lives and for those who suffer, but for people with a genuinely good, tolerant heart. That doesn’t come for people who seek God. You either have it or you don’t. People who do good, out of fear, will be very surprised when they die. And only then, when it’s really too late, will they realize they had it all wrong.

Today is Election Day in the United States. We can only hope that the good people will triumph and if they do, it may set in motion the end of the hatemongering and the fear that has been such a part of the American political landscape over the last eight years. Unfortunately, it’s not in God’s hands. If it were, I doubt there would be a Republican Party.

Before voting, think about fear combined with power and how it corrupts the soul. Vote with your heart.
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