I was in college, sitting in my American Sign Language class. In that class, there was no speaking allowed, and even if it WAS allowed, my teacher was deaf and did not speak.
A student came in late to class and stopped the class to share the story. The first plane had just hit. I watched him say what happened, and I was sure I misunderstood him. The teacher repeated it back, again in sign language, and although I understood him, it just wouldn't connect in my brain.
As a class, we all left and found a TV in the hallway and watched the news in silence.
Even with the words in English, and the pictures in front of me, I still could barely believe what I was watching. As the day progressed, and we learned it was an act of terrorism, my heart broke. How could anyone devalue life so much as to kill so many innocent people? How could the terrorists possibly believe they were following God?
Fast forward eight years (to two years ago).
I was reading a book on government that quoted Ezra Taft Benson.
"Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of man kind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own… The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional ‘do-gooder,’ who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others—with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.”I am not sure the context that ETB meant this quote in... Here's what I saw:
(The Proper Role of Government, Ezra T. Benson)
The person that THINKS he is a God, or believes he speaks for God, will do far more damage than anyone else on the planet. Think of all the wars fought over who's God is the right God. Think of the crusades. Think of Hitler. Think of bin Ladin. Then think about the abuses that are closer to home. Think of the men who treat their wives and children as possessions. Think of the wives who are constantly criticizing and controlling their husbands. Think of the way the GLBT community is being treated today, or the way black people have been (and still are) treated. Think of the roles of women. Think of the roles of men. Think of the bishops, stake presidents, or even general authorities who believe they speak for God and give HORRIBLE advice.
When I read that quote, I was pretty much out of the church. I was out of EVERY church. (It appears, I suddenly became a Deist. I believe in God, but not in religion.)
I don't believe God is a controlling God - all of the commandments and rules and laws that people believe came from God came from another man. A man who wanted to control other people. (I do believe that some of the commandments are good suggestions, but not even the truest of believers believe that any of the commandments apply all of the time.)
What better way to control people than to make them believe you speak for God and can offer them salvation above what any other man can offer them? What would YOU be willing to do for salvation? If you just believed it was real, would you steal? Lie? Stay in a relationship that was abusive? Suicide? Make slurs against others because they don't live the way you think they should? Make laws that don't allow others the same rights you enjoy? Marry another man's wife? Murder? Mass murder?
A few months ago, I started reading from Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. Did you know he was a Christian? Did you know he believed he was doing not only God's will, but Christ's as well? I was always taught he was on a quest for power, but that is not what HE believed. He thought he was doing God's work by killing so many. And the Allied leaders believed they were doing the work of God by taking Hitler and Nazi-Germany down. Who was right?
I understand some will not see how the dots are connected. They will say:
"But our church is different. We have God on our side. Hitler just THOUGHT he had God on his side. We really do."
or maybe, "But our church doesn't hurt people. We teach good things."
The church might teach some things that are good, but they also teach things that are very VERY harmful. To couple false teachings with the words, "God said" only leads to suffering. A lot of suffering. How can you argue with someone who says, "God said"? And especially if you believe the church is what it claims to be, and it gives the authority to speak for God to mere men...
What makes this difficult is that I believe in God. I believe in following the divine within. I believe that each of us has to find our own path, and the only way to do that is to search and walk and do what feels right.
So how is it that I hate what "God's followers" do and I still want to be one?
I'm having a hard time writing what I want to say, because I'm trying so hard not to offend. I'm trying so hard to say it in a way that will be understood. I guess I'll just leave at this for now, and maybe I'll try again later... In the meantime, what are your thoughts?
So how is it that I hate what "God's followers" do and I still want to be one?ReplyDelete
I think you can be a follower of God and follow His call for unconditional love and forgiveness. Where I see hatred and violence in God's name crop up is when people start putting their own (or what they believe to be God's) limits on love and forgiveness.
This is a great post; I hope you don't mind that I shared it on my blog's Facebook page.
Yes, yes, yes!!ReplyDelete
Jessica - I loved your post on limits. I really like the idea of the center point. I think that is a very effective place to come from.ReplyDelete
And of course I don't mind. Thanks for sharing!
Sophia - :) Thanks!
I like your thoughts.ReplyDelete
And agree it is very dangerous to claim to speak for God. And I don't think I'd take someones word on it. Like if they same "God told me that I should marry you."
I don't think that Jesus came to this earth to give us laws, but to give us freedom.
Prairie - Thank you! Hi!!ReplyDelete
Yeti - Thanks. I agree. Christ's teachings were far more about love and acceptance and freedom than about laws. One of my favorite movies is St. Ralph, and one of my favorite quotes is, "As far as anarchists go, Nietche (sp?) had nothing on Christ."
The world is far more simple than most of us can understand. Thanks for visiting!
I have been thinking a lot about your post since I read it last month.ReplyDelete
Yes, a lot of people can say that they follow God, but then do unspeakable things, like Hitler. Like people who abuse others. Like people who hurt children, etc.
For me, the thing that helps with this is to ask myself, "What is the fruit of what these people do?" If I say I am doing something because it "comes of God" and it helps people, brings people closer together, brings love, is kind, gentle and entreating, then that is a good measuring stick that it is something good, and comes from God.
If I say I am doing something because it "comes from God" and it hurts people, hurts relationships, brings darkness and suffering, then, again, to me that is a good measuring stick that it does NOT come from God.
I sincerely believe in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. And, I sincerely believe that They are good and emanate all that is good. I believe that They embody light, love and truth. If what people "say or do" takes me to that light, love, and truth, then, for me, it is "something good."
Love and respect, always. :)
CMC (duck :) - Thank you for coming back and sharing your thoughts. I agree that God is light and love and beauty, and that is worth following.ReplyDelete
One of the things I was struggling with is the way religious leaders take advantage of the power they have by saying they speak for God.
I am also aware that things that are really harmful to ME are not so harmful to others. I'm trying to think of things, but the only thing I can come up with are lessons on service. I took the idea of giving everything of myself quite literally. To someone who is very focused on themselves, a lesson on service might be really helpful every once in a while.
Each of us are here. We find our own way. Something that works for me and is good for me, won't work for everyone or be good for everyone. Which is why I have such a hard time with organized religion... It tries to paint with a broad brush and puts everyone in the same category... Does that make sense?
Thank you again for your thoughts. <3
Yes, Jen. That makes perfect sense. :)ReplyDelete
And, thank you for commenting about my comment.
I agree with you about how disturbing it is and can be, for "spiritual" (and others, such as Hitler, etc.) leaders to take "advantage" by saying that what they say comes directly from God. In fact, that is one of THE singular things that sends my blood pressure to 300 in about a second and sets of the desire of violence against those said persons/ institutions. I DESPISE that with everything in me.
I hope you are doing well. Wishing you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings. ;)
Love and respect, always. Duck