Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Tag: Religion

Jesus

Losing her religion

First published on Purple Clover.

I have no doubt I helped destroy my daughter’s faith in God, although I still believe.

As Tina grew up, my higher power shifted from a His Will Be Done Christian to a genderless “divine force in the universe” with good intentions and a wry sense of humor. It’s pretty hard for kids to grab on to God when God is radiant healing energy crossed with Mother Theresa and George Carlin.

Tina insists losing religion isn’t my fault, that she started questioning back in middle school. She tells me not to worry, that she finds hope and comfort knowing she can “question everything in the universe” and then sit back and “consider the infinite possibilities.”

Wonder is her worship now, and I’m thrilled she has the same unquenchable awe I had at her age. But when Tina told me she didn’t believe in God anymore I was heartbroken. I felt like I’d stolen something from her, like I gradually chipped away at her faith until she had nothing left but skepticism…

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This Pope is dope

Of the people, for the people

Of the people, for the people

dope  adj. cool, nice, awesome

 

Title too flip for the highest Catholic?

Just wait, some hip-hopper will pen a positive rap about Pope Francis.  He’s street. He’s of the people, all people. At least in tone, because when I stop swooning and take a look, his policies on church law haven’t changed.

The Pope hasn’t reversed a single issue, birth control, abortion, same-sex marriage, women in the priesthood or divorce (minus his recent change to the annulment process to make it more convenient and less costly) but his soft radically loving tone almost convinces me he has — or that the church will one day.

The Pope even has a receptive audience with some who think God is a hoax.  (“15 Surprising Things Atheists Are Saying about Pope Francis”). 

As an atheist (not speaking for all of them), I’m a huge fan of this pope. I think people need to find their own reason to be good to others. For some, it is god (whichever flavor he/she/it may be). Others find that they want to be good for other reasons. I’m just glad that the big C found a leader willing to try his best to not just preach to his crowd, but try to show them how. ~ Anonymous

Religion skeptics read this Pope as an empathetic listener rather than a sanctimonious hand-slapper.  He says come one come all, embrace each other especially the least among us and in a Christian Nation, atheists are by the denomination pie, one of the least among us.

His language is careful and loving. He doesn’t ask how dare you dis the Vatican?  His focus is instead on workable solutions for the poor, the uneducated, the disenfranchised, the ostracized, the misunderstood.

If he scolds it’s to ask, why we ignore so many poor?

Pope Francis

In other words, he sounds like Jesus.

Every Pope has a big following but this one has a gift of gently coaxing people into self-reflection, into relying on one’s conscience to guide our actions.

This is as impressive as walking on water.

The world likes Pope Francis.  And when we like someone to show respect, we consider their point of view, even as we vote against it.

Pope Francis is making unlikely friendships. 

I don’t agree with many of the Catholic laws (I was Methodist now I’m Unitarian Universalist) but I admire Pope Francis for cutting through the pomp and hierarchy and for avoiding divisive language.

He reminds us he’s human, and so he’s not closer to God than you or me or the atheist (should he/she ever want God proximity).

On gay priests Pope Francis said, “Who am I to judge?” Seems a few religion cynics might be saying the same thing about him.

If we get down to it, Pope Francis hasn’t changed his stand on church laws. “The pope has often delivered popular comments on unpopular church policies that sound like realized reforms. But so far no alterations of doctrine have taken place; widespread impressions that the rules have changed haven’t matched reality.” New York Times, Op-Ed. “The Pope, Catholics and Birth Control.”

He is, though, changing how people talk about views in opposition to church doctrine so I listen, and then I hold out hope for future reform.

The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths – Sheldon Vanauken 

Pope Francis

 

 
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Jesus and Jello. Why I liked my religious buffet growing up.

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Image credit: Wikipedia  

Excerpted from my essay “Jesus and Jello”

I was raised with a la carte religion, a buffet line of a little bit here, a little bit there, mostly Methodist with a dash of Presbyterian. From time to time my mother brought my sister and I to our local church’s Sunday school or services while my father read the Sunday Times and kindly shrugged off our efforts at faith (At least as far as I knew, they could have been quietly dueling Kids Need God vs. Why Bother?).

I don’t remember feeling pressure from my mother or the church that I’d rot in any version of Hell or from my agnostic father that belief was pure nonsense. The most I remember of my father’s view about God was benign indifference with a hint of “Hey if that’s your thing, have at it.” What I perceived of God was my own mish mash of “That nice guy Jesus might have a point,” thinking I was something special to play an angel in our Christmas play, watching sweaty evangelists on TV who looked more feverish and angry than settled and divine, and my own supernatural superstition.

When I was about eight or nine I prayed in bed every night. Eyes closed I chanted silently words that warned me that at any moment darkness could turn to death even for the little ones, a sort of self-propelled ghost tale of comfort and discomfort, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray my Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”

I prayed to ward off worry that God might be extra busy or angry that night and forget to handle with grand decency, the dead girl at 6 Prospect Street who forgot to pray at 9:06 on April 4th, 1974. Around the same time I avoided cracked mirrors, ladders, black cats and without thinking I lifted my feet as our car passed over railroad tracks and then I made a wish. God for me was about performing lucky charm OCD rituals and if I forgot any of them, He’d lower the boom.

As a sprouting seeker, back then God needed to be tangible in my hands and as far as I could tell the Catholics had a better deal than the Protestants, fancier robes and a flair for dramatic church decor. One of my closest friends Kathleen had the coveted saddle shoes which I had too, but hers were permanently new to match her tartan uniform and starched white shirt (that I didn’t want to wear).  If God ranked dress code I had to figure the Catholics’ won first place.

Kathleen’s school I recall, opened with impressive iron gates, a looming presence in our small preppy town in New Jersey where anything bigger than a General Store or Pappagallo was monolithic. A religious school on Main meant the people behind the gates must be extra protected and special, and even though the nuns were humorless finger-wackers (from what I’d heard), to me they seemed to float over the school grounds inside their habits, wings from God elevating them an inch.

And while Kathleen took weekly CCD classes (a huge drag) she was paid back with a spectacular white dress that I envied, a party full of “atta girls” and mounds of cash and presents, all of which I thought weren’t bad trades off for daily damnation jitters…

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Church only on Christmas and Easter? What would Jesus say? I bet I can guess.

Jesus's embrace even if church is only on Christmas and Easter.

Image source: By zole4, published on 17 September 2011

My teen daughter, once a frequent flyer at church with children and youth programs, now has to be dragged to church once a month. Sleep wins.

I’m now fine with this. I’ve largely left mainstream religion and am leaning towards joining our Unitarian Universalist. My love of law of attraction and religious sciences paved the way (not to be confused with the entirely different Scientology).

“The Secret” was copyrighted by Jesus before the movie was made. “As you think, so shall you be.”

Interestingly my child still insists on going to our old Methodist church’s Xmas Eve services. I get it. I do, and I’m glad. Tradition. Carols. Fellowship. The continuity warms me as well, especially because we’re a tiny family of three who won’t be seeing family until after Christmas. We have to get our Christmas group hug from somewhere.

What if someone only goes to church one or two times a year?

Personally it doesn’t matter a lick to how I  feel about them or their worthiness. What a person believes or doesn’t won’t take away from my belief in what makes a good person — good. Following religion doesn’t rank either way on my criteria, attempting to master the Golden Rule does.

Atheist or Baptist, Wiccan or Jew, my sense of a decent divine force inside us or over you is open to other views, but impenetrable to conversion.  I want to learn from what you know, but I may not replace it with what I feel.

I might be called a heretic but I’m more than okay with that.

An excerpt from my essay “Church only on Christmas and Easter? What would Jesus say? I bet I can guess:”

…..One complimentary no-strings-attached hour of joy and fellowship might be exactly what someone who is feeling awful or spiritually indifferent needs even if the story of Jesus’s birth and resurrection sounds like the garbled murmurings of Charlie Brown’s teacher. I’ve got to think that somewhere in that not feeling awful moment Jesus walked in, sat down and patted the person gently on the back…. 

…If God keeps a sharp eye on our time card (and I don’t think he-she gives a rip) and someone happens to share this notion of faith by frequency it’s a safe bet the church will be one less stop by next year and so one less check to help pay for the youth program or choir robes or new organ. More, they might have doused a spark in someone who was moved by the warmth of the congregation and ready to give it a second, third or even fourth try.

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