Monday, January 24, 2011

Succinctness is Not my Gift

This past Saturday, I started reading and responding to a forum thread titled, basically, "General Religion Discussion." In this thread, people posted the basics of their religious views (i.e. "Atheist," "Catholic," or "Muslim"). Including me, I think a total of three Christians contributed. One of them, TWWK, said he was open to questions about Christianity, and the questions poured down (by the way, he has an interesting blog about Christianity and anime - look in the list of blogs I follow).

I spent over five hours and almost seven pages of Word responding to the first 6 out of 10 pages of discussion on Saturday, then returned on Sunday, and again today. This is a great opportunity to learn about other religious views, and to discuss my own faith. I just wish I could learn to say things in a shorter way. I'll post one of my responses here, just to give you an idea. The notes in brackets are to help you understand what's going on, newly added for the blog.

Oh, but I thought that subject [reliability of the scripture] was fascinating! Of course, I consider Calculus to be fascinating as well, so maybe I'm not the best judge...

[one of the other users thought I just couldn't imagine or cope with a world without God] I've tried imagining a world without God before. It's hard, since I think of God as a concrete, definite existence, just as much as the wind or the president of the USA or water. But I'll try again. First I have to bypass the little issue of whether the world would even exist without God, let alone be inhabitable, or have inhabitants, let alone inhabitants with any sense of morals. Once I push those aside, I can begin imagining the effect on me personally.

I love sound logic, so I'd reject any religion presented to me, unless I could find scientific, historical and social (like sociology) reasoning behind it. And without God, there would be no such religion. I'd look at what makes me happy and agreeable and create a set of "moral" guidelines to hold myself and my peers to, and devote myself to making a community bases on those morals. Sometimes I'd wonder what the point of my life and my mind was. If we just happen to be here, just happen to be smarter than other creatures, are the things I call "bad" truly wrong? What makes stealing, lying, or even murder wrong? I'd wonder why I should bother trying to fix things if there was no point, and why I shouldn't just end my life and disappear into nothingness. Then I'd shake myself out of that mode, call myself weak for wanting to escape, and find a new project, a new way to build my world and myself into what I call "good." My only truth would be that I am me, and that I can do anything I want. If I still felt empty, I'd try to fill that emptiness with hobbies - anime, reading, playing piano. I'd revere logic and my version of "good," and my life would revolve around those two principles. In a sense, I'd be my own goddess.

Perhaps that wasn't so hard - I just had to imagine a lifetime of forgetting about God. And since I do forget, doubt, and ignore more often than I care to admit, I just had to multiply the intensity and length of those moments to get an idea of how I'd cope without God. On the one hand, it does sound thrilling, like I'd have power. On the other hand, it sounds like I'd be building an illusion - and I'd know it. Such an empty life does scare me, but that's not a logical reason to believe in God. And, like I said, I love logic.

I will say that I don't listen to God's word just because "there is someone watching who will fry my ass later on." [not my words - the other user's] If I relied on my good deeds and regular prayer to get me into heaven, I'd have given up by now - there's no point in trying to be perfect enough for God. If I'm going to be punished anyway, I may as well live for myself now.

By truth, I mean moral truth. Most people agree that 1 + 1 = 2 and that if you get hit, it hurts. Those are "truth"s. Though, from a purely philosophical standpoint (and without the God factor), I wonder, does it really hurt? Or is it an illusion, a reaction I made up to fit the world around me, which in turn is mostly illusions that people before me created? And at that point I realize I'm getting ridiculous and go for a walk or something tangible that doesn't include turning circles within my mind.

I think some preachers (and I) use "high words" and "weird grammar" sometimes because we are exposed to those with frequency and so our thoughts naturally fall into that pattern. That's where I start searching for words besides "righteousness," "ultimate truth," "salvation," and such. I already stopped myself a few times from using the word "covenant." :P Since I both grew up in the church and am an over-thinking type, it all spills out before I realize that not only do most people have a different thought process, but they aren't interested in all the religious-sounding wording. I sometimes wonder what people think when they walk into church fro the first time and hear words and grammar that I forget aren't common in most folk's daily life.

And don't worry, I won't take anything personally if you don't. We're just exploring religion (especially, it seems, Christianity) and opinions here. We have to be polite, but no good discussion will come from trying not to step on anyone's toes. Let me know if I seem to sidestep a question or if it sounds like I'm spouting well-disguised fluff.

Long, isn't it? What can I say? I clearly lack the gift of succinctness.

For the full discussion, check it out under "general discussion" in the forum at You don't have to be logged in to view it.

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