I stumbled across the coolest blog a couple of days ago. If you get a burst of energy like I do from stepping momentarily into the world of another person and having your own world thereby expanded exponentially, you should check it out:
It is so exciting and affirming to me to experience a little bit of another life, different from my own in many ways, and yet, underneath the initially unfamiliar phrases and customs, just the same. There really is so very much of the human experience that is universal.
The blog is a compilation of “thoughts on life” from a number of younger women who range in cultural/religious backgrounds from LDS to Muslim. It has been so interesting to me, discovering that most of the ideas, issues, questions and conflicts that I have faced in my own American Evangelical Christian experience, are present in the communities of each of these women. I have watched videos of Islamic “pastors” (Imams, I believe?) speak on the very ideas I was raised with in my own family and church. I have read stories of an LDS woman’s husband “fathering” a little-league team of fatherless boys and how it made her love him even more. I have heard the laments of young women from every background wondering where on earth all the decent men are, while simultaneously devising ways in which to avoid being questioned by friends and family on their “relationships status”.
It is amazing to me that there has been so much conflict between cultures through time, because if you take just a few minutes to really listen to someone, you realize that their stories are the same as yours, their values very similar, their hopes and dreams and desires for life nearly identical. It is just the terminology and “packaging” that are a little different.
My accidental discovery of this blog could not have come at a better time. I have left Seattle for a week to visit my friends and family out in Central Washington, and it has been wonderful. But also very confusing.
You see, for me, this new journey into truth – my setting out to face reality as best as I can, and to live honestly in light of what I find – is completely uncharted. My reason and logic, my experience of human beings (including myself), what I know of history and biology and physics, what I’ve read on the development of the Bible and the Christian religion and my own experience with it, as well as what I’ve discovered about the statutes, values, and practices of other religions around the world, makes me pretty certain that A) there is no personal god out there listening to each of us individually and waiting to guide us or protect us, etc. and that B) if there is some sort of impersonal “life force” type of god (which I am not at all ruling out), that god does not belong to any one religion or denomination, and is definitely not going to be sending me or any other person to any sort of eternal hell for not figuring out what exactly his/her/its nature is and what he/she/it is all about.
I think there very well might me some sort of Life Force god out there, that people who follow most spiritual paths wind up connecting with at some point. I also think people are different, and experience spiritual life in different ways, and that is why there are so many different religions in the world. What I am still trying to decide right now is whether or not having some sort of religion to hold onto in tough times, to provide a framework/foundation on which to build a stable life, is necessary for living the kind of life I want to live.
In my mind, I can picture what it would be like to be a loving, caring, serving, conscientious, thoughtful, respectful, honoring, generous, persevering, hopeful atheist. I can picture raising a family from that perspective. I can imagine a community of atheists/agnostics/deists living and working together and loving each other – caring for each other’s children, sharing each others burdens, talking about values and principles and the meaning of life. I think atheists have just as many reasons to live the life I’ve described as people of faith do. But the thing is, I haven’t seen it. I have known individuals here and there who don’t believe in God and yet live good, upstanding, loving, contributing, communicating, open, free and decent lives, but I honestly have never witnessed any sort of community like that. And I think that sort of community is SO important. I think it is the thing that is responsible for producing the admittedly higher levels of intentional self-sacrifice and “good-doing” that exist within faith communities. I have no precedent or model out there to look toward, however. (At least not any that I know of.)
This fact makes leaving the Christian community I was born into a little scary. Although I just CANNOT believe so many of its fundamental assumptions, and cannot support a number of its life prescriptions, the culture of Christianity – of my family – still feels natural and comfortable and safe because it is all so familiar and, in many ways, so, so, so good. When I am here at home, where I am the only one who thinks the way I think, I start to question myself. I try to picture coming back to Christianity – what it would be like, if it would even be possible, how it could work. I always decide that it can’t.
All that to say, my encounter with The Rock Pool was fortunate because it reminded me that the world is so much bigger than my family, my hometown, my circle of friends, and even my country. It reminded me that I am not the only one out there who thinks weird things about life – we ALL think things that seem totally bizarre to others. It reminded me that I am not the only person who has grown to see things differently and experienced conflict with loved ones because of it. And most of all, it gave me hope for the world – that one day people might really learn how to listen to each other and realize that, deep down, we are essentially all the same, and that, though we use different terminology to talk about life and what it is and what it all means, we are mostly all saying the same things.
Oh, with what eagerness I await that day! May the World of Blog continue in its quest (intentional or not) of bringing people together…