Spirituality is a good concept for those people who want a little more freedom than offered by fundamentalist religions, because spirituality can be believed in any way you want. All you have to do is drop the church dogma and drop the rules and regulations. That’s it! You can believe in a lovely spirit in the sky, a smiling god, the loving Cosmos, anything you want! You can still go to church if that is your wish, but you will not HAVE to go to church.
Churches are often mega-conglomerations claiming they cannot survive and need to borrow the pennies of the impoverished. As a spiritualist, you can choose to donate your money wherever you want – perhaps to a homeless shelter or an animal shelter or sanctuary; or you can use it to better your own situation, without guilt. It will go for GOOD, instead of division. If the church hounds you because you aren’t giving them the amount they want, you don’t need to be there. Or tell them to pray for it. Why pay to be bored?
Churches depend on you to bring people in, and they depend on you to be there every week because they know you will donate. It is a business. They create the aura that they know the origins of the world and the word of God, but they are just a staged pretense. Churches are the source of the huge divide between you and others by telling you that “the world is sinful” and “don’t pay attention to others – they are ‘of the world.’” Your church tells you not to care about the world and makes “the world” seem evil. How is enjoying and appreciating the good things in life evil? This is your one chance at existence, and they poison it for you!
Think about it: Is playing cards sinful? All card games? How about Solitaire? Is going to the movies sinful? Is dancing sinful? Is eating vegan sinful? Is trying to help the world sinful? Is taking pictures sinful? Is sitting next to someone of the opposite sex sinful? Is wearing make-up sinful? Is showing you knees or your shoulders sinful? All of these are sinful in some religions. Isn’t it interesting that churches have different ideas about what is sinful! Are these really bad things? How odd that God changes these “important” rules depending on what church you attend! And how strange that saving the creation itself through ecology, and preventing animal torture is less important than what pleasurable things people do with their private parts in the privacy of their own homes.
Churches put you under undue stress. You have duties, and are supposed to recruit and be an example for your church and you are supposed to study, and look and act happy. In fundamentalist religions, you are supposed to attribute everything you do to “the Lord.” You can’t just enjoy. You have to dedicate your enjoyment to God and everything you do has to be done for God. You, therefore, are not natural or fully concentrating in any your actions. Instead, you sit, bored, trying to find inspiration in confusing ancient texts that must be cleverly interpreted, because their real and plain meaning makes the folly of the religion obvious.
Churches divide in a male/female manner, because procreation is good for their business. With the church, variety or opinion is not encouraged. Different personalities and different types of people are washed away and people become bland.
Uneasy thoughts stress your body. And you are told by your church that your way “is a better way” even though you are frustrated, unhappy, and worried. But you stick to your rules because you think you are earning something, and you think you are showing others how wonderful it is to be religious.
Because of all the church responsibilities, it is hard for you to reach your potential in anything but church-related activities. If you are good at singing, you are lucky as you can become a soloist in the church choir, but if you have another talent you want to develop, you are too trapped by church responsibilities and are too tired to be 100%.
You think you are being punished when something goes wrong, and sometimes you also think others will be punished for “not living for God.” The life of the fundamentalist is not relaxed or peaceful.
Look, this is your only life, and you are in a country where you have the chance to develop yourself to your fullest, so it is sad that religion only allows limited talents to be developed and stifles your knowledge, when the opportunities are bountiful if only you weren’t raised in a fundamentalist religion. More importantly, you are wasting your life because of trickery: they have tricked you into the concept of the church as “essential to life.” They are just like politicians who sell you on: “We have something better.” Do they? A good bicycle ride in the beauty of nature can give you more time for clear thinking and allow you to feel more serene than sitting in any pew ever did. And you aren’t lied to on a bike ride.
Church members switch the tables on you – like politicians, they trick you. Their favorite tactic is to tell you not to believe reality, or facts, and instead, tell you to believe “the TRUTH” (Christian Caps) which is not true or factual at all. Sometimes it is downright foolish, yet you believe it, because they make it a test of your faith to believe everything.
Now some of you are social butterflies and love the church for the friendship and camaraderie. But how about your kids? You make your kids attend church when one of your children might be an introvert and hate socializing; yet there he/she is, week after week, thrown in with kids he/she doesn’t like. I can attest to the misery of being bullied by church kids, and playing outside at home would have been better for me. I got socialization during the week at school and did not need to be thrown in with mean kids on a Sunday. I realize this differs from church to church, but their mind-numbing services don’t change. I have always spent hours entertaining myself at home, and cherish that time. I cannot say I have cherished church services.
Yet, how can you break free from these bonds to the church when you are taught not to doubt! How can you leave if you don’t allow yourself to think about leaving? See how they have you in their clutches? You have been taught to avoid whatever might be contrary to your religion. What harm is learning the history of your religion? You have been taught that this discipline of not looking at anything makes you a good person. Discipline can be good (think piano practicing), but not when discipline involves avoiding truth and shunning people. The church’s type of discipline deadens you.
How are you roped by the church? You are told what to wear, how to behave, what to study, not to doubt, not to “be of the world,” that others are lost, that you must convert others, that yours is the one true way (most religions teach that), that you must suffer, that you must donate, that you must procreate, that you will be rewarded, and they have clubs, and day care, and groups and camping and even teams in large churches, so that you are totally immersed in their culture and they will have control over you.
Pride is also seen as a dirty word, and worrying about “being prideful” dampens your enthusiasm. It can even keep you from supporting others because you see the things they enjoy as being prideful. Oddly, the narrow lens you are taught to look out of makes you more prideful and less accepting of others’ quirks! Certainly, no one is supporting conceit, but being proud of an accomplishment is a feel-good emotion and doesn’t need to be hidden. Suppressing your own emotions is not healthy, nor is it honest. You don’t need to always mentally beat yourself to make you humble. It makes you harder to communicate with, as you are battling yourself. Religious people are so busy with their regulations that they miss out on acknowledging, loving and being honest about the most important personality – their own. Yet, religion is all about the self (a muted self) – saving oneself by constant attention to God, being a conduit with a dampened personality, and getting reward points for such behavior.
You may not realize it, but you have something you must sell, and when a person is in need of reassurance, you see it as an opportunity to “witness” instead of giving them specific reassurance on the subject they need. This keeps you from supporting your friends in an honest manner, and can ruin relationships. Instead of giving reassurance and building their personal strength, you tell them they “just need to focus on God.” Chances are, they already tried that.
The love that is being given through religion is a weak, numb love, because it is “all across the board.” “Love everybody.” A commandment that you must love everybody is just a worrisome task. As a human you change emotions and thoughts all the time. A better idea than trying to love everyone would be to “respect their right to live.” Loving everyone can also get you hanging around with people who will take advantage of you. Just be honest – you don’t love everyone – you don’t even like everyone. That’s okay! Sometimes, the best idea is to stay away from people you don’t like. When God comes first and all people must be loved equally, it not only becomes a falsehood, it cheapens real feelings of love and doesn’t make one person feel more special in your life than another. Why would you want to hurt the most special people in your life with your proclamations of loving everyone equally?
You have a fear that without this particular religion you won’t be a good person. That you need it in order to have morals. You fear if you give up your religion you will just go wild. If you did “just go wild” it’s because you wanted to prove that you needed religion. This does not say much for all those years of trying to have good morals, because you have not developed any strength or morals of your own, and are only being good because you think your god is watching. Why don’t you make your own morals and just be honest about what good morals you should have in this life, and then stick with those?
Most churches shame women, telling them they cannot come up to the altar during their periods, they can baptize a boy earlier than a girl, females can’t be leaders, females must be submissive and not question, and females must dress “modestly,” until they feel guilty about their own beautiful bodies. The church has taken over and ruined the word “modest” to mean “cover up” a female. Where is the beauty and spirituality in the religion? In defense of the harsh rules, the religious often claim, “I am not being forced to do this; I willingly do this.” Yes, I have heard that over and over from females who wear burqas.
You can break free even if your religion is a family tradition. After all, what good is saying your religion is a religion of love if it does not let you be you? If you fear leaving your church and think they may start calling you, realize they do not own you. You are a free person. It takes great bravery to walk away, but the rewards of thinking freely with no fear of doubt is worth it. And why put your children through all of these unnecessary burdens and this bondage?
If you believe God is good, then if you are the best “You” that you can be, why would you worry about your position in the afterlife? A good God would see you were truthful and as kind as possible, and would send you to the best place. If being your true self is not good enough for your God, then you should look at the personality of the God you are worshiping. While we are at it, why are you worshiping at all? Just be thankful for being alive and grateful, but there is no need to grovel week after week. If a God is all powerful and is supposed to be perfect, then why does it need the excessive reinforcement? Here you have problems with reassuring people in life, but you gush over your God. Any God should find that annoying and should tell you He doesn’t need the constant praise and to go enjoy all the goodness of life!
If you want to change churches, you could try a more liberal church. There are some very liberal Presbyterian churches. What I truly think is a better idea is to try out the Unitarian Church, because they have speakers on different subjects and stay current, so it is much more stimulating for the mind. Unitarian Churches can differ a bit depending on the minister, but they do not care what beliefs you have as long as you come without dogma and that you are searching for your own beliefs and your own personal truths. You can change beliefs as much as you want as you explore what you truly believe about existence.
We are lucky. Enjoy, appreciate, examine your own spiritual needs or whether you need them at all, or if you are happy just believing in how the world really works. Live in the world, for the world, love existence and accept death, because it recycles you and is a part of life – the finality of you as yourself is part of how it all works. Don’t abuse this earth – cherish this earthly existence and the earth itself. Enjoy the good.