Religiosity

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life, Religion, Society on

This is one I haven’t really touched before, except in passing, when discussing other things. However, I think it’s time. Of course, something else prompted it.

I hadn’t heard of the series before, but many Christians (of the far right flavor) appear to be up in arms over the upcoming film His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass. Like I say, I don’t know much about the series, never having read it (though, after reading the descriptions of the books, I do want to read it). It appears to be somewhat similar in nature to the Chronicles of Narnia (another series I want to read), in that a child travels through a portal to another, rather magical world. Lyra, the main character, has to battle through evil, and all that good stuff.

Unlike Narnia, though, the series features multiple worlds (in a multiverse), and a strange, Dark-matter like substance called Dust (that apparently identifies sentient beings, like us).


So, there we go. I know a little bit about the series. Far more than I think do a couple of guests on Glenn Beck’s program tonight. He had the authors of the Left Behind series to discuss the movie. They appeared to judge the movie based on the religious positions of His Dark Materials’ author, Phil Pullman, an atheist. Left Behind is in the Christian literature genre.

If there’s nothing that bothers me more, it’s people who try and judge something like a book without having read it, or at least researched it. These are the same kind of people who’ve blasted Harry Potter for years for promoting witchcraft, and yet know nothing about it. Rubbish, I say. Harry Potter no more promotes witchcraft than I think Narnia (although I’ve only seen the movie, but have read book descriptions) promotes Christianity. Yes, they have those elements in them. After all, Aslan coming back to life seems pretty Christian, though so does Neo’s rebirth, and I’m unsure if the The Wachowski Brothers are big into religion. So, it doesn’t mean anything.

It’s like the argument that the U.S. is a Christian nation because of our values and way of life. Yes, most of the founding fathers were in Christian denominations, but many of their ideas were based upon Deist principles. For those who don’t know, Deism is a belief in a god, but through reason and personal experience rather than revealed religion (like the Bible, Tanakh, or Quaran). Personally, I think our values are good, but don’t have to necessarily be related to religion, but common sense (well, as we see common sense).

And that’s the sentence where I turn attention to myself. Though I was baptised (Congregationalist/United Church of Christ from what I can tell), I was brought up in a household that didn’t really emphasize religion all that much. My mother is at least a little bit religious (though not a bible thumper by any means), while my father has been very outspoken against organized religion, though has admitted a belief in God (perhaps he’s a Deist!). I couldn’t actually tell you where my sister lies on the continuum. She’s been to church more than I have, though really on for the youth activities, and she’s stopped going to that. I’ve been to church, but really only because I was forced to go at a time when my mom went for a while.

So, that’s my experience with religion, and my background. So, perhaps it is in that atmosphere of rather non-religiousness that I’ve come to be what I’ve termed “not very religious” myself. That’s a vague phrase, though, and I know it. Yet I have kept using it here and other places.

So, to give a more precise positioning of my feelings toward religion, I’d have to place myself somewhere in between agnosticism and atheism. And yes, there is a difference. Agnosticism says that we cannot know whether or not there is a God, though they don’t know. Atheism dispenses with the idea altogether. So, I don’t like when people try to treat the two as one thing, though there are some elements shared by both. I guess if I had to choose a certain position, it’d be closer to agnostic atheism. They say, I don’t know if one exists, but probably not.

I may have no interest in finding out whether God does actually exist, but on the flip side, I’m fascinated with religious history. Every time the History Channel has a special on something to do with religious, I gobble it up. I don’t know why, perhaps because of the fact that religion is the motivating factor in the big history of the world. The Egyptians built pyramids because of it. The Greeks were science lovers, but they had their gods too, which the Romans adopted. Then the Empire itself became Christian, and that has influenced the world to this day. We can’t forget the other biggies, Judaism, and Islam. Just recently, I was front and center for CNN’s Christiane Amanpour’s “Gods Warriors” mini-series. So, I’m interested in learning about religion, even I’m not interested in following it.

I live my life according to what probably are Christian values, but I can’t help that what I hold true comes from religious teachings any more than I can stop it being a fact that I have asthma and Crohn’s Disease. In my personal life, I hold these values more toward what I see as common sense than what a god or a church tells me I should do. So, I hold the utmost contempt for anyone who tries to shove down our throats the idea that we must follow a certain set of rules because a god says so (hello far right), or that a book is inherently bad for people (as Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins tried to do tonight) because it might have a wildly different viewpoint from their own (which I doubt). I also hold the utmost contempt for anyone who might try to forcibly dissuade somebody from looking into religion, or try to stop people from practicing personal religion (looking at you, far left).

So, while I might not live my life religiously, I don’t care if people do or not. That’s their decision. If that want to live that way, fine by me. I’ve got no problem with it. Just don’t say I have to live that way, or say that they can’t.

And that’s my view. I liked doing this kind of entry, so I’ll do it again sometime, when you least expect it. Next time’s topic? My political views.

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