Apparently, I'm a Jedi

| Tuesday, July 6
**Disclaimer: This is a very personal post about religion. I'm not trying to step on toes or offend, and I'm sorry if I do, but I need to say this. I apologize in advance.**

This weekend, I was faced with multiple questions from my mom and grandma about church. As in "Where are you going to church?" not even "Are you going to church?" It's assumed in our family you go to church. And since I was eighteen, I've not voluntarily gone. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Christianity as a whole, but I do take issues with organized religion in general. I think that religious beliefs are a wholly personal thing, and if someone wants to share it, they can, but it's not necessary.

My biggest issue with the church I grew up in, and my parents' philosophy, is the extreme levels of guilt inflicted on the "believers". As a friend mentioned in a intense Twitter conversation last night, religion tends towards the stick, not the carrot. Not that I need a reward to do things, but I don't want the spectre of punishment hanging overhead for my entire life.

So, with all of this surfacing, again, I began to really think about what I believe. Or as Chris Rock said in Dogma, what I have "a good idea" about. I think that there is some kind of greater power out there, whether it be God, gods, or a completely unfathomable entity, I believe there is something out there that had a guiding hand in life. I also believe in modern science. Those beliefs are a bit difficult to reconcile. Also, I have a very difficult time reconciling it with a lot of what I know from history. So this leads me to my "idea".

I believe that there are two opposing forces in the universe that flow through everything and struggle to maintain a delicate balance. Not necessarily good and evil, more like the ancient Egyptian belief in the forces of order and chaos. In keeping with the idea of maintaining order, I believe people should be nice, follow the rules, and all of that. There's nothing about guilting people into following such a legalistic set of religious laws, just being nice and a good citizen. (Sounds like I'm in primary school again.)

As I started to reflect on all of this, which I'm pretty sure I've not expressed very clearly, I had to laugh. Because I came to the realization that basically, what I believe in, is the Force. Yes, as in the power that feeds and guides the Jedi and the Sith. And when you think about it, it's kinda like the whole order and chaos concept. Egyptians even represented chaos with the color red, the color of Set.

So, yeah, I believe in the existence of the Force. Perhaps I'll get to be a Jedi, perhaps not, but I'll always show my respect to the balance of nature and do my best to stay on the order side of things. Where this fits in the traditional religions, I don't know, because I don't know enough about Eastern religions, but I do know if I ever told all of this to my mom, she'd have a prayer intervention going in five minutes, flat. I just hope that eventually people can come to accept what I believe and stop giving me grief about it. I think there's more than one way to live and believe. Your way may just not work for everyone else.

Peace, and may the force be with you.


Ruth said...

I've had a very hard time articulating exactly what I believe. At minimum I'm a Jedi. I also think Jesus was really onto some things about how we treat each other. It's hard for me to say more & hard for me to identify with a religion when I disagree on so many points with so many practitioners, even if I think they're the ones getting their sacred texts wrong in places.

Kara said...

I definitely enjoy reading the Old Testament for historical reasons, but when it comes to the New Testament, I think that too often things are taken too literally or out of historical context. The parables and teachings of Jesus on how to treat others are excellent, but there's so much legalism in the modern Church, that I tend to disagree with many dogmas and creeds.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually working on writing a book right now about a girl who starts her own religion because her beliefs don't fit neatly into any of the current organized religions. I really like the Star Wars example! I think that if they thought about it, a lot of people who are spiritual/religious but don't identify with a particular religion would probably agree with you.

Herding Cats said...

I read this post and thought, "Wow. That describes what I believe almost exactly!" I guess I'm a jedi too. Oh, and if you haven't seen the documentary "Religulous" -you should.

Anonymous said...

I, too, believe in a force, but I don't segregate it into opposite sides, I think everything is connected by this force (and I mean everything). Essentially, what I believe is a variant of pantheism with some pagan elements through in like reincarnation, reverence of nature, and elemental influences. I was wiccan for a while, but there were too many aspects of that I didn't actually agree with. Now, I'm a very active member of my UU church that happily accepts any belief system you hold so long as you respect everyone else's. Mostly, I like music, community, and some time to think each week.

Girls Are Geeks

DarkShinobi said...

What I really do NOT beleive in or follow is any sort of organized religion that says I have to say a certain number of chants, or say that their way is the ONLY way...or especially that I MUST give a stipend in order to be absolved of something.

Yeah...not buying into that sorta stuff.


I DO beleive in a God...I beleive there is a form of "afterlife" that will be there when I pass to mortal plane, mainly because I am too arrogant to think that I will simply "cease to be..."

Eleni said...

Ah, the prickly topic of religion.

I grew up Christian, but we were only Easter/Christmas Christians until I was eight or nine. Then we started going more often so my brothers and I could go through Sunday school, do youth group, and sing in the church's youth choir. I sang in the chapel choir in college, because I love singing, I love the music (Brahms! Beethoven! Bach! Britten! etc.), and, as an added bonus, we got paid. Since graduating, though, the only times I've been back in a church were during reunions, singing with the choir for old times' sake.

Luckily my parents aren't very religious themselves, so there are no expectations there. I agree that the organized religions can be a little hard to swallow. There is too much that I don't agree with, or that doesn't make sense, that we're supposed to take on faith for no good reason. So many religions that claim to be the only "real" way. I believe in modern science (at least I have a good idea about it), and I have a sort of philosophical outlook on religion that has me kind of convinced that we cannot presume to know the nature of the universe, and thus which religion(s), if any, are "right". Which is why I can't stand religions that in any way persecute, or even really look down upon, people who don't follow the religion (and this does not exclude atheism).

Personally, I am awed by the miracle of life, and whatever has allowed it to be (whether that be God, the Earth, chance, magic, whatever). I have this feeling that we are bound together (whether by the Force, the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of the Earth or what have you), and that we have an obligation to one another to live well and in harmony with everything else. So regardless of whether there's a god who will punish or reward us according to our actions, I think that we should still be considerate people and good neighbors and treat the world that allows us to be with respect.

May the Force be with you too.

TabithaVenasse said...

I definitely know how you feel on the issue.

When I was about 15, the church we started attending was all about fire and brimstone. Going to church made me feel like a worthless and terrible person. Made me feel hopeless.

It took a long time to get fully on track with what I believed after that, but eventually, I found out where I stood.

Despite being a Christian, I am against organized religion. I know that may sound like a contradiction to some, however, it's not really. See to me, Christianity is more about the spiritual side rather than 'organized religion'. Churches are supposed to be there for the purpose of teaching, learning and interaction with fellow believers (as well as reaching out to others).

It's not a set of rules, or of forced beliefs.

I do believe everyone should figure out what they believe for themselves, and not believe just because they're told to.

Emily Jane said...

It's always risky posting about religion and I think it's very brave of you to do so! I totally understand how you feel about the issue - and I heard a great quote recently, "standing in a church doesn't make you any more of a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car"! My problem with organised religion is not just the guilt but the fact that a HUGE chunk of church-goers just go to keep up appearances on a Sunday morning and don't follow through with the whole Christian ways of life like being good to others, forgiving, etc. I think with every religion you have to take from it what's going to work for you. Recently I was introduced to the concept of Taoism which seems more of a "way of life" than a religion - which I'm finding fits my mentality really well. :)

catherine said...

Good post, girl. I will say that the whole "inflicting guilt" thing is awful and I agree. That is what gives Christians and religious people in general,a bad name. I believe in God and call myself a Christian--however I am not perfect nor do I think I should "beat anyone over the head with a Bible" people do not respond well to that. Anyway, this relates to your post...I think. My brain is a bit mushy :)

Ambiguous Geek said...

If I weren't a Christian, I would totally be a Jedi.

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