Saturday, May 17, 2008

On Living Life

I used to be a Christian. I grew up in the protestant pentecostal tradition. At times my family would attend church three times a week, regularly, with an occasional "revival" attendance thrown in for good measure. By the time I got to high school, I identified myself with christianity, which is no doubt what my family was openly striving for. I'm ok with that. I don't harbor any ill-will toward my parents for their choices in how they raised me. I know they were doing what they truly thought, and still think, was the right thing by me. Indeed, the intentions of my wife and I are to do the same, raise our son in the best manner we think. It just happens, that we think oppositely of my parents. From a familial standpoint, that's fine. Maybe not from a sociological vantagepoint, though, but whatever.
Obviously (if you're reading this blog), I no longer identify myself with the christian faith, and thankfully so. I walked away from what never truly resonated in my mind, even as a high-schooler (or maybe its especially as a high-schooler). Having been on both sides, I enjoy looking back and poking holes in what used to seem like a forbidden-to-touch wall. I understand the many different approaches to christianity, the different protestant denominations may employ, some of which are less formidable than those of my childhood, but that recognition in no way excuses the capability of such a faith from the wayward behavior of a few rogue denominations. The whole is responsible. Otherwise, the different denominations cannot be gathered under the same umbrella term of christianity. I'm getting away from my topic, so let me return to task.
I'd like to discuss one particular idea of christianity that has always bothered me, even when I was a kid. Christ lived a life that christians readily model their own after. I can't say how many times I've heard over the years, from christian friends, that they are trying to live like christ. Honestly, most of you are familiar with this idea, aren't you? It really is one of the hallmarks of Christianity. Now aside from the obvious fact that most people are either incapable of doing so, or are truly (secretly) uninterested in doing so, there is something else that really bothers me about the idea of living the life of somebody else, even if they were the greatest person ever to live. How do we know someone else may not possibly be an even better person than Jesus? I'll repeat that. How can somebody really believe, to the point of action on their own part, that Jesus was the best that could possibly be, and that no one else will ever be as good of a person? Jesus was the son of god! That's how a christian can believe such a thing.
But aren't we all god's children, according to the bible? What makes Jesus so special?
He was/is part of the triumverate godhead, one of three. That's how Jesus is more special than we are.
So the son of god was not really that, he was really just god. But didn't the bible say we became as god, knowing good from evil because of original sin (see earlier post On original sin)? And weren't we made in the image of god?
My point here is, I think it is counterproductive to try and live the life of someone else, anyone else!!!!
To do such a thing, we have to suppress the individuality which makes us who we are. In the attempt to contort our consciousness into a religious mold, we must sacrifice our true selves, for better or worse. For sure, there are some, for whom a change of landscape is a good thing. The serial rapist who finds god and repents of his ways, is doing himself and society a favor in looking to an outside source for help. I don't think most would argue that point, but I also think most would agree that if that is all the guy does for his rehabilitation, he is only superficially dressing the wound, while leaving the "infection" stolidly in place, perhaps to resurface later in life. Suppression is never the best medicine, even if the suppressed is a horrid behaviour. For the rest of us non-serial-rapists, I think we do ourselves a great disservice by happily jumping into the sludge of religious subjection. No matter what any religion says, there is no concrete reason to believe we live beyond death. We might, but we might not. Its sad that so many people in this world give up living a happy and worthwhile life because they think the one coming up after they die will be better. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have a fantastic song that I have sort of adopted recently as a soundtrack to my Atheistic life, called "Two Gunslingers". If you get a chance, listen to it, even if you don't like Tom Petty's unique voice. Perhaps, an afterlife will afford many an opportunity for a better life than their current one, but even if that turns out to be the case, what validity is there in voluntarily sacrificing any available happiness they might find in this life? I am not saying jesus lived a life of torture and destitution, the bible does enough of that. What I am saying is if you are going to try and live a good life, one that has a meaningful impact on the people and world around you, shouldn't you look for a more contemporary example to model yourself after, perhaps your own valuable mind? Jesus, had no reason to discuss Carbon Footprints, because the industrial revolution was still 1750 years away. He had no reason to suspect that disease was not caused by demonic possession, because the germ theory of disease was well in the future. I know he said many positive things regarding how to live a meaningful life, but he also said some horrible things, which instilled fear in the minds and imaginations of those who heard or read what he said. But that is not the point. The point is your own life is your own life. You might be a better person than Jesus, and there's no reason to think otherwise. You have the opportunity right now to live life, happily, miserably or somewhere in between. You can choose. Jesus asked that we live one of the last two choices right now, so that we could have the first choice after we die. That sounds like the definition of an empty promise. There was no way jesus could verify his claims, but he asked anyway. I'm sorry, but I don't see the virtue in giving up a opportunity in hand just to have a later opportunity of the same nature given back to us. Jesus may have been a good person, but he was not you, and his choices or decrees might've been ok for him back then, but why in the world would we think those proclamations are more valid than what each of us can think of ourselves right now, especially in the light of all the knowledge about the world we have, that he did not? Your life is worth living, because you are you. Don't waste your chance, you may not get another one.

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