Religion, Faith and God – why we should replace them all!

What the hell, it’s just been Christmas and today is New Year – just the right time for some religion.

This post is inspired by a conversation I finished 5 minutes ago with my father-in-law. I’m staying here tonight to escape the dread noise of parties in my home city. I’d be alone on New Year, and I didn’t think I could stand the sound of so much happiness crashing and shouting it’s way past my window all night.

We started our conversation by talking about what a mad, ridiculous world we live in. How is it that we can be so mean to each other? Why are we so scared of budget deficits when money is nothing more than a consensual illusion we can opt out of any time we want? How can governments give tax breaks to the rich and force the poor from their homes at the same time? Why is our education system trying to move backwards when it’s already badly out of touch? Why do we allow governments to consist of people with no experience of the fields they govern? Why are the poor not rising up in their millions to crush these bastards?

Big questions – and we ran around them for some time and came up with at least twenty different ways for improving things – Here are some examples:

  • MP’s do not make policy – a forum of experts who work in the appropriate field make the policies – the MP’s just present and enact them.
  • Children should not be taught facts but how to think – giving them transferable skills
  • Dynamic classrooms that engage children through familiar media
  • Since anyone who seeks power is unfit to hold it, parliament should be populated by the random ‘jury’ system
  • MP’s paid minimum wage
  • No-one is allowed to have more than £100,000 while there is a single child in hunger – excess taxed off to charity

Which only led to another question. If we can think of these things and we are no experts, surely someone out there has the answers to our political woes? Someone smarter than us MUST KNOW how to fix this!?

Then I went to my fathers area of expertise. “I think that part of the problem,” I said, “is that we have lost our spirituality.”

These are dangerous waters these days. Mention spirit or being nice to people and the ruling profiteers will laugh with derision and dismiss you as a ridiculous hippy, god-squad fool or childish idealist. But my ‘relationship’ to the spirit is a complex thing.

I do not believe in a God as a ‘being up there’, or some entity. For me the universe consists of realities and energies in extraordinary symbiosis, containing within each part and each junction an image and analogy of the whole – and this interconnected miracle is worthy of some significant awe and wonder. No God required.

As for religion – rarely does this have anything to do with God. Generally religion is what happens when some men realise they can exploit other people’s beliefs in order to obtain power over them. It is not God that causes war, it is religion, and that’s all man-made.

Faith, however, is different again. One can have faith in humanity, in oneself or in ones family. Faith is essential to keep us going, to offer hope – faith is the engine of our lives.

I don’t want us to all return to living in mammoth-fur knickers and bronto-sandals (Rara would be gutted! Literally!!), but while we did toil the earth it kept us in touch with how amazing things are. Flowers grow – just like that – from seeds, and they’re beautiful and smell nice. Sunrises are remarkable, snow is awesome, mountains are majestic and all that jazz. When we see the beauty of life it offers us faith – there must be hope is we are surrounded by such majesty.

Faced with space-opera films, adrenalin fuelled computer games, a-change-a-second status updates and the thousand shocks of our new digital life – caterpillars becoming butterflies is boooooring… But there is no hope and no faith, no life in these things. They are fun and I don’t want to lose them, but they are so central, so pervasive and we are so immersed in them that we have lost sight of things of real awe.

My father-in-law is a devout, lifelong Jehovah Witness. He buys the god thing most sincerely. On the other hand, he agrees that religion has done more harm than good – especially to the reputation of Christianity. He gave me the example that, within days of the Philippine disaster, the JW Church has shipped out 100 homes to help rehouse people. This, he told me, was true faith in action. The JW beliefs galvanised their community and gave them a united commitment to do good.

Whatever kind of cynic I am, I can’t argue with this – it is the best of what a religion should be doing.

We then discussed the bible for a long while. I tried to convince him that while the bible had some useful living advice in it, few will listen because it’s couched in such archaic language and examples that no-one can relate to it any more. Couldn’t we just update it? Father thought not and I couldn’t convince him, because for him the bible is inspired by God and must be as it is. Then we ended on Corinthians 13, a passage whose message survives very well. You can read the whole chapter, but this sums it up:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Once again there’s no real argument here – but also still no God required.

Yet it takes a God to convince you I see no harm in it – as opposed to the harm caused by religious fanatics – and I see faith as integral to our recovery – it’s just that I put my faith in love.

I’ve said before that economic considerations are stifling us – we have become so obsessed with making money that our education system is little more than a factory to produce workers. We work for so long that there is no time to actually live. Our government seems utterly fixated on repairing the deficit, cutting the cost of welfare, fighting inflation. Yet money isn’t real.

We made up money. Go to a bank and get a loan – where does that money come from? Nowhere! The bank just writes in some numbers and presto! More money exists. It is illusory – a fiction, and we have become so hypnotised by it that we have forgotten that it is a dream, a choice, an invention we have the capacity to discard. Yes there would be complications and pains, but they would be birth pains, bringing wonderful gifts.

Our government – every government, should be primarily concerned with the well-being of its citizens, not with a financial delusion that has gone beyond insanity. We should be governed not from an economic standpoint but from a loving one – however unfashionable, however it may be derided – love remains the only truth at the root of our lives. Come from a place of love and you will do good things. Love never fails.

This post has not captured things at all, as I knew it couldn’t. I want somehow to get across how clear it is that we are killing ourselves by enslaving ourselves to money, and how important it is that we find another way. But the golden glow of my conversation with my father has dissipated and I cannot nail it down here.

So I will finish by saying that I loved my wife, and no-one needed to pay me to be with her. I loved my job and did it despite that I could have found a job with better pay. I love music and no-one needs to offer me money to write songs. No-one pays me to blog!

If we love what we do we will do it gladly – so if we could learn to love each other, learn to make education about finding the things we love; so allowing us to move into jobs we love; if those in power loved those they governed they could not leave them in desparate poverty; we would not be so greedy – because greed is only caused when we don’t have enough love to fill the hole inside us; we would not be cruel because cruelty is caused by fear, and fear is a lack of love.

Yeah yeah – I know, I’ll never change the world like this… but just maybe one person will try harder to put love first next year and make this planet beautiful again.

Peace for 2014

RoS

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The world is insane and I'm in writing therapy!

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43 comments on “Religion, Faith and God – why we should replace them all!
  1. This is awesome! I think generosity is a big part of making the world a better place. I was raised by abusive “Christians” so you can imagine my confusion. What I do know is I believe but not because of how they taught me. I think you nailed it love should be the bottom line and religion sucks! These are just my humble thoughts

  2. JackieP says:

    I grew up with the ability to choose my own way in faith, or love, or religion. So I chose my own way, which is the Native American way of my mother’s people. They like you believe that you respect and love all things and hurt no one. That’s how I try to live my life. I’m not into material things just to have them. Wonderful post panda.

    • ruleofstupid says:

      Good philosophy JP. I try and act through Buddhist principles – though I fall often (it’s these pudgy hind-legs of mine!) I think many less deistic teachings boil down to the same essence – Act through love, do no harm. Strikes me that would be a good motto for politicians worldwide 🙂

  3. Cimmorene says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your reasoning, RoS, but I agree with your conclusion. Love will out. Love each other, regardless of what choices have been made and peace in 2014.

    • ruleofstupid says:

      Well – I’ve never been accused of being reasonable! But I’m a Panda-Love-Machine!!
      Thanks Cimmorene – May 2014 be glorious 😀

      • jaklumen says:

        Don’t let her fool you, Panda. She’s a sweetheart. We’re actually crazy church-going folk, but we really don’t believe in browbeating anyone or bashing them over the head with our belief system– even though we are of a denomination that proselytzes. We get the JW’s and other folks at our door sometimes; we smile, we agree on our common ground, and we send them back on their way.

  4. I’m not religious – but I hopefully retain faith in the kindness of others, in the ability to help those in need and just to be a good person. Damn it I am a good person! Happy New Year RoS – looking forward to some more poetry from you in 2014 – be happy – be healthy – be safe – you are one of a kind Mr. P and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year – I’m glad I met you (hugs & kisses ) ooer is that allowed?? 😉

    • ruleofstupid says:

      Of course it’s allowed, but stop touching me down there! That’s naughty…
      I’m glad to have met you Rambly – you are good – a little bewildered – but that’s part of your charm 😉 and delighted that my spurious musing helped.
      I seem to be doing music rather than poems. Once the band has some recordings I’ll post them – how’s that?
      Panda hugs you back, and gropes a little 😈

  5. oneofaclass says:

    You mean to say God is not some stern furry-faced Panda-like being in the clouds with one finger raised admonishing us? I’m shocked! Personally I lean toward the idea that we are all part of a one, which makes us all God. When we’re united by love, we can accomplish anything. So, yeah, love never fails. The tough part is finding love for all those stupid, stupid politicians… 😉 My best to you in 2014 and beyond!

  6. Alice Keys says:

    Panda,
    Thanks for your stimulation of another rant. I love the opportunity to “respond”.

    I’m very happy with this post you’ve written. You’re speaking about essential/core/universal human issues that must be addressed for our world to heal.

    “We must each be the change that needs to happen in the world.” (someone famous said this).

    “Children should not be taught facts but how to think” and “our education system is little more than a factory to produce workers”.

    Thanks for bringing up two of the reasons I’ve had for educating my boys at home instead of giving their hearts, minds and souls over to the corporate brainwashing system.

    As a mom, I especially resonate with the problems caused by our education system. I’ve taken on the personal responsibility for fostering creativity and free-thought in my children. Home education is not an easy, “risk-free” or “low-cost” choice.

    But it’s been a necessary one for me.

    What passes for “free mandatory public education” is a home-wrecker, love-killer, creativity-smasher and free-thought-toxin. It is the direct and primary agent which propagates a culture of materialism, violence and an attitude of hopeless/depressed hunkering-down till death. We pay a LOT for the privilege of subjecting our most beloved kin to childhoods imprisoned. The inescapable mental shadow-walls therein formed last a lifetime.

    Our “mandatory” American education system was never intended to teach reading, writing and ‘rithemtic.It was not meant to foster independent or creative thought. It was meant from it’s inception to be an instrument of control for our large population over a wide expanse of territory. Control of the American population as a unit required systematically tearing families, communities and churches apart. Otherwise these entities could dilute the control wielded by whoever is at the top. Our national education curriculum does exactly as our educational founding fathers intended. It has built a massive and powerful unit which can be controlled. The historical records from the U.S. government are clear on these points.

    Yes. Love in the answer. Call this (he/she/God) whatever you want, this love comes through knowing we are all part of one living soul. The way of spirit is both personal and universal. The direction is downward and inward through an opening in the heart from you to me to everyone. Yes. Even them.

    People trained from early childhood to follow orders from the front of the walled classroom never think to look down and in. Children who’ve been betrayed by family and sent away to prisons throughout childhood become hopeless, They lose the ability to even believe in love as a possibility. They feel lost and empty unless being given direction from outside. This gives rise to our epidemic of “external locus of control”. Everyone’s waiting for someone else to tell them what to do.

    From what you say, your “education system” is much like ours.

    And now, we have a pervasive electronic media “information” system plus military and financial power wielded by the hands of the same folks that run our “education” system. Pretty things are NOT happening. A lot.

    Yes. All this will all take a lot of love to cure. And a lot of thoughtfully “unplugged-from-the-media-circus” minds.

    Keep reading, thinking and writing, Panda.

    The world and all her inhabitants hang in the balance.

    • ruleofstupid says:

      Wow. Once again Alice you respond with a comment that deserves to be posted on its own. You’re clearly somewhat awesome and have thought about this suffering world. My hope is that we are being made so poor that the good will no longer outweigh the bad – after all, 99% of the worlds population is poor – we have strength in numbers!
      Such a pleasure to have your smarts and wisdom on my page 😀
      Hope you keep your peaceful space in 2014 X

      • Alice Keys says:

        Thanks. There’s nothing much better than being considered “somewhat awesome” by your fuzzy self. I’m almost nearly honored by your words. 🙂

        Pleasure to have your page to spew my excess rants across. Kind of you not to edit them into oblivion. Thanks.

    • ruleofstupid says:

      Oh… and it was Gandhi who said ‘be the change’.

  7. warmginger says:

    Bloody love that you tackle the big questions Panda. I’m currently in negotiations with Mr Warm Ginger as to how I can fight publicly for what I believe in, while living where we are living. I want this to be a year of action, not sitting on my arse thinking it’s not my place to speak up and out. And yes, there are multiple contradictions for me to work through, not least because we are here to get some cash in the bank because we felt so ‘poor’ in our home country.
    Uh oh, Mr WG has summoned me upstairs to have my mouth and fingers bound with duct tape…

    • ruleofstupid says:

      Yikes! Hope you escape soon!
      I muddled by because there was always food. Only when my life collapsed did I stand still long enough to realise how bad things were. Most people are too busy surviving to effect change.
      You are ideally placed to comment because you are at a distance and able to see the whole more clearly – plus you’re embedded in another culture allowing you to compare and contrast.
      Finally, that a hard working family had to leave the country to become economically viable speaks volumes.
      Let me know what you decide to do – blog, campaign etc. and good luck 🙂

  8. evolution says:

    “Children should not be taught facts but how to think – giving them transferable skills” – YES, and I would add that they should be taught how to meditate and resolve relationship and community conflict. Given we’re no longer listening to god and the bible (which does have a lot of useful tips about being a good citizen and human being), we need a new kind of spirituality…one that is not driven by fear and guilt-mongering religion, but one that taps into soul and our higher conscience.

  9. I am not religious either and in fact lean towards a rather Christopher Hitchensesque view of it. I agree about Buddhism – if I were to be religious in any way this would be the direction in which I would go. Yes, love is important but what I see as being more important is respect. I don’t have to love someone or some thing in order to have respect for him/her/it; perhaps respect – which is a type of thinking – should be more emphasized in schools.

    Thanks Panda, for your thought/discussion-provoking piece, as usual. You have been very missed. I wish you good things for 2014. *Hugs*

  10. Sofia Leo says:

    Great year-end post, Panda! Kindness, respect, understanding – these are what we need in the New Year and every day. I try to be kind, trusting that everything else will work out in the end and so far I’ve not been disappointed. I try not to covet money and find that my material needs are quite a lot smaller than I thought they could ever be, changing my perception of how much I really need to work to get by. This has led to a feeling of contentment that I never thought I would find in this life. All this without formal religious training 🙂

    Have a wonderful 2014, Panda – you deserve it!

  11. electronicbaglady says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful post!

  12. Now, wait a minute – you folks over in the UK should be VERY spiritual. After all, it’s OUR idiots in OUR government who don’t have a prayer! 😀
    And congrats – you just preached Gene Roddenberry 101. You’re only a tiny bit late – say, 48 years or so. But we’ll still accept you. 😉
    Well done!

    • ruleofstupid says:

      But if love is eternal, surely one can’t be late!

      • Obviously you’ve never been to a Trekkie convention. We’ll take you in costume, we’ll take you with or without pointy ears, but we cannot abide lateness! Otherwise, you may not get your autograph. And trust me, a picture of gorgeous Grace Lee Whitney, signed “To my special friend John, thanks for a great weekend” hung in your cube at work, is an absolute necessity! 😉

  13. jaklumen says:

    I am LDS (also known as “Mormon”). I also consider myself a philosophical Taoist.

    I tell you, Panda, that I am absolutely no stranger to the problems of religion. There are born-agains and fundies that convulse twice over at my statement above– once, for being a heretic because of my denominational choice, and then twice, a heretic again for pursuing strange Eastern paths that are supposedly not Christian.

    I have agnostic and atheist friends. I’m pretty sure they know I’m not going to preach at them, because I don’t. I’ve been in the crosshairs of too many extremists, and learned enough life lessons at the School of Hard Knocks to do something silly like that. Too many opportunities to shoot myself in the foot if I did.

    • ruleofstupid says:

      Well, if I’ve learned anything from my time on Earth – then it’s been forgotten!
      Belief rarely seems to require evidence or reason (generally that is, not just with religion). It’s how we come to fight so much, because the precondition for a meaningful world is that it can have no meaning – thus we are freed to imprint our own meanings and then shoot each other (though not in the foot) over who’s right!

      • jaklumen says:

        Yes, because faith isn’t about that. It never WAS about that. Faith and reason are apples and oranges. What bothers me is the notion that a person can’t have both… that’s just ridiculous. Faith hasn’t stopped me from having curiosity about technology, or science, or even mathematics (even when I stumble on calculations, programming, scripting, coding, and data analysis).

        That make sense? I’m sure you’ve seen that I’m not bothered by people’s beliefs or lack of– but sure, I’m bothered if they beat me over the head with it. There are folks that deem me heretical because I follow the LDS Church, and then deem me heretical again because I’m studying Eastern Paths, Taoism in particular. Yeah, whatever. You mentioned Buddhism, and that’s super cool with me, because a friend of mine who is Zen Animist in particular, helped me out in some really rough times. Introduced me to the Tao Te Ching, in fact. It’s all good by me, Panda, it’s all good.

  14. Monsoon Treasures says:

    Corinthians 13 is a beautiful passage. One of the best on love. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    http://monsoontreasures.wordpress.com

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