Post by WeAreOne on May 6, 2017 9:47:45 GMT -8
I’ve been there.
At church, closing your eyes, lost in the moment. The piano, the guitars, the perfect ambience, hundreds of people…feeling so beautiful and clean inside that tears are streaming down your face…
And then, the pastor gets up to talk about the Bible. And he says that what you were doing was worshipping God, and that God doesn’t like sin. He dislikes it so much that he died for it.
He died so you could feel love — the same love that you were feeling a few minutes ago, that you were lost in. To do that, he had to get rid of sin.
And sin is listed in a big book that indicates that you have to think the beautiful marriage that a gay couple has is bad.
It’s confusing. You were feeling so beautiful inside…but in order to feel that, you have to believe that things are wrong that don’t necessarily seem all that wrong. Things that hurt other people.
And they’re based on fantastic things in the Bible that seem…a bit unbelievable. But you have to get your spirituality here and only here, somehow, if you don’t want to go to hell forever…
As an atheist, I’m not trying to take away the positive feelings you get. Really, I’m not. When I rant and rave, it’s often because I’m outraged that people joined the beautiful feeling you get in church with a bunch of rules that hurt people and a God who makes you feel so inferior that you have to thank him for every breath you take.
I think it’s a simple point, but one that often gets missed: you can have a connection — even a deeply spiritual one — to the entirety of existence, and get lost in it and inspired by it, without believing in all of the other nonsense. You don’t have to think gay marriage is wrong in order to close your eyes and lose yourself in the beauty of connection that you can experience in the here and now.
And spirituality isn’t a commitment, either. Sometimes I like to be contemplative and connect deeply to nature. Sometimes that’s boring as hell and I want to get involved in the hustle-bustle of life. That’s awesome. Life isn’t the one thing. Religion may try to consume you and say it is, but…I think it’s better to just live, man. You can have deep personal, “spiritual” feelings on your own time.
And what I have to say is…you do you.
If you don’t like spirituality, if it gives you a bad taste in your mouth, if you want to get rid of it — go ahead. Get rid of it in your life.
If you find those feelings you got in church in the mountains, on hikes, in a canoe, etc., like many atheists I know…find it there.
If you find it through art, through music, through dance, through painting, through singing, through doing your job well, through movies…indulge.
If you find it in watching and/or playing sports or exercising, do it there.
If you get it through video games or other forms of technology, congrats. Play Candy Crush if it makes you happy, and give haters the middle finger (no, I don’t play Candy Crush, but you get my drift). Life is short, and happiness is hard to find, so if you find something that makes you happy, reward yourself.
If you get it through meditation, then go ahead and meditate.
If you get it from reading…wow. There are millions of beautiful books we’ve written over the millennia, and we have the Internet. Read to your heart’s content.
If you find that feeling of spirituality in any other of hundreds of ways…go ahead. Go after it. Hell, if you find it through ritual, you can go join a really liberal church like the Unitarian Universalists or something (been there once when a Wiccan spoke — pretty cool). Where you get those feelings from is up to you.
And wherever you find it, if you look, you can find a community of people who get it from the same place. And you can drink in the “spirituality” or lack thereof together. It’s not just in church. Sure, it might be necessary to look beyond your atheist community…and that’s OK. There are very few people you’ll have EVERYTHING in common with.
Ultimately, spirituality is a feeling of euphoric connection to yourself and things outside of yourself. That’s it. And I really don’t think you need God to do it.
Here’s the thing though — don’t try to unjustly hurt other people. Either inside your group or outside. And look at the world rationally when you’re making decisions for other people. Like…it’s one thing to lose yourself in a video game. But please don’t pretend you’re playing Grand Theft Auto when you’re driving down the freeway in real life.
Here’s what I think happens: People go into these churches, they get these deeply spiritual feelings, and then they’re told that in order to keep them they have to fend off “the world” who may take try to take it away, and as a result they become tribal and insular, developing rules that hurt themselves and other people in the process, and their feelings of spirituality get entangled with the rules.
The key here, I think, is to separate that. Realize that deep sense of connection is your own — you own it. You decide what contexts you’ll express it in. And if it makes you happy, express it in a way that doesn’t hurt people, and be happy. You only get the one life. Get as much beauty out of it as you can.
So yeah, I’m an atheist. And I’m very vocal. But those feelings of spirituality are not something I’m trying to take away from people — I’m attacking religion. If anything, I think getting rid of religion increases the ways we can express ourselves through the feelings we label “spirituality,” and without the barrier of God-enforced rules, the intensity of the feelings we express can develop.
I’m against much of religion because I think it takes away or limits happiness, and I’m very interested in ensuring that people are happy after they leave. And once you look past the moneygrubbing preachers who say that that’s impossible…there seem to be a lot of ways it is possible.
Feel free to embrace them. As long as you’re not hurting people, or making rules you’re illogically forcing others outside your group to follow or be held accountable to…you are free to take advantage of all the world of beauty has to offer.
Life is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder by letting other people intrusively qualify your sense of euphoric spirituality with arbitrary, cumbersome rules that take away from the beauty in yourself and others.
Hopefully that helps.
Thanks for reading.
PS: I have a Patreon, in case you want to support what I do.