...And no, not the Cream song!
So on occasion I have had people come up to me and ask where do I stand on Religion, Faith and the circumstantial-ness of the super natural.
I tend to answer their question with a question, not because I think it's funny, however because I feel their is always an underlying and hidden objective by asking someone these things.
Not necessarily always bad, but questions of that nature tend in my experience to be bad or at most laced with a loaded sense of ambiguity... leading to answers that will set course to a downward spiral of agony for both parties involved.
Now if you're still with me, I'll continue...
I often like to refer myself as being a 'Gnost-Shin-T(d)ao-Fucist', (GnosShinTaoFucist), mostly because I do like the bewildered look that appears on the onlookers face. Yet more sincerley due to the fact that I carry and hold aspects of the faiths and philosophies intertwined into my own imaginarey expressed Religion.
Oddly enough, my use of this Religious Trope, falls back to my High School days and the crowd that I ran with, or should I more correctly refer to them as a 'Dis-jointed collective of enlightened and uniquely talented individuals', of who only crossed paths together on random days when the Astrological accord was in in some curious alignment.
Most of us had some element of Religious or Non-Religious Trope that would raise the ire of many a good Christian Minister or Catholic House wife, etc.
I being an ordained Minister myself, however just laugh at the others ire, for isn't the whole aspect of life to find ones own path through some element or form of self expressive thought, Religion, Faith or Otherwise.
People will naturally assume since I am an ordained Minister, that I am Ministering in the faith named after the Ancient Greek and Mediterranean Spiritual Leaders called 'Christos'. (And for those about to rebut, Christos is a Title and not a Name, at least of and during the time of the Christian 'Jesus Christ,' it was for High priests and Kings; See 1 and 2 and 3.)
However, I am not here to debate this particular article of repute.
Yet this is not necessarily the case and I despise stereotypes, though it is interesting to see how many people fall into their own stereotype so easily and odd when the become irate when you comment to that fact; you're either proud of it or you're not, if your not than why must one emphasize and continue to push the fact of that stereotype?
Another question for the ages?
Ahh... but I am meandering away from the topic at hand...
I will admit I was born into A Lutheran household into a Church that was a part of the ELCA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and baptized as such. Then went to a private Lutheran school that was a part of the LCMS, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. (Imagine the horror a young boy saw when both Churches said he should do Catechism Classes for both places ELCA and LCMS.) I did fight it and only had to do it in one, I personally always though Catechism was a good way to get one to be catatonic, that I suppose is neither here nor there.
Now though, I thank my graces to such fortune, not only did I get an excellent education, I had good teachers who were willing to take a barrage of questions that would make a Catholic Priest turn red and run. And if they couldn't answer the question, they'd answer honestly to that fact.
Yet also, I didn't stop there, I'd question my Catholic friends, their parents. Other people I knew or met I'd also question about their views on well everything.
I would pour through the Library texts and at the advent of the Internet, (how old do I suddenly feel now...), I would pour through all sorts of BBS's and then Websites, and eventually places like Sacred Texts, (which by the way is probably the best place currently anywhere, next to being actually at the Library of Congress, The National Archives of Egypt, Hamdard University, (which has the 2nd largest Library in Asia), Bibliothèque nationale de France, and or the Vatican Library, (Currently one of the oldest continuously running Libraries in the World).)
Also I had the unique fortune to be invited to participate in a local Catholic CCD course which happened to be run by my Tai Kwon Do Instructor of the time. He thought it'd be good for me so I could see what the Catholic Church was indoctrinating young peoples with and these Poor CCD Souls could hear my alternate Luther-like rebuttals; which was mixed with a bit of pagan mysticism.
He thought it would be good for their faiths to be challenged, so they could have real world experience.
I think my former Instructor was absolutely right.
Which leads me back to my original point, Challenges of Faith, Religions and Other items is directly proportional to our self growth.
Though challenges especially in the area of Religion and Faith tend to lead to Knowledge censorship, Book burning, and other types of undesirable things.
I still welcome challenges, especially if I can spout my wisdom on the subject, limited as it may be, it is good to stroke ones Ego every know and then.
I however believe that wisdom should be there for the asking, and any force feed of wisdom or knowledge in general is a fools errand and won't promote any type of positive growth.
Sadly there are too many people and organizations that believe one must force feed others their ideology so that they can feel safe and protected in some unambiguous way from these portent outsiders, by bringing them into the fold or circle as it may be.
I look at things in this light, if someone wants to talk, to have a discussion with philosophical overtones relating to Religion, Faith, and other disambiguations.
I will gladly and happily have a seat with them and chat the night away, yet if the intention is to change my view point by coercion of word or any other element relating to their la force de volonté, I will immediately withdraw and ask them sternly to leave my consul.
I personally believe it is inappropriate behavior to force ones will on another, only by actions may we serve others in order that they may see our light, and not by forcing that light down their metaphorical throats.
You may have noticed I separate Religion and Faith, most; you will find no longer do this now a days. Not that I am some wizened figure of great past repute. It is a matter of choice for me based on my opinion of the studies I have encountered.
To me as I understand it; Religion as being defined from origin word Religare of Latin; meaning 'to bind'. A binding of ones self to that specific insight that is called Religion.
...and as I understand it; Faith is the trustworthiness of an idea or person but to that end you are only bound to what you seek and what you seek can and will change.
(Faith is a word that is used in very broad terms encompassing Religions, Ideologies, Trust and things of transcendence, etc. I am using it more from a transcendental ideological standpoint.)
When in my studies of various faiths and the varied elements and factions of Christianity itself. I noticed one overall continuous factor that once bound by the facet of Religion always became dirtied, blurred, or even lost altogether.
That is the "Idea", I will not lecture this point and will be brief since I could talk and write a lifetime about this and still not be finished.
So I'll 'cliff note' my version of it;
The "Idea", is expressed by Jesus to his disciples and it is expressed through many other prophets from many other Religions and Faiths, etc.
The "Idea" as expressed is just that an Idea, that if upheld, will help bring a harmonious nature to the one who understands and is willing to uphold that "Idea", essentially the start of a path to an enlightened nature.
This of course does not mean you will be protected from onslaught, betrayers, sickness or death. And this is one of the many reasons why the "Idea: becomes blurred and or lost. Human nature, for most is to take an "Idea", bundle it with the preconcepts of current cultural foundations, add the moral code and justifications of that people and time period as well as place. Then term the "Idea" a Religion and name that religion. So as to bind themselves within a bound box of safety nets and preconceived notions that aren't outrageous to what is acceptable at the time.
By doing such, one then destroys the "Idea" as it becomes now a Religion.
Religion is the one ultimate destroyer of this world for at least 5000 years, because Religion incorporates Greed, Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, and Envy. Yes Religion incorporates the 'Seven Deadly Sins', as proclaimed by the Catholic Church themselves, via Monk Evagrius Ponticus.
History past or current is littered with such by the Catholic Church and other Religions having encouraged or facilitated at least one of these many sins.
I am not saying all aspects of Religion are bad, many good things have come from and come about via Religion.
Yet as a whole the experiment is a failure.
To revert to an earlier portion of this text I stated;
"Sadly there are too many people and organizations that believe one must force feed others their ideology so that they can feel safe and protected in some unambiguous way from these portent outsiders, by bringing them into the fold or circle as it may be."
I have simultaneously worried that others would strike the fact that, aren't I doing the same thing? However as verbose as this has become, This is a Weblog for my own personal outcry of my own personal thoughts and understandings, done out of a need to occupy my time and have a collection of "Ideas" saved for all time in the mass of 1's and 0's.
It is by the choice of my readers and other poor saps who happen across this Weblog, and actually partake the time to read this almost essay of sorts.
I could care less if someone hated it or liked it, that is the Freedom I enjoy in this matter. If my words bring a positive change to someones life then I will be happy that someone decided to take the time and interest to see my light.
So when someone asks me what I believe, I tell them; I have Faith in the "Idea", the underlying "Idea" behind Religion, Quantum Physics, Meta Physics, Geomatria, etc. I Believe in a Universal God, one that created everything in our Universe and possibly beyond. a God the built the building blocks that built us, a God who is in everything that is God's own design.
I have Faith in the "Idea", that 'We' are all apart of the same strange brew, interconnected with each other and everything else in the Universe.
God is as much apart of each and everyone of us as we are apart of God.
This in my view, does not mean 'We' are 'God' as some prescribe to, but that we are apart and connected.
This reasoning then leads one to realize that the Religions and Faiths within Wiccae are as much apart of the Grand Design as Islam and Christianity for example.
Even the Christian Bible via the Torah and the Tanakh allows for the existence of Supernatural Beings and gods, it is just that Christianity for example, prescribes to a mono-theistic tri-ality but being bound by Religion many of the followers don't even grasp the true meaning of their own Faith. And those where there are the corrupted officials and leaders of said and other Religions do not help the foray.
I in keeping with my "Idea" of my Faith, then tell the questioner that I however, do not prescribe to Religion, since it is Omnipotent towards goals of control and destruction of free thought and personal sovereignty.
And to the effect of Supernatural items, I have Faith that the existence is there, I have encountered items not currently explainable by Western Science. But to me what is termed Supernatural is only done so through ignorance of those wanting to categorize every inch of reality, by tearing such things apart; as if when some one shows you a small miscellaneous gear and asks you to tell them what it is apart of, which you cannot unless you see the whole aspect of what it is and where it came from.
Knowing the inner workings of something is something I adore and relish at understanding.
However tearing something apart and labeling each specific found item will not help make any clearer the purpose of the item.
The items experienced as Supernatural are as much apart of our Natural reality as anything else, 'We' are just taught to view it as different, to view it as leper and non-conformist.
This however is a whole other topic for investigation.
So in closing, What do I believe?
While existing in this strange brew...
I Believe I am Human and in that Nature susceptible to Err, I Believe that their is a Great Universal Creator who created the multiple gods of the Universe, for the function that is their order. I Believe that 'We' are all connected to the Creator and the Creator is connected to us as 'We' are all connected to each other and the world around us.
I Believe that our actions create the existence around each and everyone of us and that if we wield our self violently through Space and Time as it were, 'We' will cause damage to ourselves, others, and that which is around us.
I believe I am responsible to myself first and to the Universe as a whole second, as long as the first does not induce harm to the second.
I have Faith in an "Idea", and that"Idea" is born of personal contemplation, meditation, and centuries of "Ideas".
But I think the simplest most acceptable answer, sadly is to label myself... though I abhor from trying to label my "Idea". I temporarily instate a label to give an acceptable non-committal answer that will give a general yet limited idea of were I am in connection to the Question of 'What do you believe?'.
So the Questioner, will feel safe and cozy with what are termed as level and sane, or at least accepted systems of belief. so I don't actually have to explain what I have written here and this really is only a synopsis of the whole.
In the End I am Human and I Err, but as excuses go... I will silently saunter away and whisper...
R. William Holzkopf Jr.