Saturday, January 22, 2011

On Religion and Stuff...

Hmm... some of you may have noticed that I made a slight change to the banner - the subtitle. I think it more accurately reflects what my blog has evolved into.

Hmm.... I've been thinking a lot lately about religion and what it represents to me. It has been a process of 4+ years - letting go of religion. It started with letting go of the particular teaching I was getting at the cult (church) I was a leader in. But over time, I have let go of more and more of religion itself.

I guess I need to define what religion is to me. Well, first, maybe what it used to be. It used to be "the right way to be in God's favor." Really, although I didn't recognize this at the time, religion (what the church I grew up in and even more what my Mother said about God) and God were interchangeable. It took me a long time to realize that God and religion were two totally different things. When I began to see it, I was both relived and angry. Hmm.... angry at the deception and manipulation - relieved that God was not that.

Now, I see religion as a construct by and for men with the purpose of controlling men and of trying to define and control God and how He is viewed. And I also recognize that that is a bit of a simplistic and generalized statement. I realize that religion can serve a valuable purpose if it is kept in it's proper perspective and not worshiped as the beginning and end all of who and what God is. God is in religion. But He does not confine Himself to that.

It is interesting to me as I dismantle the religious beliefs I have held, to realize how nonreligious God is even in the Old Testament. An area that has been a mental camping spot lately is Job. The way religion interprets and defines what the Book of Job is all about really misses some points. We all try to find what it was that Job did that 'brought this suffering on him' so we might learn and avoid it - show me what not to do.... but, um, the text says that in everything Job said (including all the complaining) Job did not sin.... (I don't think sin is even the point). Even now, I am tempted to try and come up with an impressive reason why Job went through what he did. But in the end, I don't think that question is answered in the text. In the end, God showed up in person to answer Job's demands for an answer. And God challenged Job to understand who God was and in doing so caused Job to see more clearly that what was going on was not about crime and punishment....hmm....

And then there are Job's friends. There were actually 4 of them. Three older and a younger. They all came and sat with Job in silence for 7 days. Wow, that's is actually pretty amazing. I don't know many who would do that.... But then the 3 older ones took it in turns trying to get Job to admit that the reason he was in the mess he was in was because of some sin that he was hiding and not admitting to because God did not punish people without cause. Again, assuming it was about crime and punishment.... Job stood his ground that there was nothing he was hiding from them. Then the youngest one spoke and called the others out (including Job) for trying to speak as though they understood who God was.

And after God talked to Job, he turned His attention to the friends. He didn't say anything to or about the youngest one. But the 3 older ones... He told them they had lied on Him, misrepresented Him, disrespected Job... and they needed to ask Job to forgive them if they wanted to be forgiven. Hmmm.... interesting that He put that ball in Job's court. And I see Job's three friends as religious pillars who insist that their interpretation of God must be the correct one and if your life doesn't fit that, then YOU are the problem. Religion and those who are steeped in it haven't changed much.

Something else I see here.... for those that insist that every verse of the Bible is the "Word of God".... well, according to the text of Job, what those three friends said was NOT the Word of God and was, in fact, contrary to the truth about God. That being said, should we take the words those three friends said and put them forward as truth? Just some things I've been pondering....

2 comments:

Erin said...

I think you possess a great deal of wisdom, Katherine, especially how some of the bible might not be the word of God.

It sounds like you are sorting out some important stuff. It sounds like healing.

Katherine Gunn said...

Thanks, Erin. Yes, it feels like healing, too. :-)