Okay. I ran across this site today through Blog Explosion. It's kinda like a car wreck. You know, you don't WANT to look, but you are intrigued and you just HAVE to look. I am not yet sure whether this is more about rednecks or baptists, or the unique combination that is redneck baptists, but I Have to say I love the pictures of the jeep climbing over rocks. It makes me think of phrases like "Jesus is my rock." and then I wonder about the symbolism of driving your jeep OVER said Rock. Hmmm. This proves that Baptists just wanna have fun. You totally have to check it out. I thought about applying to rent it, but then I thought um, what are the chances that I would be approved? I mean me, the potty mouthed, organized-religion-questioning, DaVinci Code Loving Adventurer. Don't you think I would get the immediate approval of a baptist pastor with his own podcast? Maybe I underestimate myself. I am sure he may want to rent to me if he thought he could convert me... Anyway... intrigued.
**UPDATE: I applied as his renter and Pastor Matt approved me! I just knew he had to be fun. And I guess I did challenge him a teeny tiny bit. Go check his site out again and see what he wrote about me. I guess I should clarify for him. My parents were raised Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, and I wasn't baptised until I was old enough to make the decision for myself, and when I was 10 and my sister was probably 6 we were baptised together. I was also told that I had to attend sunday school, bible school, and confirmation, to be educated... but it was my own decision to be confirmed and become a member of the church. And I did. And I was confirmed. So I am technically Lutheran. And I believe I am a Christian. I was in the choir. Every Sunday. practice Every Wednesday. But you know, I started to see the things in organized religion that make it look more like a clique, more like a "business." People looked down upon because they didn't have nice clothes to wear to church, Older men in my church, married with kids, hitting on me and making their old man checking out a teenage girl comments. Our most troubling thing as a church? Pastors. We went through pastors like WATER. We had some creepy guys. Guys that made me uncomfortable. Then we had the greatest pastor we had EVER had. Pastor Jeff. That man whipped up a youth group so fast it made your head spin. He chose a young married couple in their early 20's to be our sponsors. We had so much fun! We did so much GOOD! We had parties all the time. Halloween Costume Parties, Movie nights, Pizza nights, etc. He was all about fellowship. And that man kept us laughing and kept us all friends and kept us all out of trouble. Who would have thought that the church could do all that?! But we weren't all fun and games. We held spaghetti suppers and we did can drives where we walked door to door and collected for the local battered women's shelter. We were just good kids. And youth group did alot for us. It really did. We even had a lock-in at the church. This man had INTERESTING sermons and he applied God to the life of teenagers even! How is that possible! And the best part, as kids we didn't even realize it was all happening!
There was a couple that were in their 90's. They lived together and loved each other. They were not married. They had already both been married, and widowed, and they were living off social security. They hesitated to get married because they couldn't afford to live without their social security, and they would lose if if they remarried. They asked Pastor Jeff to bless their relationship, and he did. And then shit hit the fan. The church's "elders" were FURIOUS that he would perform such a thing in the name of god and thought it reflected poorly on our church. They reprimanded him. They basically started to slowly run him out of the church. He met a woman that he wanted to marry, back near his home. The rectory was in some disrepair. All the appliances were avocado green. He wanted the church to consider some remodeling, and if they would do that for him, he would get married and he and his new wife would live in the rectory and continue with our church and with the youth program. The church refused, more because of what he had "done" than because they didn't want to remodel. And so he moved away and married her and got a job at another church. Many of us felt terrible. The church split. Probably at least 25-40% of the parishoners left the church. Two pastors later, I have never set foot in that church again, not in probably 7 or 8 years. I didn't "intend" to boycott it, I just couldn't bring myself to face those people in the church who had treated Pastor Jeff that way, not after all he had done for the whole congragation and for the youth. It was then that I realized that their actions were less Christian than political and snobbish. Where was their forgiveness? Where was their tolerance?
Ever since then I have been doing alot of thinking about what I was taught versus what I believe. And although I haven't figured it out, I have to say I am feeling better about it. I realize that organized religion is not all it is cracked up to be. I do not believe that God is vengeful. I do not believe that Mary's was a virgin birth. I have always disliked the way women are treated in religion, and how they are portrayed as being more sinful than men, and a temptation. I feel it is an unfair stereotype put forth by the men of the early church. That is why the DaVinci Code, and the Sacred Feminine spoke volumes to me. I have a hard time believing alot of what is seen in the bible, and believe that it is more of someone's opinion and take on the faith, or their "representation" of Christianity, then of the actual facts. Any book translated will lose it's originality, and what of a book whose originality was based largely on stories that people told.. and wasn't factual to begin with but was largely filled with opinion.
I refuse to believe that homosexuals are any more sinners than people who engage in pre-marital sex. To me it is a ridiculous notion. I believe in TOLERANCE. Tolerance for people whose religions are different than ours, tolerance for people whose beliefs, races, and thoughts are different. I don't think the Devil Wears an iPod, but even if he does, I will still wear mine proudly. What if the devil wears underwear? Does that mean I should not? I believe that Jesus is a cooldude. I don't know if he was the messiah or just one kick ass soldier of god. It's hard to say. Maybe the Jewish have been right all along? I have to say, that to believe that if I don't think Jesus was the savior, I am going to hell, sounds like a crock of shit. I don't think that God wants us to believe in Jesus as the savior as much as he wants to believe in his work. In a higher power, whether that be God or Buddha or most any other name that gods can answer to. I think he wants us to believe in the good of people and in doing good things for others. And I don't mind if God wants to be involved in government or not. Nothing the USA says is going to influence my faith one way or the other. So if they want to take GOD off a pepsi can or out of the government, fine.
If this means I am not a Christian, then so be it I guess. I Have been able to make more sense out of writings of people like Neale Donald Walsch and Dan Brown than I have of the bible. Is that blasphemy? I am not saying I take every word they say to be truth or gospel. As Mr. Walsh so eloquently pointed out, are we to believe that God talked to people in bible times and then just STOPPED? Are we to believe that God never speaks to any of us? That no one's feelings and thoughts could be results of "conversations" with god? And I don't mean "I saw Jesus in a taco and he spoke to me." I just mean that there is the possibility that people of our modern times, and people during the Rennaissance, like Leonardo DaVinci, could have communicated with God. It's possible. What if the bible gets it all wrong. What if Jesus wasn't the savior, but just a realy great guy. What if he died in vain. Was he risen? Will we ever know? Probably not.
Sometimes I think that religion is more of a convenience. What kind of life would we be living if we thought there were no heaven or hell? Would we be comforted by a life that ends abruptly? Of a future or afterlife that doesn't exist, of abruptly losing and leaving the people we love without a chance of ever seeing them again, or spending eternity with them? I believe that is the saddest of all. At 28, I try not to think of the end of my life. I have to believe that it is a long many years off. But Even then, when I have become even MORE attached to my family, my friends, my husband, and hopefully the children and grandchildren I will someday have.... How will I ever say goodbye to them if there is a possibility that there is no afterlife? The thought just about opresses me into bed again, curled up in a fetal position and unable to go through each day. Is this why we have religion?
I don't know. And that is the bottom line. What I do know is that I am interested in investigating these things and thinking for myself and reading other people's thoughts to see if others feel the same as me. And surprisingly... others do. I am interested in learning about other religions. Of Buddha. Of his teachings. I believe in Karma. Do. I. Ever. There is something there. Something real that I want to understand, even if it is on my own level.
Sorry if that was boring, passionate, or went against everything you have been taught to believe. Maybe there is someone out there who feels as I do.