what irks me the most about western religion

(christianity in particular)

is the idea that we (humans) do not deserve god's favor. that we should be breaking our necks to 'do the right thing' and hope extra hard that it's enough. i hate the idea that i could be doing everything i've been told to, and i could still manage to end up in hell just on the strength that i never deserved god's favor in the first place. i never felt like that made sense, even as a little girl repeating gospel lyrics or sharing dogma with my classmates in christian school. deep down inside, i never ever ever believed that hell was real. i never understood -- if we never deserved god's favor in the first place, then why would god create humankind so we could scramble around trying to earn said undeserved favor? it made no sense to me, especially when there are constantly examples (fictionalized) of people who everyone thinks of as holy or as 'good folk' who end up in hell. i mean, when i was a kid we used to have a play every year at church called heaven or hell, where at the end we found out who got to see god's face and who didn't. at least once there was an upset, like someone who was the perfect portrait of holiness . . . but (as we'd be reminded at the time of her demise) played lottery with her tithe money. or something like that. something exaggerated and fucked up. leave it to the evangelicals to frighten you into salvation, right?

so i ignored that side of faith. the 'please don't smite me for the minor infractons, PLEASE' side of it. it felt unnatural, like i wasn't ever gonna win for all my attempts at holiness & righteousness. (i sense that this realization is that point at which most people become agnostics and/ or atheists, which i totally understand) and i knew i felt a presence (physically felt it) generated by the gathering of the faithful. i could not deny that feeling, that energy, that thread that seemed to tie me to complete strangers in that sanctuary. simply put, it was an overwhelming feeling of love. it's the same feeling i get at a concert where everyone's hype to see the performer(s) and the artist gives every bit of that energy back. it's something that is very hard to explain, yet it's unmistakable when you experience it. i always recognized that feeling as what people called the holy spirit, which in christianity is the energy/ force/ asé of the almighty.

so, if god can fill a room with her/ his presence, and can be witnessed by/ summoned by humans, how could we not deserve the favor of the very being which becomes most tangible/ palpable by our very doing? i never understood that. how could we not deserve love?

i suppose, though, that if you never really believed that god is love (all the time. that doesn't change. the verse does not say "god is love on every third tuesday") then you might see fit to proclaim yourself unworthy.

i never did. i never will. the very idea of it, to me, is preposterous. i don't say this to suggest that ifá doesn't encourage its practitioners to work at righteousness or maintaining good character. but, nowhere in any odu does it say anything to suggest that we're just here to scramble and hope really hard that we make it to heaven. it's where you go when you die. that's it. when you take your last breath, your body remains here until decomposition and the part of you that came from orun goes back.

i actually don't know how i ever could have fathomed anything else.


D.L. Chandler said...

I recently attended a Unitarian church and I realized early into the "sermon" (if you can call it that) that it's not for someone high-minded or shown other ways of "worship". You're always going to have this nagging sense of "why why why" in your mind when it comes to God/Spirit/Energy. Even those who have come to know God/Spirit/Energy in intimate ways, they too will have questions that demand answers and perhaps a change in perception.

I guess I've found tangible bits of the Energy present in so many things in my life. I found it hard to really accept it, however, because I'm always in my head, you know? I'm always challenging myself, man. But you know what? I'm "fkd" up and I will continue to "fk" up...but that doesn't mean that God/Spirit/Energy will love me more or less...or that the spirit's existence isn't as real as it's always been. Just means I know it's more to my life now. Thanks for this post, fam.

Toni Campbell said...

Wonderful insight. Western religion is able to survive by making sure that its followers always see God as separate from themselves. That way they can keep coming back every Sunday in order to prove their worthiness and funnel money into the church. I don't believe God's ego needs that much reassurance. Love has no ego.