Apr 4, 2010

And on the third day...

Happy Easter, y'all.

I am not, by nature, a deeply religious person. I was raised going to a Methodist church, and stopped going somewhere around my senior year of high school - I had a job that needed Sunday morning hours. I wasn't real upset about this - the church my parents took me too was a pretty generic church, and really, the only way to tell it apart from the $DENOMINATION down the street was the sign out front. Services were formulaic: greeting, hymn, offering, Lord's Prayer, children's lesson, prayer requests, prayer, hymn, scripture, sermon, hymn, benediction... or at least that's about as close as I can remember. I never enjoyed it.

I've been to church a handful of times since then. I still don't enjoy it. This isn't to be confused with thinking it's wrong, or bad. I just find the idea of, "We're going to church Sundays because It's What You Do," to be distasteful. If you profess to be Christian (or any other faith), you are and will be judged on the other 167 hours of the week as well - not just that one hour on Sunday mornings. Live your life as a fair and honest person and get similar treatment in return - what more can anyone really ask for?

Regardless. Faith will always be a quiet part of my life, and there's a few thoughts I felt like sharing on this quiet morning. (I hesitate to call it religion, because I'm not even close to be organized about it. I believe there is something bigger than me or you out there. I don't think any one church has it right. FSM protect us!)

Ps. 37:1-6
I stumbled across this my freshman year of college. I can't claim to have it memorized aside from the first verse. "Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong[.]" The rest continues in that same vein - basically, be a good person and don't sweat how others choose to live their lives. It's good advice. I try to keep it in mind, but hey, I'm not perfect either.

The Easter Story. We all know the Easter Story. Last supper, betrayal, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension. Even if you find this all highly improbable (and you aren't alone), it makes for a great reminder that we do not live in a vacuum. Our actions touch others on a daily basis, and some of our actions will continue to affect others long after we are gone on our way. It's also hard not to hear the Easter story and not associate it with the greening of the world outside. Easter - spring - is a time of new life, birth, resurrection... new leaves, new flowers, new animals. It's hard to be unhappy during this time of year. Just look around and smile!

I know I said not all religions have it "right" - and I will continue to believe that unless someone manages to prove otherwise to me. But really, when you get down to the heart of it, most of them have roughly the same precepts and principles, and many of the prayers say the same thing.

For comparison:
Psalm 23:
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.


Bene Gesserit "Litany Against Fear":
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
(Dune, Frank Herbert)

So, what's the difference? One writer is relying on the company of a Supreme Being to walk through the valley. The other relies upon himself... but at the root, both writers are using a memorized writing as a touchstone to reinforce their belief in themself. When you get down to it... is that so wrong?

The sun has come up since I started writing this. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to find a mug of something warm and sit on the deck and listen to the birds.

Happy Easter, y'all.

1 comment:

mhaithaca said...

I'd be more inclined to buy the comparison had the Bene Gesserit prayer evolved on its own. In fact, Frank Herbert was raised as Catholic and abandoned it for Buddhism, so the turn toward a little more self-responsibility, but the concepts from the Lord's Prayer, isn't surprising.

Thanks again for the deck-sitting opportunity. Warm mug and a deck sounds like a fine idea this morning, too. Enjoy!