(note: for my personal glossary, when I speak on religion, I am referring to organized man-made groupings that follow particular teachings. When I speak on spirituality, I am referring to a much more general exploration of matters that extend beyond the natural)
I have alluded already to what I perceive to be the biggest problem I have with diving into, and exploring any type of religion – namely that people suck. In any scenario, I struggle with trusting humans… So, if you introduce a human I don’t personally know, who is confidently attempting to convince me that they hold the keys to the happy bounce castle – I am automatically suspicious. When said individual becomes agitated, suspicious, and generally more aggressive, when I (in a genuinely non-antagonistic way) question the nature of their faith, teachings, existence, etc – there is about a 0% chance I will have any meaningful interaction with them in the future.
The thing is – it’s pretty much impossible to separate humans from religion…by definition, you can’t really… So I am already immersed in quite the quandary.
Let me demonstrate why that filters out into…everything. If you speak to the average Christian, I believe it’s safe to say that they will agree that the Bible is a/the cornerstone of their faith. First of all, the Bible was written by humans, as a collection of books/letters, written over the span of about 1600 years. Many of these writings were the natural progression of an oral tradition… verbal storytelling, over time, that was originally transcribed into writing. The first Bible that most individuals might recognize as a ‘complete’ Bible wasn’t compiled until after 350 AD.
There were many writings throughout these centuries, that one might think should be included in this Bible – but ultimately you see humans as editors – selecting the best(?) parts, to include in the official canon.
I have heard the assertion that there is no need to worry about the imperfections of humanity leading to the ‘wrong’ books/letters to be included in the final canonical Bible, because they were guided by God, and he wouldn’t let his holy book be anything more or less than exactly what he wanted. However, this sentiment would kind of overthrow the entire ‘free will’ concept, would it not? In addition, there are most assuredly many examples of individuals, over the centuries that have twisted these words to satisfy personal objectives, in ways that we would collectively consider ‘evil’ – so even IF ‘the book’ itself was somehow compiled under divine oversight – anyone, at anytime has the freedom to willingly, or ignorantly, misuse/misunderstand this text.
That’s the long road to ultimately asking this question: What is the Bible? Is it a literal historical document, to be held as true, real, and actual – in totality? Is it simply a guidebook – a collection of stories, metaphors, parables, poems – something to inspire, but not to be taken literally in any sense? Or is it somewhere in-between…and if this is true, who, precisely decides what are the literal parts, and what are the metaphors? I know that some churches teach that the Old Testament was more-or-less overwritten when Jesus came along…but those same churches will still hold strong to homosexuality being a vile sin, and confidently quote Leviticus to support their position… I mean, after all, it IS the Bible, it’s not like they are filled with hate or prejudice – those are ugly words that are unfair, if one is simply trying to follow what’s ‘right’ – right?
Who gets to decide this Old Testament verse is pertinent to the shaping of our morals and society, but that Old Testament verse is just cultural nonsense that doesn’t mean anything now?
And there we are again.
I’m the sensical turtle, and I have a hard time dealing with humans.