So, why the conflict, you might ask? Or, I might ask so as to be able to further my conversation with myself… It’s a prop, you see.
Growing up as I did, I had very little formal religious training. A little bit of Sunday school, one week at a day camp, a few things like that. Much of my exposure was during holidays and via traditional media. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to explore a codified religion in more detail. I chose a fundamentalist Baptist congregation that was the backbone of my martial arts instruction at the time…
As educations go, it was a good one in terms of learning more about the bible, dogma and particular world views held by Christian conservatives. I spent quite of bit of time learning popular arguments and rebuttals, the catechism associated with protestant Christianity and in general, enjoying the fellowship of other Christians.
There were a few things I noticed, however.
1) Despite being of Protestant origin, my religion of choice clung just as closely to their rules and traditions as the Catholic Church does to theirs. The rules may be different but the ironclad thinking is the same.
2) The rules appear arbitrary. That is, when looking at the interpretation of a verse, book or event, the rules for determining when it should be accepted or used as context appear to be at the discretion of the user. Classic example would be that men shouldn’t wear earrings or have long hair, but we are no longer allowed to stone our children for disobedience. I’m not sure where the church stands on stoning other people’s children though, that might still be open for interpretation. Mind you, there are ton of rules that go along with determining how to properly interpret the Bible, which is something that should warn you in and of itself
3) Rather that using their Faith to recognize the extraordinary events that occurred in the Bible, they attempt to defend them with Science- until they reach an indefensible position. At that point, rather than accepting that which cannot be explained, they attack the Science with their Faith. This is not a position that can be successfully defended by an honest, rational person.
4) More emphasis is placed on what happens to you after you die than what happens with what you do while you live. For a religion based on events over the estimated 4500 years, from Creation to the death of Christ, there is a bit of irony that so much focus is placed on what happens after one leaves the place where it all happened. I point this out so that…
5) If you are to experience the wondrous works of God, why is it so necessary to die first? We have an entire universe to explore and understand, to shepard and admire- right now. Final understanding might not come until our end, but nowhere in the Bible have I seen justification for ignoring it all in the mean time. Which means…
6) Faith(and by extension, much of modern Conservatism) should not be used as an excuse to act in a manner inconsistent with that found in the Bible. Love thy neighbor, shepard the weak, take care of the planet and its creatures, grow in knowledge and wealth, and seek understanding.
The explanation of my schism is ongoing, my understanding, continually under construction, but I find myself done for the day.