If ever there was a "getting it all off your chest and maybe offending people" post, this is probably it. Here goes.
I believe in a higher power. For ease and clarity I call this higher power God. Most of my belief is rooted in Christianity, but also vastly differs from most forms of organised religion. I dislike organised religion. I find it can be quite unhelpful and exclusive.
I do not regularly go to church. When I do go, I go to the services at Iona Abbey, which does not belong to any one tradition or denomination. People need to go to the church that best suits their own beliefs and worship style, but I do not believe there is, or should be, any actual difference between the denominations. I have sat in services and talked to people that claim their church is the "one true church" and everyone else is wrong. I flat out do not believe in their God. I believe in a God that I can find every day of my life. I believe in joy, learning and fellowship I can find in a book, in a walk on the beach, in a cup of tea with a friend.
I find God-speak embarrassing. I will never say the word 'blessed' in ordinary conversation. I don't know what to say to people who do. I feel gratitude and try not to forget to be thankful, but having 'blessings' makes me feel weird inside. I also feel uncomfortable with "everything I have comes from God" people. Some of the things I have came from Toben, my parents, my friends or the random stranger on the bus who gave up his seat for me and I point my gratitude towards them. The gratitude that I have them in my life needs to be directed to the Universe I call God, but people need the points for the good things they do.
I need the points for the good things I do. I have skills, interests and thoughts that I want to offer the world. Not "for the glorification of God," but because what a waste it would be if I didn't. I need to do what I think is right and fair because it is right and fair, not because some guy with long hair and sandals told me to. To be honest it is pretty sad that we had to write a book about how to be nice to people and call it the bible. And even then we get it wrong.
As a perfect example of this, the word 'love' is said in the bible 551 times (NIV). There are 4 verses about being gay. Only 4. It also states a couple of times that women on their period have to live in a hut alone outside the village or they will be stoned to death. Can we get over ourselves yet?
I believe in tradition. It has value and resonance. 200 years of everyone singing that same hymn has to mean something. I think tradition can be pointless. Women can't come in unless we're wearing a hat? Bugger off mate.
I think that some Christians are some of the most judgemental, unkind people I've ever met. I think that some atheists are some of the kindest, most generous souls I've ever met. I do not believe in a God that will punish these people. I can not believe in a God that will punish these people.
I believe in doubt. I find it difficult to trust people who are unshakable. I ponder, reconsider, every so often realise it sounds like complete codswallop and then discover I believe it anyway. I believe in thinking it out for yourself.
I think we all have to agree that science is the truth. It can be proven. Its also really freaking cool and interesting. If more churches could look at science as proof of a higher power instead of a conflict then more people might think church is really freaking cool and interesting.
I really, really, really hate John 3:16. You people have to stop sewing that verse onto EVERYTHING.
I am a bad Christian. I am delighted.