Another point that I remember from my days as a Born Again Christian, which sent confusion through my mind was the topic of music. When I worked at the church camp during my teenage years in the seventies, I learned more about music then I had in the whole of my entire life before then. My friends and co-workers at the camp opened my eyes to a whole world of rock music beyond that of AM radio. I began to listen to more music and didn’t see a problem. I avoided most music that had swearing in it and believed that bull about KISS being an anagram for Knights In Satan’s Service, so I didn’t listen to them. But on the whole, I didn’t see anything wrong with listening to music.
When I left the marines in the eighties, a friend tried to bring me back to the fold. After all I had been corrupted by all the heathens serving in the military. I did go to a few church meetings and discovered that everyone there was convinced that all rock music was of the devil. In fact, my friend was worried he was failing the Lord because he couldn’t quite bring himself to destroy his record collection. I can see his point, he did pay good money for those records. One of the brethren simply suggested he put them in the bath and run the water on them. The whole thing caused great conflict in my mind. I had come to the knowledge of rock music through good Christian friends and now Christians were coming out against it. Their attacks on it was mostly through ignorance and they went on about it so much that it began putting me off. The final straw was after Live Aid. These “Christians” didn’t accept that it was a good cause to raise money to feed starving people in Africa. All they saw was that it was performed by heathen rockers and therefore an abomination in the sight of God. One such person said they should have given ten percent of their money to it. I wonder if he practiced what he preached. I suspect not.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had a more acceptable view on music for me. They didn’t come out condemning all forms of music although individual members had personal opinions about it. The Mormon belief is that when you listen to a record, you should ask yourself if you would feel comfortable listening to that record if Jesus was listening to it with you. This sounds plausible to me and there was a couple of my albums I didn’t listen to so much during my time in the LDS church. One time, I did get a strong feeling that I shouldn’t be listening to the album I was listening to at the time. Well, they do come right out and sing “Hail Satan” on one of their songs.
These thoughts on music bring me nicely to my final thoughts on religion. I believe that everyone should be free to believe what they want to believe. If a certain faith makes them feel good, then who is anyone to take that away from them. That goes for all religions and atheists too. The fly in the ointment about religions for me is that they all tell their members that they must go out and convert the rest of the world to their way of thinking, that’s where the problem starts. People start bashing one another’s faiths telling each other that all other religions are wrong and only theirs is right. Everyone starts pounding their beliefs down the throats of everyone else. That includes atheists too. Ok, so you don’t believe in God. It doesn’t mean you have to ridicule or belittle those who do believe in any deity. Not everyone who follows a religion is a stupid moron.
Unfortunately, this supposed need to convert the world gets worse and goes to sometimes ridiculous extremes. I saw this first hand in 1986 when I would go to concerts and the Jesus freaks would be outside telling me I was going to hell because the artist or artists I was seeing that evening were the sons of Satan. That was laughable but what is not is that some followers of faith try to force their beliefs on others by monkeying with the law, through threat and intimidation, manipulating social norms and even playing the race card. When ANY faith resorts to those tactics, I will stand up and shout about it. I can sympathise with my wife’s belief that religion is the cause of all the world’s problems.
Finally, most people, followers of faith or atheists, do not fit the previous paragraph. However, there are enough who do and that is what makes religion dangerous. Follow the dictates of your heart and conscience and don’t begrudge anyone who follows theirs. For me, I still have my own faith, I just choose not to follow a religion. On Facebook, I call myself a spiritual anarchist. See, I think a psychiatrist I was seeing 14 years ago hit the nail on the head about religion in general. She said that all faiths make the same promise: That you can solve all your problems by following their rules. But don’t worry about my soul. As for the Born Again faith, I still accept Jesus as my saviour so that means I’m still saved. For the Latter Day Saints, I know I won’t make the Celestial Kingdom, I don’t want it and stated why in the last post. They say the middle kingdom, the Terrestrial, will be full of failed saints and I accept that is probably my plight putting my faith in God’s mercy. But for me religion is too easy something that sends me into overload.
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