A new year brings a new focus and direction, away from commentary on the political issues of the day and more towards lessons learned and personal observations and experiences gleaned from some 58+ trips around the Sun.
I had a very strict, Southern Baptist, fundamentalist Christian upbringing, but even during those early, formative years there were some things that bothered me. Such as the professed belief of ‘love thy neighbor’ when I looked around on Sunday morning and saw nothing but white faces in the congregation, even though the neighborhood in which the church was located was ethnically diverse. That, coupled with the racial epithets I heard coming from the mouths of those who were the elders and deacons in the church, made a young man start to ask some internal questions.
As I got older and was exposed to more and more of the world outside of that cocoon, more and more questions began to arise. Such as the belief that all who do not believe are doomed to an eternity in Hell. Along my journey I came into contact with and became friends with folks who were just genuinely good people. They were the embodiment and the personification of the tenets and the teachings I had heard all my life. Love for their fellow man (sincerely, without the underlying and oftentimes not so underlying prejudices) compassion for the less fortunate, kindness, generosity, and all the rest. The one thing they did not share was the belief that the only way to escape eternal punishment was the acceptance of Jesus.
Would a loving God condemn these otherwise good people to an eternity of punishment and torment because of that one omission? I couldn’t square those two things and to a great extent still can’t. I suppose sometimes the questioning never ends, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Another issue was the question of why are we on this big, blue marble and how are we to live while we’re here? Did God put us on this Earth, with all the vast array of things to be experienced in this journey called life, and then expect us to spend a lifetime denying ourselves and practicing this monk-like behavior of abstaining from all the things we are taught are “sins”?
As they say, with age (hopefully) comes wisdom and this is the position to which I have evolved over the years. Life is to be experienced; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only by sifting through and sorting out everything this world has to offer can we learn what truly has meaning and what doesn’t. What is important and fulfilling and brings real joy and happiness, and what is meaningless, superficial, waste of time and energy crap.
That is all for today. More to follow.