Thursday, February 27, 2014

Religion, Tithing and Rubik's Cubes

I just read a post from someone who said he had stopped tithing, and why he suggested that others do the same. I was curious. I had an idea of what he might be saying, but I obviously would not know for certain if I did not read it, so I clicked.

Well. It wasn't what I thought, and it got me thinking about what I did think.

Before I say much more, let me tell you a little about myself when it comes to religion. I was raised in a Christian Science home (Mary Baker Eddy ring any bells?). I even went to a Christian Science Boarding School (Not as impressive as it sounds. My family received A LOT of financial aide). I went to Sunday School most of my childhood and all through high school. Every morning at school we would have chapel. After I graduated high school I even went to be a nurse's aide at a Christian Science Nursing Care Facility for the summer.

Then I went off to college, and Christian Science as a church and religion in my life faded into the background, and ultimately lived in my past.

Quite frankly, I think Christian Science is very close in some ways to "New Age" thinking. I think there is a lot of good in it. But there were things about it, or at least the people in it, that gave me cause to pause on more than one occasion. How can we say only one slice of a pie is delicious if it is all the same pie?

I have often thought about how our beliefs as humans are like those pie slices, and all those perspectives point to the center. How can we say any one is better than any other? And yet, we do - constantly.

I am getting a bit off track. I didn't mean for this to be an entry about religion. I often stay away from the topic because it seems to be a conversation that no one wins, but so many try to.

The reason I went there was because in some ways I have history pertinent to the conversation, and yet, I do not remember if we ever tithed 10% to the church. We always had to give something, but we never had much to give. My grandparents were on Social Security and receiving state aide for raising me and my sister.

In some ways, this is not an entry about tithing, either. But I know that for some it will be. I guess I am just trying to cover my bases and share some more things about myself in the process.

In thinking about the other person's writing, I found myself wondering if people, at least some, confuse Church with God. I imagine that somewhere there must be something that says that the two are somehow one in the same. But are they, really?

Someone along the lines likely said they were. And now many believe it, and act on it, as if it is so. You must know about those who have corrupted the trust of those who donate?

But this is not really about that, either.

If we believe that God is in the world as a whole, and in all people, then why is it that our assistance to those in it needs to be through the church?

Why can't we choose to help those around us directly? Why can't we take 10%, if that is the amount, and spend it in ways that help others outside of the convention of the church?

At one point I wanted to work in conjunction with the school I used to go to, but the fact that I was no longer in Christian Science precluded me. It didn't matter that I was a good, loving, caring, giving person - in some ways more spiritual than I had ever been. It didn't matter that they liked me. It only mattered that I did not wear the appropriate label.

I do not understand how we can choose not to help someone in need just because they aren't "dressed" the right way. I do not understand how we can choose to give to someone or something because they are.

I am sure there are all kinds of rules written somewhere that I have missed or long since forgotten. But I really do wonder if God is really who we think He is, or if He is who we have made Him to be by what we know of our own humanity? How can we really believe that if He loves man that He wants him to be ONE way only? That seems to be more a human trait to me. Human beings struggle to have things be a certain way, and often get upset when they're not. Do we really believe that God is that way, too? If God is just as we are, what makes Him so special, especially when we have no way to know for certain that He even exists?

I am not asking these questions to stir a debate. I am also not asking them as a way of saying I have any answers. Nor am I asking to have anyone give me their version of the "truth." I am only asking these questions because these are the questions that occur to me when I think about these things, and I happen to be writing them in a public space.

I respect that there are a myriad of beliefs in the world, and I respect those who think what they think. If you are happy with what you believe, and it works for you, it is not up to me to question it. We all get to where we get to when we get there, and in the process we become who we are.

It is a process that I have come to greatly admire and respect, as it has brought me to myself in the last year in a half in a big way. Without the "process," I do not know how anything would come to be because we seem to need the perspective for insight to happen.

Not long before I came here to write I was reading about how JCPenney has gone back to pricing things the old way. They are inflating prices so they can knock them down so people think they are getting a good deal. People apparently prefer that to "every day low prices." It sounds a bit weird, in theory, doesn't it? And yet, the company has done much better since the change, after doing a lot worse since the initial switch away from it.

It almost seems that it we require the conflict as part of the journey because without it, we don't seem to have too much interest. What would it take to not need it? After all, most of us wouldn't likely mind doing without.

We are such walking, talking, breathing paradoxes. I almost wanted to say we individually were like a Rubik's Cube in the univers. It would sound like a great metaphor, wouldn't it? Let's see. Can I say it?

The first thing I think of is the fact that while it may take some time and effort to figure out, there are ways to get to the solution. Some people give up on it long before they'd ever get there. Some will be persistent. If we are the cube, then who or what is manipulating us? Is it possible for us to get to a "solution" ultimately? What if the "solution" was life itself, and once we enter life, it is when the cube gets jumbled, only to return to "solution" state in death? What if our essence, our soul, is the one who gets to "play" with the variances and the combinations and the spins? What if it is we who do this to ourselves, purposely?

I don't know.

My head kinda hurts. "Conversations" like these really aren't really much more than a guessing game. As a child I used to think that someone had the answers to life as they got older. The older I got, the more scary it in some ways became. There were still too many questions and questions out numbered the answers. People would tell me stuff, but it didn't always fit or add up, so it was like never having an answer at all.

And you know how we humans be. We love to win. We love certainty, and we will do our best to create it - really the illusion of it - at times at great cost. What does it cost us to believe the things we do? What does it cost those around us? What does it cost the world?

The life we live is something we "buy" with our beliefs and invest in with our choices. Hmm. I wonder if there is something in that that somehow correlates to the financial concerns many face these days.

I don't know, but the water I am treading is getting to be a bit much. So I think I will end this entry, and go on to the next, or something else. My mind is in overdrive these days. There is so much I want to do and write. And most of what I am doing is actually sleeping.

PS After I left this entry, the very first thing I saw on Facebook was this. LOL. What the heck does THAT mean, other than perhaps that the universe has a perverse sense of humor? LOL)

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