I wrote the following as a response to a comment on one of my other blog entries:
People have been speculating about the concept of “god” since the beginning of time, and we will probably go on speculating about it forever as we attempt to make sense of our life experiences. One particularly nice aspect of Spiritualism, as I understand it, is the willingness of the group as a whole to allow each individual member of the group to interpret “god” in their own way.
My “god” is a universal intelligence (the combined experiences of every person and thing throughout history perhaps?) that holds everything together, and from which we can draw on for guidance. Can I prove it? Nope. So if your “god” is an old guy sitting in the clouds with a clipboard keeping track of your individual score in some game he set up as a science project eons ago then feel free to interpret it that way, because I can’t prove that you are wrong.
The conflicts occur when we try to force everyone else to conform to our set of beliefs. I confess that I am as guilty of this as anyone because every time I run across someone who professes to be a “Christian Spiritualist” I have an almost overwhelming urge to grab them and try and shake some sense into them. So far I have managed to avoid physically assaulting anyone. But that brings me to your next comment that Spiritualists are Christian related. My, my, my, you have hit my hot button there. My only real complaint about Spiritualism is that so many of us have dragged our old fear-based concepts of Christianity into what is an otherwise very fear-free philosophy. As I have written in many of my books, I have been to “Spiritualist” funerals were people were exhorted to accept Jesus as their savior in order to avoid going to hell for eternity, a concept that baffles me because I have never heard anyone on the other side ever mention that they were being punished for not having had a personal relationship with Jesus. I have been to “Spiritualist” churches (particularly in the southern United States) where pictures of a blue-eyed, white boy, Jesus adorn the walls along with crucifixes, and even in one case the lectern was adorned with a monster sized wooden rosary. The thing is we are all products of our culture and so we tend to drag all of our baggage along with us. When I first met my husband (many years ago now) he had crucifixes hanging over several of the doorways in his house. When I asked him why, he explained that his mother (a devout French-Canadian Catholic) had hung them as a housewarming present and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings by taking them down. I think we are all like that to some extent. We don’t want to offend so we hang on to things that we would otherwise toss in the garbage.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am fine with much of the concept of Christianity which, like every other religion, boils down to be nice, try not to hurt anyone. But I don’t need a “get out of hell free card.” I believe in personal responsibility. I have to live with the results of my actions, now and on into infinity, and I am currently living with the results of more than my fair share of stupid decisions in the past. Unfortunately, when you have a savior that supposedly died to make up for your sins and all you have to do is ask forgiveness that pretty much gives you carte blanch to do what you want as long as you manage to apologize before you die.
My most recent experience with “Christians” pretty much illustrates this. We had just closed up our cottage for the winter, the porch was enclosed with tarps to protect it from the snow, the water was shut off, all of our appliances were unplugged and we had run off to bask in the Florida sunshine. The house next door was being renovated and the contractor and his crew, good “Christians” who like to run around wearing t-shirts with Bible verses on them and sporting fish symbols on their vehicles, decided that since we weren’t home it would be a good idea to break into our enclosed porch to plug in their extension cords to use our electricity. Obviously they did not see what they were doing as being wrong, and even when they were caught red-handed they didn’t think it was such a big deal. A simple “sorry” was the response (I’m sure everyone involved probably apologized to Jesus that evening too, so that was the end of the matter as far as they were concerned). I, on the other hand, still see their actions as break, enter and theft and sometimes when I think of it I kind of regret not having called the Sheriff and having them charged. But at the time I thought that the best course of action was to simply “turn the other cheek” as Jesus is attributed as teaching, and have a friend go in and turn off the power and fix the tarps again.
Am I saying that all people who profess to be Christians are bad people? No, nor would I be so foolish as to suggest that all Spiritualists are good people. My biggest complaint about Christians is that they spend so much time pretending to be different from the rest of us flawed human beings. Seriously, my fondest wish is to always be kind and compassionate, a model of virtue, and I really strive for that, honest I do. But do I always succeed. Hell no, I have plenty of flaws, just ask my first husband. As my close friends know I have a real potty mouth and can swear with the worst of them, and I’m sure you can find people who would say that I am a vindictive bitch, but these are my flaws and no vicarious atonement from some mythical Christ figure can make up for them. I have to work on them myself.