Perspectives on faith, religion and the urge to follow a leader

Pope Benedict XVI visits Berlin - Ring source

Now this is going to be a tough one. After yesterday’s news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, discussions about religion and the Catholic Church are everywhere. Especially here in Germany of course, since he is a fellow German citizen. Back when he was elected I was watching it on TV – because I am rather fascinated by the ceremonial stuff with white and black smoke and stuff and that this is really happening in the 21st century – and when they announced their ‘Habemus papam’ (taking Latin in school was useful for the first time) and announced who it was I actually screamed “NO!”. Why I was so appalled is a totally different story and might be covered in some other article.

However, after I got the news yesterday I posted on my Facebook ‘The Pope will resign – maybe they could eliminate the now vacant job position altogether!’ and caused mayhem on my site. Well, somebody else caused mayhem really, because he felt totally insulted by my statement. But what is wrong with it? I did not say anything against the person of Mr. Joseph Ratzinger (yeah, the Pope has a proper German name when he is not representing God on earth), on the contrary: I have the utmost respect for his brave decision to admit that he is not able to keep up with the world, the scandals, whatever! He proved to be human after all. Whether he can actually do this is a totally different question with the position of the Pope not being a job you apply for and all. All I said is that in my personal opinion, the Pope is totally obsolete. Now, before I go further into my views and perspectives: if you are a devote Catholic and you want everything to stay as it is: don’t read my blog. I do not intend to offend anybody for their beliefs, their faith or practicing their religion – as long as they don’t hurt anyone in any way.

I was brought up pretty liberal (philosophy-wise) and my parents (one Catholic, one Protestant) decided to not have me baptised because they wanted to leave this decision to me. This led to a major scandal with the Catholic side of my family because ‘IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO THE CHILD SHE IS NOT GOING TO HEAVEN!!!’ – Perspective number 1: what kind of God do you believe in if he would turn down an innocent child? In my opinion, all children are blessed because they have not done anything more evil than stealing their siblings’ toys!

I did go to a Protestant kindergarten – because there was no other. I also went to a Protestant primary school – because there was no other. But since nobody forced religion on me at home, I took interest in the bible stories I heard. And then I started to go to Protestant church services for kids, while the rest of my family had their Sunday breakfast. I just really enjoyed the stories of Moses in his basket and stuff and how these stories taught about justice and empathy. This was it – I just enjoyed the stories without being preached to. I did have a kind of traumatising experience in school once though: the teacher for religious education wanted to explain the difference between being baptised and not being baptised. She made me stand in front of the class with two other ‘pagans’ and said ‘They are not baptised and so they will not go to heaven!’ Again – see Perspective number 1! How can you say this to 7-year-olds! I ran home crying and my Mum had to phone the teacher and I can tell you, there was not much Christian charity in this phone call! This was the first time I questioned religion. Not my faith, mind you, just religion and the ones that carry it out.

When I was 12 I decided to go to confirmation lessons with my Protestant friends. I also had Catholics, Jews and Moslems among my friends and was always curious about their religious beliefs and customs. But I chose this way. Our pastor was new and only 30 – when I went to his service the first time, I expected a kind of boring sermon. Instead he got his electric guitar out and started playing! Rock on! That year, we got to play the ‘nativity play’ at the midnight service. Well, that’s what your usual church-goers expected. We decided to go for a very controversial play which included bad language and…. SATAAAAN…. rock music! Of course, there were complaints. But they hadn’t paid attention. The play was about caring about people in need – pretty christmassy indeed, isn’t? I got baptised not long before my confirmation. Would I do it again? Probably not. At that age, I did not understand what is behind the whole organisation of the Church. I was going for faith. Why am I still part of the Church? Because they engage in a lot of good things, social work, education and I am gladly paying my taxes for this.

Being a school kid in the 1980s and 90s in Germany, we came across the German history between 1933 and 1945 EVERYWHERE – in Religious Education, in German, in History, in Philosophy – pretty sure Maths was the only subject that didn’t touch the war. And this just manifested for me what I have been taught at home all my life and it is perspective number 2: do not follow leaders! Get inspired by people whose view is interesting, but do not follow! Ever. Once you follow blindly, you are a sheep. And I did try to get inspired: I talked to friends, be they German or from other countries, Christians or from other religions. I read tons of book, fiction and reality about cults, musicians, philosophy.

And this brings me to my view on faith and religion today: I do have faith. I believe in some sort of God but it is not an old man on a cloud. This guy is Santa! I believe that God is the strength inside you. There are powers that we don not understand and that influence us. I do believe Jesus existed but did God send his son to then sacrifice him? The God I have would not do this to his son. The God I have is also not causing or responsible for wars, pollution, child abuse, corruption and disease. I believe ‘he’ sits back and watches the stupidity of people. I do not take the bible literally. I believe it was written to explain values to people and incidents that people did not understand at the time. And this goes for Jesus, too. I think he was a very spiritual and wise man with an ability to explain things to people. I don not kneel in Churches – first of, this is not part of the Protestant habits but I also like to think of God as a power that you can actually face and talk to in a friend-to-friend-manner without having to crawl and being scared. I take inspiration from other views. The Pagan and Wiccan approaches are about natural forces and spirits, and I believe in them. Natural powers are a sign of a higher spirit in my opinion. I love symbols. I am very interested in the Christian symbols as well as in Celtic or Pagan stuff. I like to know more about the meaning behind them and get energy from their power. I prefer spirituality over religion. And, admittedly, I totally dig trashy crosses and pictures.

And you know, with all this, I do not think having a Pope is appropriate, it is blasphemy. No one can represent God on earth. You have to see things for yourself. But no, it is so much easier to follow someone who preaches. It is so much easier to follow money. It is so much easier to not having to think for yourself and just accept something as God-given. And justifying unfairness with it. It is so much easier to be told what to do, be uniformed (uniform = of the same form) and not stand out – has this ever led to anything good? Well, I am German, what can I say? Going to Africa and preaching to not use condoms is wanting to keep them in the state they are. Sure, the philosophy behind it is you just have sex to breed with the one person you love – but humans do not roll this way. This is where they stop following. It is not appropriate anymore. A few weeks ago, two Catholic hospitals in Germany refused to treat a woman who had been raped and was looking for medical help. They refused her because they might have to give her the morning after pill and that would equal abortion. I will not even comment on this one.

And other religions? Ugh, bad, aren’t they! They don’t believe what we believe! Do they not? Have a look at the basic ideas. Read ‘Nathan the Wise’ by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Then re-think. I believe organised religion should open their eyes to reality. The 21st century is here, helloooo!

If you want to read a very funny article about religion, read Tourmama’s blog on the pope. Be ready for sarcasm and very black humour though. If you cannot handle it, leave now.

There are individuals in the Churches who try to change things – but they are still suppressed and have to shut their mouths if they don’t want problems.

I will never shut my mouth. I try to be diplomatic where needed. I try not to hurt people and respect other views and get inspirations from them. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. If you start preaching, I’m gone. Be blessed, everyone, by good spirits only!

Now watch some Marcus Brigstocke and get over it!

Yours truly, madly, deeply!

Lunatique

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4 thoughts on “Perspectives on faith, religion and the urge to follow a leader

  1. Very well written and explained. I especially liked where you put musicians between cults and philosophy where they belong :-). You know I’m a non-believer in a “higher power”, although it is nice to think of some mystical character out there somewhere. I personally, don’t buy it, but have nothing but respect for your beliefs and others who have faith and live by the same set of morals you and I live by. Treat others the way you want to be treated and live and live.

  2. But you understand that is satanism then :-O. Believing the higher power to be in yourself. It must be all that damn heavy metal you’ve been listening to.
    On another note, I believe in that too, to a degree. That we have free will and are responsible for our own actions. The bit about nature I’m with you on, as my inner-hippy, ex-Wiccan teachings have showed me. I trust more in nature and scientific facts. And vampires, of course.

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