Powerlessness in organized religion

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As you may have read earlier in this blog, I have (in the past) had a pretty strong bias against Christianity. Overall, I feel as if I have gotten over this bias; however, there are still moments where I will have an interaction with someone, or read about something in the newspaper, and I feel it swell up inside me.  Then I am forced to go through, realized that I don’t actually feel that way, process where that feeling came from, and try to redirect the built-in queue I have to something more positive.  But it still happens.

When I talk about this topic of being powerlessness in

The Blessed at the gate to heaven with St. Peter by Hans Memling.
The Blessed at the gate to heaven with St. Peter by Hans Memling.

organized religion, I often reference Christianity, but please note that my concerns lie with any faith where your eternal fate is decided for you based on some sort of judgement.

To explain this, I would like you to think of Christianity (some denominations), and the Pearly Gates.  After you die in this context, you will appear before the Pearly Gates, where you are then given a judgement by St. Peter on whether or not you can enter…

In a single moment, all the decisions and actions that you have made from beginning to end of your life will be judged and your eternal soul will pay the consequences.  So, this is basically saying, that you can try your best throughout your entire life, but in the end, you are judged, and your efforts may not be good enough. You are in a faith that allows you no power.  Imagine if you arrive one day, and St. Peter is having the classic Monday morning.

CoffeeThe kind that requires a cup that basically says, “You need to stop talking until I have had my 3rd cup of coffee” and your judgement point is based on: Which side of the bed he got up on, if St. Joseph was late for the carpool, or he came in to find out that someone thought it was funny to eat his last banana from the fridge… All of these things play into the potential judgement you might get.  You have donated to the fight oppression, you have volunteered your time to help the poor, you have given all of yourself so that others may have something, you have grown into an amazing individual, and is nothing but generous.  But when St. Peter sees that incident from when you worked at Walmart where you stole your co-workers banana and ate just to give him grief… You KNOW he is seeing you as the dude that ruined his day, and do think he wants you living next door to him for eternity?

But even if we put the joking aside, Let’s say you have a really amazing talent with the Guitar?  But you only seem to be able to play Satanistic Death Metal.  That is a clearly bad choice.  You are singing and playing music to encourage love for God’s darkest fallen angel, and that music talks lightly of beatings, and death, and tax evasion… Completely reprehensible stuff.  But let’s say that that is the only way that you have the ability to earn the money you need to support the homeless community center in your city?  While this is clearly a situation I am altering to make things super clear, this is a situation that happens frequently, in every day life.  Your only way to achieve your good goal is by accomplishing something that can be considered bad.

So, you have spent your life, playing music to support some dark creatures, and you use all of that money to pay for meals for starving children.

It seems very clear to me that you are going to hell, because you spent so much time promoting Satan.  However, you were using that to do good, so clearly you are going to heaven.  But then again, There were horrible acts committed in your name, so clearly, you are going to hell.  But then you realize that you sacrificed your own eternity to help the poor.  Which means, of course, you go to heaven.  But we also have to consider intention.  Were you writing the music because you loved it, and after you were too rich, you thought of helping others, or were you doing it solely for the purpose of helping others, and you never touched a dime of that blood money.

What this extremely meandering path really tells us, is that every step of the way a judgement is taking place to guide your actions.  A judgement to decide what is good, and what is bad.  (And we can comfortably know that everyone has slightly different guidelines for that)  And based on these never ending sets of judgements, you will then have your eternity decided for you.  It makes it all feel so, powerless.

I think all of this comes forward with a basic premise. Believe what feels right to you. But make sure you feel good about your actions and the consequences.  Whether or not you are judged in the end, cannot be relevant in your day to day.  But worrying about potential consequences based on others opinions you only hinder the sincerity in your efforts.  Do acts of kindness, because you have found a way to care for others.  Take back your power, and act like a random act of kindness feels good in the moment, and helps a stranger.