I was saddened to hear of some of your experiences as to religion. I’ll start by sharing my experiences and include some of what I learned by condensing the massive amounts of teachings if you want me to do so in the future.
I was born in a Protestant church. One of the first strange experiences was that we couldn’t attend the marriage of a family friend which was taking place in a Catholic Church because we would go to hell. Then later, college allowed me some freedom of exploration. I asked my Mother if we could try a Methodist church – a different iteration of Protestant teaching. She was freaked out and reluctantly joined me. I could see little difference in the two churches.
We were taught that the earth was created by God about 8,000 years ago. Then, in my first job out of school, I worked in the oil industry along with geologists that help in locating oil. On one site, the geologist said that there were sharks teeth in the exposed formations over 1,500 feet above sea level in Nebraska! This shocked me and I had to question why God would try to trick us all. 8,000 years is only about 100 lifetimes. Something didn’t compute.
I didn’t know until a few years later that there were many religions. I then evolved into the teachings of a metaphysical church along with that of the 12-Step philosophy which emphasizes the concept of “God, as you understand Him (or Her)” and encourages us to study all sources of thought during our spiritual quest. This resonated with one of the Theses that Martin Luther nailed on the door of the Catholic church as he protested many aspects. Paraphrasing one of the 95 theses was, “every man(woman) is his own Priest,” telling us that we didn’t have to rely on any authority to commune with the Infinite.
Back to my engineering days with an oil services company, Schlumberger, we were encouraged to become more well-rounded by reading different books since we tend to think from a left-brain point of view. One such recommended book that changed my life was the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin in which he profoundly cut to the chase via his statement that “The bulk of ceremony and tradition tends to obscure the teachings of the Master.” Franklin was so advanced, I encourage everyone to enjoy this masterpiece. He wanted to start his own religion but chose not to do so. He meditated and prayed every morning and was a vegetarian.
Isabella, I hope I haven’t added to the confusion that might have surrounded your experience. If you would like, I can expand on how and why we as a society have developed such a bulk of ceremony and tradition and provide a left-brain condensation of many of the great religions.
BTW: Some years ago, Newsweek Magazine reported that there were over 36,000 denominations or brands of Christianity in the world.
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