This week we listened to presentations on a variety of different religions. What I found most interesting, which was a theme I connected back to the book our group will present on, is how there really is no one “right” way to participate in religion. Within every country, within every religious group, within every domination, within every place of worship, everyone is practicing a little bit differently. This is something that I have long pondered over.
The reason why I distanced myself from my childhood faith was I had a hard time grappling with the idea that a loving God could condemn good people to Hell for worshipping the wrong way (or not worshiping at all). As a child, I noticed the differences in the way people worshiped, even within my own church, and how easily people would condemn one another for the way they chose to practice their faith. It is even worse between denominations. One high-school friend of mine who went to Calvary Chapel told my Mormon friend she was going to Hell. As a Lutheran, I was told many times by Christians from other denominations and from Calvary Chapel (non-denominational) that I wasn’t a true Christian which never made sense to me, especially since Lutherans were pretty much the original protestants. My great uncle, a Baptist pastor, asked to pray over my dying Grandma, who was also Lutheran, to ask God to let her into Heaven because he didn’t believe she would go to Heaven because of her faith. This is why I distanced myself from religion. In my mind, we were all worshiping the same God, weren’t we? And even those who weren’t worshipping the same God, weren’t they also just trying their best to make sense of the afterlife? It has been interesting hearing about the different ways people learn and practice religion, and although I’m not sure what I believe about the afterlife, I feel confident that there is no one “right” way to Heaven/enlightenment/Nirvana/etc