Which Door?


Since I was a young boy, I have always questioned my faith.  I was reared Roman Catholic, playing the organ and singing in the choir, and devoutly serving as an altar boy.  I always loved my Catholicism; however, I also wondered what else was out there.  I innately knew there were many doors available, and that others chose some of the myriad doors.  This awareness was enhanced by my father who was a former Catholic and thereafter an agnostic.  My challenge is that I am finding it increasingly difficult to hear people speak of their traditions as exclusively correct, not just for them, but for others as well.

In the 1960s, my mother taught me that other religions were not the right ones for us.  How she knew that, I never fully understood until I was older and realized that this was what the church taught us to believe.  Even as I became an adult and realized that there was no room for me as I was, in my fullness as a whole human being, I never stopped loving the church; I just could not go back. Today, we are told that as gay people, we can participate in the church, but that we must confess our sins and promise to abstain from the activities with those we love specified by the church. Certainly, that is not consistent with what I know of God, so I had to move forward in my search.

Christianity is the predominate overarching faith in the United States.  That is not true in other regions such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Near East.  They believe in other traditions that, to them, are just as valid as Christianity is to the majority of Americans.  In fact, there are more people worldwide who believe in their various Eastern and folk religions than believe in Judaism, the founding tradition of the Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and Islam, the largest groups of faith on the planet [1].  Some researchers indicate that Islam has overtaken Catholicism as the number one specific religion in the world [2].

I have meandered my way through Eastern religions, New Age philosophies, ancient religions, native traditions, and other belief systems.  I have read, discussed, meditated, and prayed my way to this moment.  All I know for certain is that there is a Greater Spirit, one that has many, many names. This spirit connects us all in love and unity.  I believe that sin and hell do not exist.  I believe that we live in the constant light of God.  I believe our fears cause us to choose to turn our backs on the light; to ignore that radiance eternally emanating through the door before, during, and after this human existence.  This is why we sometimes perceive evil and live in the shadows.  I believe that all paths lead to God, because God has given us every opportunity to remember who we truly are in unity with the Universe. We learn by example and we learn by contrast.  I believe we have many teachers and that all our teachers are sent from God, even the ones that scare us the most.  Perhaps, the ones that scare us or bring up anger in us are our best teachers, because like pain from an injury, they call us to focus on where our fears exist.

These beliefs are mine and mine alone.  I do not expect anyone else, let alone everyone else, to believe what I believe.  If others condemn me for my faith, they can contemplate why they do so. That is not my job.  If others feel joy or growth through my awareness of my faith, all the better.  I have accepted that I will always question the structure of my faith, but I suspect that my faith itself will be everlasting.

Perhaps in my questioning, I have walked through the door that was meant for me, the door of a seeker of knowledge and wisdom.  I believe everyone has a job to do on this planet, and one of my jobs is to ask questions out loud.  I can’t possibly have the answers for anyone else, but that is fine with me because I am not walking another person’s path.  I can only find my peace, my truth, and my unity with others in my own way, celebrating others’ light along the way.  To me, that is consistent with my faith and the God I believe in.

So, I offer my little prayer of thanksgiving to those who have been my teachers, friends and challengers alike, for they have given me opportunities to find happiness.  I am grateful to not tolerate, but celebrate the paths of my brothers- and sisters-in-light.  I continue to welcome new thought, new wisdom into my life, brought by generous souls, whether they are aware of the gifts they bring or not.  I remain aware that I still have an inconceivably long journey ahead of me to understand God. These are the gifts I receive from God for which I am so very thankful.  For those who insist on others believing as they do, I ask you this: How did you choose your door?

_____________________________________________________________________

[1] Wikipedia (2011) “Major Religious Groups” Wikipedia. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups

[2] Rizzo, Allesandra (2008, March 31) “Muslims ‘overtake’ Catholics, become world’s largest religion.” National Geographic. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080331-AP-islam-largest.html

4 responses

  1. Phillip Larrea | Reply

    Well done James. Perhaps the true “mystery of faith”, is doing the right thing with no certainty that Someone is keeping score.

    1. Thank you, Phillip. It may even be that there is no score to be kept. 🙂 Doing the right thing is simply enough.

  2. Hi James,
    When you wrote this post on religions and ‘many doors’ I read it carefully and prayerfully. though you invited each of us to respond, I carefully counted the cost. First and foremost you are my precious friend and I truly value you in my life. Secondly; one must be oh-so-careful not to react with a knee-jerk response to another person’s statement of their faith. It is a very personal thing, and each person must choose. I thank you for writing from your heart about your deepest and most personal beliefs. You are such a wise man, and I admire your spiritual curiosity and willingness to seek the path that you think is right for you.
    So as I have pondered and prayed about your blog post over the past several days and I kept coming back to, and was very much struck by your open and generous invitation: “For those who insist on others believing as they do, I ask you this: How did you choose your door?”
    First let me say with an open heart that I do not insist that anyone believe anything. However it is so interesting that as you wrote this blog the thread that ran through it was ‘a door’, or rather, it seems to me, open doors. Here is one of Christs most deeply felt invitations: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Rev. 3:20
    He invites us, He adores us But He also gives us an ultimatum. So this is how I chose my door. He knocked and I answered. Here are the words of Christ on which I believe hang the balance of the Universe. Every soul, whether they want to accept it or not will have to choose based on this statement: Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
    Jims, you asked me, so, my wonderful friend, I must answer; because I didn’t say these words, HE did. I know the world says that Christians are ‘narrow’ and I guess in some ways so we are. Why? Because Jesus said that the way to eternal life IS very narrow and the way to Hell is very broad, a freeway, if you will, with many on it.
    I know that you don’t believe there is sin or hell. We won’t debate that, except to say that if there is no sin or hell, then we have to ask ourselves why Jesus preached more about Hell than Heaven? Why? Because it was not His will that a single soul should go there.
    If there is no sin why did He need to take our punishment on the cross. John calls Him the propitiation for our sins in 1 John 2:2.
    I understand that for many the Bible is just allegory or another tool of wisdom to be used along with many other writings. And for some it is worth nothing.
    But for me, the words it contains hold the destiny of my entire life and where I will be for all of eternity. If I fall into the category of fundamental then so be it, lol. ‘Fundamental’ has sadly gotten a bad wrap thanks to the right-wing rhetoric, but really fundamental simply means the original or generating source. It is the basis, the supporting existence or determining the essential structure of whatever idea one is putting forth. In my life I have come to realize that life is most blessed and simple at it’s fundamental levels, so is faith.
    I chose my ‘door’ because Jesus invited me to come ‘like a little child’ and to come in simple, fundamental faith.
    Though sin has created a chasm between God and man, Jesus has made the bridge over which we can cross into His presence. So that is my Door, and my fundamental faith and joy.
    Love you Jims, and I thank you for sharing your ideas on faith. I see them and I know that many people also choose similar doorways. With a grateful heart I tell you that I am so glad that you invited me to share mine. Thank you! ♥♥♥ T.

    1. Dear T-,

      Thank you for commenting on my post. I am truly joyful for you that your door opened to a spiritual life so full of peace and knowingness. This is exactly what living one’s faith should do. You life has become an example to others of what loving and open faith can mean to someone. I know that God sees you and smiles, thinking (in the vernacular), “She totally gets me!” 🙂

      Love,

      J-

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