Happy with your beliefs, but also with mine

The Iowa State Daily had a lovely opinion piece on Sunday April 19 by Sarah Tsinger Happy with your beliefs, but also with mine (reprinted here for posterity). She advocates acceptance, very much in line with the ideas we hope to portray with our outreach activities like the (Mostly) Silent Protest Against Tom Short and Your Choice, Our Voice.

TISINGER: Happy with your beliefs, but also with mine

By Sarah Tisinger

Published: Sunday, April 19, 2009 7:52 PM CDT
In nomine Patris, et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I was raised as a Roman Catholic and I loved it. Of course there will always be some things about every religion that aren’t satisfying.

I hated that women can’t be priests. I hated that priests can’t marry. With the new Pope, I knew the church’s stance on those issues was only going to become more conservative.

The biggest problem I have with religion is the reasoning that if you’re not of a certain faith, then you’re not a real believer. So which religion in the world is right?

It seems unfair that we should go to hell just because our families raised us with a different belief than our neighbor.

There are many reasons to belong to a faith. The faith with which our parents raise us usually seems a big indicator of whether or not we will be religious in our adult lives. Some people just want to feel like someone out there loves and cares about them. Others use religion to make sense of the world and the things that happen beyond our control. Some feel it in their hearts.

Some people believe out of fear — the fear that if they don’t they will spend eternity in hell or some other underworld being tortured.

Only one of those reasons seems to be the right reason to practice a faith.

Here is where I explain how I see my faith. Jesus seems like an awesome guy. He believed in doing good things wholeheartedly, healed people he didn’t have to and gave people hope where there was none. Can’t I just take examples from him without praying to him?

Polytheistic religions pray to multiple gods for different things. Perhaps one is in control of the rain, another is in charge of fire and yet another decides the outcome of wars. Before Christianity many religions were this way. Naturalistic Pantheists believe nature is nearly the same as a cathedral: nature is sacred, part of a larger natural order than us and should be treated with care and respect.

It is a way of seeing God in the rain, in the trees and grass.

Most religions care about the same principal themes. They want to do nice things and believe that if you do good things, good things will happen to you, in life and after life. The Dalai Lama said “kindness is my religion” and I’ve never been able to get that out of my head when people ask me if I am a religious person.

Because most religions have a similar basis, because we can never logically prove which religion will save us from eternal damnation and because I like to sleep in on the weekends, I have chosen to mix these religions into my own hope of living a successful and happy life.

I cannot say there is no higher order than us out there, as I feel this would be too ignorant. Animals have a higher thought process than plants and yet the plants do not know this.

Humans have a higher process than animals, and again they cannot comprehend this. It is ignorant to completely rule out the fact that there may be something out there of a higher order. We simply could never understand, and I accept that.

I take lessons of meditation from Buddhism and try to find a peaceful place within myself in a tumultuous world.

I take the lesson of forgiveness and love from Christianity. I look up to my chosen saint as a Catholic.

I absolutely love and respect nature and find peace in it as part of Naturalistic Pantheism and I definitely try to be kind to everyone. I feel that as long as I am a good person, try to help out where I can and am at peace with the world, than it doesn’t matter what happens once I’m dead.

I don’t want people to leave their religions, I just want people to understand that those of us who aren’t devout worshippers are sometimes OK with this, and I do not need to feel the bruises of your Bible.

I am glad you are happy with what you believe, so please be happy that I am as well. Amen.

—  Sarah Tisinger is a sophomore in journalism and mass communication from Bettendorf.

Copyright © 2009 – Iowa State Daily
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