Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Christianity Wasn't For Me, Part 1

This next blog post may be a thorny topic for some. It is not my intention to offend anyone of the Christian faith with this post, but I feel I probably owe some readers of this blog an explanation. Some readers may be wondering why someone like me, when confronted with the question of faith, doesn't automatically turn towards Christianity, and instead turn towards Hinduism. This post should hopefully explain that, at least in some detail.

The requisite disclaimer: what works for me spiritually will not work for everyone. Everyone has their own spiritual path, and I'm not implying anyone should walk mine, unless they feel it is right for them. Nor am I saying my path is better than that of anyone else. This is just my experience and my thoughts.

Anyway...why Christianity isn't for me...

I believe the reason why Christianity doesn't work for someone of my psychological profile can come down to many reasons, but I think one primary reason, for me anyway, is that I have a tendency to do what my therapist terms "splitting." In a nutshell, that basically means I tended to see things in a black-and-white manner. I had this awful habit of applying this tendency to just about anything, including myself...and as a result, I often compared myself to others and either see myself as wholly good, or wholly evil. (More often towards the wholly evil part, as you may have surmised from the rest of my blog.)

This naturally lent itself to the "Heaven or Hell" argument of Christianity that I often debated with myself on. The rules for whether one goes to Heaven or Hell I thought of many times over, and it seemed like no matter how I sliced it, it always seemed like I would be going to Hell, with no alternatives.

On one end of the spectrum, there's the theory espoused by the ultra-conservative Christian right-wing - that merely accepting Jesus Christ as one's lord, savior, and mediator between oneself and God, and following all the rules expected of such a follower, guarantees one a spot in Heaven. Putting aside the hypocrisy committed by many mainstream Christian institutions regarding this rule to justify racism, sexism, etc., for a moment, let's say I did just that. From the sound of it all it would put me in this exclusive "club" of being saved from annihilation when the Apocalypse comes on such-and-such a date.

Here's the thing about that exclusivity that turns me away: I don't want to be accepted by just a few people into a clique. If I did that, how would other people outside this "club" view me? It sets up a prejudice that I would rather not experience. When I meet someone else, I don't want prejudice to cloud their judgment of me...that is a fate I cannot bear to experience. So joining an exclusive club of "saved" people would subject me to this prejudice, by nature of its exclusivity. I know I can't get along with everyone, but is it too much to ask to not have who I can or cannot get along with predetermined? Prejudice, to me, is Hell in and of itself, and I'd rather not experience that Hell while I'm alive. Otherwise what's the point of getting into Heaven?

Now let's examine the other end of the spectrum of Christianity - the left-leaning kind. For that end, let's assume all one needs to be to get into Heaven is to be a good person. That is, lead a simple lifestyle, be the best human being one can possibly be towards your fellows, etc. Well, for that end, already several things are stacked against me. To start with, I'm white - in our current system, racism is still present, and thus I'm assigned unfair privileges solely based on the fact that I'm white. Ditto with being male. And the American citizen part means I'm already born into a materialistic lifestyle, richer than most other people on the planet (despite my very meager wages by American standards). Right off the bat, I'm at a disadvantage in the "being good" department. It may sound an awful like the Scott Calvin theory of predestination, but in today's world, it seems like fates are predestined for a lot of people already.

Now, enter the Hindu theory of life after death - reincarnation. I don't feel like explaining it again here, so Google it if you don't know it. But despite the holes in the theory of reincarnation that some other people see, there's one particular reason why it appealed to me.

It doesn't present a black-and-white view of morality in terms of life after death. To me, it allows for shades of gray.

Shades of gray is the type of world view I need to cultivate for myself, not this black-and-white viewpoint that has driven me to the brink of insanity thus far. I need to be less judgmental of myself and the world, not more so. And that is one reason why Hinduism is starting to appeal to me.

There are other reasons why Christianity doesn't work for me, but I'll get into those in future posts. For now, though, if you feel so inclined, please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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