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Old 03-21-2010, 07:05 AM   #189
muddy otter
Directionally Challenged Parrothead
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: back to bobbing along in my kayak
Posts: 33,110

I LOVE that Woody Allen quote.

My Dad had such a conflicted relationship with God. He grew up during the Depression and WWII, and he lost so much of his faith after the facts of the Holocaust came out after WWII. He could never reconcile Jehovah's goodness and mercy with His allowing that to happen to the Jews.

The older I get, the more conflicted my own relationship with religion has become--I guess in my own time, that's come from seeing the degree to which people of every faith, across the planet, have used religion to justify their hatred and contempt for those who differ from them, whether it's 'Christian' hostility towards our gay brothers and sisters; an ultra-Orthodox Jew feeling entitled to displace her Palestinian neighbors because, although she emigrated from Russia a decade ago and her neighbors lived in the next town going back hundreds of years, SHE and her people truly OWN and deserve that land; a fundamentalist Islamic militant donning a suicide bomber's vests and setting out to destroy human lives; or a Hindu planting a bomb beside a Sikh temple.

I've always felt that the best and worst of ALL religions have everything in common: fostering in believers either a meditative, humble sense of gratitude, and the quest for strength and compassion to recognize and alleviate the suffering of their neighbors vs a smug and self-satisfied sense that THEY themselves--and they alone--hold a monopoly on all that's right and good and true, and anyone who disagrees merits pity or contempt if not outright destruction.

Yet from what I've seen over the years, orthodoxy will never suffice to alleviate all suffering, nor can the truth or reality ever be reduced to fit a single formula. Complexity an anguishing choices between obedience and compassion will always challenge believers. In the end, each must choose to find her own balance. I've found tremendous beauty and reverence in religion, and tried to find faith, humility and gratitude there. I haven't always managed to live out what I beleive as fully or obediently as I've hoped, but I've always felt the most strength and grace where I've recognized goodness and honored it--even where, as the Grateful Dead once said, 'once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.'
God sent angels down to earth in the form of dogs with notes saying 'don't judge, just love.' They ate the notes but keep trying to deliver the message.
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