| Amelia Meyer | The Fishbowl | The Monkees--"Porpoise Song" | thoughtful
Where's the church, who took the steeple?
Religion is in the hands of some crazy-ass people,
Television preachers with bad hair and dimples.
The god's honest truth is it's not that simple.
It's the Buddhist in you, it's the Pagan in me,
It's the Muslim in him, she's Catholic ain't she?
It's the born again look its the WASP and the Jew.
Tell me what's goin' on, I ain't got a clue!
--Jimmy Buffett, "Fruitcakes"
One day, my third grade teacher said that we were going to have a party at the end of the week, probably for Halloween or Christmas or some such holiday. One of my best friends at the time (I am reasonably sure her first name was Amanda, but time has not been kind to my memories of my life that far in the past...) turned to me and said, "I'm not gonna be there."
"Why? You'll miss the party!" My young mind went through all the reasons I could come up with for her to have to miss the party...it was a very short list.
"My family is Jehovah's Witnesses. We don't believe in parties or holidays."
"Wow...that seems like a dumb religion," I said.
"Holidays aren't Christian, my parents say," she told me.
"Well, I'm Christian, and we celebrate holidays, so there," I retorted. I can't recall where the rest of the conversation went, but I do know that she did in fact miss all of the parties our class had that year, all of the parties the next year, and all of the parties during fifth grade. Then I left the school to go to standalone middle school, and lost track of her for a while.
During eighth grade, our school had a grade-level trip to D.C. On one of our tours, we ended up mingling with another tour group from a different school. There was a girl there who looked familiar, but I couldn't place her until she turned slightly and I saw her nametag. I called out her name, and she turned to look at me. Apparently, she recognized me on sight. The only words she said to me were, "You were right."
This memory came to me during my meditation just before I went to bed last night. It renewed in me the feeling that organized religion as religion is a very odd concept. (Organized religion as a social gathering, I agree with. But the line stops there.) The Campus Crusade for Christ, or CCC, held a meeting last night entitled "Is Christianity Credible?", seemingly aimed at drawing members away from the MTU Pastafarians and reestablishing the CCC's reputation on campus. (It seems that many people on campus tend to laugh them off, because a lot of the time, they're so sincere and frank about trying to save your soul--at least the members I've talked to--that one just feels like giving them a pat on the head and a cookie. I don't mean to sound patronizing, but...we're in college. If people don't have religion now, they likely won't have it until they're much older, if at all.) The answer is, no, Christianity isn't credible. But, that's not the issue. If you need a religion to be credible for you to believe in it, you aren't going to be able to believe in a religion. Religion is based on an individual's personal faith in something, nothing more, nothing less. There's no "credibility" involved. Religion isn't a scientific theory--it's a group of stories that people decide to put faith into. Faith != credibility.
That's essentially my view on religion. If you couldn't guess, I tend away from religion altogether. This is not to say that I'm completely atheist. Nor do I feel I'm agnostic. Rather, I feel very spiritual, especially when outdoors in the beauty of nature, and I think the native Americans had the right idea.
I also feel that the other purpose of religion that people state--that being a way of moral living--does not apply to me, because I am a Scout. I have taken several oaths (the Boy Scout Oath, the Eagle Scout Oath, and the Order of the Arrow Obligation) and try at all times to adhere to the Boy Scout Law. Thus, I feel that my life is as moral as others'.
In conclusion, I suppose that my philosophy on religion is much like that stated my Jimmy Buffett in "Fruitcakes". It isn't simple, and is very much an individual thing.