I am going to once and for all, here and now, profess to the be the ultimate source of knowledge, and proclaim to the world without doubt, or even fault of logic, that I have the final answer to the question of whether or not Jesus was real, and whether or not Christianity is religion of stolen ideas.
No, not really.
Actually, to no suprise to anybody who knows ME, I’m fascinated by the history of Jesus (where do I link that one to? Geez, how about here?), and further fascinated by the concept of religion as a whole. Anointed is an obvious example as to how circular MY thoughts can be. It’s spawned questions from readers, or for that matter some friends, who wish to know whether or not I believe in the story of Jesus as the Christ and Messiah, or to a further degree, if I believe that He exitsted at all. For the majority of my life, I’ve debated answering that, as any answer supplied, does ultimately require a scathing response. Anger and resentment from the Christian base, and skepticism and horror from the Atheists. Religious Indoctrination=Political Bandwagons, can we just agree on that? Either side of the fence and you’re prone to simply yell for the sake of yelling, should anyone dare to profess a countering opinion. And, though it isn’t widely discussed, please note that the moderates of both (religion/politics) are growing in numbers, as are the all out skeptics and doubters. They are opinionated, vocal, and growing more so by the year.
But I’m not here to discuss that. I believe the Moderates/Independents of both modes of thought speak loudly enough on their own. Plainly: Don’t piss them off, and you’ll get a considerable distance with your opinons/beliefs.
But what do I believe, and in the end, is it truly important to you, in determining what kind of person I am? Is it possible for you to spend a day, a week, a month, a year, getting to know ME without ever breeching religion or politics, to the point that we have a mutual respect and burgeoning friendship? And should you, on that day of discovery, that day a bond is formed, discover that my beliefs in these subjects are not equal to your own, completely rearrange your opinion of ME, to the point that our friendship falters? To the point that you view ME so differently, that you wonder how we could have ever been friends?
Oddly, I know people who have done so to others.
The interesting thing, to ME, about belief is that it’s really a you-centric thing. Something that is only defined by what you feel inside, which is based entirely upon parental tutelage, life experience, and how much you, as an individual are willing to accept without further study or investigation. These aren’t the only factors, of course, but they’re pretty high on the totem. Much as political leanings can be swayed in the formative college years, so too can religious dogma be formed by those who teach us. You are raised in the church (I keep writing, “chruch”, which makes ME want to say, “peace out”, which in turn, is only funny to ME and one other person), you live the Christian life at home by way of parental control, and as you approach adulthood, you facilitate that structure by blindly believing–largely because it’s the only thing you’ve ever known, and because you’re young, impressionable, and without experience to guide you. The possibility of a lasting system of beliefs doesn’t reach out to you until you are out on your own. Then all that you have been, all that you have known, every belief that has defined you, is called into question simply by the experiences you face. The trials, the suffering, the failure (and despite your greatest wishes, and those of the P.C adults who try to protect you from it, you WILL fail, way more often than you succeed), and the individuals with whom you associate, will ultimately determine what system of beliefs you follow. And even if 100 of these individuals have a similar path, and similar experiences, and similar childhoods that constructed their early beliefs, they will believe something different from one another. Atheist or devout Christian/Muslim/Mormon/Hindu and so forth, they will all see their world different from the other, in one profound way or another. And yet, they will still unite and wish to change YOU, the person who does not believe what they believe.
I believe that is a facet of humanity that is possibly the most bewildering and fascinating aspect in all that we may own. Those 100 people, if handed a global brush, would paint their world in completely different shades. Completely different, and completely unique.
Why does that fascinate ME so? Because it validates, in MY mind, that we have no idea what’s going on, nor do we have any idea, truly, what to believe. We find something that fits and we roll with it and we hope that we don’t have to ask too many questions, thank you, because then ice cream won’t taste so yummy. And despite that fact that I believe we all know this in our hearts, we still decide that ours is the utlimate truth and yours is just plain stupid. Marriages, friendships, families, and nations are destroyed because of this. Do I expect it to change? No. No, that would be an absurd hope, actually. I mean, human beings have been this way for a good long while, right? What’s to make ME believe that it will ever change, aside from MY own beliefs? There’s no historical evidence, nor is there any current example of widespread acceptance.
I’m right and you’re wrong, right?
Hey, here’s a crazy thought: What if I never told anybody what I believed, and just let each individual decide on their own what to make of me? What if I didn’t care to the degree that I simply found happiness in MY own ever evolving beliefs (and they are…constantly) and just smiled at your opinions (beliefs?) of ME? I don’t know. I ask that rhetorically. Don’t answer it. This is MY one paragraph to write something that I might otherwise delete.
Ever heard of Mithra? Zoroastrianism? Forgive the wiki links, they’re meant as a starting place only. I ask, and introduce, these questions simply as an illustration that we, as humans, still don’t know what to believe. Mithra is a Sun God, from the religion known in those ancient B.C times as Zoroastrianism. He was, it is told, regarded as an equal to the Divine One, created by the Divine One. Mithra was supposedly born in a cave to a virgin mother, on or around the time that we now refer to as, “Christmas”, and supposedly died on a cross on, or around, the time we now refer to as, “Easter”. Those that followed him were the founders of a religion that was known as, “Mithraism”, a system of beliefs that became widespread throughout Europe and was widely adopted by Roman soldiers in the first few centuries A.D. Mithraist followed several tenets of worship: They believed in the Trinity, worshipped on Sundays, held winter and spring festivals that coincide with our dates for Christmas and Easter, and made the sign of the cross on the foreheads of those who were recently baptised. Mithra was believed to be the the Savior of the world, who offered a lasting place in Heaven to all of those who followed his path, and professed a belief in his name. Mithraism was widely accepted and practiced until Emperor Constantine decided (under considerable pressure) in 325 (I’ve also read 313, so there’s some discrepancy here) that all of Rome were now Christians, Jesus be praised.
So, why bother to bring that up? Am I trying to convince you that Jesus was a myth? Am I attempting to use Mithraism as a tool to alter your beliefs, or to persuade you that all of Christianity is a fraud?
Nah. I’m just fascinated by it, and regard any response you may have to it as a potential illustration to MY point. Personally, I think it’s important we learn all that we can, so that our beliefs are better defined, and have some semblance of understanding. Then again, I can fully appreciate the desire to believe what you believe and the rest of the world can just toss it. It’s the blessing of free will, as I see it. Such is the gift we are given. And maybe, just maybe, it’s never been about right and wrong, or denomination, or a true definition of faith, but simply about believing. In something. Anything. Believing so firmly that you are willing to stake your existence on it. Maybe the true reward is in accepting that, even in a willingness to discuss it with those who believe otherwise, in finding the path that suits your heart and walking it to the end with your head held high, and a healthy does of uncertainty still in your pocket. Maybe that’s the path to God. Maybe that’s the path to Heaven.
Or maybe I’m going to Hell.
Have fun, be well, and for God’s sake, believe in what you believe in.