“…the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you.
When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known,
and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.
But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty,
and it is you who are that poverty.
I am the light that shines over all things. I am everywhere.
From me all came forth, and to me all return.
Split a piece of wood, and I am there.
Lift a stone, and you will find me there…”
-the Gospel of St. Thomas (The Nag Hammadi Library)
Today I am moved to speak. Today I am moved to be heard. Today I am inspired to do and say what the many religious folk I have met in my time have done to me so many times; and that is not to say that today I intend to preach, or to push against the boundaries of your belief system- merely to explore the deeper meaning. Some great minds have coined this “Ignosticism”, an offshoot of Agnosticism (which is the category I fall under). Ignosticism is not to question God, but to question the purpose of God. Today, when I say God, what I mean by the name is to identify the “greater being”. It is not necessarily a God of any one religion, or even any one God. It is the wholeness of the religious diety, or dieties.
Let me begin by first explaining my religious stance. I am not an atheist, not by any means. Someone truly devout of Christianity or Catholicism would have you believe otherwise. Sometimes, I think I am very religious. Sometimes scripture moves me, inspires me to shower others with my love and generosity, to bow down to the soil, dig my fingers into the peat, and thank our Mother for all she provides us. Sometimes I am so moved that I wish to drag out the feeling I have and the ideas that it creates into infinite space, sharing with others my enlightenment. No, I have never subscribed to one religion. I was raised too open minded to believe in only one. I learned many religions (Christianity, Catholicism, Jehova, Judaism, Buddhism, and even read of the Qur’An). I was encouraged to explore many belief systems and choose for myself which I wanted to follow. But the more I learned, the more I learned that many of the tenets of these different religions were the same, only written with different words. I even studied religion throughout history (my Grandfather is a retired history teacher- he taught me so much), and discovered religions that had dieties and demigods for every environment, emotion, action and intent. Oh, I have a deep and profound respect for religion. It has shaped our world from the clay. It has shaped us, as well.
As I learned of these different religions, I also learned of the different churches, of different religious leaders. I learned of religious ceremony, and quickly learned that there was an unfortunate underbelly to every religion I encountered. I am a child of peace. I am a child of love. And while in my heart I desire to champion what is right, God itself (one spirit so powerful could not bear the weakness and limitation of gender) declared that it is not my right to judge, or to exercise my judgement on another. This is where my love of religion ends. People kill in the name of their God(s). Hundreds of millions have had their blood spilled in the name of religion, in blind, senseless wars about the ownership of holy land, of opposing beliefs. Followers have murdered innocents in a fanatical attempt to rid the earth of people they view as corrupt sinners. So many lives have been taken in the name of sacrifice to their God(s), and though murder is a deadly sin, these followers believed they were saving the world.
And then came the age of the revisionist bibles. How many editions are there, anyway? The bible, the original bible, should never have been rewritten. What we read now are interpretations of interpretations. The bible has been rewritten and revised so many times that it is contaminated. Monarchs have rewritten the bible in the name of keeping their people at bay, in the name of pretending they could enter the kingdom of Heaven despite their atrocious blasphemies and evils against the Holy Spirit. Men in time have separated from the church and created new religions, revising further the bible in order to get away with sins that originally religion would have them condemned for. Latter-Day Saints, Mormonism, Lutherans, Born-Again Christians, 7th Day Adventists, Anglicans. People have forgotten the concept of forgiveness for venial sins, and repentance for those that may remain unpardoned. Instead they revise so their sins are no longer seen in the eyes of the God they choose to custom-make for themselves.
One could say that my refusal to settle on one belief system or subscribe to one that in itself has committed eternal sin marks me as absolutely devout. I believe in a higher being. I believe in a paradise spiritual place. I believe in doing good. If it were to view me as unchaste, I would ask for forgiveness and promise under it as my witness to be forever faithful to my husband; to follow him and never break the vows of our marriage.
My beliefs are as religious as they are spiritual, as religious as scientific, as religious as philosophical. One could say I have a profound understanding of God, as I have studied and seen it through the eyes of man around the world.
I come to you today, posing these positions, because I have been asked to question my stance, to grow in understanding and wisdom. I have been asked to find some sure-footedness in the face of compelling questions. You should all pick up your copy of The Holy Bible, and watch The Nostradamus Effect. If you’ve ever heard the joke about the man in the great flood who asked God to save him, then you’ll understand what I mean when I say I think his prophecies are the boat.
I fancy myself not a liar. I will not confide in God that I follow, under anyone. I believe in the Nag Hammadi. God does not expect me to drink of wine and daily bread, nor does it expect me to empty my wallet for the Clergy every week, to build up a false God in the Pope. The Pope is just a man, just as I am just a woman. Would a just and fair God appoint a man on Earth to speak to above all others of it’s children? God does not expect me to cower in a pew under the cover of a church. God’s church is in my heart and in my soul, it is with me every moment I am under the sky. I cower underneath the awesome power of its Love. I am but a speck. I am nothing more than an insignificant reflection. And though sometimes I am not sure what I believe, at least I know I do- and with all of my heart.