…Faith, God, Prayer…

It sounds like a list of tags, but they are themes that I seem to come across often in the blogs that I read.  I don’t have an issue with this, I just find it interesting how much and how many people publicly talk about these things.  I don’t know why it surprises me because since moving to Utah I have had more conversations about religion and faith than I probably have ever had before.  Sometimes I feel like any time you meet someone new out here the conversation inevitably turns towards religion at some point.

I consider myself to be a practicing Jew and I align myself with the conservative movement.  I feel like I have a pretty good Jewish education that probably stems mostly from the ten summers that I spent as a camper at a Jewish summer camp.  I enjoy going to synagogue, I help lead services, and I like to expand my knowledge base.  I am by no means an expert, but I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on most of the concepts.  I don’t let my religion dictate my life, but it certainly does influence some of the things that I do from day to day.

One of the things that I find most interesting are the cases where people “find” religion or faith as a result of dealing with something in their lives like an illness or death or something.  The question that it brings to mind though, is: “What is religion doing for you now that you have ‘found’ it?”  I firmly believe that people who convert to a religion make “better” members of the religion than people who were born into it, but how do people who find religion compare?  What is it about a person’s situation and their seemingly passed over religion that draws them back to that religion?

There is certainly nothing wrong with finding religion and taking what it offers.  One of the biggest things that religion gives people is a sense of belonging.  Religion is the foundation for many great communities, communities that support their members when they are in need.  At least I hope that is the case!  I certainly have been happy to find such a strong, albeit small, Jewish community in Salt Lake City.  I mean this is one of the only places in the world where a Jew could be considered a gentile!  the Jewish community here helped me out when I was new to the area, made me feel at home, and it still does.

Personally I find it interesting to discuss religion even though there are some aspects of some religions that I don’t agree with and really just don’t make sense to me (sometimes religion in general falls in that category).  Sometimes I find the people who say that god or Jesus gave them the power to go on a little hard to swallow, but if their faith gave them something to grab onto to keep going, that is a good thing.  Everyone, no matter where you live or who you are, should have the right to believe whatever they want.  This of course is not the case, but it should be.  However, it should be noted that the flip side of that sentiment is that no-one has the right to tell someone else what to believe.

It is the issue of what you believe and what you think other people should believe that is the source of much of the contention in the world.  There are too many people who think that what they believe is the only answer and they insist that everyone else believe the same thing.  I live in a city filled with people who believe just such a thing, it is literally their mission to bring as many people as they can into the fold over the course of their lives.  Their rite of passage is to go on a mission somewhere in the world to spread their faith.  What gives them the right to tell another person that said person’s beliefs are wrong?

Personally, I think that the best stance to take with religion is that there is no reason to insist that yours is the right one or the only one.  If there actually is a right and wrong religion then in the end, everyone will figure it out!  No need to try to shove it down my throat now when it is really impossible to know if there is a right and wrong at all.

So where does all of that leave me?  I am not entirely sure how I got here on account of I just kinda put my thoughts out.  I have been intrigued at how god and religion seem to play an important role in many people’s lives, or at least the parts of their lives that they blog about.  My religion and beliefs certainly play an important role in my life and they have made me who I am today, I have just never felt like some divine force is leading me through life.  I don’t challenge what anyone believes, they have the right to believe whatever they want and I respect that.  I just find it interesting to see what people believe and how it affects and drives their lives.