The best way to understand a bubble is to look at your local church. It’s early Sunday morning here in the U.S. which means we can assume that at least 3 out of 4 of my fellow Americans will be attending a service this morning. But regardless of whether or not you’re a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, or even an Atheist, you have a universal truth lens (a “bubble”) through which you see the world. This is one of the biggest bubbles I can think of so before we try to pop it, let me tell you about my “Religion Bubble.”
My father was a Jehovah’s Witness and my mother was a Mormon. What that means is that when I was growing up everything I was taught revolved around the “End Times.” Essentially, I was taught that everything that happens every day is a sign of our impending judgment, but only the truly righteous can discern the signs, be prepared, and escape the wrath of God. That in itself is a very tight, solid bubble. But as I grew, my parents got divorced and I became less of a true believer and more of an antagonistic agnostic who claimed he was an atheist but secretly feared the fires of hell every time he questioned God’s existence. Then in my early twenties I had a bad acid trip (the beginning of every great spiritual awakening) and thought I was experiencing the afterlife where I would go to my maker unprepared. When I returned to normalcy I set out on a truth mission. I wanted to answer the question of “why are we here” once and for all.
So I asked a girl I knew if I could go to church with her.
One – I figured I didn’t have a clue as to where to start so this was as good a place as any (but in retrospect it was probably because I was raised in a predominately Christian nation so church was the most logical place to start).
Two – I had been so out of the “church bubble” for so long that I didn’t even know that I had asked to go to church on Easter Sunday.
It became an eye-opening experience. I met a whole new group of twenty-somethings who made me feel welcomed and before you know it I was praying for salvation, getting dunked, mentoring teenagers, and programming Sunday services. I know I just glossed over about 4 years there, and I will expand on those in future posts I’m sure (this is a very big bubble, don’t ya know)but the point is that I was in a bubble, in a bubble, in a bubble, in a bubble. To put it another way, unlike Floridians, I purposefully voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000, that’s how “in” I was in. What I had learned was that one could have a relationship with a loving God who loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believed him would have eternal life…or fuck off forever in the fires of hell.
NOTE: If you take offense to words then this is not the blog for you.
A real “us vs. them” thing if ever there was one.
The church that I attended eventually decided that in order for it to grow (it’s customer base)it had to be less…antagonistic toward “seekers.” Of course this caused a rift between the righteous and the merely alright, but what really burst my bible bubble was that these true believers had based their whole lives on the most proper translation of the Bible only to cast it off as whenever it became inconvenient. One of the first things that I learned about this church was where it got its name: Berean Bible Church. Like the Bereans, if they taught anything that wasn’t in the book then they could be held accountable to the book. But the moment the faithful questioned this new direction the leaders said, “You’re either with us or you’re with us.”
But I didn’t let one bad body of Christ ruin my relationship with God. That took 3 years of wandering through the wilderness, visiting other churches for months on end (and not just the Sunday service, I was in the Bible Studies and the youth groups and outreach ministries) and seeing the same warning signs of the “seeker sensitive” end times.
I began to question everything that I had held to be true – the stuff I read in Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ“, Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict“, Norman Geilser’s “Unshakable Foundations“, the multiple bible commentaries that I read, all the debates I had until six in the morning with other church leaders, the relationships, and especially the politics of religion.
How does a pro-lifer who voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000 become pro-choice and vote for Barak Obama in 2008? Question the goal of the pro-life movement. What would reversing Roe actually accomplish? Were the lives of the unborn the only ones that mattered? I’ll go deeper into that at another time, but the point is that once the bubble was popped I began to question everything that made up that bubble and once I found that those truths were no longer universal then I wondered if any of the truths (religions) were universal.
And here is where we pop the “Religion Bubble.”
Jesus once said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will have one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Now remember, I was raised by a Jehovah’s Witness and a Mormon and attended a church that emphasized bible interpretation so…if you realize that God doesn’t just mean God and money doesn’t just mean money (because nothing in the bible ever means exactly what it says it means, *wink* *wink*), then God is your ideology and money is safety and security. Let me explain.
John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Most evangelical churches will say that means Jesus is God because John was referring to Jesus as the Word. But the part they miss is that the word used for “the Word” was logos. According to R.C. Sproul:
Though the translation of the term logos is the simple term word, it must be noted that logos carried a lot of philosophical baggage in the ancient Greek world. Ancient Greek philosophy was concerned with answering the ultimate questions of reality. They were seeking to find ultimate truth. They wanted to find the ultimate reality that lies behind all other things.
So if we reapply that to what Jesus said then we see that Jesus is saying you’ll either serve your ideology or your fear, because what does money – a piece of waxy paper – represent if not what it can provide for you? Money provides security. It pays the bills so you can have heat and shelter. It gets the attention of the opposite sex so you can procreate. Enough of it lets you do whatever you want so you can live without fear. You’re either living for the truth or against fear.
But that’s just Christianity, right?
Pick your favorite holy book and I can sum it up in one sentence:
Life is suffering and this is how you escape suffering.
Eastern and Western philosophy, they all come down to the same bubble. The attempt to answer “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?” is really an attempt to explain, “Why is this shit happening to me and how can I make it stop?”
And guess what, that applies to non-religious atheists as well. Our (yep, I’m coming out as an atheist)faith in the scientific method does not put us above or below those who believe that a living (thus far science has shown that only life can create life), eternal (science is mostly about answering, “what caused this?”, and once you trace everything back you come to an “uncaused cause” that exists outside of time) being(s) created them and gave them a purpose. Atheists may have more valid information, but then everyone has access to the internet, so stfu already.
Once we realize that our understanding of the truth is merely that, and that it varies with each and every 7.125 billion of us, then we can pop the “Religion Bubble” and have more of us and less of them.
You can burst my bubble. Be my “them” and leave a comment to tell me how I got this one completely wrong. Or be my “us” and tell me how I’m dropping truth bombs like the interwebs was Dresden. I’ll delve more into the anecdotal evidence of the “Religion Bubble” in future posts (look for Daily Bubbles) and I’ll respond to my comments when I am willing and able. As always though, this is my blog and if I choose to be offended by your comments I will end their existence. And if you chose to take offense to anything you read here, good. You have many ways of which you may choose to respond and hopefully checking your own bubble will be one of them.