I am a Christian.
I am not a rank and file, Christmas and Easter Christian. I am not a suburban Christian. I am not a Wal-Mart Christian. I am not a political, our-country-is-the-best Christian. I am a middle-of-the-night, wild-eyed, coming-down-from-the-mountain-in-a-rainstorm Christian.
I am not an evangelist. I am not an imperialist. I am an over-privileged white person who leeches off of the economically-enslaved rest of the world. I do not believe that Jesus Christ must be believed in or you will go to hell. I know that hell is a perpetual psycho-spiritual state removed from kindness and enlightenment, and Jesus represents kindness and enlightenment.
Part of this Christ symbolism comes from questioning the established order of the day. This is why I like the story of Christ. Christ indeed is “in all of us” – that part of us which seeks to upset the status quo and further equality and human rights. Christianity has been co-opted by our government and its ideology has been the excuse (the ruse, really) for countless atrocities over the centuries.
Yet, I remain a Christian.
I believe that to forgive is to love.
I could care less about the hundreds of Christian denominations. I don’t care to quibble over the Bible. Religious infighting is even stupider than religious fighting between fundamentally different beliefs.
Muslims attack Christians and Christians attack Muslims because each are afraid of dying.
True belief in an afterlife means there is no fear of dying. No fear of dying means there is nothing that is threatening. Yet we are, this whole globe, quivering, angry beasts of fear, blowing one another up because we are terrified we are wrong about our superstitions and the stories we decide to interpret literally.
I have no idea what the afterlife is. I believe if you do good things in this life then you will continue on along that trajectory. I believe energy can neither be created nor destroyed; we persist. Time and space and consciousness are all part of the same existence. After death, there ceases to be temporal awareness. We plunge into everywhere and everywhen. That is the most I can say I know.
And I do mean I know it. Obviously not empirically; not from direct experience. But I believe there is this deep place of knowing within us which has been a part of us since the beginning. Atomically and anatomically, we are kin to the stars. We have a reservoir of transcendent knowing.
The details are: which religion, which version, which story. They are inconsequential. What matters is tapping into this eternal knowing / being. The stories are the vehicles which can help get you there (provided you don’t waste all of your energy scrutinizing their claims).
The destination is the same.