She talks about cherry-picking from religions and how she disagrees with the sentiment of that being wrong--"I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God... It's the history of mankind's search for holiness. If humanity never evolved in its exploration of the divine, a lot of us would still be worshiping golden Egyptian statues of cats. And this evolution of of religious thinking does involve a fair bit of cherry-picking." I have to say I believe cherry-picking is ok in certain aspects. I believe people, even in Christianity, find God in different ways--nature, music, photography, books, words, meditation, exercise, bungee jumping, fishing, whatever-- and you can search for those ways in other religions. Sometimes, things just work for you better than others and I think God put those in your path to help you reach Him. Why wouldn't He?
I'm sure how I feel about cherry-picking though in other aspects. I definitely don't believe it's ok to cherry-pick what you want for the Bible, especially when arguing about theology. I don't believe it's right at all and I think when people do that it only hurts God and hurts the image of God in others. Not that I'm saying I don't do this, but I don't know if I know the Bible enough to even cherry-pick from it. When I discuss God, I go by feeling, by instinct, and this implicit and childlike faith I have in His existence. I'm unsure about whether or not I'm ok about cherry-picking who God is or who Jesus is only because I'm afraid the somewhere in this post I might do just that. In other words, I don't think it's right but I don't want to condemn myself before I even write it. Guess I already have.
So, here I am going to quote a few things because I had to take a break from writing this and I lost my train of thought. I shall ramble until I find it again.
"The Hopi Indians thought that the world's religions each contained one spiritual thread and that these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join."
This idea intrigues me greatly. I would love it if all our religions were more interconnected than we actually thought. I think what really gets me about this idea is the fact that it seems to peaceful and harmonious, which I believe is something we need between religions. I don't think there should be conflict between religions. In essence, we're all trying to achieve the same thing. As each religion out there says, their own religion is the only way to attain salvation and that's fine. I believe my way and you can believe yours and we'll encourage each other to the end. I don't think we should be constantly attempting to convert people to one way or another or fighting over who is right. In reality, we'll honestly never truly know until we die.
That's hard for me to say as Christian because I am supposed to say that my way is right. Maybe deep down, I'm unsure over whether or not Jesus purchased my salvation with His blood, but I know I also don't want to give up the possibility that people who believe different things will go to hell. There are some truly good people I know who aren't Christians, but their undeniable goodness is so overwhelming to me, it's unfathomable they would be sent to hell. In all honesty, I have a hard time with concept of heaven and hell at all. I have not read much about what heaven and hell is like in what I have read of the Bible so I don't really have anything to go off of at all except the decision I made long ago, which is that no matter what happens after I die, heaven, hell, nothing, reincarnation, some crazy wake-up Pushing Daisies status, it doesn't matter to me. I do believe God is real and that I am here on Earth for His purposes and that I'll do whatever I can to please Him and live a good life on His earth.
But going back to different religions and what they say about God and salvation, I shall quote the line that has most intrigued me out of this whole page-- "this glimmering idea that God might be bigger than our limited religious doctrines."
NOTE OF WARNING: The following is purely just thought and ideas and talking things through. These are not my official beliefs.
This one line sparked a whole new idea of God for me, one that I'm not putting a ton of faith because again this freaking ridiculous EPL and Elizabeth Gilbert is kind of a religious wack-job, but anyway. I thought of this after thinking about this line for some time-- You know how God communicates to us differently and we all have our different spiritual gifts and things we're destined for, well, what if religions worked in the same way? Like maybe different religions were created by Him to speak to different kinds of people? Some people are made to believe in Christianity, to take that blind leap of faith that Jesus died for our sins and that God is this awesome Holy Dad. Some people were made for rules and rituals and yamakahs and really long holidays. Some people were made to pray east five times a day. And so on and so forth. I mean, just within Christianity alone are a ton of different denominations, ways to seek God, etc. And adding to that idea, before Jesus came along, the Christian God was in fact a Jewish God. So why couldn't the God we proclaim to be infinite actually be infinite?
If you think about it, we've been told many times as Christians not to put God in a box, yet isn't that exactly what Christianity is--a box. We are saying that there is only ONE way to reach God, which is a very small box indeed. What if God was more infinite than one? That thought right there goes entirely against everything Christianity holds dear to itself, but it's a legitimate question I think. In reality, the Bible was written by humans. We could've gotten it wrong. We could've come up with it ourselves. I know those ideas are answered through faith, but it's true. We are human and maybe we limited God. Or maybe God wanted to be limited to speak to a certain group of people. I don't know. I don't really believe in any of this.
However, I do like the idea of infinite God, a truly infinite God. As Stephanie's parents put it, He is infinite yet He placed rules upon Himself when Jesus died upon the cross (paraphrased, not verbatim, and possibly not entirely accurate--I had a lot of questions spilling around in my head when they were talking to me). I can understand that. God put Himself in a box because Jesus was the truth. That is a novel idea to me in this whole in-my-head discussion I've been having about this and it makes sense--God placed Himself in a box when Jesus died for all of our sins.
Hmmmm.... new ideas to think about now.
Anyway, if you've gotten this far without being offended, awesome. I hope I didn't offend anyone or made you think I was an awful, unbelieving "Christian." It wasn't my intention. I love God with all I have and I'm working on bettering it more and more. I think this discussion is a part of that.
In the words of Stephanie, "Don't call me a bad Christian. I'll kill you!"