Friday, October 14, 2011

Alternative Dimensions Are Not Limited To The Space-Time Continuum

That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was raised Christian Science, and raised to believe that we all have to fit ourselves into the round hole of that religion. Now, I was given the freedom to leave the church and seek out my own beliefs, but I was regularly immersed in the company of people who had left Christian Science and come back, when they had "realized the error of their ways." I wondered if I was better to stay in the religion, trying to learn from the error of others, than to do what I have long found myself guilty of doing: repeating others' mistakes so as to learn from them on my own time.

In too many areas where I have been a student too long, I found myself growing resentful of all the parts of belief that Christian Science taught that I didn't agree with. Too many people suggesting that religion wasn't about finding one that fit me, but "correcting" my "incorrect" thoughts to line up with the religion. Resentment is no good for our character, as Ralph says above, perhaps for a time I might have been worshipping that resentment instead of the God that was supposed to be the target of my prayers.

As a family, we sometimes traveled and visited friends with different beliefs, and occasionally attended their places of worship. In none of these did I find something that might fit me more, instead, even as preaching styles were less structured than those found in Christian Science services, worship practices were more strict. It reminds me of my difficulty with politics where one side hopes for freedom from state and increased imprisonment with country, while the other side hopes for freedom from country and imprisonment with state (but I can never remember which is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican).

As with my political affiliation, so with my religious affiliation, I sought freedom from both. Both relaxed worship and preaching style; both freedom from state government and country. I found another dimension in politics (libertarianism) so why couldn't there be another dimension to religion?

I was sent a link from someone else who was examining the beliefs they were raised in that was an extensive survey of beliefs, great and small, and paired them with religions and belief systems. The survey introduced me to Theravada Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, Mahayana Buddhism, Neo-Paganism, and Liberal Quaker (my top five). A fair amount of research later I discovered I'd probably answered two pivotal questions backward, as they were the largest difference between the top two: Abortion and Homosexuality. Christian Science fell to number 21 on the list.

I kept digging and found more information on UU-ism, and a sudden bout of inspiration drew me to search Google Maps. Turned out the next town over had a place of worship, Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, IL. I started attending and found some place that has a code I can believe in and support without compromising my own beliefs. That was last winter, and if you look through my first postings, I evaluated all seven articles of that code, from The inherent worth and dignity of every person to Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

I haven't looked back.

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