7/17/09

Jesus E-mails and Spiritual Materialism

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A friend who has known me for some time now sent me a Jesus slide show through e-mail today.
I know he meant well as I am used to his attempts at convert me.
But, being Buddhist makes the people not familiar with this philosophy, simply dismiss it as if I were not a form of spirituality. Slowly, it is starting to get to me....

Ironically, I don't think there is anything more at odds with most religions than being a spiritual materialist.
You've met them....
They pronounce their religion by the hour as if it would disappear if they did not bring it up.
They compare and contrast your spirituality to theirs constantly for it's all essentially a contest. And, it's imperative for them to constantly criticize others' spirituality in order to feel superior.

I need to figure out a better way to deal with these situations in which I unsuspectingly get swept up on some defense-of-Buddhism conversation every time I run into someone who does not respect it as a form of spirituality. It's time I stop cowering at these "attacks" and stand up for myself verbally.
Seems simple enough....you respect my religion and I respect yours. Right? WRONG!

Yet, just the other day, a man in his late 30's comes around dropping off advertisements for various construction tasks he could do in your home and in attempts to get information he starts up a conversation. At some point in the conversation he claims he is a "god-fearing man", he pronounces that he goes to church every Sunday and asks me, "Don't you believe in Jesus, the Savior". I hardly begin to explain that I'm a Buddhist and the man proceeds to attack me verbally with "Did Buddha die on the cross for you?.....NO!". I felt like a teenager getting a lecture for my mom for trying to dye my hair....."a phase, simply a phase she would say". Needless to say, we will not EVER be hiring him, but what shamelessness to come to my house, knock on my door and disrespect me!

Essentially my belief is non belief.
What I mean by non-belief is I do not feel a need or a fear to ritualize my practice in order to feel god's presence.
I most absolutely believe in a higher power.....You only need to be around anything beautiful to truly know deep inside that a higher being created all this.......
Yet, I do not believe god lives in a church, god is everywhere, in all beings.
I proudly do not go to church. I would love the socialization and community church provides, and that's about it.
My relationship with my maker and is within and I care not how others are spiritual.
I do not care to ever convince or convert others of my set of beliefs for I think people resonate to the religion they are in due to their specific life needs....
I absolutely do not believe God is a fearful, vengeful or jealous God.....those are weak human manifestations....
I do not think God could be described in words...
Last, and most important of them all, I feel one could find spiritual meaning and growth through reading even secular books. Books have saved my life and repaired my sanity....most of my most influential books were not religious in nature.....God IS everywhere....not just in church, and not JUST in the bible...

So I still don't know how to approach these people....Maybe the answer lies in understanding...they are happy and proud in their religion and want to share the joy they feel in it....Looking at their "attack" as just an misguided invitation would help me address the issue in a more civil manner. My hubby suggests I should be as honest as they are and share the joy I feel in my beliefs without the regard to their rudeness or initial disinterest. I see now how in trying to no step on their beliefs I totally disregard mine and it's interpreted as me not having any beliefs....So there.....be yourself, without shame...speak about my beliefs as openly as they talk about theirs....who knows, they might learn a little about me.

5 comments:

  1. Miriam, sometimes I'm just a little bit relieved that I can fall back on the language barrier.(Confession...even when I do understand.) I don't like to defend my beliefs...and I don't try to persuade anyone to anything except acceptance and love. Sometimes, it's better not to let others inside our personal space so quickly...it hurts to be rejected in the name of persuasion. <3

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  2. I agree, perhaps the answer lies in keeping distance until safe....I hate defending what I believe more than going to the dentist...

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  3. This is a fantastic post Miriam. I think it must be tough being an American and being outside of the God fearing bible bashers group.
    Over here in the UK we are just amazed at the fervency of where religion is going in the USA.
    We are laid back almost to the point of coma/apathy about religion. And apart from some people's fear of Muslims we live and let live.
    So I think feeling strong enough to put your views up is just brill.
    Thanks for visiting my blog, although I'm having a break I will return soon.

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  4. You have put this so well, Miriam! We live in the most conservative county in Wisconsin, in a very bible-thumping suburb, and I have nothing in common with these people. Almost every encounter involves some mention of religion on their part, yet they are, for the most part, self-centered, materialistic and rude in their behavior.

    I see that my blog friends, Fire Byrd and lakeviewer have been here as well. I'll be back, too. And thanks for joining my environmental blog! I've been wondering lately if I should even continue with it, since no one seems to care about these matters.

    Best wishes from Wisconsin,
    Angela

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  5. I know actually how you feel Miriam. Although I don't call officially myself a Buddhist,I agree with a lot of their teachings. My family members are devote Christians. I live in the deep south. The bible thumping, Republican state of Georgia, USA. Needless to say being a spiritual, non-church going Democrat and a abstract artist, just invites conflict and isolation. I'd love to be young enough and have the means to move to the UK!
    Eva

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