“You go to church to find you some religion/And all you hear is connivin' and gossip and contradiction” - Talib Kweli Beautiful Struggle
If I’m going to keep it completely honest, I have to admit that despite 10 years of church school, I never actually read the book of Jonah until a couple days ago. After reading Jonah's story, the thing that stuck out was the mention of gods. Specifically, when the storm hit the ship Jonah was on, the text states the sailors "were afraid, and they cried to their gods for help." Help didn't come and in fact the storm got worse. As this happens, the ship's captain went below deck to where Jonah was sleeping and sought his help "How can you sleep? Get up, and pray to your God. Maybe he will notice us, and we won't die." This realization that God is the real deal was confirmed again when the crew rid itself of Jonah (whose disobedience was the reason for the turmoil) and the storm calmed. At that point, "they offered sacrifices and made vows to the Lord."
This is the only time in the Bible, that I'm personally aware of, where mention of other gods is acknowledged without God getting angry. And as they say, everything happens for a reason. I read this during a time I was dissecting religion, so this casual mention of other belief systems was the opening I needed to delve deeper into my thoughts.
I've studied most of the major religions and found that although the man-made rituals may differ, there's always one head entity teaching the same life lessons. I've come to believe this is the same entity who goes by many names. Notice, in the story, no mention of religion is made, Jonah simply states he worships "the Lord, the God of heaven" (emphasis is mine), the Christian names for the singular entity I was speaking of previously. This is contrast to the crew's "gods," plural. And once the crew began believing in the God, the text doesn't say anything about them converting, it just states they took actions to align themselves with Him. Again, no mention of religion.
So how is it that we've gotten so far off track?? That people have begun to think they're better than others because they're one religion while someone else is another?? That what a lot of people hear in church is conniving, gossip and contradiction?? What happened to learning and living that the God loves us and we in turn are supposed to love him by loving the God in everything??
I overheard a conversation recently where a person was speaking about Rastafari. This person stated Rastas smoke weed to get closer to Jah and then the conversation turned into one about drug use. This upset me because its another instance where people spurt what they were taught and never question it. Never question why religions that accept a closeness to the God only at certain times and places are promoted while those that encourage an ever-present relationship are cast in a negative light. I'm not Rastafari, but I have a lot of respect for them based on the fact that building this relationship is the purpose of their entire existence. I respect anybody like that regardless of religion, culture or anything else man has placed value on. That is the purpose of this all.
What's the meaning of life?? Love. Religion is simply a tool. A means to an end. Forget the man-made conditions and return to the source.
"My people will follow me when I roar like a lion. When I roar, my children will come trembling from the west." - Hosea 11:10
Until next time....
♥ from Halima