How I Finally Made My Peace With Religion

by Melody Fletcher on April 10, 2011

I grew up Catholic. I even went to Catholic school and everything. Whenever I use to meet others who’d been subjected to the same fate, I’d give them a knowing look, followed by “Ah, so you know my suffering…” I couldn’t discuss religion in general without adopting a heavy, sarcastic tone. Religion, to me, was a crutch which weak people used to abdicate responsibility. Since almost all world religions teach that God is a power separate from and outside ourselves, it’s easy to see their appeal for those who aren’t yet ready to own their own power. It took me a long time to make my peace with religion in general, but I believe I finally did. Here’s what I’ve come to know.

I’m not sorry (anymore) that I grew up in the confines of a religion. If nothing else, it gave me something to push against – a jumping off point, if you will. I wasn’t very popular with the nuns and priests. I’ve been a radical question asker pretty much since I could form words, and dissected anything that didn’t make sense to me. As guardians of the church, I expected the nuns and priests to be able to answer my questions. But instead of seeing my inquiries as honest attempts at understanding their doctrine (I wasn’t pushing against anything at this time, I was just trying to make sense of things), they figured I was just being a smart-ass and dealt with me accordingly. Looking back, my questions must have been incredibly uncomfortable. Many of the nuns of that generation never chose to enter the church – they were forced into it. They never felt any calling to support the church or resonance with the teachings. They truly could not answer questions such as “If God is really all loving, why would he ever condemn us to suffering? Why would he set us up for failure?” So yeah, I must have been a bit of a thorn in their side. But this situation did start me on a path of looking for the truth and gave me an opportunity to flex my intuitive muscles. It would’ve been easier to just agree, but my gut told me to keep looking. I listened, and haven’t stopped doing so since.

In my teens, I began to focus on all the suffering the church had brought to people around the world. I was still focused heavily on Christianity at this point, but was beginning to study other religions as well. From the crusades and Salem witch trials to present day missionaries telling African tribes that condoms cause AIDS, I saw the church’s efforts as misguided at best, and cruel, selfish and downright evil at worst. I simply could not condone this kind of behavior.

It was during this time that I got my first taste of the Mormon religion. I went to High School in Idaho, which has a large Mormon population, and I had frequent conversations with young women my age, who were faced with the dilemma of wanting a career, but knowing that they’d have to give it all up in a few years to marry and have children. It was their sacred duty. Then, there were the Christian teens, who wore small lapel pins shaped like little baby feet, to bring awareness to all the fetuses who had been aborted. Nice. To me, it was clear that these religions were brainwashing their congregation, starting with the children. Get them while they’re young…

Religion and God still seemed intertwined to me, so when I rejected the church in all its forms, I rejected God as well and became an atheist. I was angry with God. If he existed, how could he possibly condone all of this suffering, including my own? But that didn’t last long. Somewhere, deep inside me, I knew that there was more. And I began searching, reading everything I could get my hands on. I explored Wicca and paganism, with their nature-based rituals. Buddhism also resonated with me. I was drawn to any philosophy which wasn’t based on fear. I’d never really believed in the devil, and did not understand why an all-powerful God would need to govern his people through fear. Even at a young age, I recognized that this is the style of a weak, insecure ruler. Surely, God was better than that.

I was drawn to authors that wrote about unity, that we are all connected, and that our power is not outside of ourselves. It’s within each of us. Religions had it all wrong, that much was clear. And people were suffering because of it. If only these sheeple would wake up and realize all the damage the church was doing to them!

I stayed in that condescending mindset for years. My solution was simply to stay as far away as I could from religious folks. I couldn’t talk to them or relate to them. I couldn’t understand them, and I no longer wanted to. I thought I’d made my peace with it to an extent. But if the subject of religion came up, the sarcasm and sneers would come right out. Avoiding the subject hadn’t diffused it.

It was only fairly recently that I finally had some insights and revelations that allowed me shift my perspective. The first two I’d discovered years ago, and even if they didn’t really bring me much peace, they were an important part of my journey. But the third really brought it all home for me.

First, the churches themselves are not spiritual organizations, but political ones. If you look at their history and operations through the perspective of a government agency, their actions make sense. They are profit and power motivated, and their treatment of individuals only seems cruel and evil if you expect them to truly care about their parishioners. They don’t care any more than an oil company cares about the people who pump its gas into their cars. It’s a business. This point is important because I pushed against the church for many years because they were supposed to do good – they were supposed to be better. I believed the marketing spin, and it made me angry that they didn’t live up to it. Once I saw that they were basically corruptable corporations, it made it easier to let go of the fairy tale notion of any organization swooping in and saving the world. This was a huge step for me in terms of realizing that we cannot abdicate responsibility for our reality to anyone, and by holding on to my anger at religions, I was, in fact, still holding them responsible in a way.

Second, religious organizations have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality. But, religious people can be spiritual. The two are not mutually exclusive. There are a ton of people who are devoutly religious that are also incredibly spiritual. Sure, there are those who go to church on Sunday to be seen by their friends, only to go to brunch right afterwards where they treat the waitress like dirt (I waitressed in a Diner when I was 17 and got my share of rude and downright nasty after church brunchers…) But this has nothing to do with the church they attend. They’d be douchebags* even if they weren’t religious. Also, there are a lot of individual churches and priests that do a great deal of good. There are open minded priests that support gay marriage and female priests, against the church’s doctrine. They teach kindness and acceptance and build a sense of community. The insight here was that I realized that I couldn’t use religiousness to classify anyone. Being religious isn’t a character trait, and certainly not a character flaw. There are kind people and there are douchebags, and they are both abundantly present on both sides of the fence. I saw that I was being judgmental on a huge scale. Although I didn’t yet drop all of my critical tendencies, I at least became willing to judge each person individually, instead of condemning them as a group.

Finally, the third insight: Religion can help people become more connected. There are a lot of behaviors, rituals and perspectives taught by religions that actually help people to raise their vibration and connect with higher frequencies. When a Muslim kneels five times a day and recites his prayers, he is connecting. It’s no mistake that it gives him a great sense of peace. When a Christian goes to church, a building with a permanently higher frequency created by years of repeated rituals and prayers, and feels a sense of calmness, feels the stress of everyday life melting away, she is actually aligning with a higher, better-feeling frequency. When a priest asks you to focus on gratitude and love during his sermon, and you do it, he is guiding you to a higher vibration.

It makes perfect sense to me now why people who “find God” want to yell it from the rooftops. People who find enlightenment, even for just a moment, do the same thing. If feels amazing. They’re filled with love and they can’t wait to share that feeling. They want everyone to feel that way. Of course, we have no responsibility to share our enlightenment with others, nor can we. Each of us has to experience it for him or herself. It’s not something you can be talked into. People find their way when they’re ready. And if someone isn’t ready, you can proselytize all day long, and they won’t be able to hear you. But again, religions have nothing to do with this. Even non-religious people will fall prey to this urge.

There’s no doubt in my mind that churches and religious texts of all persuasions have helped people to reach a higher vibration. The Law of Attraction is always at work, even at church. When searching for spiritual knowledge, we will always hear precisely what we’re ready to. Some of us will read the Bible and resonate with the vengeance and hatred. Some will find relief in judgment of condemnation of others. Yet others will learn about love and acceptance, no matter what the text or the priest or the evangelist says. We will always hear exactly what we resonate with. Everything else will be invisible. This is why people can read the same scriptures and so vehemently disagree with each other.

So, I no longer push against religions. I truly see that they are just another tool that the Universe can use to bring people together with their vibrational matches – be it other individuals, knowledge or opportunities for experiences. And it’s always been that way. Religions aren’t a disease (if you want to think of this way). They are and always have been a symptom – a reflection of the vibration of a large part of the human population. And yes, that reflection has been a pretty nasty one at times. But right now, in this time, what I see is hope. Even the churches are having to admit that things are changing, becoming more tolerant. People are waking up to their power and are less willing to be kept on a need-to-know basis. Things have to make sense. Like any bureaucracy, they are struggling to keep up, but they must if they are to continue to be our mirror.

I no longer look down upon people who want to tell me about “the Lord” (which used to make me cringe and run away. Literally. I would just get up and walk out). They have found their truth, and that makes me happy for them. It may not be my truth, but that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be. We’re each entitled to our own. The wonderful thing is, that since I’ve adopted this newfound attitude, NO ONE has tried to convert me. Everything I used to push against has simply disappeared.  But this makes perfect sense, of course. I changed my filter, and now the Law of Attraction can’t bring me together with people or circumstances that push my buttons. I simply cannot perceive them anymore. God, how cool is that?

* It still kind of makes me all giggly that I was able to use the word “douchebags” in a post about religion. Twice.

Are you still pushing against Religion or have you made your peace with it? Share your experiences in the comments!

{ 37 comments }

Cory May 3, 2011 at 23:13

You got great points there, that’s why I always love checking out your blog.

Melody Fletcher May 4, 2011 at 00:05

Thanks Cory!

Hugs,

Melody

Kim May 18, 2011 at 21:50

Wow Melody..I was also guilty of judging “church-goers”. But finally, I accepted that it serves a purpose for them so who am I to judge. I don’t get as angry when others speak to me about their beliefs and honestly, like you, I have had that many people in the last year or so try to persuade me to follow their religion or church. HMMM! I guess once I really stopped resisting, I didn’t attract what I didn’t want anymore….Boy, this is good stuff!

Kim

Melody Fletcher May 19, 2011 at 15:54

I know, right?! This was a really powerful realization for me. I pushed against religion pretty much all my life. I’m really glad you’ve made the same shift.

Hugs,
Melody

Destin May 21, 2011 at 20:39

You seems to be an expert in this field, excellent article and keep up the good work, my friend recommended me your blog.

Melody Fletcher May 22, 2011 at 21:30

Thanks Destin! I appreciate you stopping by.

Hugs,
Melody

Mary Carol September 30, 2011 at 04:12

Hi Melody,

I’m late in commenting as I’ve been going through and reading earlier blogs. I felt as you did about Christianity for most of my life, though perhaps with less heat. I was lucky enough to “discover” Taoism about 40 years ago, not a religion but for me a very helpful way of perceiving and being in the world. Right now I’m mulling the connections between Lao Tzu’s writings and vibrations and energy. It all connects up, certainly in the sense of living in the flow. Your thoughts?

Namaste,

Mary Carol

Melody Fletcher September 30, 2011 at 05:32

Hi Mary Carol,
I haven’t studied Taoism extensively, so can’t give a really in-depth answer, but as far as I know, Taoism is all about balance with nature and spirit and living in harmony with all that is. This is very much in line with the energy principles that I talk about. They may not talk about “vibration”, but I believe the essence is very much the same. :)

Hugs,
Melody
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Mary Carol September 30, 2011 at 14:33

Thanks Melody. For me Taoism is all about movement, flow, living in the moment, welcoming change (ouch- cliche, cliche, cliche, but true). Speaking of which, can I/you change my avatar/icon? The frown-y face is just not me. Hope you have a wonderful day!

Melody Fletcher October 2, 2011 at 05:45

Sorry Mary Carol. I just realized I forgot to answer this. I can’t change your avatar, they get assigned automatically. But you can go to Gravatar.com and sign up for free and upload any image you want (of yourself, or some funny picture, whatever). As long as you use the same email address you signed up with for your comments, the gravatar image will show up on blogs. :) That’s why you see my picture next to my comments…

Hugs,
Melody

Derrek September 30, 2011 at 07:38

Another late comment. ;)

It takes balls to bash religion. It takes balls to accept it and have full faith. But it’s ballsiest when you can find a balance and neither hate nor blindly accept. That’s why I love this piece. I’m going to leave a horrendously long comment because it’s exciting to relate so much, so apologies in advance. ;)

Btw, I’m not preaching. I studied other religions too and found that at the core they have the same teachings, but I don’t think I’m in a position to explain any of that, so I’ll just speak about my own religion.

I’m Hindu and my closest relatives are Catholics, so I had the unique opportunity to experience both religions very closely (I went to church for mass, and went to temples as well). With 5000 years of history behind Hinduism, it’s no surprise that the line between religion, culture, and rituals has been severely blurred. I grew up watching people interpret the hundreds of Gods and deities in our pantheon in a crazy number of ways. I witnessed peaceful rituals that inspired me as well as ridiculous ones that were embarrassing. When a tragedy occurred in the family, people explained that “karma” is the reason for my family’s suffering. Karma in my past life supposedly bit me in the ass in this life. Yeah, that makes sense, considering I can’t remember what I even did in the last life. So I’m being punished for something I never intended to do, and I’m supposed to take that whipping with open arms?

It was at this point when I was mildly depressed, desperate, and just pleaded for an explanation. I kept wishing and hoping for a new way to look at things. Lo and behold, I was introduced to the LOA and a boatload of personal-development books by a lecturer at college. Talk about being wowed when I started reading the stuff!

Still, I wasn’t happy with the way religion was being interpreted to me. I wasn’t happy with the way God was portrayed as this overlord who made us suffer to prove a point. To me it sounded more like a sick, twisted game. I didn’t see the meaning in it, I didn’t see the value in suffering so much. Why were we born if everything is written in stone or if karma already knows how we’ll live our life? What was the point? I wasn’t willing to accept this version of God. And the way religious people would dismiss all my questions because, apparently, religion was the definition of perfection and crystal-clear purity (thus my comment on your “Hacked” post ;) ). I dug deeper and read books by people who had a different take on things. For the best part, I actually asked myself what I thought about God.

I’m still learning, but my view on Hinduism has drastically changed ever since I started to intuitively search for betterment. According to its core teachings, Hinduism encourages one to satisfy oneself in life by enjoying the beauties of this world, by gaining material wealth, sexual satisfaction (thus the Kama Sutra), and spiritual enlightenment, without causing any damage to another. It discourages a ‘connection’ or ‘obsession’ over any of these, but encourages them as forms of making our time on earth meaningful and rich.

It explains suffering as a discord from positive energy and an imbalance in ourselves that we need to rectify via meditation and ‘do-goodery’. Most of all there is a verse in the core scriptures that says “Question Everything”. It literally tells us to dismiss notions and theories, even about God, that don’t ‘feel’ right. According to the verse, our instincts are our first line of feedback. If it feels good, accept the notion. If not, ask further.

I learned that there is One God in Hinduism, made into a hundred versions as a form of symbolism to help Hindus meditate by focusing on the traits and meanings (education, love, success, removal of obstacles, etc) of a certain deity. The holy books, however, say that the true God has no form, is made of an energy available through meditation and by doing good deeds, and the true way to connect is by looking within.

By learning what my religion truly meant, I was able to peacefully disregard all the BS interpretations of God and rituals and whatnot. I found peace by connecting real Hindu teachings with things like the LOA and watched in awe at how perfectly they blended. There was no more resistance. I even opened-up and now have spiritual freedom. Most of all, it helps me to know that I can be spiritual and religious without being blinded. I can be intelligent.

And I totally agree about religion being a vehicle for peace and stability. It gives people hope and a sense of direction so good for them. Like you, I no longer look at religious people with a sort of hatred. If they’re happy believing what they believe, awesomeness be upon them then. For me though, I needed more, and I’m glad to say I found A LOT more. :)

Melody Fletcher October 1, 2011 at 06:34

Holy crap, Derrek, I just realized I’m Hindu. Who knew? Good thing I stopped eating Beef a while back… LOL. The more I study religions, the more I realize that every single one has a completely different philosophy at its core than what’s generally believed. Christianity, for example, was not originally about a vengeful, spiteful God. It was about love. And Jesus actually preached empowerment – he even told people that they could do everything he could do. But somehow all of that got lost. But when we take the time to really figure out the origin of all the major faiths, we realize that they are all based on love and connection.

Thanks for sharing this incredible personal perspective, Derrek.

Hugs,
Melody

Derrek October 1, 2011 at 10:45

Ha! Who knew indeed. ;) You’re right. I think when prophets and monks and saints established religion they knew it could be used as a powerful tool to spread love and connection.

Unfortunately once they passed on, their teachings were screwed upside-down. Especially Jesus’ abilities. Talk about having quantum leaps! I guess someone figured that if everyone was to be empowered, there would be no religion thus no political power to be gained. You just can’t flock empowered people. :)

Mary Carol October 1, 2011 at 15:52

Melody, I’m pretty sure you’re a Taoist too. And everyone else who comments here. And tons of people out there who’ve never heard of Taoism… Namaste to all!

Melody Fletcher October 2, 2011 at 01:13

You’re probably right Mary Carol. When you get to the core of these religions and philosophies, I’d probably resonate with all of them. :o )

Mary Carol September 30, 2011 at 14:27

Hi Derrek,

Your comments resonate for me. I too went to the core teachings of Taoism, the original 81 writings of Lao Tzu. Interpretations for me mainly just muddy the waters. Looking at Christianity the same way has helped me with acceptance, though I don’t share some of the core beliefs, such as the notion of human dominion. Have you read Elaine Pagels?

Mary Carol

ps Baba Ganesh is a beloved member of my household.

Derrek September 30, 2011 at 15:15

Hi Mary,

I have not read Elaine Pagels, but I’m glad my comment resonates with you. :) What’s Elaine Pages about?

It’s funny how at the core all religious teachings want to do is mold a better society. Problems arise when religion is used as a game of politics to stir hatred and create a sense of the “I’m better than you” mentality. It never settled well for me when God was limited to a church or temple or pagoda, and was completely baffled at the arrogance (and ignorance) of religious heads when they claimed our version of God is THE version of God, that we’re the dominant species of the entire universe (not just Earth, which we still are not), or that believing in evolution was a sin. I just had to dig deeper.

Mary Carol September 30, 2011 at 22:10

Derrek, Elaine Pagels writes about the origins of Judeo-Christian traditions. She’s Catholic but writes from a researcher’s perspective. Some of her books are “Adam, Eve, and the Serpent,” “The Gnostic Gospels,” “The Origin of Satan,” and “Reading Judas.” Fascinating stuff.

I agree with Melody that thinking of religion as an organizing principle for societies helps put it into perspective. I’ve written an article about how the Ten Commandments are similar for humans to the flocking rules for birds (complexity theory). “Do unto others…” is not a bad starting point for cooperative human interaction.

Enjoying this interaction especially — thank you all for your insights. Hugs all around.

Derrek October 1, 2011 at 10:15

Ah! “Adam, Eve, and the Serpent” sounds very familiar. I’m going to check it out pretty soon, sounds interesting. One of my favorite books is “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong. It’s not very juicy or witty, but extremely elaborate and if you have time to spare it’s a great read. If you’re into more humorous takes on the Bible, I suggest ‘The Uncensored Bible’.

It’s quite sarcastic and crude but fun and informative nonetheless. :)
Thanks for the heads-up on Elaine Pagels!

Mary Carol October 1, 2011 at 15:54

You’re welcome, and thank you for the reading suggestions.

Fred Tracy September 30, 2011 at 20:35

Nice post Melody.

You sound a lot like me actually. I was raised (indoctrinated) as a Christian and remained that way for many years. When my mind finally got sick of rationalizing and making excuses for what appeared to be total BS I moved away from that and became agnostic.

Eventually, I started looking towards Paganism and Buddhism for new ideas. They still tend to resonate more with me, I don’t have any particular religion or anything like that now though.

Like you, I think there was a time when I was angry at religion. But I’ve also moved past that. I had a friend from school tell me about his Christiany experience with Jeebus and I actually really enjoyed the story and the fact that he told to me.

Religion is just another tool to bring people together and, as you mentioned here, is more a symptom of humanity than a corrupter of it.

Cool beans. :)
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Melody Fletcher October 2, 2011 at 01:17

Thanks Fred. LOL. I studied Buddhism for quite while I was looking to replace Christianity with another religion. It was going well until I saw footage of a bunch of monks beating each other’s brains in over a property dispute. About then I started to realize that maybe no religion had all the answers and started to look in a new direction.
Jeebus is a pretty cool dude. Likes his vino, too. Ha.

Sameer February 14, 2012 at 14:39

Hey Awesome Melody,

Felt like I saw some Hollywood movie with Super star real life actress Melody :)
It took little extra time than usual to connect with it but, finally I could.

Even after knowing all this I keep God as universe in some instances & it helps talking to him anytime I want it. End of the day I feel like he is the one who is giving me light for achieving my dreams (easy to connect) But, the way you found your answers, I also found (and finding) all my answers with you :)

Thanks for giving more clear view and nice to know more about you.

Huge Hugs & Love,
Sameer :)

Melody Fletcher February 14, 2012 at 21:09

Hi Sameer,

There’s nothing wrong with connecting with God. :) This post was about organized religion. Although many people are finding it hard to separate the two, just as I did when I was a teenager. Once you see the distinction, though, you can create a wonderful, deep and authentic connection with that which you call God. If with that kind of connection, it’s no longer important you or anyone else calls it. It’s all good. :)

Huge hugs!

Melody
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Brian March 2, 2012 at 12:17

Thanks for this post (and all the others,) i can see your point about people coming together similar as though they would play Bridge or anything. My grandma, who was born in 1902, once told me that for women at her age church was the only place to socialize. A lady would not attend a pub. However, her church offered a place where people could connect not only for the purpose of church service, but also bible study, church bazaar, excursions, and so on. Seen from her standpoint and considered the time, it made sense to me although i don’t share it. Unlike me, she was a very social person.
About the churches as buildings and their frequency, i always found the atmosphere in a church creepy. Don’t say this to contradict you, i have a general problem with the energy fallout of old buildings. They make me feel extremely uncomfortable.
Then, in my 40′s, i found an explanation in “The Mists of Avalon,” as Morgaine Le Fay describes right those feelings and is wondering how people can practice their spirituality in a man–created building instead of a natural place. That’s exactly what i feel about it. My spirituality needs a direct connection to nature.
You are also right about the separation of church and god. However, as a Wiccan i am well aware that it was christian monks and preachers who torched our libraries and forced their own tenet upon our belief.
During the last 2,000 years people committed deeds of immeasurable hatred and violence in the name of christianity, and therefore i avoid them in the same way i would avoid any other fascist. I do not fight them since i know this would entangle me. But … i just can’t trust them.

Melody Fletcher March 2, 2012 at 19:12

Hey Brian,

That’s so interesting, that you feel discord in a church, but it makes perfect sense. What you’re feeling is vibrational discord. Given that you resonate much more strongly with spiritual sites in nature and your beliefs about the church and all its history, it makes perfect sense that you’d feel uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you were to force yourself to go to church out of obligation and endure that off feeling. ;)

People have done terrible things in the name of God, Christ, Buddah, Dick Chaney, whatever. When people are disconnected and in pain, they’ll seek out any excuse that will allow them to release that pain. If hurting others in the name of God is condoned in that moment, then that reason will do.

I avoided religious people for years. Now that I’ve made my peace with it, well and truly (I can actually talk to people about “the Lord” without cringing), I’ve become aware of a whole different kind of religious person: those who respect the beliefs of others, even if they don’t match their own. I’ve met not only Christians, but Muslims and Jews and Hindus and others who are spiritual seekers, NOT out to convert anyone, but simply looking for their own truth and using their particular religion as a framework to do that. They are out there, I promise. And someday, when you’re ready to try trusting them, they’ll show up in your reality, too. Until then, you’re right to stay away. Because the worst thing we can do is to keep ourselves in a situation that doesn’t feel good. We either have to shift and feel better or get out. Good for you for noticing and getting out. :)

Huge hugs and thanks as always for so generously sharing your point of view!

Melody
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anny March 12, 2012 at 22:07

Hello Melody,

I just read this post and the comments for the first time. Interesting. The word religion actually comes from the Latin verb religare, which means to (re)connect. People who founded religions evidently were aware of the fact that a connection had been lost and they wanted to reconnect with God. I still use that word. Deepak Chopra (Hindu) explained it as a proces (Generation, Organisation, Desintegration/Renewal). I find that interesting.

I too grew up with religion, Protestant, which knows many church denominations, which all were the true church, as the Roman Catholic church was as well of course. Our church had a quite loving approach so I did not start rebelling or anything, but I felt free to believe what I wanted to believe and shrugged off the rest. But of course I was indoctrinated as well with some attitudes which were hard to loose later on.

At quite a young age I started studying everything that had happened to the Jews during the past 2000 years, starting with the Holocaust (I grew up just after WWII in Holland and it just started to sink in that 100.000 of our Jewish fellow citizens had been deported to the Nazi concentration camps and had died there or been murdered, and that the population of Holland had more or less let it happen without much resistance). Of course there were many people who hid Jews or tried to protect them at the risk of their own lives, but still they were a small minority. However, of this small minority many were church members and their motivation was their faith. In spite of everything that went wrong in practically every religion – people being people after all – these individuals really got into alignment with Source or with God in order to be able to do what they did.

They inspired me and later, when I reached my early twenties, I went to Israel, where a couple of church denominations from Holland, Germany, Switzerland and the USA had started a settlement in order to make a beginning with another attitude towards the Jewish people than had been evident in the previous 2000 years. We would not preach, let alone persecute or murder, but we would live there on an equal basis and meet our Jewish neighbours on their own territory and listen to what they had to say and we would also study Judaism in order to get to know something about their religion. It was challenging of course because not only were we confronted with another religion, we were also confronted with each other as we all came from different churches, both Protestant and Catholic. And the Jews of course were not the only ones we met. In our region, in the Galilee, we were also surrounded by Arabs, both Muslims and Christians, other churches again. I liked this confrontation. Imagine that before I did not even know that Islam also was an Abrahamic religion and that Allah was the same God that was honoured by Jews and Christians. The only thing that was different was people’s ideas about God and of course there were different opinions about that within the religions as well. Sometimes I resonated more with the ideas of an openminded Jew or Muslim than with my fellow Christians.

I met my husband, who is also Dutch, in Israel and we got married on top of mount Carmel, where the Dutch consulate happened to be at the time. Three of our four kids were born in Israel, and the eldest two went to school there at a Jewish school. They learned to speak Hebrew fluently and soon we were addressed with the biblical terms abba and ima, instead of dad and mam. Our Christian kids were taught the Jewish Torah and Tenach (first five books of the bible and the old testament) in Hebrew by Jewish teachers and because this was of course quite a challenge for Dutch kids one of our Arab Muslim friends offered to help them with their homework for this. I loved that.
We returned to Holland just before our eldest would have to go to highschool because the older the children were, the more difficult it would be for them to get acclimated in Holland. As it was, for quite some time I had to explain things about their homework in Holland to them in Hebrew. Unfortunately now they have lost their knowledge of Hebrew.

When our kids had grown up, the second of our three sons went to Vietnam for a holiday. He fell in love with the country and with a girl and that was that. Almost five years ago he moved there permanently and got married to a Buddhist girl over there. We attended a fabulous wedding at a Buddhist pagoda and were totally accepted there. Our youngest made use of the occasion to fall in love with the first girl he saw at the resort where our other son worked and where we stayed for the next few weeks. The following year we had another wedding in Vietnam in another region. Our second Vietnamese daughter in law now lives two minutes away from our house. She also is a Buddhist girl. Our only daughter still lives at home. Her boyfriend is a Muslim, who lives in Cairo, Egypt. Next wedding in Egypt? Who knows. Our eldest son actually married a Christian girl and got two lovely daughters, who made my husband and me proud grandparents. They live in Holland and are still church members. My husband and I and all other children left the church years ago but we attend services of any religion with openminded people whenever the occasion arises, whether it is in a church or a Buddhist pagoda, a synagogue or a mosque.

Love,

Anny

Melody Fletcher March 13, 2012 at 20:52

Wow Anny,

it’s so awesome how you’ve been able to meet, get to know and integrate so many different religions into your and your family’s lives. I thought I was multicultural, but you win. ;) I have yet to go to Israel, but it’s on the list. Whenever I travel, I always meet Israelis and they are such fierce and amazing people. Fearless, determined, and fun! I adore people who have a passion for life. And I love meeting people who are wiling and able to speak about their background and religion with someone from a different faith in an open minded way. When we dig down a bit, we find (or at least I’ve found so far) that all religions are basically based on the same belief system, at their core. There are different rules, but when you get down to the basics, they are the same. That’s what makes it so funny that people will fight over the little differences which, in many cases, are blatantly man made and not even very inspired. But when you can find that agreement with someone who has a vastly different background and you connect on that level, the differences are no longer a thing to be fought. They are to be celebrated. It’s what makes each of us special and unique and beautiful. But we are all also connected, again, deep down at our core. When we see both, I think we can really appreciate people and religions for who and what they are. :)

Thank you so much for adding so many of your wonderful thoughts here!

Huge hugs!

Melody
Melody Fletcher invites you to read..Can I Use The Law of Attraction To Get Rid Of PMS?My Profile

Alice July 12, 2012 at 09:26

Congratulations Melody!

Religion is always a behemoth to tackle. You took a big risk here as there are some Bible thumpers that would take offense to you mentioning the many atrocities committed under the name of God. They want to stick fingers in their ears and shout “lalala!”
I was thinking you are some future version of me (lol) because nearly everything you write in blogs or comments I can relate to in your background.
I have dabbled in Wicca, Paganism, Taoism (wow @ Mary Carol Morgan- like really does attract like on this website!) Buddhism and even tried to read crazy old Hubbards “Dianetics” book which was going good until he started bagging gays at the end and calling people “sex blocked” and getting all crazy and cult-like. But his talk of engrams was interesting how we affect each other he was inadvertently speaking about people affecting each others vibrations. I also like how strongly opposed Scientology is against psychiatry and inhumane treatment of mental patients. That’s a pretty good cause. But besides that it’s just a money grabbing cult like most organized religions.
I’m currently spiritual or agnostic cherry picking things that feel right for me. In public I generally tell people I’m an Atheist and in the census as I think Atheism is underrepresented and I like to think boosting their numbers would help them be less of a minority.
If you read Richard Dawkins you get an amazing respect for Atheist. Most atheist I’ve met have an amazing logic and I must say an ATTRACTIVE mind. They are just so razor sharp and blow me away with their intelligence. (I find intelligence really sexy! :-)
I agree with most of the things he says and would not subject a child to religious dogma or corrupt their innocent minds as many limiting beliefs come from religion especially the monotheist ones they are so self-righteous and paternal.

Personally I’ve just seen too many negatives to make “peace” with religion. I don’t hate or attack the religious, in fact I have a Christian friend and I like the NEW testament (old testament is horrific and sexist) and think Jesus was a Wiccan and a cool guy.
I have been treated like crap by people wearing sparkly pink crucifixes and seen people have no self-worth because in some extremist Muslim/Conservative Christian families the women were considered inferior and also in the bible women are raped etc.
Also things like people claiming their religion said “no angels will come to your house if you own a dog” or other wacked out things like a pig is a dirty animal and treat them with disrespect. Or women menstruating are “dirty” and can’t enter temples.
It just seems destructive and full of mind-clouding superstition, causes wars.. I could go on and on.

The biggest thing in regards to LOA is that many religions teach limiting beliefs such as “poverty is a virtue” and this would hinder the progress the world is making to keep these outdated dogmas.

Well I’ve been pretty blunt here and don’t want to fight but I know this would offend many people- if so, please ignore me.

Melody Fletcher July 12, 2012 at 18:38

Hey Alice,

this blog doesn’t attract too many bible thumpers, LOL. So, I think we’re safe to have an open discussion about religions here.

There is some nugget of truth in every religion. Even Scientology. If there weren’t, they would never appeal to anyone.

I think Atheism can sound more positive because they’ve dropped a lot of the dogma that doesn’t make sense. I became and atheist for a little while, but ultimately, the idea that there was NOTING didn’t quite resonate with me either. I went to one extreme, then another and ultimately fond my balance (and I continue to do so).

Is it necessary to step through atheism on the way toward true knowing? Not at all. There are many religious people who are quite enlightened. We each get to define our own path.

There’s a lot in religion that you could push against. But remember that all these religions are just manifestations for different people. And they are each having the experience that matches their vibration. The religions didn’t come first and then cause limiting beliefs. The limiting beliefs came first, the religions matched them, then got focused upon and the things that mirrored those beliefs grew bigger and ever more restrictive and powerless. Don’t mistake the symptom for the cause.

this is also why I rejoice when I see religions relaxing and becoming more tolerant and allowing. They are mirroring back the improved vibration of the parish. :)

Huge hugs!
Melody
Melody Fletcher invites you to read..Are Band Aid Solutions Ok, or Do You Always Have to Find the Root Cause?My Profile

anny July 26, 2012 at 09:03

Hi Alice,

Why should anyone be offended? You write very clearly about how you feel and there is nothing wrong with that.

You say you are an atheist and you write: ‘If you read Richard Dawkins you get an amazing respect for Atheist. Most atheist I’ve met have an amazing logic and I must say an ATTRACTIVE mind. They are just so razor sharp and blow me away with their intelligence.’ Can you see what is happening here? You find his mind attractive because what he writes attracts you. You resonate with him. So that is only logical but not an objective truth, if there even is such a thing.

Here in Holland we used to have a cabinet minister who is a very amiable man, also an atheist and I had never seen him address people in anything but a friendly respectful way. Until once, during an interview, someone suggested that there must be an intelligent source behind creation. He actually blew up and reacted so viciously that it blew my mind. I had also seen the same thing with very religious people, or scientist whenever they were confronted with something that, if true, would literally saw the legs away from under their chair, to use a Dutch expression. It would literally take away everything that was valuable to them.

This process is something universal. It happens to all kinds of people. And what you or I find attractive or obvious, is not obvious or attractive at all to others. It may even mean a threat to them. I think it has nothing to do with being atheist, or religious, or spiritual, or into science. It is human and I am sure LOA (Attraction!) has everything to do with it!

Love,

Anny

Alice July 27, 2012 at 06:47

Hi Anny,

What an enjoyable reply! You write with that Dutch style I really love. I had a Dutch penpal from Rotterdam some years ago and he had such dignity and intelligence. I think that culture in Europe as opposed to Australia, does not dumb down society as much.
Although one thing I am very proud of in Australia is that we are very inventive and open-minded as far as coming up with new things.
Just lack some of that European culture. I guess every country has it’s pros and cons of the people gravitated there. But I digress!

He was in his late 30s’ and in my mind exactly where he should be mentally- he had the maturity level and attractiveness I would expect of someone by that time.
Compare to the average Australian man… well…..he’d wipe the floor with them with his dignity and intellect.
(I am in love with a very intelligent & Australian man!! Above comments are about the majority, rather than individual examples of brilliance.)
I was great to interact with someone from a different country. Some many admirable qualities and also things that were “missing” that are strong over here. Was great to see different energies and abilities from the other side of the world. Everybody has something to offer!

I do agree with what you said about the “sawing off the legs” when it comes to some Atheist ideals.
I would agree with Richard Dawkins in general about organised religion often being a danger to the progressive mind of society. However, if you simply threw religion away- without giving them something else to put in there heart- there would be a huge hole.

So I’d say before stripping someone of negative beliefs or offering alternatives- you can’t leave them devastated and empty. There must be something else to fill that blank spot.

That is why I think long-term depression is hard to overcome because if it fills up the person- when it is taken- what is there to fill them up?

The same for regligion with some opressive views- you’d have to offer them something pleasant before a person would stop clutching on to these things. Otherwise it would be as cruel as forcing beliefs on a person.

Anny July 27, 2012 at 14:54

Hi Alice,

Thank you for your reply. I think it is nice to be having such discussions more than a year after a blog was published. I too came to the blog later and work my way through the older stuff gradually.

I am from Rotterdam too, you know, originally. But in my early twenties I went to Israel, met my (Dutch) husband there and got married and after our return to Holland we settled in the east of Holland, near the German border. So you are from Australia. I already figured as much as once you wrote that you were preparing to go to bed just before you submitted your mail and at that time it was just around 3 o’clock in the afternoon over here. So it could not really have been sent from Europe and not from the USA either (unless of course you work night shifts).

I have never been to Australia or New Zealand but they have always fascinated me. However I met a lot of Australians at the resort in Vietnam where my son works, as they often come to Vietnam for holidays. It is always nice to meet people from all over the world when we are there and to see what you share and where you think differently. There is nothing wrong with thinking differently as long as nobody judges the other one or makes what he or she believes seem ridiculous.

That is actually what annoyed me very much in a book I just read with twelve articles from people about their views on the year 2012. The last two writers started out with being very judgmental towards people who thought differently from themselves and only after that started to share what they had to contribute, which was very valuable in itself and I quite resonated with that. But one of the things that absolutely triggers me every time is when someone denies other people to believe as they want to and calls what they believe absurd or ridiculous.

You know, I have learned that everyone creates his or her own paradigm as it were. A set of beliefs that is the absolute truth for them. So if somebody else believes something else or maybe more or less the same but in another way, then it must be wrong. It is very understandable to think that way. But I myself have shifted paradigms twice by now and mostly rather suddenly. So one day you are absolutely sure of something and the next day you know that it cannot possibly be true. So then I started to examine what is behind this and my conclusion is that there is no absolute truth in this 3D world with time, matter and duality. But this world has its use (or we would not have created it) and within it you can make things become clear to yourself. Once things have become clear, you can shift towards the next step. It is like steps on a ladder. And of course there is no judgment about on which step of the ladder you actually stand and it is absolutely no use trying to get people onto your step if they are not ready for it. In the end we all work our own way up or through and I think that the best thing to do is to let people go their own path and only try to help from where you are standing when they ask for help. Because then they will be willing to listen, like we are willing to listen to Melody and to each other because otherwise we would not be on this blog.

Nice talking to you!

Love,

Anny

anny July 28, 2012 at 12:21

Hi Alice,

Yesterday, when browsing through the older blogs again, I commented on one of your questions to Melody. However, if you should choose to comment on that and you do not use the reply button under my comment but the general one, as you did this time, I can only find your comment by revisiting the original blog again, as your comment will not show up in my e-mail box. However, I am browsing very randomly by clicking on links and I have a frightful memory, so I do not remember which blog that was.

If you want to reply to what I wrote you, can you please do that by using the reply button of my comment?

Love,

Anny

Alice July 28, 2012 at 13:25

Ok, not a problem. Sorry about that. I think I was embarassed by more than one person reading my comments. Sometimes others reply other than Melody and I remember this is so public.
That’s ok because I am enjoying talking to you.
Will remember in future.

anny July 28, 2012 at 14:14

Hi Alice,

This was not meant to be a complaint. Do not be embarrassed for there is no need. It is just that I did not want to walk out of a discussion if you would like to have one and not to be able to answer any questions should you ask them. I know I do not like it if I ask someone something and they do not react at all anymore and in this case I would not have been able to react because I would not have seen the question. But this does not mean that you should feel obliged to answer me if you do not want to.

Love,

Anny

Manana November 3, 2013 at 01:58

Hm! Even with all the knowledge and awareness about religion you have described, Melody, I still have hard times getting over and accepting religion as such. Hopefully I will manage to make peace sometime.

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