Tuesday, June 8, 2010

many faces, flavors & recipes for Christianity

Christianity is one religion. Nonetheless there are numerous practices for each of the several denominations based on geographical region, language, culture or other social factors. Just in the US, there are at least nine (9) ideological practices and behaviors -- to my understanding and sole opinion -- if not more.

  1. Some Christians feel that humans are born evil and need to purge sin through religious rites and penitence to be in God's Grace with or without continuous references to the devil (Satan), demons and/or hell that seem to exploit the fear of a loving yet vengeful god (not God). This ideology makes people believe that they're dirty and gives them shame of themselves. It also makes people afraid of God instead of themselves as God's children.

  2. Considering the devil as part of Christianity, many believe that we do wrong (sin) because of temptation.

  3. Somewhat derived from the previous two ideas, there are those who practice magic using the name of God mixed with santería (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santería), voodoo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_African_Vodun) or other similar practices to cast spells (good, bad, evil eye, cleansing, curses, etc) with rites and/or chants on others. When did witchcraft and/or superstitions become a subset of Christianity? Of course, faith can expel demons, but that's a whole different story all together.

  4. At the same time, others feel that humans are good by nature and that sin tarnishes our connection to God and/or the Light of God coming from within us. Hence we're saved by faith in God alone.

  5. The previous is related to the belief that God loves us regardless of how bad we are as a father who loves his children regardless of their constant misbehavior.

  6. As part of these previous beliefs, the concept of Satan (the fallen angel who dared to question and defy God) is clearly present while worshiping. Of course, there are also those who don't believe in the devil, hell and/or the purgatory.

  7. There is also the practice or belief that priests are sent by God, hence being an extension of God on earth or simply being God's representative on earth. This is one of the most criticized aspects of the Catholic church where the pope is seen as the head of the Church and practically a holy man or saint. Well also the idea of saints who are prayed to makes little sense (if any at all). Since I was raised Catholic, I know this concept well, but I never really cared for it.

  8. At the same time, there are groups that are either inclusive allowing anyone in or exclusive "testing" people before becoming part of the congregation or member of that specific church.

  9. Some of these groups -- within any of the previously described -- force its members to surrender 10% of their earnings (tithe) regardless of their financial needs (http://project05952381.blogspot.com/2010/05/to-tithe-or-not-to-tithe-yet-never.html) -- to the point that members must surrender copies of their income tax returns. Of course, some others just request it, but accept any offering may be able t give at any given time.

Nonetheless there are several beliefs and practices that are broadly common and/or accepted. One belief is that we all need to repent from our sins and offenses to God and others. Another is that faith can achieve anything since God is omnipotent without using God (#3).

In general, most subdivisions of Christianity are a mix of these and perhaps other practices and ideologies. Christianity has become a sort different flavors and recipes -- each demanding to be called the true Christian practice.

Which of all these practices is right? Which is wrong? Well this is for God alone to decide -- not for us the broken and the flawed.

What do I believe? Number three is my choice although many people surely seem to have been born evil or at least twisted beyond repair. I also believe in hell and a devil from personal experiences. In the other hand, I also believe that my maternal grandparents are in Heaven and that maternal grandfather is or was my guardian angel.

Do I believe in salvation (Heaven & life after death)? Of course, I do, but I'm not too particularly worried about this -- right now at least -- although it'd be a god thing. I prefer to have my children safe, healthy, taken care of and with God.

Am I without sin? Not at all, I'm fairly twisted (sex, political ideologies, sick sense of humor, etc) hopefully within repair.