God in America
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Emrus

Faithbook Emrus

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." Susan B. Anthony

How Do You Imagine God?
God in America and USA WEEKEND Magazine are partnering to explore Americans' images of God.

How do you imagine God? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I imagine god(s) as a more "evolved" form of nature;the cycle of life, death and resurrection,a concept of "god" who was seen by the ancients as the Alpha and Omega. Over time that idea of god(s) evolved as culture and technology evolved, as it still does today. Can one really say God(s) is love, or God(s) wants or does this or that? Those exact images of God(s) did not exist 200 years ago, and may not exist in another two centuries. People morph their God(s) to their liking, to their culture. Therefor, it would be improper to say God(s) is love, but rather, God(s) is a child of culture.

My Beliefs

My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator When I was still a Christian, my most powerful moment of belief occurred after my best friend died in 9th grade. I was contemplating suicide. However, I had a dream where I was in a dark, endless room, with my friend standing before me. Then a loud, booming voice thundered, telling me that if I were to kill myself, I would never get to heaven , never see my friend again.
My greatest moment of doubt was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I read the bible from the beginning to the end. It was horrible.However, I tried to believe, I really did. Soon after I finished the book I realized that I didn't agree with most of the things in it. Why was God so cruel? I thought Jesus was love, not ignorance and bigotry. Where did the Jesus I was taught about in Catholic school go? I eventually accepted that I was going to go to Hell. About a year later I thought that maybe, just maybe, I was reading it the wrong way! Surely Jesus didnt mean father's had to abandon their families! Surely the path the heaven isnt as narrow as it says! So decided to talk to my priest about the issue. He made it worse. He interpreted my questions as doubt and told me the devil was in my heart. I decided to discover it on my own after that. I began to research how the bible was pieced together, the politics of ancient Rome, and the religions of the area and beyond. After four years of research I decided to call myself a Deist. I did not believe in a personal God. I did, however, still fear and believe I was going to hell. Is strange how quickly the belief of Jesus can disappear, yet eternal damnation lingers. In my first year of college I was approached by a boy the same age as me. He handed me a coin that contained the Ten Commandments and said he had a few questions for me. The last set of questions went something like this: " Do you believe you are a good person?" "Yes." "Have you sinned?" "of course. I'm human." " I knew you were going to say that. Have you had any bouts of anger? lust? stolen? cursed?" "Yes, yes, yes, and yes." " Then you are not a good person. You're going to Hell. Do you want to go to Hell?" Of course I knew I was, I read the Bible didn't I? By that time it only hurt a little to say that yes, I was going to Hell, and that I accepted it. He walked away as I told him "God bless you" and I sat down on the nearest bench. I began to cry. A local student adorning a Hijab approached me and tried to calm me down. I told her what happened, and she hugged me. She told me that man was crazy and I would never go to such a place. I decided then to look into Islam. I began to read parts of the Koran off the internet and would find myself wrapping garments of clothing around my head to see if a hijab would suit me. Eventually I came across the same problem I had in with the Bible; I disagreed with most of it. I began to feel my faith in a God, any kind of God, shake and slowly crumble at that moment. I desperately tried to hold on to it, like it was a chair that I was sitting on that was toppling over. I was scared. Terrified. and there was nothing I could do. The face of God crumbled before me. A year later I grew accustomed to there being no God. However, strangely enough, the fear of Hell was still there. I figured that if I was going to go there, I might as well learn what it was about. Despite how long that eternal damnation had stained the insides of my mind, it didn't take long for it to slowly disappear after that. I didn't know what I was then, but I do now. I'm an Atheist. I didn't like the title at first because I wasn't a bad person, nor close minded. However, I eventually met other Atheists over the internet and realized that that was not what Atheism was.
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I enjoy the sky, the stars, and the earth. Life is never too doll for me to explore like I was a child excited about a new place again.
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Many believe that Atheism is a religion, that is causes people to be ignorant, close minded, or simply misinformed about God. That Atheists need to be prayed for.
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I don't have one. I do, however, have role models for other things. I look toward My mother to learn courage, openness and compassion. My fathers determination and humbleness. My uncles carefree and relaxed nature. My aunts whom, despite being a lesbian couple continue to walk in their faith courageously, even when the wolves who attack them are blood. My sisters independent nature. And, finally, my friends, who put up my constant "bible-bashing" when I am in a bad mood and want to destroy some resurfaced painful memory for gratification.
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I have no faith. That is the point.

My Faith History

As a child I believed ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As a child I believed that everything had a purpose, and that God was watching everything we did. I remember my mother often telling me on a warm, summer day " Look at nature! How can someone say there is no God?"
My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Tough, horrifying, and generally miserable. By the end of it though, I have become more happier and Mentally healthier than I have ever been.
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator A Catholic with a hint of Baptist from my father and teachers.
Are your beliefs or practices different from your parents? If so, how and why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My father is a Baptist, and my mother, as of recently, a confused Catholic. I think I'm partially to blame for the latter. Sorry, mom!
If you have children, did becoming a parent change your relationship to faith? If so, how? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I do not have children. I do, however, have three handsome nephews and one beautiful niece who I care more about than anyone in the entire world.

How I Practice My Faith

Where and when do you practice your faith? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I do not have faith.
Does your family practice more than one religion or faith? If so, how do you blend the traditions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My entire Family is Christian, simply different denominations.
How easy or difficult is it to live your faith? Why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator It is difficult when most people view having faith as normal and view those who lack it as " misguided," or "evil."
In my house, the thing that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I have no faith. I do have, however, two very large bookshelves which holds a massive amount of knowledge about absolutely everything.
The song/book/film that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Well that would depend. Most films feature Atheists as the general public sees them: evil, manipulative, and who like to announce their disbelief to the hero or heroine very loudly and very often.

Religion & the Public Square

What should be the role of religion in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator It shouldn't unless personal beliefs are infringed upon.
Should courses about religion be taught in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Courses that teach comparative religion should be taught. I think it would open children's minds to the way the rest of the world sees.
Should the Bible, Torah, Quran or other religious texts be taught as works of literature in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Simply as literature or mythology, unless it were in a comparative religion class.
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Interfaith dialogue is very important. It, in my opinion, is the cure to religion-based ignorance
Do you feel comfortable discussing your faith with others? Why/why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I didn't in the beginning, but now I feel comfortable discussing my disbelief with others. Only among family, however.
Do you feel that you have a duty, because of your faith, to put your beliefs into action? What are some of those actions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I have no faith to put into action. I do, however, study religiously.
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes and no.
Has 9/11 had any impact on your thoughts about religion? Are you more/less interested in learning about other religions? Do you feel more/less comfortable expressing your religious beliefs? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator 9/11 had no impact on religion except probably made me think the same thing many others thought: What's Islam?

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Published October 11, 2010

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