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"I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for any fellow being, let me do it now... as I shall not pass this way again." ~ William Penn

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 The word alone- GOD - provokes in all an emotion. Good, bad, or even indifference. I imagine God to be this energy that exists in all places at all times. With no ending and no beginning. My mind can't grasp that full concept, but my heart knows it to be true. It is a tangible energy that loves us unconditionally without judging us. It nurtures the good in us. When I look to the skys in the day or at night, I am in awe of this vastness and that he created us and this world we live.

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I believe in a God that has no beginning and non end. Who created the universe and loves us unconditionally.
My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The birth of my son. I saw his blinking eyes for the first time and knew that I had nothing to do with his existence, I was only a channel for his entrance. I knew God had crafted him, cell by cell, and made him perfectly. That moment is engraved in my memory and I still get teary eyed. God is great.
My greatest moment of doubt was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My mother died of cancer to the lymph system. I saw this strong, vivacious, human crumble before. It made me doubt if God was fair or if he had selective love for some and not others. I had to accept that we are only skin and bones. Our soul is eternal and lives forever. This was not easy to understand and it took time for me to heal and accept that we don't live forever here on Earth.
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I make a conscientious effort to live and breath my spiritual beliefs. It rules my thoughts and my actions. I make a conscientious effort to be positive and over time this is an automatic and I try to bless people that I find during my day and try to stop in its' tracks rash and off the cuff remarks. I honor my time with my God in private and give him my undivided attention when I pray and thank him for my day. When I see a beautiful flower or the smile of someone I love, I thank God for that luxury because I know my life is blessed and others may not have the same blessings as myself. We each have a different journey and each one has a different purpose and runs at a different speed. We can't compare ourselves to each other. We are not alike in our lives, but I do see each of us as God's children. In that we are all alike.
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Being brought up as a Catholic, I now see that I don't need a priest to listen to my sins for them to be forgiven. I do not need to go to confession for my God to forgive me. That is a silly practice. It is antiquated and outdated.
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Joel Osteen is a spiritual role model to me because his faith in God is so obvious from his eyes to his speech. You see in him this internal happiness and faith that inspires. He brings hope to our everyday normal lives. Only one percent of us our part of what the media markets. The rest of us have to raise children, go to work, deal with relationships and his practical approach to putting into action the teachings of Jesus Christ has made me a better person. My son loves his method of preaching also.
http://www.joelosteen.com/Pages/Index.aspx
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator The practice I appreciate most about my faith is the sacrament of Baptism. It is symbolic for cleansing and entering into the family of the Christian faith. It shows how we are humans with faults and that thru this act, we become whole and part of the Christian family.

My Faith History

As a child I believed ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As I child I believed without questioning. I was told you will go to Hell if you sin and I believed it. There was this fear thing as the focus. It was like putting this fear up to cause us to be good people or at least to not sin. It was mostly this focus, if you don't behave in a Catholic way, you will perish in the flames of hell. Basically, I was made to be scared of suffering eternally in flames than to be inspired to do good and the focus was not on the Good that Jesus did. It was told like a story and it was celebrated with ceremonies throughout the year. But there was no push for do good to others like Jesus did, not the way it is today. People taking up collections all year long and fundraising for many causes. We only did one collection at Thanksgiving. So it was an outdated method of teaching the Catholic religion.
My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My spiritual life literally did a strip down starting with my divorce. I was at Zero. Literally. Those outdated methods of the Catholic church did not fit the mixed up puzzle of my life. I was made to feel to terribly guilty when I went for my divorce from a man who lied to me and turned out to be an alcoholic who liked to gamble away money. He didn't care that we took vows in God presence. He didn't care that we had a son together. Around that time the Pope declares that divorced people can't take the sacrament of Communion. I felt like an outcast. I had broken a commandment and I swore I'd have a front seat in Hell. Basically, I call it the undoing of years of brainwashing. That is what it was. I could not fathom that a God that loved me so much would thrust me into flames for making a decision that was for the safety of my son and myself. I remember the sad day I went to "confess" my sin of getting a divorce. I went to the back of the church and there was this full wedding taking place at the altar. It only added to my feelings of failing God. Of breaking vows that I took for life. I remember telling my ex that he had made me break my oath to God. I was so angry. What didn't change was my love for God. I came to know from much prayer and readingf that I can have a personal, one to one relationship with God. I do not need a third party such as a priest to allow God to forgive me. I just need to ask from the heart and be truly sorry for my sins and they are forgiven. I no longer agree with the old methods of the Catholic church. These priests are no men of God. They are empty puppets without a soul. How can they violate innocent children and two minutes later be blessing the bread and body of Christ. Now THAT is a sin. When the church was in the news with their pedophile priests and settlements. I was so angry! What hypocrites. The church covering them up because there is a "shortage" of priests. Insanity. So that added to my dislike of the Catholic Church. I am not able to view priests without asking myself, "Is he gay? Is he molesting children?" They are men and they committed crimes that they should have paid in jail just like the other men who committed the same crimes they did. No man should take an oath of celibacy. That is asking for trouble. I'm in a very good place with my journey. It is a strong and fulfilling spiritual relationship that I have with God. I dialogue with him frequently and have him present in my day. Not just for one hour, one day out of the week.
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Catholic, hard core as I like to call it. Brainwashing at it's finest. Catholic school from Kindergarten thru High School. 12 years of it! Excuse my cynicism. I'm trying to be kind. I know there are good people in all sectors of the Catholic Church. There is also a lot of corruption and bad people as well. It has gotten away from it's roots and is now a business. You want a wedding service? $500. A funeral? $500 a baptism. $500 at the least. Anyway, sorry, there goes my slanted sense of humor again! Sorry!
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 yes, they are different. My beliefs are of a God that is available to me at any time. Not just through a priest or a nun. They do not have magic powers. They are not saints. I see them as humans and I do not hold them on a pedestal as they do. I now refer to myself as Christian because I believe in Jesus and all of the teachings in the bible. I just don't agree with the institute of the Catholic Church with it's double standards and many rules that serve no purpose anymore. The sex factor needs to addressed. It is not even discussed. That is not the real world.
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 Yes, my faith did change and I have explained to my son how I was brought up and how my views came to change. I told him that he can pick any religion that speaks to him as a human, I will not impose my faith on him. He has been exposed to Catholic and my Christian beliefs. He is also inclined to follow a Christian based faith and not Catholic. This is a different world that when I was a child and I also told him that men of the "Cloth" are not saints and they are not super humans. They are human like I am and like he is. That means they also sin and they also make mistakes. I am glad that at an early age he has been able to develop a personal relationship with God and Jesus. I did not get this until I was an older adult. 1 person liked this

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 try to formally pray in private in the morning and at night. Nothing elaborate, just thanking God an acknowledging he exists. I try to be grateful throughout my day. I seek out ways to help others in my family and outside of my family. I have a Christian radio station on my line up of radios stations in the car. KLOVE on 94.3FM It keeps me grounded. 1 person liked this
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 We follow the Christian based faith. I became interested in Kabbalah in the late '90s and read everything about it which lead me to learn about the Jewish religion indirectly. Kabbalah is a philosophy and I do try to follow it also in my life. I use a red string and practice proactively keeping my thoughts about others in a positive light and not wish them bad things. I have learned more about the Torah from reading Kabbalah and I respect it as a sacred book. My book is still the Bible and even though this Kabbalah practice is not in anyway similar to Christian practice, it is not in conflict with it either. It also teaching ultimately to be a good human being and to do good to others. Also, being a Mexican Catholic, I follow the traditions of the Day of the Dead on Nov 1-2. I set up a table for family and friends who have passed away and I put their names on a table with autumn flowers and some of their favorite dishes when they were alive. We officially remember them even though they are departed and we are again reminded that we are not on Earth forever, but that our spirit lives on. In this aspect, Death is not feared, but is acknowledged as a part of life. It is part of our cycle here and it reminds us of our mortality.
How easy or difficult is it to live your faith? Why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Overall it is easy for me to live my faith. I am faced with challenges as our lives are not perfect. During those valleys in my life, I truly increase my prayer and actively seek out healing and inner strength from God. I chose not to let resentment take place in my heart and fighting that battle is not easy, but with persistence I again am able to hope again and renew my belief in others.
In my house, the thing that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator What represents my faith in my house is a picture of Jesus Christ. I believe he died for us and that he was born again to give us eternal life. I believe his teachings and I know that I can speak to him and pray to him any time of day and he hears me.
The song/book/film that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Praise You In This Storm- Casting Crowns. It speaks of how difficult it is to continue to believe in God even when things are not going the way we wold like them to go for us. It speaks of a majetic God who created the world and yet loves us from the moment we are created in our mother's womb. It helps me to know that he is there for me in the good times and the bad times. But just because there are bad times, it does not mean he stops loving us. I love the strong vocals and music. It is powerful and strong song. It is not a meek song. It has muscle. It inspires; in the storms of life.

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 That questions can only be answered based on what country you are talking about. Some countries such as Mexico, are say 90% Catholic. So to interlace some sort of religious wording or actions won't meet up with much controversy. But if we are talking about the US, then we need to go with the majority. Which is to say, the majority believe in a God. Atheist are not the majority so they are out of luck. So to mention God during ceremonies, etc. is ok with me. I would say to just steer clear of religion in politics in order to keep the focus on goverment and laws.
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 No because that is a personal choice that the family needs to be in charge of teaching. School is a place for learning the basics to survive and make something of yourself with what you learn.
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 No, it is too complicated a topic to put into public school agendas. Children really need to learn to read and write. I think a cultural diversity class should be shown at all levels of public education so that when entering the real world, it is not a shock to have to deal with a Jew or a Muslim for the first time.
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes, we need to continue to dialog and try to understand each other without trying to prove that one is better than the other. That will take time as it is a slow journey since in the past our history books are filled with holy wars.
Do you feel comfortable discussing your faith with others? Why/why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes, I feel comfortable discussing my faith with others. I love God, and I love Jesus Christ. They are my inspiration to continue to be a good human being and to be the best that I can be in life. I am no saint, I don't have that calling in life and I do not feel superior to others for my own strong personal spirituality. I am not here to judge or look down on others. I just consciously try to be a good person.
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 don't see it as a duty at all. It is more like I believe the teachings, and I agree with them, so I carry them out in my life out of respect for God and because I truly believe in helping each other by prayer or actions. Some people need to see our actions to be motivated to be better people themselves. Some of my actions include doing good without the other person knowing that I did it. I don't need the glory here on Earth. God sees all and that is all that matters to me.
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Religious beliefs are exposed in politics but to be comprised would depend on each person. Their faith can be tested and politics is no exception.
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 has only shown me what religious "brainwashing" can lead to. Religion is only an excuse for killing. The concepts are night and day. I can never understand their thoughts and actions. I just know that evil people exist and they are now able to use modern technology to carry out their evil plans. I have made an effort to read about other religions and to try to see how they think and function. I feel equally comfortable expressing my religious beliefs since 9/11. No fear here!

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Published October 11, 2010

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