Believe it or not, I don't go out of my way looking for these things - they just appear. I don't wake up in the morning hoping I can find some readerboard to make fun of and just hope it's on a church. It just happens.
The other day I drove past a church - not my favorite one - with a board that said something like "Jesus Christ is our hope." Now, for some reason, my brain looked at that and ran through the following equation:
If JC = Hope,
And JC is no longer living,
Then Hope is Dead.
Now, I'm 100% positive that's not the meaning this place of worship was trying impart to drivers passing at 50 miles an hour (well, perhaps I should just say 99.9% - you never know), but that's how I read it.
I'm sure they were going for something deeper, using religious teachings to inspire hope through the story of Christ or some such thing, but I couldn't help myself.
Then today on the way to work my favorite church had this little tidbit to pass on: "New Year, New Start."
That's great in a symbolic way, but it's also completely ridiculous if you put any thought into it whatsoever. Sure, I can have a new mindset I suppose, but those bills aren't going to pay themselves.
To be real honest I don't know where all this skepticism of organized religion comes from for me. I wasn't raised in an outright religious household, though both of my parents were. When it comes to matters of a higher power us kids were left to our own devices, presumably with the hope we could continue a somewhat Christian tradition - or perhaps just any sort of religious tradition - on our own.
Apparently that didn't happen.
I won't say I'm an atheist, because to say that is to say I would never believe in a higher power. That would be shutting my mind to a possibility, stating that something is 100% not possible, when I obviously have no way of knowing that. Let's just say I'm strongly agnostic. Show me a miracle and after I research the hell out of it I still can't explain what happened - you know, I don't find the invisible pulley or whatever - maybe then I'll believe.
I am, by nature, full of doubt though.
I will also admit that many religious aspects I find deeply troubling. I'm not a fan of taking something based on faith. I also don't feel a need to have someone - or some dogma - tell me how to live my life; I don't need to read the Bible to know I shouldn't kill people or steal my neighbor's wife (oh lord, the thought of that actually makes me sick...). Right and wrong is something that shouldn't come from a religion, yet in so many aspects religion is used to literally tell people how to live. For me, if it were something I would buy into, it would have to be restricted solely to discussions of faith.
The way religious history is told also drives me insane. A local radio station had 36 hours of Christmas music while we were in the kitchen on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I think I heard just about every Christmas song that was ever made (probably not - they didn't play anything from the legendary Christmas on Death Row album, so they must have missed others too). Many of those talked about the birth of Christ and what it meant, but the lyrics are simply silly.
One that stands out - and I won't quote this because I can't recall the name of the song or the exact lyrics - claimed when Jesus Christ was born everyone was instantly excited (or something like that). Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he lead a rough life? And how exactly did everyone know this was the child of God? I mean, it's not like they had Twitter and Facebook, so I'm not entirely sure how the news would travel so quickly. I don't think his birth was exactly a highly anticipated event - I'm going to go with that's a little bit of revisionism on the part of the conquerors, which usually is how it goes.
So what does any of this mean? Probably nothing. I suppose on some level I sound profoundly confused about the whole idea of organized religion, and I guess that's a little true. Likely someone with a religious background might think I'm not whole or missing something, but I really don't think religion is going to fill any kind of need I may not be aware of (The Sugar Cube's Highway to Heaven cupcakes, on the other hand, are the answer to all things in my mind).
Like I said - I'm highly skeptical. Highly. As in very, very, very. Anyone got a miracle I can witness?