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If There is a God

April 8, 2012

I’ve been meaning to write this since last year.  Being that it’s Easter, it’s such an appropriate time to talk about this.

During our travels in Bali, I came across a religious ceremony in a temple that we were visiting one day. The ceremony was magical – the priest and the people dressed in their traditional sarong outfits and everyone was so joyous.  During the ceremony, we noticed two men – one man holding a live duck, the other holding a live chicken.  At that moment I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions… until I looked closer and saw that both birds sadly had small weights wrapped around it’s legs.  As they continued their ritual, the two men, proceeded to go in a boat and row to the middle of the lake.  That was when it was  all I could bear to watch as it was clear what was going to happen to the birds.

Duck to be sacrificed in Balinese ceremony.

Duck to be sacrificed in Balinese ceremony.

When we got back to the car, we asked the driver the specifics of this event. He explained that it was a special ceremony – I’m guessing it was a marriage ceremony – where they sacrificed the duck and chicken as an offering specific Gods. Sadly, the helpless birds were dropped into the lake to their demise.  The little weights on their legs were used to ensure they sank all the way to the bottom of the lake and that they would stay there until their decomposition.

Needless to say, that stuck with me through my entire trip (and even until now).  The driver told me that it’s been a tradition for centuries. In fact, during very special ceremonies, maybe once every 5 years, they would sacrifice a whole buffalo – and yes, by throwing them into a body of water.  The bigger the God, the bigger the sacrifice.

Which leads me to this post.

I’m often asked if I believe in God.  I would consider myself more of a spiritual person than a religious one.  But I do believe that there exists a God.  What I absolutely do not believe is that God or a God would want any kind of offerings – especially offerings or sacrifices that resulted in any type of suffering from a human or animal.  What real God would want what He/She created to suffer to death?  It’s illogical.  Why would a God want any of his creations to go through that type of suffering?  Clearly, sacrifices/offerings were created by humans – mainly what I believe stemmed from superstition or greed.

I’m writing this post not just for those two helpless birds that were destroyed (and for absolutely no reason).  It’s about changing how we look at sacrifices in religion.  The birds led me to think about all the violence that had been happening in the Middle-East and other parts of the world.  And many of it was caused by “religious” bodies/groups.  It’s certainly tainted a lot of how people saw certain religions because of those actions and  has created much conflict between the people of that religion and that people who are not.

The truth is that religion in itself is good – be it Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism etc.  Unfortunately, many things that man touch become tainted – More specifically, the wholeness of things we touch generally becomes destroyed.  Just look around you and you’ll see it’s not just religion that has been tainted.  It’s from what we eat to what we read.  Heck, look what we’ve done to our livestock – there’s no purity in the meats we eat anymore.

So I can only imagine how God and the perspective of God has evolved in the eyes of mankind and how it became skewed.  I refuse to believe that God would encourage any kind of violence or suffering, yet we’ve had many holy/religious wars throughout history from all different types of religion.  Man created these wars, yet we blame it on religion.

Over the years, I’ve watched on TV, destruction that has been caused by “Muslim” extremists.  And then I’ve seen the anger and violence that was against innocent Muslims who would never hurt anyone.  The attackers use religion as a reason to hurt  – the sad reality is, they truly believe that it is for religion; and others are faulting the religion for the violence.  But it has little to do with religion.  It has to do with people being misdirected by others (whether deliberate or not).

I don’t know much about the Islamic faith.  What I do know, is that it is a good religion in its truest form and so are other religions.  But somehow, somewhere along the line – whether by accident or intent – the religion and its beliefs became misinterpreted and misguided by some.  And people still believe in these misinterpretations and act on it – I guess we’re only human.

I’m no prophet or messenger – in fact, I know little about any religion.  But I do know that religion and spirituality is great and necessary.  It’s what balances out the world and gives us faith.  But our faith can be skewed because of our world we live in.  Reading any religious book/scripture can be misinterpreted and lead us to believe that sacrifice/violence is encouraged.  But keep in mind, the Quran, the Bible or any other scriptures were also written by man who may or may not have been prophets – so they too may have been misinterpreted.

I know I’m rambling on here – so I’ll get to my point (as I can go on forever about this).  We cannot fault the religion for causing people to act wrongfully.  It is the fact that we are human, and unfortunately greed and ignorance is prevalent in every part of the world.  We also cannot judge innocent people just because of their faith.  We cannot walk by an innocent Muslim and judge him/her for being a violent extremist or judge the religion to be violent.  It simply isn’t true.  The truth is, violence exists everywhere, whether it’s religious based or not.

Secondly, to all those people making sacrifices/offerings, I really hope that you will believe that no true God would want suffering created from a sacrifice as a gift to this God.  The saying goes that God is Love.  And I know Love is not suffering.  So whether it is self-sacrifice or sacrificial offerings, those beliefs must have been created by man and therefore should not exist.

So let’s stop the violence and unncecessary killings everyone.

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