Spirituality Conundrum Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1860 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Spirituality Conundrum

The Conundrum of the Chaotic Nature of Life:

The Human Need to Make Sense

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Playwright Edward Albee once said "Man is a creature who tries desperately to make sense out of an irrational and chaotic universe" (Thoughts About). Cartoonist Scott Adams once said "Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of making order out of chaos" (Thoughts About). Our world, the human world, that is, is irrational. We like to think of ourselves as rational beings, but is it rational to try to make sense or rationalize a world that can never be rationalized? My problem with this world as it pertains to spirituality -- and specifically, God -- is that if God really exists in this world, why does He make it so hard to live in? Humans must deal with things every single day that they cannot make sense of; one of those things, for me, is death. If God truly exists and wants us to believe in Him and come to him through Jesus Christ, then why does He make believing in Him so difficult? I find it hard to believe that faith alone can make one believe in everything that the Bible says. We are supposed to believe that if we follow God's laws then we will go to Heaven to join him after we die, but oftentimes I think that this is just a nice story for people to believe in because they cannot rationally believe that their lives are really not at all that important. We live for maybe 70 or 80 years (if we are lucky) and then we die. The lights go out. Our lives turn to blackness. Our minds shut down like turning off the power button on a computer. This idea would be too hard for people to take. If we were to believe that this is what happens when we die, the world would be a very different place. People wouldn't feel that they had to follow God's laws, or any laws, for that matter, because -- what would be the point? The world would be anarchy and it seems to me that the Bible -- and religion, in general -- was created in order to keep mankind in check.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Spirituality Conundrum Assignment

In thinking about the conundrum of spirituality specifically as it pertains to death and trying to rationalize death (i.e., from a Christian/Methodist point-of-view: we are good people and we go to Heaven to be with God when we die), I interviewed the pastor at my Methodist church. Pastor Anderson has been a pastor for 35 years and he first gives me a quote from John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist religion), which I find rather intriguing. He said that John Wesley often felt like he was passing through life "as an arrow through the air." He believed that this life on Earth was merely a precursor to the next, and the biggest question for an individual is whether his or her life's trajectory ended in Heaven or whether it ended in Hell. Pastor Anderson explained that Wesley believed in what can be considered traditional ideas about what Heaven and Hell are. God is a just God and humans are inherently sinful, so unless they seek forgiveness through Jesus they will find a very angry God at the time of their death. Hell is a place of misery and torture while Heaven is a place that is full of pleasure -- which does not mean Earthly pleasures, but rather, the pleasure comes from being in the presence of God.

I explain to the Pastor that my conundrum with all of this is that it doesn't sound feasible. Why should I believe this? I feel that we are given these ideas about life and death in order to make sense of life when what it really does is confuse us. It gives us a nice idea about death, but am I supposed to believe that my grandfather who died when I was nine (ten years ago) is sitting up in Heaven waiting for me to join him? I sometimes feel like we are given these ideas about death in order to not only give us hope that our lives will continue after we leave our bodies, but to comfort us and to keep us in order. It seems way too easy to believe in this idea of Heaven and an afterlife. It is making sense of that which we cannot make sense of. We are not God-like, so how can we possibly make sense of these things that are not for humans to understand? It seems way too easy. If humans were able to understand how God works and how Heaven and Hell work, wouldn't that create chaos in itself?

John Wesley wanted people to be spiritually 'literate' (Burton 2) and Pastor Anderson refers to this spiritual literacy that we can gain from reading scriptures, being communal, keeping a journal or a diary about our thoughts and feelings, and writing spiritual letters. I like the idea of thinking of religion not as being fraught with rules and commandments, but rather as something that is more spiritual. I do believe that the human soul is a powerful thing that does not just turn off when we die. I believe that spirits, our souls, are energy and that the energy inside of us has to go somewhere. Do I believe that it floats up to Heaven and communes with spirits that have gone to Heaven before us? That I do not know. I tend to like to think of death as energy leaving our bodies and going out into the world -- into the air, the trees, the grass, etc. That energy moves through nature and it can move through other human beings temporarily, which is why many people often "feel" a loved one after that person has died.

Pastor Anderson tells me that John Wesley was not your typical theologian and this inspires me. While I believe that I am a spiritual and even religious person, I do not like feeling guilty or feeling that I cannot have my own questions about spirituality and religion. Wesley had what can be thought of as a "pilgrimage motif" (Harper 11) to his theology. That is, his theology is interpreted in relation to the story of God's grace as people move through their lives (11). This is precisely what keeps people moving in a way that is non-chaotic and keeps them on the right track of being a good person. If we think of all the days of our lives as another step toward God and another step toward Heaven and eternal life, we are left feeling more in control of our lives and it makes us better people at the same time. Wesley gives us reasons to be good in a more spiritual sense (as opposed to religious). If we think of ourselves on a trajectory toward something and not just these irrational beings in a chaotic universe, it helps gives us a sense of purpose. If we think about life this way it kind of doesn't matter what happens to us later because the purpose seems to be to live a good, virtuous life. Of course it matters to us what happens when we die, but we don't have to live our lives in fear of death constantly because the purpose is to live a good life here because, honestly, who does really know what happens to us when we die? Nobody but God knows. We cannot try to understand what God knows because He is not something that is rational to us. The idea of God is irrational, which is what makes faith so important because we are essentially believing in something that may or may not be true.

"What people believe about death tends to greatly influence how they conduct their lives" (Rhodes 39). We are constantly living with the consciousness that at one day we will die. We may not realize that this is always in the backs of our minds, but as humans, this is a part of the human experience, in my belief. We cannot help but be spiritual beings because of this, but spirituality is not the same as religion. Religion was given or created in order to make sense of that which cannot be made sense of. Does it do more to confuse us (religion, that is)? Sometimes I think it confuses us more to have this ideas and conceptions about that which we cannot possibly make sense of.

I am only 19-years-old right now, but Pastor Anderson speaks in a way that helps me understand why faith in God is important, especially as we age. As we grow older, he explains, we become more aware that life is passing quickly and many older people turn to religion not to make sense of anything, but rather, for comfort and their faith increases. Heaven is what you… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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