What do you Believe?


What do you believe?  

By Steve Stone

When we are raised, our parents teach us what is real, and what is not.  They also give us our foundations of faith and belief.  Somewhere in our practical upbringing, parents teach us to believe in magick.  They teach us about religion and they give us an inquisitive nature that makes us want to know more about it.  Sometimes their teachings are wonderful, but sometimes what they teach us is wrong.  

Who can remember the first time they gave up on the idea of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?  We had years of stories and beliefs about these characters; then suddenly, we are told that they are not real!  What kind of lesson is that for a child?  “Yes, sweetie,” your parents just said,  “Magic is real, but not really.”  Then they make you go to Sunday school or church and learn about more things that might or might not be real.

In Sunday school they teach you about holidays.  Christmas is the birth of Jesus.  Of course if you read the Bible you find out that Jesus was born in the springtime, not in December.  Dozens of other questions pop up that make you doubt that the figures of religious belief are any more real than Santa or the bunny.  As you learn more and more about religion, you find more of the simple faithful stories are just bunk for the uneducated.  The religions themselves tell you that they are not true.

For example:  Jewish children are taught that Chanuka is the feast of lights.  A menorah is lit and they celebrate the miracle of the oil.  According to legend, the temple in Jerusalem was in the hands of the enemy.  When the Jews took it back, they found that there was only enough oil to light their holy flame for a few hours.  Since it takes 8 days to make more, they were lost.  According to legend, that few hours of oil lasted all 8 days.  That legend is taught in schools and temples all around the world.  It is not true.  It was made up by ‘historian’ Flavius Josephus 250 years after the fact.  In truth, the holiday is a celebration of a small band of rebels overcoming a larger better armed force and gaining the right to practice their religion openly.  The oil story was supposed to be symbolic.  The tiny flame of belief becomes the unquenchable Jewish religion.

All religions have examples of these legends.  It is one of the dangers of blind faith. The stories become more important than the reason for them.  In this way we get distortions of belief.  Do the distortions become truths after we believe in them enough?  If that is the case is there really a Santa Clause because so many kids still believe?  Who’s to say?

But as always in life, you have to decide for yourself what you think is right.   You have to look at your experience and your heart and say: “That could be true.” Or  “Yeah, right.  Sell me that bridge while you’re at it.”  The hard part is actually letting yourself decide which beliefs talk to you, and which ones seem a bit off.  That is part of what our spirituality is.  It is the strength to give us conviction.  It is the strength to believe.

The question of belief is much harder than it actually looks.  Give yourself a long time to ponder it, because in truth, this question shapes us and our attitude about much of the world as we know it.  What do you believe?

© Virtual Reflections 2016