My Spiritual Profile
Know your blogger! It makes sense that, since this is a blog about religion and spirituality, I should post a bit of a spiritual profile so you know what prior assumptions I’m bringing to the table. Please note that these answers are true as of October 10, 2010 – I’ll try to update them as needed, but I guarantee nothing.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys filling out surveys on Facebook, LiveJournal, or your own personal blog, feel free to swipe this one. I would appreciate if you’d link back to Experience Pearls, please, since I’ve never created one of these quiz-memes before and I’m kind of excited about it.
Partially based on Beliefnet’s Belief-O-Matic quiz.
1. What faith tradition were you born into?
Roman Catholic, born and baptized.
2. Ever leave the faith tradition of your birth?
A few times. I first decided to stop being Catholic when I was in first-year university, because I thought the rule about contraception was draconian and unrealistic. Later I came back . . . but I’ve concluded that I don’t really buy into their core beliefs and I’m not really certain where I stand.
3. To which faith traditions do you feel drawn?
4. How many deities do you believe exist? Are they personal, or more like a cosmic force?
I suppose I would say I believe in one transcendent God (sort of like your spiritual CEO), although there may well be other lesser forces/deities to whom one might pray. I think there must be some kind of personal element to the chief deity because I believe that life force exists in human beings. But ultimately I think we can’t really describe the deity with the limitations of our language and understanding.
5. Does your deity take on human incarnations?
I have no idea. I suppose it’s possible, but I’m not sure I understand why he would. And if God is hanging out in, say, New Jersey, then what happens to people in Taiwan? I suppose I believe that God does not take on a human form, but sends human messengers.
6. Should we revere nature?
Absolutely. God created it, and it sustains us. And it’s beautiful! Even if there isn’t any such thing as God, I believe we need to get a lot more respect for nature in a hurry.
7. The obligatory evolution question: did God (or whatever you’d call him/her/it/them) create the universe? How?
I think God made the universe using natural processes, controlled and guided to some extent by the divine. But I definitely don’t believe the Genesis account; I think the scientific story is miraculous enough, thanks all the same.
8. What’s the relationship between body and spirit?
In this life, we have both, but I believe that something of the spirit transcends the physical body. I think the body is important as the venue where we act out our human lives, but it’s not as important as the spirit. If your body becomes damaged beyond use, you haven’t lost what makes you human.
9. What happens when we die?
I believe we spend a bit of time in some sort of transitional zone, a celestial waiting room. Then we move to a new life, in which we work on whatever our previous life shows we need to spend time learning. Incidentally, this is why I don’t believe in suicide; I think you’ll just get stuck in your next life working on whatever you died escaping, so you might as well stick it out here.
10. Why do bad things happen to good people?
Because people give in to the selfish side of human nature. Also, I do believe that if there are good spiritual forces, there must be evil ones too.
11. What causes suffering in the world?
I think some of our suffering happens for a reason, so we can learn a lesson according to God’s plan. Some of it probably comes from the above-mentioned selfishness and evil forces. I also believe that there’s a certain level of balance in the universe that we as humans cause to fall out of balance, and some of the suffering in the world happens as a result of that subtle recalibrating we can’t understand or apprehend properly in this life. For instance, if in my last life I was a jerk to you, you might not be very nice to me in this life. I won’t understand why until the hereafter, but it restores balance between us.
12. What kind of worship life does the deity want you to have?
I believe we worship by living our lives fully and learning as much as possible. If we treat life as a gift, we’re worshipping the divine, whether we know or believe that or not. It also helps to spend time communing with the divine as we understand it, which is part of the learning process, so it glorifies God that way. I don’t expect that God really needs us to sit around telling Him how wonderful He is; I think we glorify him more by our actions than by our praise.
13. Does the deity expect us to do good deeds?
Of course. I think God wants us all to be kind to each other. If we have compassion for the suffering of another, why wouldn’t it move us to do a good deed?
14. Baptism or initiation ceremonies: are they important?
Yes, but on a human level, as a symbolic entry into community/society. I figure God probably doesn’t care.
15. Coming-of-age ceremonies: are they important?
Yes, but again, more as a symbolic human marker than as something that matters to God.
16. Marriage: is it important?
I think it’s very important as a marker of the place where a new family begins and a couple’s loyalty to one another becomes primary over their loyalties to their families of birth. I suppose that, too, is more of a human cultural importance than a divine importance, but I still insist that marriage is very valuable.
17. Confession of sins: is it important?
Yes, because reflecting on your own wrongdoing matters. But confession is between an individual and God, and a clerical intermediary isn’t necessary.
18. Got any other rituals that you find really, really important?
Honouring the dead. Remembering significant cultural events (for instance, we celebrate Remembrance Day or September 11; modern Jews have a Holocaust remembrance holiday built into their religious calendar). I also think rituals marking the changing seasons keep us in touch with natural rhythms, which I think can teach us some important lessons about life.
19. Will your deity condemn someone who doesn’t believe in him/her/it/them?
I don’t think so. I think all religions, in spite of their differences and their mutations across time, are attempts to reach the same reality. And they’re probably all wrong to some degree anyway, because how can finite beings fully understand the infinite?
20. a bad person have a good afterlife?
Insofar as they’ll keep getting reborn to fix the parts of the soul that are broken, I guess eventually they could get there.
21. What else (if anything) do you need to do to attain salvation?
Show compassion for fellow creatures, particularly other human beings. Follow the Golden Rule. Improve your mind and rid yourself of prejudice.
22. are your beliefs about the following:
a) abortion? I think it’s a tragic part of life that we should work to minimize through good programs for women. But I think women who choose abortion should be supported and loved, not condemned. I don’t think it’s an evil choice, just a hard one.
b) homosexuality? That’s the way God made some people.
c) women as clerics? I think everybody has the spark of who they’re meant to be or the role they’re meant to play implanted within them. Sometimes a woman will be meant for a traditionally male role, or a man for a traditionally female role. I don’t think anybody should be prevented from taking on their God-given calling. And I believe women who say that they feel genuinely called to lead a religious community, even when the religion says only men may be clerics.
d) divorce? I think it’s sad and hard on families, and efforts should be made to avoid it when that’s possible. But I also think it’s sometimes necessary.
e) non-violence? I think it’s the ideal, and I would be horrified to have violence done in my name. In some circumstances, there may be no other choice – if you see a thug mugging a little old lady, you might have to pull him off to get him to stop. But I think we should strive for non-violence first.
f) faith healing? Pray if you like, but seek conventional medical treatment. I’m horrified when I hear about a child who died because his family took him to the priest instead of the hospital. Who says science is not of God?
g) divination? (e.g. tarot cards, astrology, i Ching, whatever) I believe that divination practices are a tool to connect with the divine or with some kind of knowledge you have inside of you but can’t quite bring out. They help you to think about a problem or an experience in a new way, and I believe there’s a spark of the divine in them too. At absolute worst, they’re harmless diversions. I don’t agree with faiths that say they’re of the devil.
What does Belief-O-Matic say my faith should be?
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (96%)
3. Sikhism (95%)
4. New Age (95%)
5. Mahayana Buddhism (90%)
6. Reform Judaism (88%)
7. Liberal Quakers (86%)
8. Theravada Buddhism (86%)
9. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (82%)
10. Jainism (75%)
11. Orthodox Judaism (68%)
12. Baha’i Faith (67%)
13. Secular Humanism (60%)
14. Islam (56%)
15. Hinduism (54%)
16. New Thought (54%)
17. Taoism (52%)
18. Orthodox Quaker (51%)
19. Scientology (49%)
20. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (44%)
21. Nontheist (38%)
22. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (32%)
23. Jehovah’s Witness (32%)
24. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (31%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (24%)
26. Roman Catholic (24%)
27. Seventh Day Adventist (23%)
(Wow. I’m actually more Scientologist, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness and Non-theist in my beliefs than I am Roman Catholic, even though on paper that’s my official faith. What can I say?)