I am often late to the game when it comes to watching many popular television shows. Having a young daughter made it difficult to really sit through hour long dramas when she was younger and in the past couple years, I have been playing catch-up using DVDs. It started with Six Feet Under, then Dexter, and so many great shows followed. I enjoy watching television series in these blocks so that I can do it marathon-style and do not have to wait week-to-week.
My latest obsession has been HBO’s Big Love. Not only is it entertaining but I feel it has also might have triggered a change in my perspective on Mormonism and religion in general.
I have spoken in the past about my faith confusion. I was not raised in any particular denomination and my experiences with the religions of others have not been very positive. So, for a long time, I pretty much detested the concept of organized theologies. It all seemed so hypocritical, fear-based and somewhat ignorant. Yes, I know that I am guilty of having a lot of these same traits, too.
I believe in something. I know there is more; something greater than us. And I have to believe there is something after this life; simply because it makes it easier to cope with my fear of death. But I have always refused to believe in a “God” who would send people to hell for growing up in a culture with alternate faiths, not being baptized, not repenting on time, eating meat on the third Tuesday every other month or whatever broken rule worthy of damnation.
Admittedly, I have been pretty judgmental of certain religions. When I first started watching Big Love, I thought Mormons – specifically polygamists – were all a bit off their rocker. And to be perfectly honest, judging by those undergarments – wow – I think I might be a little bit right.
As I continued to watch, I began to realize that these are just regular people, dealing with regular problems with regular emotions. Sure they may believe some things that seem super-out there to me, but so what?!
Of course, I do not believe that young girls and boys should be forced into marriages, sex or any child inappropriate situation. That is criminal plain and simple, in ANY religion. But when we are speaking about grown adults making their own choices – it certainly should be no business of anyone else.
Through the course of the show, the polygamist family had to disguise themselves as a “typical” family so not to be shunned by society or other sects of the Mormon Church. They had to live a lie and were not allowed to be their true selves. It reminded me of what homosexuals still have to face in our country today. Families and emotions are torn apart simply because some people are forced to live in fear because of the backlash when they show who they really are as a complete person.
Scientology is another example of me being dismissive. The whole concept, the rules, the selling of their doctrine – it always appeared so odd and disingenuous to me. I am sometimes shocked when I learn about which celebrities are members and cannot help but to think differently about them after. But why?
Again, I am speaking about adults choosing a path. They are simply looking for something bigger then themselves to help them cope with the difficulties and realities of this life. How can I fault someone for that? Heaven knows I could use some coping assistance myself!
Four people were killed at a U.S. embassy in Lybia recently. Reportedly, sparks started to fly and protests were triggered because of an American-made video disparaging Muhammad and the Muslim religion. And while I do not think that any liberties with the First Amendment should result in such senseless violence, it made me consider my own guilt when judging the beliefs of others.
I highly doubt that my eye rolling and giggling would start a Scientologist protest in Hollywood, but perhaps I should just try to be a bit more open-minded and compassionate when it comes to another person’s religion. This can be hard to do after I have witnessed so much hate and venom from people claiming to follow “God’s path.” It can be difficult to forgive atrocities committed in the name of faith. It can be challenging not to judge those who so often harshly judge others.
I have quite a number of Atheist friends and I plan on writing a piece about their thoughts and beliefs (or lack thereof) very soon. They are often misunderstood and criticized for simply choosingnot to believe. I think we really need to get with the program and realize that a personal belief or choice is just that – personal. It is human to pre-judge. We all do it and I don’t think there is much we can do about that. But we can work on the ways we react and behave.
I am going to start being more aware of my prejudices and really start reflecting on where these automatic thoughts may be coming from and why. If nothing else, maybe it can lead me in the direction of being a more tolerant (even though I hate that term), accepting, loving and sensitive human being.