Let me start this posting with a point made by Thomas Paine.
"The setters-up, therefore, and the advocates of the Christian system of faith could not but foresee that the continually progressive knowledge that man would gain, by the aid of science, of the power and wisdom of God, manifested in the structure of the universe and in all the works of Creation, would militate against, and call into question, the truth of their system of faith; and therefore it became necessary to their purpose to cut learning down to a size less dangerous to their project, and this they effected by restricting the idea of learning to the dead study of dead languages." -Excerpt from Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason*
I remember going to a bible study once. It was extremely frustrating. I was asked to study for that week's homework the importance of God's name : one of which is Jehovah (it was listed as one of the names). Oh man did I learn so much after studying for a week and then coming to share what I learned. What I found was the erroneous use of Jehovah and that it means something entirely different**. Now keep in mind this study was prompted by a book used for the purpose of the study to be used with laypeople, or people without in depth knowledge of theology (read: watered down for the masses).
Being that I am a curious person I tend to do research on a very different level that many. I tend to dig a little deeper. I look for the roots. That was when I discovered that many Christians are erroneously calling "God" - "Jehovah" according to more than one source out there who are actually well versed in the Hebrew language. Oh I kept reading and learned that actual scholars, who do not tend to water their study down for the masses, expect people to understand and to keep up mentally. I shared this information. I was smacked down hard and fast when I brought the knowledge forward to the group. I was told it does not matter and it is about "the way we say it", and that if we say it with love that defines it. Really? I am since careful who I let spout Christian theology at me. I have heard church leaders, fellow Christians, people who say they abide by Christian beliefs speak so much regurgitated teachings yet be the hardest on those who find truth and out of their own arrogance expect others to blindly follow half truths and poorly understood theology. Who are these people that create these study materials, do they not expect someone to have independent thought? Or do they just expect that if the real questions are brought up that don't "fit" that they will be smacked down. Mine was. And knowing this I am not the last nor the first to do so, this is a frustration and a testament to the fact that there is for sure an altogether unhealthy but relied upon system in place with few to acknowledge it.
Am I calling out Christians? Not as a whole, I am calling out the System of Christian (and other dogmatic hair splitting religions) teaching that defines for others in this way that refuses to allow for independent thought, that System which is trying to stop people from finding truth and true meaning in their walk of faith to the point of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.
I am also calling out "teachers and leaders" who get so locked in to easy theology, sorry but it does nobody a favor. I don't know if I am remembering a quote or what but this piece of wisdom comes to my mind, "A real teacher has as many questions as the student." To equalized? Truth is we can try our best, I hope people who say they are teachers and leaders are truly understanding that only the best should ever be taught, and who determines the best? You see it will never end with more answers but with more questions.
So you see, dear reader, it is troubling to me that I let myself take to heart the ignorance of blind acceptance and somehow attribute it to the idea that my understanding was not being somehow enough. I walked into what I thought was supposed to be study but it turned out being a "you will learn this only this way" and this is rampant in the Christian world based upon my experiences, for this was not the first time. Cognitive dissonance is alive and well there, as well as the "Only ask questions that are approved" or the "God fits in this box only" or "Let me give you countless platitudes so that we don't have to discuss truth" ways.
I have since left this system of learning behind me, and gladly. Does it mean I know it all or have things figured out perfectly according to my faith? No. It means I have more questions, but also I am still wading through the answers I have found that resonate within me. The experience that I shared about, well, it happens so often and that is just not ok. Be wary of those who expect anyone to just blindly believe something, I had to learn that so that I could help myself and my children. I don't have a word for what I believe and I am happy to say so. I refuse to believe that I must do so and I challenge anyone who says I must, because the truth is... I DON'T.
Bottom line is when you find truth, share it, just make sure sure it isn't so prepackaged like processed foods where the real nutrition was lost long ago. Find the roots as best you can.
My additional point is that for anyone of any faith you have have to be willing to face the fact that many people are unwilling to do the work necessary to really understand what they are seeing when they study. Which is why I love the wisdom of LeVar Burton from PBS' s Reading Rainbow "But Hey, don't take my word for it." I would rather face questions than slack minded obeisance as it pertains to the idea of faith.
This posting is about my experience, it is not open for debating whether or not "God" or the idea of "God" exists. That is losing my point and I will not engage in any comment doing so.
I hope whomever reads this will have a good day and I appreciate your time to consider my thoughts.
* Thomas's Paine's Age of Reason
** See this source about the name of Jehovah being used incorrectly. or copy and paste the URL http://www.yaiy.org/literature/IsHisName.html
Image source found here