I’m trying to figure out to whom to attribute the quote, but somebody said, “The definition of fluency in a language is the ability to speak about religion and politics.” When you think about it, it makes sense; people’s religious and political beliefs are generally shaped by many things: their upbringing, their relationship with their parents, the events they’ve witnessed and how they reacted, and even to some degree what their friends and colleagues think. As a result, when really discussing religion and politics and going beyond the simple labels (e.g., “I’m a Christian Republican”), you need a wide vocabulary and ability to construct coherent sentences to get your point across.
It seems that society in general has lost its fluency, but not for lack of grammar (okay, well, maybe a bit because of that, too—r u txting 2?) so much as lack of respect. People do not respect others’ opinions, and that failure to provide respect results in anger, hurt feelings, flame wars online, and loss of friendships. I have very few close friends, but one of the absolute criteria that must be met is that we can talk about these two subjects respectfully to each other. If we can’t do that, we’re not gonna be friends. I enjoy discussing religion and politics, and to have to limit discussions about it over something so fundamental as respect is unacceptable to me. Therefore, without further ado, my views on religion—well, spirituality, since I don’t adhere to any organized religions.
I was raised Baptist, and we went to church every Sunday until I was maybe 10 or 11. At that point, we moved, and my mom couldn’t find a pastor she liked. Of course, I wasn’t complaining; having Sundays free was wonderful.
I was very sexual as a kid; I fooled around a lot—pretty much any opportunity I could get. And my Baptist upbringing taught me that was a bad thing. As a result, I lived with a lot of guilt, and I also lived a double-life. Publicly, I was the “good kid,” the straight-A student, the teacher’s pet (someone literally called me that). Behind closed doors, I got into a vicious cycle of fooling around, feeling overwhelmingly guilty and swearing never to do it again, and then doing it again and feeling guilty for it all over. This went on for quite a few years. All that time, I prayed hard for God to make me not do that, to make me “normal.” Suffice to say that things went from bad to worse several years later when I realized I was bi and other things that I won’t discuss here. Then I really felt guilty. Yet as I thought more and more about it, things began not to make sense.
I was taught that being a homosexual was a sin (and being bi, I’m at least half homosexual), so that meant that God hated me. Yet I was also raised believing that God is omniscient, all-powerful, and perfect, and I was raised believing that God made me. Putting all of that together, a being who hates homosexuals but never makes a mistake created a half-homosexual. How could that be? Why would God create something He hated? Now, I’ll tell you that I’ve made things I hated: I’ve written software that was terrible, written requirements that even I couldn’t fully understand, and designed circuits that just didn’t work. “Hate” might be a strong word, but I certainly didn’t like those things I created, and I most definitely wasn’t proud of them. I would not place them on my desk next to me and say, “my, what lovely crap I’ve created!” But I’m not God. I make mistakes, and it’s not only understandable but expected that at some point I would create something that displeases me.
But God is perfect. God doesn’t make mistakes.
It made no sense to me that God would deliberately create something He hated. But that meant that something I was taught had to be wrong; it didn’t all line up. I still believe that God is perfect. I still believe that while God may not have put the molecules together Himself to make me, He started the chain reaction that led to it and knew that I’d be born as a result. And I believe that He’s involved in my life daily. So that only left whether He hated homosexuals or not. Yet the Bible has been interpreted time and again to say that He does, and if the Bible says it, then it must be true…right? The Bible also says that Jews are damned if they don’t accept Jesus…along with Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, atheists, Hindus, and so on, but that didn’t make sense to me, either, since God created all of those people, too.
It was at this point that I began searching. I had to have a humanities class in college, so I took a class on religion and got to learn a bit more about various Western and Eastern religions. I have a tendency towards making things efficient and simple, and what I condensed the “core beliefs” of all religions down into was, “be good to each other.” I fully believe that at the core of every religion is a little nugget of concentrated goodness that says little more than that. But then you start heaping on the dogma—”must believe in Jesus,” “must not eat pork”, “must eschew attachments,” and so on—and that’s how you get different religions. Some religious teachings remember what their core is, remember that above all else, they should be teaching people to be good to each other, but many religious leaders begin to forget that. Politics, ego, and money get in the way, and they start using religion as a weapon rather than the tool it was meant to be.
Yes, religion and spirituality are tools. I believe that a good religion or spiritual belief must fulfill three needs:
- It must provide guidance in times of moral indecision,
- It must provide comfort in times of strife, and
- It must give us some idea of what the afterlife (if any) is like.
Nobody knows everything, and at some point, people need something to lean on and say, “this is what I should do because ____.” Religion provides that.
I believe everybody is affected by bad times at some point or other, and in our darkest moments, we need something to cling to, to give us that little bit of hope that things will get better when it seems all is lost.
We hope things get better in this life, but for some, the next life holds more promise, and that’s where the third item comes in. Because people don’t regularly die and come back to life to tell us what it’s like “on the other side,” religion gives us an idea of what to expect. Humans and animals alike tend to fear the unknown, and a strong spiritual belief gives us something to hold onto, because where death is concerned, it’s better to believe something even if it’s wrong than to be left questioning.
As far as I’m concerned, as long as a religion or set of spiritual beliefs is doing those three things, it’s off to a good start.
But religion should never be used as a weapon. The notion that “You are going to Hell because you don’t do exactly what I do” is a horrible, terrible way to misuse religion, just as shooting a fellow human being is a horrible, terrible way to misuse a gun, and I view those who use their religion to look down on others with almost as much contempt as those who shoot other human beings. How dare you pervert such a beautiful gift in such a disgusting way?
Okay, okay, I might have gotten fired up about that a bit. Getting back to my story, I had learned some things about other religions, but I recognized that I still didn’t really know a whole lot about them. My dad is one of the best of the “good men” that I know: he has worked his entire life to provide for the family, putting in insane hours at work, flying home, and putting in insane hours to keep things moving at home. I turned to him for advice. It turns out he and I had come to similar conclusions, but he had put it more eloquently. He said, “Son, above all, knowingly do no harm.”
Wow. It’s so simple, like a good requirement. It doesn’t dictate how you must act or state “this is bad and that is bad”; it merely commands that you really consider whether your actions harm others or not and avoid those that do. Coming from a regulatory and compliance engineering background, it is the ISO 14791 of life: consider in what ways your actions (product, in ISO 14971’s case) can harm others and take steps to reduce the risk or severity. How elegant!
Now, like many board games, the rules are simple but difficult to master, and the struggle is there every day to avoid doing harm to others.
But that only makes up the first element of what a religion must do. What about comfort? What about the afterlife? Here I’ll tell you a story. Bear in mind that this is my blog, and I tend to be open about things; TWBS.
When I was very young, I must have seen my parents watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I say that because as a very young child, somewhere between 3 and 7, I remember having a vivid fantasy of being strapped, naked, to a metal frame and lowered into a volcano. That fantasy stayed with me for many years, although it changed over time. What can I say, I like things warm, but a volcano would be a life-ending experience, and I don’t want that! The desire to be restrained, naked and helpless never went away, though, and when I was 20 or so, I finally started doing some research about it and discovered BDSM. Who knew there were other people who also liked to be tied up and made helpless? Who knew there were others more than willing to oblige that fantasy? Shortening the story a bit, I ended up at a leather bar and met some people in a BDSM club. I joined the club, had some very awesome scenes, and made some good friends.
But wait! What does this have to do with religion? Oh, look, here’s another story!
I didn’t date at all until I was finishing college. My first boyfriend and I met online and talked three months before he flew down here from Washington state to be with me. We lasted three days in person. It turns out we had nothing to talk about, nothing in common, and zero chemistry. It was awful. I had a Dom for a while (for those not into BDSM, it meant that he was the one “in charge”, and I, as his submissive, was supposed to do what he told me to do). After several months together, I realized that I had no respect for him and ended things rather explosively. My second boyfriend who wasn’t a Dom and I broke up something like 4 times over the course of a couple months. After the fifth time, we decided we were done. We’ve recently reconnected and are both much wiser now, but we can talk and hang out platonically.
Now for all of this time, I had a coworker that I trusted, and he and I would hang out and chat. He was straight, but I think he found my non-straight life fascinating even if it wasn’t for him. He suggested that as much bad luck as I’d been having, I might ought to consider dating a “chick” for a while. I figured it couldn’t hurt, and not long thereafter, I ended up with my only girlfriend, my “crazy ex-girlfriend.” Why she’s crazy…we’ll get to later, but suffice to say our relationship was unpleasant for me. I knew the first day that we shouldn’t be together, but having never dated a girl before, I didn’t want to be one of “those” guys who just dumped her, and so while I told her that I didn’t think we should be together, she said we should and I reluctantly went along with it.
For a year.
Remember the whole me-messing-around-as-a-kid thing? I was pretty much always the instigator back then, and I began to think that I’d cajoled everybody into it, that they’d only done it because I wanted to. I felt the same way with her, yet in hindsight, the opposite was true: she was always horny, and I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t fun, but at the time, every time we did it, I’d start feeling immensely guilty afterwards and couldn’t really stand to have her around, reminding me of what I’d just done, but I desperately didn’t want to be a jerk to her, either. I’d start brooding, we’d get in an argument, I’d say that we shouldn’t be together, she’d say we should, we’d slowly get over it, and then things would settle down again until we had sex again. This happened every month until I had finally had enough and just couldn’t stand it anymore. I finally told her that I really didn’t think we should be together and that we were done, that it had been a mistake to drag it out so long. She told me she was pregnant.
Now, people who know me know that I hate children. They make me incredibly uncomfortable. Like, recoiling in disgust or squirming in my chair uncomfortable. Why is probably the topic of another blog entry. But basically, the notion that there was about to be a kid out there that I was responsible for felt like a death sentence.
Of course, the first stage is denial, and my friends certainly helped encourage me to do that: “women always say that,” my coworker said (he’s a bit of a chauvinist). “She’s just trying to get you to stay; there’s no baby,” another friend said. But she and I went to the clinic together, and they confirmed she was in fact pregnant.
So now there’s this…thing…that’s going to ruin the next 18 years of my life, and there is nothing I can do about it. She wanted to have it, and I had no right to demand an abortion. I knew that I could not stay around to raise it, though; as severe as my discomfort is around children, there is no way I could be kind to it, and seriously weighing the options, I decided the harm was less if I wasn’t around than if I was there lashing out in discomfort.
I know some will look down on me for that; “suck it up,” they’d say. “Be a man. It’s just a baby.” I know. But I don’t know how, and I wasn’t in a position to figure it out. We all have things that make us uncomfortable. I have many. But while I don’t like spiders, I let them live in the camper, and while snakes make me nervous, I’ve let the ones on the property live. My discomfort around them is nowhere near as strong as my discomfort around children. I don’t know if that puts it in perspective, but I hope it does.
Back to the story, I was resigned to pay child support. I don’t shirk from my responsibilities, whether I like it or not, and I realized that if I was going to be paying child support, I was going to have to make some major lifestyle changes to be able to afford it. I was living in a rather nice-sized townhouse at the time, around 1200 square feet, and while I liked the place and loved my landlords (they were like second parents), the place leaked heat like a sieve, and I ended up with a $450 electric bill two months in a row. That couldn’t continue. I had a motorcycle I’d bought a year previously that I couldn’t afford to keep making payments on if I was going to pay child support. That had to go. I moved into a much cheaper apartment with much more reasonable bills and sold the motorcycle. I wasn’t happy about it, but I was prepared to pay child support when the time came.
Okay, wait; this blog is about religion, but this has nothing to do with it. Last time I mentioned this, I jumped into a—
—Oh, look, yet another story!
My family had miniature donkeys when I was in high school, and that continued when I went to college. While I had a best friend from elementary school, we had started drifting apart towards the end of middle school, and so I tended to be a bit of a loner—and lonely at times. One of the miniature donkeys, Jasmine, became, in a sense, my best friend. I’d go out and just sit with her and pet her, and she’d stop grazing and just enjoy it. It was simple but wonderful.
I graduated high school and started going to college. Anytime I came home to visit my family, Jasmine would bray at me as soon as I got out of my car. I had to go love on her before I even saw my family! I’d go love on her a bit and then take my suitcase inside and say hi to my parents and sister.
But one day I came home and she wasn’t there.
“Hey, Mom, where are the donkeys?” I asked as I walked in.
“Oh, we sold them,” my mom replied.
I stopped. “You—what?” I didn’t believe I’d heard it right.
“The last time you left, she went a little crazy and wouldn’t let anybody get near her, and since breeding them wasn’t doing anything, we decided to just sell them.”
- My best friend was sold, and I had no idea. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
- My best friend “went a little crazy” and wouldn’t let anybody get near her. What the fuck did I do to screw her up so badly?
I was heartbroken. Beside myself. And wracked with guilt. There’s more to this story, but that’s the part you need to know.
Hey, here’s another story!
Fast-forward a bit. At this time, I’ve spent some time in the BDSM club (even served as Member-At-Large for a while) and kinda lost interest, and now I’m kinda bored, kinda lonely, and looking for something social to do. One of my friends from the BDSM club lived in the gay part of town for a long time and got the local gay newspaper. He suggested looking in there to see if there was something of interest. While I played trombone throughout middle and high school and college, I wasn’t really wanting to join another community band, but I found a men’s choir that looked promising. I auditioned, got accepted, and started singing with them. I made a friend there when we started carpooling. He introduced me to me my love of dark beers. When I left the men’s choir a few months later (I realized I didn’t like performing and didn’t like rehearsing…who knew?), he and I remained friends.
Going back to a previous story, you remember the crazy ex-girlfriend and how I said we’d get to why she’s crazy? Now’s the time for that. She had no filter. And I mean that in the worst way. She told my parents about our in-bed activities. I mean, I’m open, but come on! I do have to give her credit, though; she helped me work through a lot of issues. She always used to say that friends are your friends “for a reason, for a season, or for life.” I figured she was “for a season” because I knew it wasn’t for life, but it turns out it was most definitely for a reason. The guilt of having sex wasn’t getting much better, but talking with her about it and her reassuring me that she wasn’t just having sex with me because I’d talked her into it slowly began to click, and slowly the guilt began to dissipate. I told her about how guilty I was feeling about Jasmine “going crazy” and expressed that I very much missed her but was afraid of making things worse. My ex-girlfriend convinced me that I wasn’t going to make things worse and encouraged me to try to find her.
My mom and I weren’t talking very much around this time. I’d come out as bi and other things, and my mom was really having a hard time dealing with it. It was painful for me because I had always been a momma’s boy growing up. When I was 14, I remember thinking to myself that I couldn’t imagine living without her. So the fact that we weren’t talking says that it was really bad.
Now, I must give her a whole lot of credit: she overcame decades of Baptist teachings to decide that she loved her son more than she believed what had been preached to her for her whole life. I love her all the more for it, and I’m very proud of her. But at this time, we weren’t there, yet, and things were tense.
I had no idea where Jasmine had gone, and she was the only person who would know. That kind of stuff was her domain, so my dad (with whom I had grown closer) wouldn’t have known, and that meant that I had to talk to her. I remember telling her that while I understood that she wasn’t happy with me, I was hurting and needed her help to find Jasmine. She reluctantly told me, and we had one of many little heart-to-hearts that were both uncomfortable and healing at the same time. I called the place she told me about, and they said that they had had Jasmine, but she was barren and couldn’t be used for breeding, and so they had sold her, too. They gave me the contact info for the place, a ranch owned by an oil tycoon that lived in Dallas, worked in Houston, and had her ranch outside of Austin.
I have to admit that I was pretty nervous at this point. What if she’d been sold again? What if this was a dead end? What if she was dead? What if with this woman being a big-shot oil tycoon, she wouldn’t even respond to my email? I was pretty on edge at this point.
I was at the gym (I was in amazing shape back then), and I had just finished getting dressed for my workout when I saw that I had an email. It was from Jasmine’s new owner—or rather the woman who lived on the ranch to take care of it while the oil tycoon was away (I cannot imagine having that kind of money!)—and she had good news. Yes, they had Jasmine. Yes, she seemed happy and healthy there. And yes, I was welcome to visit. When would I like to come?
Emotions have a funny way of being expressed when you’re on edge like that. I gritted my teeth, squeezed my PDA (because this was shortly before smart phones) in my hand, trying to crush it, and finally grabbed my headphones, slammed my locker shut, got on the treadmill, set it to like 14, and just sprinted until I was too tired to run anymore. My trainer at the time said that I looked so pissed that he was afraid to say anything. It’s not that I’m violent or ever have been, but it’s such a contrast from my usual grinning self, and when I look pissed, I look pissed.
With my head finally cleared enough to think sort-of straight but not clear enough to really respond, yet, I finished my workout, showered, went home, and then read the email again. This time the emotion was a little more reasonable: disbelief, cautious excitement, cautious relief… Of course I replied right away. It was June 20th when we went; I figured that for her help in getting me past my guilt, I would take my crazy ex with me (she wasn’t quite an ex, yet). We went, and it was actually good because my crazy ex loves to talk, and so she talked to the lady while Jasmine and I got some one-on-one time. She recognized me; that much was clear. She was always very food-motivated, but when she and the others came up to eat, she stopped and stared at me for a minute or more before continuing on. Beyond that, it was hard to tell whether she was happy or unhappy to see me. She certainly didn’t appear afraid, but she’d always given the best hugs when I was in high school, and she seemed more reserved now. Still, she did enjoy being petted and brushed (the lady who took care of her was incredibly thoughtful and just so very nice; she gave me a bucket of brushes of all different types to use). I was convinced it was really her, though.
I have to admit that after finding out that she’d been sold again, and to an oil tycoon—when would somebody like that have time for her?—I had delusions of rescuing her from wherever she had ended up and whisking her away to live with me—I hadn’t really figured out how that would work with me living in an apartment, but I figured “where there’s a will, there’s a way”—happily ever after. But this place was paradise for her: 1200 acres, other miniature donkeys and miniature horses for company, a caretaker who clearly took good care of her…I couldn’t take her away from all of that, couldn’t uproot her from her home like she’d been uprooted twice before. I was happy for her but pretty sad for me when I decided that it was best to leave her there. We thanked the lady—who said I could come back anytime, but I knew that I couldn’t do that—and left, my eyes blurred from so many tears of both joy and sadness. I got a speeding ticket on the way home.
Now, reuniting with Jasmine and finding out that she was okay and didn’t seem to have any ill feelings towards me, I realized that I missed equines in my life. By this time, I had left the men’s choir and was again looking for some way to occupy my time. I figured finding miniature donkeys around probably wasn’t going to happen, I’d focus on horses instead (I didn’t know there was that big a difference at the time), and since I didn’t have a place for a horse or really know anything about caring for them, I ought to find a place to learn how. I finally found a horse rescue and contacted them to ask them if I could help. My crazy ex independently contacted them wanting to see if she could help with the social side (Facebook was still kinda new).
Neither one of us heard back for over a month, but the rescue finally replied to me, and I started going over there on weekends. For a while I mostly mucked out stalls (it was relaxing, and horse manure is nowhere near as offensive-smelling as dog– or cat-feces), but eventually a horse came in named Nudge, so-named because he would get right up against you and lean into you, effectively “nudging” you. He was incredibly young, maybe a year old, if that, and he became a surrogate Jasmine. I started working with him, getting him comfortable being led, bathed, and handled, and he was coming along quite well. I got pretty attached.
Not long after that came the break-up, and then the miscarriage. While I cannot say that I was sad it happened (“relieved” is a much better word), I couldn’t help feeling guilty that I was the only one that benefited. My parents were excited to be grandparents (even if I wasn’t going to be involved), her family was excited, she was beside herself with excitement, and I was the only one who was really not for it. While by this time I had made it very clear that I didn’t want to have anything to do with her, I did dutifully take off work and spend the rest of the day with her when it happened until her family could get to her. I hate children and wasn’t keen on her, but I’m not a monster.
She got crazy after that. She told the rescue owners in graphic detail about what sex with me was like (they were very uncomfortable, and so was I!) and started stalking me through them, asking them what I was doing, when I came, what I did, and so on. She began posting things on the Facebook site she’d set up for them about offing herself and sent me an email threatening to do herself in. It wasn’t the first time she’d done that, and my Dom had done it several times before that, and so I ignored it. The next day, I got a scathing email talking about how I didn’t care about her and so on. I replied to her, blind-copying the barn and my family and friends, telling her very matter-of-factly that she was not to contact me, the barn, my family, or my friends again, nor were her friends or family to contact any of us, or I would call the police. I hated to be so blunt about it, but apparently I hadn’t been forceful enough when I broke up with her.
It wasn’t long after that that the rescue and I had a falling-out, and I wasn’t invited back. It was possibly the darkest time in my life to date. It was like all of the sadness I felt about Jasmine spread out over the previous four years condensed into a miserable two-week period. It’s…coincidental that I’m posting this today. Today’s the 8th anniversary of the last time I set foot at the rescue.
I know, I know, this is supposed to be about religion. I’m getting there…I promise.
Now, remember the men’s choir? They had a “buddy system” where veterans would take newbies under their wing for a season and help them figure out where to get proper attire, how to get places (many of the members were transportation-deprived), how to practice their music, and so on. My friend became the buddy of a guy who owned horses, and for several months while I was working at the rescue had been telling me that I should go with him to go see his friend with the horses. At the time, I had Nudge, and I didn’t really care about other horses. After stopping at the barn, though, I no longer had Nudge, and as awful as I was feeling, even a 2-hour road trip to go see a horse sounded like a good thing.
We went out there, and there were four horses, two black ones and two bay ones. The guy who owned the place said that he owned the black ones and was boarding the bay ones for his cousin. The older black one—whose name was Jasmine—was the other black one’s dam (mom). The younger black one came right up to the fence, and I blew in her nose. She started mouthing my face to the point that her owner said, “Ebony! That’s just obscene!”
Ebony is my horse now. It was love at first sight, and having lost Jasmine four years prior and Nudge just weeks earlier than that, I was afraid to lose another equine I loved. I bought her December 26th, and we celebrate our anniversary every year with apples.
What started all of this was a discussion of religion. Do I believe in God? Without a doubt, yes, and here’s why:
- If I had not been into BDSM since I was a child, I never would have met my friend who led me to the chorale, through which I made a friend who made a friend who owned the horse that would one day be mine.
- If my family had not had miniature donkeys and my best friend and I had not drifted apart, I probably would never have come to love equines the way I do.
- If I had not gone through multiple incompatible boyfriends and ended up with the crazy ex girlfriend, I would not have overcome my guilt related to Jasmine, would not have gone back to see her, and would not have rediscovered my love for equines.
- If the crazy ex had not gotten pregnant, or had I decided to try to shirk my responsibility for child support, I would not have sold off things and started saving up, which means I couldn’t have afforded to buy Ebony in the first place, let alone cover the cost of her boarding.
- Had I not parted ways with the rescue, I wouldn’t have gone to see Ebony.
Somehow, all of those things came together, multiple seemingly unrelated plot points that coalesced into what has been the most important decision in my life to date. I’ve moved over a dozen times since then, had a handful of different jobs, lived in several cities, had friends come and go, but Ebony has been the constant in my life since that day; she’s very important to me. The fact that all of those disparate things had to come together the way they did, and the fact that they did fills me with a sense that a guiding hand is watching over me, and if I’ve ever doubted God’s existence, that’s enough to reaffirm my beliefs.
Could it all be coincidence? Of course. Humans love to find patterns (and are good at it), and we’re also susceptible to confirmation bias. But given religion is faith-based, I choose to believe that it wasn’t mere coincidence, and that comforts me. And that is how my spiritual beliefs provide comfort in times of crisis. I feel better when I pray, and it literally helps me sleep at night when I’m worried.
Lastly, we come to the afterlife, and I’ll tell you now, my explanation for this is way shorter. I’ll start with a question: if you’re going through school and you fail the sixth grade, what happens? Do the teachers and principal and your parents all get together and say, “Welp, you failed, so now you’re doomed forever to have only attained a fifth grade education”? Heavens, no! They get together and say, “Welp, that sucked. Try again. Do better next time.”
Here’s another thought: energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be converted (including into mass). If that’s the case, then where did the energy go that embodied all of the souls that died and went to Heaven or Hell? Where is the energy that creates new souls coming from?
I think you can see where I’m going with this. I believe in reincarnation. I believe that our souls are constantly trying 6th grade again until they get it right enough to pass. Truthfully, I haven’t taken it to the level of detail that the Buddhists have (with their multiple levels of a soul’s existence, the reincarnation of various groups of those levels, and so forth), but I feel comfortable believing that when I die, my soul will try 6th grade again in my next life, and maybe it’ll get a few more questions right on the test at the end.
In a previous post, I talked about how some furries believe they are animals trapped in human bodies. While I don’t believe that, I do firmly believe that my soul was a horse at some prior time. It explains why I feel so connected to them, why I feel so “at home” with my animals, and why I really enjoy them scratching me back as if I were just another member of the herd.
This has been another long post. I hope you see now why discussing religion requires fluency in a language to really get into the details, and I hope that my explanations of how I came to follow the life-goal of knowingly doing no harm, why I firmly believe in God, and why I am comfortable believing that my soul will be reincarnated for another attempt to “get it right” make sense, even if you may not personally agree. They bring me comfort, reduce my uncertainty, and and hopefully help me to be a better human being, and that’s all I ask of my spirituality.