By Logan Lowery
(A QUICK NOTE APART FROM THE ESSAY: This essay was written as a final assignment for my Confirmation class that I took at my church- a "faith statement." While I technically identify as a Universalist, I chose to become a member of my church for the sake of community and growth in finding my place in this vast Universe. While a vast part of this essay mentions "God" or "The Son" or "The Spirit", I intend that the purpose is for this not to be completely and solely a Christian essay, but an essay on religious and spiritual ethic. I was proud of it and, while it may be a little outlandish, decided to enter it in this contest as an essay.)
Philosophy was once regarded in Ancient Greece as ‘the love of wisdom’. At the time, both metaphysical and scientific findings were viewed as important and legitimate while covered under this umbrella term. Over time, the term broke in half, forming what we now know as Philosophy and Science. Both took off in two, almost totally different directions, and left the other behind. I believe, however, that the two should be joined together to work and function as an understanding mechanism to manifest in our universe.
Humans. As much as we would like to, we do not live in an anthropocentric world. The Universe does not revolve around us, nor are we the most important thing on its agenda. And God? I believe God does not fit into this human rose-colored aura, either. God is not a monarchal grandfather in the sky and nor is God necessarily a creator in a workshop, but rather an undefinable, underlying aspect of everything we know in the world.
This aspect is within us, too; it is us, almost entirely.
About 13.8 billion years ago, the Big Bang occurred, sending starstuff hurling at extreme speeds across the Universe. That same starstuff is within us today, from the iron in our blood to the calcium in our bones. The importance? It comes from the same cosmic waters of which God hovered over in this time of new beginnings- the moments before the Bang.
God was there.
God is like a breeze you can just barely feel. You can’t necessarily see it, but you can feel it and sense it around you. The breeze is not destructive or strong, but rather gentle and calm. You can feel it on your skin and in your hair, running over you like a fleeting thought. Its effects can be eye-opening or subtle, ignored or thoroughly heard. The wind carries the newly emerged butterfly and cools a hot summer day. God keeps us grounded and flows through everything with love.
What does it mean for us, if everything holds this mystery of God?
I believe it means that putting God on a monarchal pedestal is silly.
Throughout the Bible, it is stated that the kingdom of God is in us and that God is with us. Our universe and everything in it is equally divine in itself, nothing more favored than its neighbor. The Cosmos is the whole of creation, God and nature included, as well as humans- it is all one. This is what I believe to be the true meaning of the Trinity.
The Father represents the Universe from which we came. Our God. Our beginnings.
The Spirit represents connection. Our world operates through connection, both from ideological and biological understandings. Love, teaching, compassion, teamwork, and guidance can always be traced to living things.
The Son represents every living and non-living thing in the Universe. Every star, every human, every tree, every animal, every created body you could think of.
But isn’t Jesus the Son? Yes, he is. And so are we.
Jesus was a Jewish prophet who was enlightened and understood his connection to the Universe, expressing it in a way that had never been shown in his culture before. Like us, he was perfectly human, but he simultaneously acknowledged his cosmic divinity.
Jesus openly stated that he was God, the Son of God, with God, the creation of God- I believe a great deal of Christians have misunderstood the openness in his statements. Nowadays, it goes against western culture to state that you, simply, are God and that you hold that light within you and every atom of your body… but it’s nothing new. Eastern religions such as Hinduism have stated it for ages.
I find it a necessity that religion must focus on the big ideas rather than the tiny details. When you get into the small details of every Biblical reading, there are more obsessive and frantic grabs at trying to perfectly convey everything stated. With this comes fear sprouting from both misleading spiritual leaders and misunderstandings of religious texts. Fear is the enemy of spirituality.
I believe there are universal aspects of all religions and none is “more right” than the other. All were created by humans to teach other humans about our connection to each other and everything around us. The Bible is not the only book with truths. Prayer is not the only way to reach God. There is no specific way to worship and there is no certain group of people that should only be able to be included in or host a holy event.
The Church should be a guide for each individual’s journey with their place in the Universe and with God. The Church can teach open-mindedly, provide community, and love its followers, but it can not turn away from, discriminate against, harshly lecture, or harm anyone for any reason. The church is a place of love, exploration, and growth.
I know what it’s like to be an outsider. As I have a habit of never hesitating to speak my mind if I see fit, I’ve gained backlash for my opinions, ideas, and identity. I’ve grown up in the south where my stances on mostly everything has been disagreed with or disregarded. For ages, I’ve struggled with who I was as well as how I see God. My faith has fluctuated throughout the years and still continues to every day. I’ve only lived a life very short compared to others, but I have had plenty of time to think, feel, and comprehend.
We have a habit of being static. We are hesitant to think outside of the box, to look to our brothers and sisters of other faiths, to question, and to think for ourselves. Abstract ideas are sometimes seen as the enemy when it is rather the foundation of humanity. We do not step forward into the future if we stay stagnant in our ideas- we keep a firm two feet in the past.
Sometimes the truth isn’t what we may like it to be. Sometimes we don’t have answers to all of the questions. Sometimes we have to change. Without change, we cannot deepen our understanding of the world and each other. We cannot solely rely on a higher being to “do good things.” Our job in this world is to make it a better place. It is a miracle that we are alive and it is important to spread the best of ourselves. We must show compassion, love, curiosity, and hope for the world and the future.
While going through our lives, the most important thing that we can do is trust. Trust in those around you, trust in nature, trust in yourself; trust in all. You must let go and sometimes rely on your heart and your gut- that’s the Universe working within you.
Our purpose is to live.
To live with open hearts and ready minds.
In the words of Alan Watts: “You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”