In eighth grade my aptitude test results came with a warning: Interest patterns too varied.
There was a little bit of this and that, and the only professions even close to my interests were: TV/Film director, teacher, social worker, nurse, writer.
Today I took a test on a website called Belief-O-Matic. It's a place to test your religious personality and beliefs, to match you up with the perfect religion. It's like Match.com, only it hooks you up with the right god(s).
I scored the highest (100%) with the Unitarian Universalism religion. If you visit their "What We Believe" website, there are a lot of "diverse beliefs" and "it depends" and "many believe it's unimportant or irrelevant." The beliefs are all over the place, just organized confusion. Like me.
My lowest score was 11%, Roman Catholic, which is -- cough -- technically what I am. Next to Roman Catholicism, also in the bottom 11%, was Orthodox Judaism. Which means I'd more likely be a Muslim (20%), or a Scientologist (53%), than a Catholic.
I wanted my #1 religion to be Theravada Buddhism, because it sounds cool, or maybe Transcendentalism, because either Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson chose that one. The latter didn't even make the list. Atheism wasn't on there either.
Aside from Unitarian Universalism, my top five religions (out of the 27 listed) were:
1. Liberal Quaker (84%)
2. Secular Humanism (79%)
3. Taoism (78%)
4. New Age (66%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (61%)
So I'm essentially screwed. I'm going to hell, or I'll be reincarnated as a leech or leper, and I'll be thoroughly confused every step away from Nirvana. I'll never find inner peace, a savior, or ultimate enlightenment. Screwed.
I guess the simplest way to deal with ambiguity is to break things down to their smallest parts. What exactly am I looking for?
1. I need a belief system (or do I?).
2. There are many, too many to choose from without definite guidance from a superior expert, those being Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Ron Hubbard, etc. But they're all dead, and God won't answer the phone.
3. All I know for sure is that it's important to do no harm in life, to be kind, treat others as I want to be treated, tell the truth (when it does no harm)... There's a little bit of good in almost every religion, and I think I'm enough of a grownup to choose the buffet and make the right choices.
4. I don't really believe in life after death, in the sense that consciousness is involved. I might be a dust mote or a water bear, stardust or ash. Whatever it is, it won't be me, so I would only be good for goodness's sake, not to get into anyone's idea of Heaven or Happy Hunting Ground. I think Heaven and Hell are states of mind, perhaps estates of mind, if there's any truth to cumulative Karma, which there might be in some weird cosmic butterfly effect sense. It's just best to be good, what good means to me, which is doing no harm.
5. I need to be an example to my children. Can I be this good example without a religion? Or can I call myself a Catholic to keep the peace in my family, to keep my husband from violently erupting in fear for my soul, and just quietly walk my own walk?
6. Do I believe in a higher power? Yes. But this power has no name, and there is no appropriate pronoun, certainly not "he" or "it." This power doesn't care to have a name, isn't built to care, doesn't have a language that involves "care." Math doesn't "care." Math just does what it does, quite well too, and Math doesn't ask for any praise.
A higher power caring would mean the power is human-like, which isn't what humans want, or is it? We at least want better than us, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. We want a power that isn't petty, moody, unstable, weak. I prefer something like "The Force" in Star Wars. There was no pronoun to grapple with, which was quite nice. It was an equal opportunity power. No consciousness involved. It's like a power source, magic soul fuel, and some kick-ass levitation.
We're asked in Catholicism to "denounce Satan." For me, Satan is right up there with ghosts and aliens. I guess I get stuck on the fact that God was supposed to have created everything, including Satan (formerly Lucifer). Therefore, if humans were made in the likeness of God, so was Satan. So Satan is God/God is Satan. Heads/Tails. Am I the only one who sees this?
Henry Miller once said something to the effect that the only way to peace is to accept that God and Satan are two sides of the same coin. Just like The Force and The Dark Side. There are two ways to go. Why do they need names? Be good. Do Good. Show good. Follow Good. How hard is that? Why do we need a gazillion religions to follow? Powers with names. Powers with egos that need praise, names, arbitrary rules and complicated rituals?
Keep it simple, and sane.
I apologize if I've offended anyone. I've spent at least forty years thinking/fretting about all this, trying to sort it out, but every truth I think I've found crashes eventually, splits on impact, like mercury. There's no solid, no constant like Pi. Except maybe Love, beautiful crazy Love. It isn't particularly constant either, but that doesn't seem to matter, does it.
May The Force be with us all (and no, there's no need to capitalize it).... In fact, The Force could be represented by a symbol only, something like the-artist-formerly-known-as-Prince uses. Then again, we'd probably argue over what that symbol would be.
May the <\+/> be with you.