Thursday, October 17, 2013

Believe It or Else

I just took a deep breath as I reached for the keyboard.  I am about to talk about two things that caress every aspect of American life, the length and breadth of the nation, concepts that define us, strengthen us, inform our souls, balm our sorrows and heighten our joys.

I'm going to talk about religion and Oprah Winfrey.

The well-off television performer recently sat down on her television show on her television channel and told a woman who says she is an atheist that she is wrong about that.

The woman is Diana Nyad, the distance swimmer who recently swam from Cuba to Florida.  She was on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday show on Oprah's Oprah Winfrey Network and said she is a person filled with awe at the the things of nature.  She said,  “I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist, go on down the line, and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity — all the billions of people who have lived before us, who have loved and hurt and suffered. So to me, my definition of God is humanity and is the love of humanity.”

But she does not believe in religion, or God.  She does say she is inspired by what she sees around her.

On the other hand, I don't see why Diana Nyad hasn't the right to feel as she does, but Oprah Winfrey stuck her down that if she feels that way, she can't be an atheist.  Oprah said, “I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery, that that is what God is. That is what God is. It’s not a bearded guy in the sky.”

So, you tell Oprah how you feel, and she defines you in her own terms.  Gee.

Nyad and Winfrey
I have a good friend who is an atheist and we certainly differ on religion.  I am a Christian, but I don't see any right given to me to tell others how to feel or how to label their beliefs.  If someone wants to call themselves an Oldsmobile, that's their privilege. (But I will insist that you get an annual emissions inspection.)

What is it about some people that fills them with this desire, this need, to tell other people how to feel, how to live, how to live, what to do, where to do and how to pray?  It's all I can do to keep up with raking the leaves around here these days.  You all are on your own about religion.  I'll tell you about mine if you ask.

Only if you ask.

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