What I'm Really Thinking ...about religion
'Religion… is the opium of the masses". Karl Marx said that. He said lots of stuff about religion, but in this bit he was saying that religion is just there to reduce people's suffering and give them hope that there is something better out there, in order to give them the strength to carry on. I've been thinking a lot about religion. And faith.
I think I'm unusual because I still believe in God. I definitely still have my faith. Lots of my friends don't believe in anything any more. We've been doing stuff in class about all the different religions and I've found it fascinating. It does make you wonder though about religion. Whatever about believing in God, or an afterlife (or reincarnation if you're Buddhist), the whole thing about religion seems to be a bit random. Like if my family were Muslim, then I'd be Muslim, but because my family is Catholic, I'm Catholic. Is one better than the other?
That's why that quote from Marx stands out to me. I've started to wonder if religion is really just a social construction. Like, if there is just one God, how are there so many religions? Are some of them lying, or was it just the case that actually people (not God) just started organising themselves around a particular set of beliefs? Take the 10 Commandments, for example, is that just a human guide to good, moral, living or was it really given to us by God? Because there are Five Pillars of Islam too, that also guide Muslims in what they need to do to live a good life. Why would God give two sets of rules to different people?
I never really thought about this stuff in primary school. You just go along with the flow. My family go to Mass (which is also pretty rare these days) so I've always gone. I like some of the ceremonial stuff about Mass. Easter is coming up. I love Easter, there is so much drama for the week leading up to it and there's lighting the Pascal candle and the light spreading throughout the church. But this year I'm questioning it all a bit more. Like was there really a person called Jesus, or does it just suit to have a semi-mortal figurehead whose life we can try to emulate?
I do get what Marx meant about religion really helping with suffering. My aunt died last year, and my mum was distraught, cos she died very young and left a young family. She was really sick with cancer and so it was almost a good thing she died to relieve her pain. But she left young kids behind. My cousins have been really struggling.
It is sad to watch them suffering, but I do like to think that my aunt is at peace in heaven. Mind you, my cousin who's just 10 said that the night her mum died, she saw a new star in the sky, and she is sure that star is her mum, up there looking down and trying to still mind her. She gets a lot of comfort from that. I've started to wonder then if that's a bit like my belief that her mum is in heaven. So does the religion bit matter at all? I'm totally up in the air about the whole religion thing. I've decided though, to hold on to my belief in God. I do want to believe that there is someone, or something, greater than all of us, out there guiding things. Like, without that you have to wonder why we exist at all?
As imagined by David Coleman