Religion has been in the news a lot. People love it. People hate it. People don't think it gets enough respect. Some people write funny musicals about it. People kill in its name and heal through its power. It tears families apart and binds them together. It's a source of tremendous wisdom and ignorance. It's one messy ball of wax.
Even in our own family, we have different takes on the role of faith and God in our lives. Some of us pray morning, noon and night, making religious zeal the favorite past time while others are more straightforward about the faith we were brought up with. Some of us don't practice at all, and sometimes we fight about the best or right or correct way to be, i.e., your skirt is too short, you're too judgmental, that movie is inappropriate, what you believe is crazy.
But one thing we all agree on, is no matter what religion a person prescribes to, at the beginning and end of the day it is the love, respect, decency and kindness we share that matters. It doesn't matter what tradition you come from, what religion you have or don't, what culture you were brought up in or what God you ascribe to: Faith is worthwhile as it helps us to be kinder, more generous, more loving and forgiving people.
Whether we're talking about Jesus, the Buddah, Muhammad, Krishna, Ghandi -- go on down the list -- the effects of their teaching might have been revolutionary, but the teachings worth following are based in charity. Many atheists are simply disenchanted with religious bickering and feel like people should be able to be decent without some All-Powerful Deity telling them to do so.
I, for one, am profoundly grateful to feel the hand of God at work in my life. But at the beginning and end of the day, when my default setting is to show kindness and love to others, I never regret it. And to me, that is what faith is all about.
This post was first published at fivetdsisters.blogspot.com.