That’s The Way Things Are

To Pray, or Not to Pray?


To all of my Jewish brethren out there, Shana Tova and I hope that you had an easy fast.

It is, of course, the High Holy Days for those of us in the Jewish religion, where we celebrate the new year, and repent for our sins of the last year.

For many of us, however, it’s also the first time we’ve been to temple since the High Holy Days twelve months ago.

I know that I’m in that grouping…

I’ve not always been that way, though. Up until a handful of years ago, I used to go to services a couple of times a month. Not even for holidays. Just to go…

No, I’m not apathetic, and no, I’m not lazy…

Fine, I’ll just say it… I have a problem with religion.

There, are you happy now?

And to clarify, I don’t have a problem with just my religion, but religion in general, across the board.

It just doesn’t feel right to me. So many elements of the empirical beliefs of all religions, whether Judaism of Catholicism or Mormonism or any of the others, and the idea of religion as a whole, that I can’t wrap my head around lately. As hard as I try, it just doesn’t add up and make sense for me.

And let’s be clear, it’s not an arbitrary, non-sensical issue with religion. I have what I consider to be some genuine beefs with the concept of religion, and believing in a “higher power” and “all knowing entity” so to speak.

I have issues believing that if I simply pray for something, it will help it to actually happen. What about our own actions? Don’t they matter? Doesn’t our behavior, or lack thereof, have relevance? Doesn’t logic suggest that our actions would be the much more dominant and overriding factor in what actually does and doesn’t occur?

I have issues buying into the idea that religions have as a tenet, whichever religion you subscribe to, that G-d, regardless of which G-d you believe in, needs us to worship and pray to him/her every week. G-d is infinitely beyond us on the intellectual spectrum and knows all — why then doesn’t G-d just know that people have reverence and respect?

I have issues accepting religion when I see people, myself included, offer their prayers to G-d, looking for help with whatever they need — marriage, money issues, problems at work, or anything else — and as often as not those prayers go unanswered, and those issues persist or get even worse…

So, I don’t really feel the need to spend a ton of time in my temple at services, praying to a G-d who doesn’t seem to be there an awful lot of the time, if G-d exists at all, really. I’ll admit it, it seems like the whole process could be a waste of time that’ll yield no practical or tangible result.

Don’t get me wrong though, I have a lot of respect for the concept of religion, religions, themselves, and the people who adhere to them, and are such staunch believers in the religion to which they subscribe. Actually, I’m kind of jealous and envious of them, honestly. They have something huge, an “all powerful” that they genuinely believe in, and have to lean on and turn to in times of trouble and struggle, and have unwavering faith, no matter what.

I don’t have that…

There’s another reason why I don’t make my way to temple terribly frequently. I feel as though it’s disrespectful and disingenuous for me to be there, and offer prayers, when I don’t truly believe. Disrespectful to the rabbi and cantor, disrespectful to those who genuinely do believe, in all religions, and disrespectful to whatever higher power that, in the end, just may exist, and I just don’t understand the ways G-d operates or G-d’s rationale.

I just can’t look past what I consider to be very logical points that make me really question the idea of religion as a whole and not allow me to believe…

But, then again, maybe that’s precisely what religion is really about…

“G-d has no religion.”– Mahatma Gandhi

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