I am reading Robin Wall Kimmerer's beautiful, poignant book Braiding Sweetgrass. Early in the book she shares the Native American legend of Sky Woman, a story full of the bringing of life, the sharing of resources and spirit, growth, soil, animals, plants, harmony, beginnings.
Compare that to the legend of Eve, a story of exile, shame, guilt, the curse of menstruation, the pain of childbearing. I can't help but wonder why anyone would choose to believe in a god who is so judgmental, so cruel, who forbids the first humans to hunger after knowledge and punishes them and all of us ever after when they disobey. And we do choose what to believe; let's make no mistake about that.
So much has been lost to the world by the Christian/European purposeful, systematic destruction of this country's indigenous cultures. (The same is probably true of Australia and Africa and no doubt anywhere in the world where superior weaponry overwhelmed and decimated superior thought and natural ways of living and relating to the natural world.) I don't kid myself indigenous people's didn't struggle or wage wars or dominate others. But the way they have been treated, mistreated, virtually eradicated by intruders and conquerors is an almost unfathomable wrong.
I despise religious institutions, most of which were at first attempts to codify spirituality but soon devolved into being about power and suppression and wealth and division. I find Catholicism especially disgusting, and, again, wonder why anyone continues to buy into an institution that has given the world the Magdalena laundries, the schools that tore indigenous children from their parents and hammered on them to drive out their native languages and customs, the priests who have abused legions of children without consequence, the towering cathedrals full of gold set in starving towns and cities.
I know it is considered rude at best and shockingly inappropriate at worst to denigrate other people's beliefs, to which I answer "Have your beliefs, cherish them, follow them, but do not for a moment think yours take precedence over anyone else's, that yours are better, than anyone but you needs to believe what you believe. Your relationship to the Great Whatever is yours alone. Be content with that and quit judging everyone else."
As Richard Dawkins points out in The God Delusion: there are no Christian or Buddhist or Jewish children. There are only children born to Christian or Buddhist or Jewish parents. Left to themselves, every child to would come up with her own mythology and origin story and tenets. If only we were all allowed to do that, to decide for ourselves individually what we believe, what makes sense to us, what helps us answer the unanswerable questions of how life began and what it all means. If only.
One last quote from someone who was a heck of a lot smarter and more eloquent than I:
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Livin' for today
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too