First up, religion.
Let me just say that I was raised Catholic: I was even obnoxiously uber-pious as a kid, the year I got some prayer books for Christmas and made my family wait till I read out the prayer before they could start eating, and then wait again so I could say a prayer when we were done. (But that was really more about taking books seriously than it was about taking church seriously. I stand by that devotion, absolutely, to this day: It's a good thing I'm typing this in really tiny print so my grandmother can't read over my shoulder, but IMO Books > God.)
I know a lot of my friends, family, and readers are faithful, and I don't judge them/you for it. Truth is I miss it, the belief that someone was out there looking out for me. I'm happy for people who still believe, but I'm just not one of them.
Classification wise I suppose I fall somewhere between Agnostic and Atheist, but I'm not exactly sure where. And I don't spend a lot of time pondering it, either.
So long as you don't try to use your religion as a battering ram, I promise to let you believe what you believe. I expect the same courtesy and don't always get it, but that's easy enough to ignore: Today, my Great Aunt Jean called from Ohio, and Great Aunt Jean is one of those people who don't seem to understand that what they believe is their business, what I believe is mine. She called to talk to Grandmother, but Grandmother and UJ had left for church (4:00 Mass on Saturdays = not having to get up and out in the cold early mornings). When I told her where they'd gone, there was a space, and then a "Oh, but you didn't go to with them?" Followed by another space which I got the impression she was waiting for me to fill in with a suitable reason for not attending (Suitable reasons for not attending in Great Aunt Jean's opinion: Plague, bubonic; Apocalypse; zombie; the End.) I just said "Nope" and waited for her to keep talking. She gave a little sigh, and started gearing up for her 'convert the heathen' spiel, ("you know, Jesus..." as if she, in fact, does know Jesus) but I decided to forgo the lecture and quickly changed the subject to something I knew she'd be interested in (how could I thicken the beef stew I was making, which I got then got a lecture in, unfortunately).
I am not interested in lectures: I was well versed in the mythology, and even taught it for a while myself, in high school. But nowadays, that's all it feels like to me: myths, and too often (as this topic intersects with politics) it's used as justification for things that I don't feel are justifiable. For me, it's not enough to say "the Bible/Koran/Torah/Flying Spaghetti Monster tells me that these people are less equal and so I will treat them poorly" and then expect that the rest of the world will just sit by and let that be ok. Not going to happen, as far as I'm concerned.
Of course, I also know a great many religious people to whom that previous paragraph does not apply. There are plenty of people of faith who believe in their higher power and that their behavior should be an example of kindness and charity and equality. That's a kind of religion I can get behind, minus the being in the clouds part. I'm all for peace and treating your neighbor as yourself, so I can't say that religion never taught me anything.
But here's a religion oriented graphic or two I've found in my travels. The first is a little... extreme, but I hope no one will be offended. It just struck me, and I thought I'd include it:
(via stone and bone tumblr
Then there's the bible as re-imagined by Wil Wheaton:
A Someecard that pokes a little fun at the faith of my fathers:
But this is probably my favorite:
Day 01 Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself