Cultural Appropriations · General Ramblings

Sacrifice on Good Friday: Finding Meaning As An Agnostic

I was having a conversation with one of my coworkers yesterday about religion. He’s Jewish, and this week, he is celebrating Passover. As we stood in the dusty warehouse, with the shafts of light illuminating the dust from high above, he told me that for him, it’s not about religion. It’s about tradition. It’s about remembering where he came from and why he celebrates.

I’m not religious – not really. The best I could probably do is to say I’m a Christian-leaning Agnostic. I have too much history with religion to ever want to commit myself to one again, but I’m not ruling out the existence of God or a higher power. I think that man-made religion is full of corruption and hurt. I think most of it is created to lord it over someone else. It makes it hard for me to want to be part of that. That being said, however, I know a lot of people within those religious traditions who are striving to make a difference. The splashes of golden sunshine on an otherwise dirty stream.

But I agreed with my coworker when he said that tradition, and history, and family, are a big reason why I still gravitate towards religious festivals and traditions. We all want to belong. We all want to have something that makes us feel whole. And the other thing he mentioned was that it’s getting harder and harder to tie the old stories into modern life. There isn’t a point of reference. It explains why so many of us find it hard to relate to religious tradition.

Good Friday was the day that Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of the world. But as I look around the Christian world, I find myself disappointed. People who participate in Lent are still missing the point of the sacrifice – it was just a fun 40 days to give up something. People who will celebrate Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus this Sunday haven’t really pinpointed why Jesus sacrificed himself for us at all. It’s not about the constant struggle to get to heaven. It’s about a fresh start. He did it so that we would realize how we hurt others (and God) by our sins, and remember that he died so that we wouldn’t have to continue down the same path. This is known as being saved by Grace.

I can go over the Biblical story of the Resurrection, but to me, the sacrifice was less about religion and sadness and more about representation. Because Jesus isn’t the only one who sacrificed for the greater good. And so today, I choose to remember the other human beings who, with a little bit of divinity, or morality, or whatever you want to call it, sacrificed themselves in order to better the human condition.

I choose to think about those who, every day, die in horrible situations, often at the hands of religious zealots, because of who they are or what they’ve said. The many LGBTQ people who have died or been turned away because of who they are, by religion. The people who were considered less-than because of their race or culture, kept as slaves, raped, and humiliated because of religion. Those who go to worship a God who, by the words of religion, will never accept them, will never love them. Those who go, anyway, to sacrifice their own humility in order to find meaning and belonging, even in a situation where the most they will get is pure judgement.

I can’t join a religious tradition because I think we’ve lost our way when it comes to the compassion, sacrifice, and representation that Jesus Christ exhibited. I can’t join a religious tradition because I am one of those lowly, dirty outcasts in society, accepted by those who are just like me, and hated by those who say they love Jesus.

But I do meditate on the state of Grace that Christ left us with when he was crucified today. I can relate it to our modern-day situation. And in my heart, I’m humbled. I still believe, despite everything, that whether He was divine or not, Jesus sacrificed himself for the greater good of all.

In that, I guess I can’t get away from religion, after all.



5 thoughts on “Sacrifice on Good Friday: Finding Meaning As An Agnostic

  1. Wow! I do agree with you about the concept of religion and what a nicely written article. I believe that religion at times is the root cause of a lot of evils and in my opinion it’s not the religion itself but the practitioners of the religion. You know there are some things that are so obvious and really no-brainers/ common sense when it comes to dealing with human beings. But for some reason, all that is bypassed by some of the aforementioned “pious” and ‘holy’ practitioners which doesn’t add up and does not make sense.

    I am a Hindu and I do take time to pray and I do believe in God. But I don’t believe that my religion has the only God in the world, I unequivocally do accept everyone from various faiths. However, I will not accept violent and anti-social behavior exhibited not only by followers of other religions, but most importantly my own.

    I am not sure if you know this but the rights of the LGBT society have been tabooed in some countries, which is totally ridiculous in my opinion. Are they not human? Are they virtually not the same as straight people as well as have similar feelings to them? Then how in God’s name can they be ostracized just for their orientation? The hypocrisy of some people totally baffle me.

    And the irony? My impression of the LGBT society is that they are more welcoming and peaceful than straight people. And if some of these religious people condemn them in favor of straight people, then we clearly have a problem with the structure of religion if you are considering all the atrocities committed by terrorists who has supposedly straight. I’d rather be gay then.

    So I will conclude my comment/rant by saying: I agree with you and Religion should really not be looked at as a basis for being a good human being today. It should more of how you are as a person.

  2. Well written…but maybe a little over simplified at the end? Not everyone who loves Jesus hates you…I kinda resent being painted with the same brush. I personally am proudly Christian…though not in the traditional/stereotypical, blindly agreeing with everything I’m fed, kind of way. I lean towards the belief that Mary wasn’t a virgin…Jesus was merely an extraordinary human being (who may have had dark skin colouring)…God might be female…you don’t need to attend church 7 days a week (or maybe even at all), or be able to recite Bible passages to get into Heaven – simply being a good person may be enough…ALL people, regardless of what they look like/who they sleep with/what they believe/where they come from, deserve basic love and respect! I don’t feel that you have to follow a specific belief system exactly to be religious…or even Christian. Just because you had bad religious experiences (I empathize, I’ve been mistreated by “religious” people too)…please don’t write all of us, who call ourselves Christian, off as bad people. I think there’s still hope for religion. šŸ™‚

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