Recently I chartered a paranormal club, which has led me to question many things, particularly people’s beliefs: religious, spiritual, superstitious and the like. In my quest for understanding, I came across a column in The New York Times by Charles Blow about how Americans have constructed their own religions and belief systems, mainly by creating offshoots of more established ones.
Blow points out that over 20 percent of Protestants and 28 percent of Catholics believe in reincarnation. This belief is in direct contrast to the teachings of these churches. He goes on to say that around the same portion of people also believe in astrology and other spiritual practices that would seemingly go against their religious affiliations. Blow uses these statistics to critique the “hodge-podge” of spiritual beliefs, particularly those of Americans.
It seems harsh to criticize anyone’s beliefs toward something as open to interpretation as religion or spiritualism. Who really knows what the correct answer is? Is it wrong that people would have unconventional spiritual beliefs if that’s what gives them comfort? A recent WebMD feature article talked about how people who are religious or spiritual tend to have longer life spans. Whether this is due to an emotional response to these activities or the prolonged contact with other people also practicing these faiths is unclear, but does it really matter? Maybe people who have emotional responses to spirituality and people who believe they can be in contact with deceased loved ones find comfort in these things, whether or not there is proof of their validity.
In today’s tumultuous world, can we really deny people the comfort they find in things that may seem outlandish or uncommon? That’s not fair. Maybe it’s true that people are pulling from multiple belief systems to form their own personal beliefs, but isn’t that how the hundreds of offshoots of Christianity originally formed? Perhaps in another couple of centuries it will be commonplace to believe in reincarnation and heaven; in ghosts and god; in astrology and science. Whatever it is that you believe, validate it for yourself and don’t let the critics dictate where you stand.