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Effect of Growing Up in an Orthodox Church

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Reflection Paper

Growing up in an Orthodox Church caused me to really question spirituality, God, and his intentions when I left the church at age 14. Natural revelation is something we all experience, where we ask the question, “What is the universe, how did it become, and why are we here?” Since I cannot really answer these questions with certainty myself, I assume there is a higher power, which I defaultly refer to as “God.” The cosmological argument, and the efficient cause, best explain my views of why there is a God a little more explicitly. This cosmological argument is described in five ways. The first is the argument from motion, which says that God is the initial movement which started everything. God is the one that initially started all movement in our universe. The second way is referred to as contingent versus necessary, where if we went all the way back to the beginning, there was something that was necessary to be there to begin all of what there is today. The third way is called gradations, where we all have that image in our heads of what it means to be perfect. Although these perceptions can be quite different between people, we all strive toward what we think is perfect. We all would like to be perfect. I believe that without a God, we wouldn’t be able to fathom improvement or that there is something better, we wouldn’t even be here. The fourth way that God is argued to exist is what we call governance. This is the observation that we all, as intelligent beings, are created and designed to be a certain way. We are so different than anything else on Earth. Whoever created us, wanted us to be such a complex design, and also question where we came from and why we are here. The last of the Five Ways is called the efficient cause. This is the one that helps really explain why I think there is a God. The efficient cause argues that there exist things that are caused, meaning in order for things to exist there must have been a cause. Nothing can cause itself, there must have been an outside cause. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes, and there must be an uncaused first cause. This uncaused first cause is God. Nonetheless, the cosmological argument and efficient causes are not the only reasons I believe there is a God. Since leaving the church, I have discovered my own sense of spirituality. I pray and talk to God on my own, and I show my appreciation for the beauty and blessings He has created. I have also had many interactions with spirits, which to me, validates my belief in a higher power as well. I feel like I am in tune with the spiritual world and can feel the vibes of many different places, and people. Many things have happened around me that cannot be explained simply by a 3 dimensional universe. There is definitely a God that created something more.

My view of God’s character has been shaped and definitely altered over the past few years. When I was younger, going to the Orthodox church, I thought God was only for adults or grown-ups. I never took the time, or was ever interested enough to try to understand Him on my own. I thought God was boring, and that I would never become interested in building a relationship with him. When I left the church, I was able to form a spiritual bond with Him because I didn’t just try to understand or speak to Him the way the church told me to. I felt betrayed by the church, my grandparents, even my parents. And even though it felt like God was the farthest thing I wanted to be from, it actually brought me closer to Him. I started praying on my own and talking to Him, thanking Him daily for the little things in life. Now that my views have changed, God is like a friend or mentor to me. I have been blessed with this changed perception of Him, because I could not imagine life without Him. I had to go through a really uncomfortable situation to appreciate God and get where I am with Him now. I believe that He always wants the best for us. Sometimes God shows that by His sarcastic, smart ass personality, and presents us with ironic situations, only He could come up with. I think He is an advocate for karma. At the same time however, He is beautiful, caring, loving, and progressive. I myself, am a believer in karma. One of my principles in life is the golden rule, which is treat others the way you want to be treated. If I happen to go against this, and I know I have, I know God has something in store for me that isn’t so great and is going to end up coming back around my way. When it does come, it usually is very ironic, and I just ponder there for a minute and laugh like, “really?” Only God would know to do this. Generally, I do believe every bad thing or situation that happens though is either something I ended up deserving, or a learning and growth opportunity God is presenting me with to end up making good out of the situation. There are also good situations or blessings that God presents in life. Life is full of more good things than bad, and it is because of God’s love and creations. God is loving. He shows this by providing us with love from our families, friends, and relationships. He is beautiful, because he provides us with many beautiful things on Earth, other people and many other things we could not have even thought existed. God has to show us things like hate and ugliness, so that we understand how different love and beauty is, and that it is often times amazingly undescribable. He is progressive because He has designed us to be creative with our inventions and has helped get our world to where it is today with technology, and the way of life. Life today is very different than when He had created the first people on Earth. God has meant for all of us to evolve this way, and I do believe he is active in our everyday lives.

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When I read Genesis chapters 1 and 2, God was portrayed so beautifully unreal, how could anything be so amazing? Themes such as an orderly universe, so intelligently designed and that we were to be caretakers of Earth, and a day of rest, are all things I think Genesis portrays accurately. Genesis also portrays the fact that Adam lacked taking responsibility for his own actions, and blaming Eve for his mistake. This eventually gets Adam even more in trouble with God. The things that really caught my attention and do not sit well with me though, is how God punishes both Adam, Eve, and even Jonah. God punishes Eve for taking the forbidden fruit, after being convinced from Satan (the snake). He comes off so harsh and even scary when he says things to Eve like, your husband will rule over you and you will go through excruciating pain while giving birth to children. God also punished Adam for taking a bite of the fruit after Eve told him to. God then told Adam that “you will toil for the rest of your days working the lands of the Earth to provide for you and your family.” It is like he set a curse on them, and all of us are just living a curse now, for the mistake our ancestors made. Some say that it was our destiny because of human nature, but if humankind was made in God’s image, is God really that “perfect?” The whole Genesis story is just so brutal and uncalled for, because God continues with his harsh and rash punishments. The Bible does not explain why He does not accept the offering from Cain, which leaves me confused. Instead of leaving his creatures on Earth alone to be tempted by Satan, how come he does not teach them the difference between right and wrong and help them through tempting situations? They were the first beings on Earth and had no one to learn it from besides God, the Father. Further in the Bible when we read Jonah, we are again presented with another right or wrong situation. However in Jonah’s case, he knows in his conscience the right thing to do. He knows that it was to go and spread word about the Lord. When does not do that, God punishes him by creating a brutal rainstorm while he was trying to escape and hide from God. Jonah knows why he is being punished and so he takes the blame and jumps in the sea and is swallowed by a giant fish. From this, we can take away the lesson that God always knows what we are up to and we cannot hide things from Him. We always need to try to do the right thing, or else things will end up coming back around and you will get punished for it, kind of like karma.

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