I've been trying to have conversation with people I don't know, as sort of practice to be able to talk to the people I do know about my religious/spiritual decisions. As you can imagine, some conversations go better than others. I have noticed something that I find quite odd though. Many people believe in God in some form or another, but for some reason get really upset or offended at the idea there may be more then one God. Or even that the God I believe in is different from yours. Why is it that we're able to accept our own belief in something we can't see, or touch, but someone else's beliefs...well those are just wrong. They're a heretic, or insane, sometimes we use our beliefs to "condemn" them.
We condemn strangers on the street, people going into the wrong church, people that don't go to church, people in other countries, and sadly, some people even write off their own family members. In the late 1800s my great-great-grandfather decided to join the LDS church. His father was a organist, and worked on the organs in several Catholic churches in that area of England. His father told him if he joined "that church" he was no longer a part of his family. Nearly a hundred years later it was found that his father even went so far as to tear his page out of their family Bible, so that later generations would not even know he had ever existed.
I've been pretty amazed as well, at how good a job the monotheistic religions have done at stamping out any idea of more than one God existing. I ask "Do you believe in God", and often get a yes response. I ask anything like, "Does he have a wife", or "Do you believe there could be more then one", and almost always the answer is No. Why if there's one, can't there be more then one? Many civilizations believed in more then one in the past. The Romans, Greeks, Egyptians...to name a few. Were they all delusional? Sometimes I'm told, "Well they just made them up.". If say, the Romans just "made up" their Gods, why is the same not true of the Catholics, Mormons, Lutherans, or any of the others? Why is your "make believe" better then mine? Imagine if as kids, we decided our next door neighbor was evil, because my imaginary friend was named Bob, and he had named his friend Jim. It sounds silly, but so does killing people because we've decided they're beliefs are wrong. If one exists, why can't they all exist?
There's even some accepted strangeness with some of the religions that call themselves monotheistic. Catholics only technically worship God, and yet they pray to all kinds of saints. Idol worship I'd call it, but somehow they twist to fit their own beliefs. I've had it explained to me more then once, and I still don't get it. They get pretty pissy too when I suggest that what they're doing is wrong, and rude. I mean, if say my neighbor keeps parking his car so it blocks off my driveway. And rather then ask me himself for forgiveness, he gets my mom to come and ask me. Or he gets the mayor to come over...or the police chief...you get the idea. Before long, I'd want to just punch my neighbor in the nose, why does he need all these people to "intercede on his behalf"? Mormons believe that if they live worthy enough they'll become Gods also. So if there's a whole bunch of Gods after the second coming, and the judgment, and all that jazz, why can't there be now? They'll eventually even tell you that God was once a man like we are now, and then became a God...like we're man now, and will become a God... so if it has happened before, then it has happened before, and there is more then one God. Just because you choose to worship the one you picked, doesn't mean the rest are invalid, evil, or get you "sent to hell".
Why is there so much religious friction, when most of practicers are supposed "love their neighbor", and be accepting. They're supposed to "judge not", and "let he who is without sin throw the first stone". I've seen lots of stones thrown, even been hit a few times. I know people who have lost loved ones because of religious intolerance. There are still wars being fought because of it.
Since I've decided to follow a different path, I haven't really decided on any particular God or Goddess to focus on, or to devote to. I haven't quite figured out what I even believe any more, in order to wonder who in the pantheon falls in line with my feelings. Have you changed religions or spiritual paths in your life? How did it go? How did you tell those around you? Has someone you known changed their path, how did you accept them? Any comments, or stories of your own experience are welcome.
Be safe, be well, be at peace.