When Religion Makes Grief More Difficult.
Most Americans grew up with a Sunday school image of God as a protector/punisher, and go through their lives without ever questioning that image. For some, a profound loss or trauma can inspire deeper exploration, but for those don’t – or won’t — question their faith, trying to make that image fit with actual human experience is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole.The square peg is a belief in divine reward and punishment. The round hole is the way life actually works. By the time most of us are young adults we have observed that the good are not necessarily rewarded and the bad are not necessarily punished. Real human experience proves that it just doesn’t work that way.
People have a propensity to subscribe to extreme positions. Further, others tend to assume if you disagree with their position then you must subscribe to the precise opposite e.g. you disapprove that the bottom 80% of people in the USA only have 11% of all wealth? Then you must be a communist who is in favour that everyone has precisely the same wealth! And of course the same applies to concepts of God and an afterlife. You don't subscribe to the notion that the Universe and our lives are pure happenstance, that we are merely sophisticated biological robots with no free will whose lives have no ultimate purpose? Then you must believe in a personal God as a protector and punisher; that if you are good you will go to Heaven, if you are bad you will go to Hell.
Personally my beliefs are more along the lines that reality as a whole is somehow infused with awareness, and indeed a manifestation of awareness. And all things, all events, everything that has been, everything that will be, is infused with ultimate meaning. A meaning that eludes us in our daily day to day existence, but whose existence might be very briefly glimpsed with peak experiences and mystical experiences. But this awareness underlying reality, or all pervading spiritual presence, is not some personal being that watches over us and requires us to worship it.
I don't want to argue about the issue of an appropriate "God" though. The point I'm making is that people should think more about what they believe, and avoid believing something simply because most others in your camp believe it. We need to adopt more nuanced positions.