Okay, so in my view you probably already recognize that I see you as religious and your beliefs as religion.
Religous: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity
It may not match fundamentalism exactly, but it still follows the basic lines and in that to me it's hard to separate from the idea that it's one of hundreds (thousands?) of religions in the world today, all believed equally as fervently by their respective followers. One of the things I was thinking on the phone which I didn't say was part of my mental process growing up. Part of me thinks that you may have experienced similar since while we were initially raised catholic, you didn't really participate in any of that with the exception of holidays, but the question in my head was this: Is it right to simply accept one religion or belief system simply because that's how you were raised? If you were going to commit to such a belief system, shouldn't you be familiar with the other belief systems out there? How do you know that you have the one best suited to your spiritual growth?
You're basing your beliefs on essentially one book written by men in my view, by god in yours. And again, whose Bible? Whose interpretation? How much of it has been lost, changed or altered over the 2000 years since the death of Jesus? Clearly there was corruption in the churches during that time and both as political and financial powers they had ample ability to use that power for their own ends. Some versions have more books, some less... who decides which are not essentially the words of God and okay to be left out? Were there factors that determined when certain texts were removed? added? Why is this one book of more weight than say the Koran, the Baghavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, The Nag Hammadi Library or the Yasna. I guess I still think anyone claiming to have found "the way" is questionable when so many have found so many different "ways" based on faith alone.
I hung out with Pagans for a while and honestly in my view, religion does tie in with spirituality in that it's a tool to bring your mind to a certain place where more things are possible beyond the normal... elevating the consciousness so to speak. The rituals of the catholic church just as effective as some buddhist meditations because of the effect it has on the mind. The tools used for wiccan spellcasting not so different than an indian prayer chain or a communion wafer. So I lean towards allowing everyone to explore their own path.
On the idea of forgivenesss and God:
I started to question religion when it began to teach me that everyone around me was damned. They would burn in hell and we would all be gloriously happy on our knees worshipping God in heaven. Um, not really my ideal to have all the people I know suffering eternally and it kind of forces you to question, why would God? There are even passages where it gives the number to be "saved" at a specific number, right? And also implies that whether you will or won't accept him is already known by God.
So now you have to ask, why would God create billions of people just to have them suffer for eternity? Is there a lesson there? What's the point? To temper the small percentage that he will take with him into heaven? Doesn't that seem cruel for a loving God no matter how just he claims to be? It winds up feeling like a science project or an unethical study. You create a world with full omniscience of where it's going, let a serpent (created by God) into the garden to tempt a woman, also created by God with full knowledge that she would not only take the apple but give it to her husband setting off the chain of events leading to the suffering of billions for eternity in the first place, then name a chosen people, send them a savior who they're supposed to not recognize, damning them as they kill their intended savior (still fully planned by God), opening up the way to offer salvation to the rest of the world while forsaking his chosen people.
Good and evil (both created by God) are supposedly working against each other in our hearts and heads, but we can never be good because no matter how hard we try, we're inherently evil (but created that way by God). So however many thousands of years later, here I am. With God already knowing that I will reject him, trying to be a good person (but evil in God's eyes regardless) and needing the death of his son for salvation from.... well, from the way that God created me. How does a perfect God make an imperfect creation without discounting his own perfection? And don't you think the system set up is a little flawed there? Either God was cruel, he didn't know everything, or he wasn't all-powerful.
Guess that's a little ranty, but pretty much sums up my view. If I want forgiveness I'll look for it from the people I've wronged, not from a God who created me imperfectly and already knows I'm going to do the things I've done. Hopefully that makes sense.
I threw in an Ezekiel passage to see out of curiosity what you thought it was referring to.
18 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
19 And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
20 Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
On the rest, again I am really glad we're talking. I think it's cool that I have a relationship with you that I never thought I'd have and can talk about things to. It is weird that we didn't have it until so many years after the fact when it might have been nicer to have it, but guess it works out that way. I know I can be a little heavy on pride and not bend much where my identity is concerned, definitely moreso when going through all the fun and happy teenage years. *grin*
Anyway, hope things are well, and hello's to Tonya. Definitely interested in your reply as I think I've summed up most of my bigger questions in this email.