The bar was set at any early age, do your due diligence: read the Bible, pray, follow the commands you find therein.
So I did. I read and I read and I read. I studied further and I learned of God.
I learned that you cannot love both God and money.
I learned to love my neighbor as myself and that my neighbor is actually my enemy.
I learned to turn the other cheek, avoiding violent confrontation and retribution, following the example of the God incarnate who chose to die sacrificially rather than conquering ancient enemies with bloody justice.
I learned of one who blessed the meek and upended laws that kept unjust hierarchy in place; who sympathized with the broken.
These things encapsulated me, guiding me throughout my life.
And I watched as numbers of those who surrounded me, who taught about this faith, did quite the opposite–clinging to worldly power under the guise of caring about God.
They intertwined the worst aspects of political games to that of religious ritual, connecting economic theory and the benefits afforded to them by that theory to the Christian way—which allowed them to become quite comfortable with their situation in life; to the point that they counted it as providence.
I saw discrimination and rejection of those who didn’t fit into their perception of how the world ought to be. I saw people laugh at those who mourned, not taking seriously the aching that this world can cause.
I heard explicit encouragement of violence and experienced the celebration of complex and horrific wars.
I listened as impossible and Pharisaical mandates admonished the young, burying them beneath burdens so that their aptitude for grace disappeared.
And finally I watched as the whole thing burned to the ground under the support of a political power only possible through the most willful of hypocrisies.
I look around and there is little left to see, just the soulless world.