June 11, 2012

Religion and the Irreligious

        I grew up without religion. That does not mean that I was not exposed to it. I had a christening as a baby, which of course I do not remember. I had a big book, a children's book of the bible, that covered both old and new testament stories written out in plain English. I picked it up now and then, looked through it at the pictures. If a picture grabbed my attention I would try and read the story. I was little, too little for the level the book is written, but I was a reader and did my best. As best as I can recall, I never thought, 'wow, this guy in the sky, gotta listen to him, he is the one that makes the world go round.' I never felt any spark or stirring of spirit with these stories. I found that the story of Noah was my favorite and I liked the snake in the tree too. A talking snake was just a neat concept.
Mom was smart when answering my questions about god and religion. Her response was always matter of fact and neutral. The impressions she gave me did get me in trouble a couple times on the playground. However, if it was not god that I got teased about that time, it would have been something else later. I was one of those kids that got singled out. I was one of the 'different' kids. It did not matter.

        My family never went to church and I never ended up going to church with friends. While I never had the church experience, somehow I knew what went on there. I knew the basics of the Jesus story and it's meaning. Then, on one particular night it hit me. My little young mind feared for my afterlife and what would be my judgment. I did not believe in Christianity and I had not seen any evidence of God as I understood it to be from the stories I read as a child. I should probably add here that my father was a scientist, an Entomologist specifically. Even as a child I was very much nature driven. I loved the trees, animals, the moon and stars, the cycle of life was something I totally comprehended. I was not saddened by the lions killing the baby antelope, I knew that it was part of the design
• But back to that night. 
Strange things would happen to me at night when I was supposed to be sleeping, but that is another story. Over all, my time at night was when I did most of my 'exploring'. I had my what if scenarios like what if I had never been born. I would have day dreams of having magical powers and there would be peaks into the what ifs of the future. I did not always like those. On this particular night I went on a search for God. I wondered about my standing with him, that is, if he even existed. Would I be accepted by him if i did not want to join the church? I really was not into the church thing. The whole thing seemed rather boring to me. Would he be ok with that? That is when I got my Hall Pass, given to me by God. As my little, young and innocent soul stressed over not being a church going person and my good graces with god, an answer came.

I was told that as long as I am a good person, treat others with kindness, and always know and share love I was OK. Those things was all that really mattered. I was told that there are many ways to heaven and that one did not need any specific religion or belief to get there. I was told, 'stay pure of heart'.

What a relief!
It would be many years after that I would engage God again. I ended up going to a private school that happened to be Christian and I of course had bible classes through the week, Sunday Morning Chapel, and it was optional the Wednesday and Sunday fellowships. Which I actually attended some. Usually not out of interest but because someone wanted me to go or it was the only way to spend time with boys…
Being around so many active religious people was a very different experience for me. I went from nothing, to all week in all corners. Eventually doubt set in, but just a little bit.

       I still was strongly rooted in not wanting to be part of a religion. That's when I spoke with him again, and again I was reassured that I was OK. It was also brought to my attention that the supposed shining stars within my dorm, don't shine so bright and are far from perfect and tend to be hypocritical. While I was shown that 'bad', I was also shown those that were pure of heart. Those people got my respect, the others I just did not interact with. I pretty much kept my relationship with god to myself and played the good christian student role for those two years. It was not hard because I knew I was in good standing.
I had always felt and believed that there is some sort of higher power, but just could not see it as a him, a person type being.
I saw the divine force as something grater and nondescript yet is in everything and is everywhere….So I was not exactly an atheist, but did not believe in God.
I did not believe in God but still had a second conversation with him. And he, it, looked out for me while I was at the Christian school. I never got called to lead a prayer, asked to volunteer in some godly service, never approached for anything, and I did not want to be. Really did not want to, thank god is did not have to!

        At 40 something years, I look back and see that being irreligious now compared to then is harder. People have become more forceful with their faiths. The speak more openly about it, and they are driven to tell everyone what they must do to connect to god and be saved. Maybe it has always been that way and as one gets older they are in situations that expose them more to these sorts of things and people. I know that the internet for sure has gotten a lot of paths criss-crossing all over. And that is going to lead to faith wars.
It is really sad to tell the truth. The message of Love and our purpose to be caring and kind is so lost in those who seek so hard to get people to be religious for the sake of saving their souls*


*let it be known that I do not 'dis' anyone or any religion. There is value in all things. However, there are some that tend to be a bit pushy and irrational. These are those that I speak of. I have met some really sound and delightful religious people in my life and I am happy and proud to call them friends.

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