Strangely, when left with nothing spiritually, unlike what I've heard others experience, I felt no particular loss. No dramatic disconnection. Maybe it's that I've struggled with accepting my own independent thought in terms of how others viewed it for a long time. Maybe it was that in some sense, I finally felt some relief in that I finally felt like I understood why I had felt so uncertain for so long.
The only loss I think I felt was the fact that I no longer shared a certain kinship or fraternity with people over a spiritual matter. Even when I knew I wasn't the only one struggling in a group to grasp and accept the religious tenants, there was still a certain understanding among the group and a camaraderie that I have missed.
In the course of my "disconnection", I did come to see just how much religion plays as a part of people's fabric regardless of what color the threads might be, or what their tensile strength may be.
It's hard to find other things for which people devote such passion and interest. And even when the passion and the devotion is misguided, people are afraid to give it up. Afraid for some to face the reality that they follow not because they believe, but because they know of no other way to maintain all that comes with being one who believes. Yet they miss the boat that faith for the sake of faith is as empty as no faith at all. It's only much more convoluted.
Over the course of my years as a religious "investigator", I've found that I'm often in the middle of the less than favorable examples of what I'm investigating. The pastor I grew up knowing at my church was allegedly found to be shirking his responsibilities to his vow of chastity (fortunately with women his age). I also don't recall our church at the time doing much beyond Mass and Sunday school for the kids. A lot of the day to day interaction and faith building was missing.
As I dipped my toe in the pagan community here locally, I found all sorts of cringe-worthy behavior.
I will say I think my experience with the pagan community here reinforced the ideology for me that god, in whatever form it might exist, has little concern for the day to day minutia of life. Little frustrated me more than watching people pin their hopes and dreams on the supposed will of some ethereal being rather than on their own cognizance and ability to be willful.
My experiences have shaped my long-standing belief that in order to be successful and happy in life, you must make your own efforts. If god sees fit to shine down upon you, all the better, but watching people sit around waiting for it to happen, or worse, blaming failure on the lack of supernatural support just reinforces my understanding that religion can, unfortunately, breed very immature, self-centered, and closed-minded individuals.
I think it's safe to say that nearly all religions and faiths of the world have something to offer the spirit, and those that choose to belittle or otherwise demean others based solely on their faith, or more to the point, their divergence of faith from their own, miss the boat. And not for the fact that their own beliefs are necessary at issue as much as that they haven't come to understand that to truly know deity, you must transcend the dogma.
And going back to that statement of people who have faith to belong, it's not something that a lot of people are willing to even strive to find.
Put them in their little corner, bury them in scripture, and ensure that they never see the light of day, and they'll live their sheltered lives as happy as they think they can, free of truth, light, and perfect understanding.
No different than any other part of life, I suppose. Some want to find a routine and stick with it. Others want more. And ne'er the twain shall meet.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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