Two things that shouldn’t really be discussed at dinner parties.
Religion and Politics.
Well – we’re not at a dinner party, so, sod it.
Let’s do religion, as I know very little about politics!
You’d probably be surprised to hear I had a very religious upbringing, I was Christened into the Church of England before I was one (see above), and went to Church pretty much every Sunday. When I was old enough I went to Sunday School and did so until I was on the cusp of my teenage years. Despite being one of only a few of my peers who actually did this, it all felt pretty standard and normal, yes, I was massively jealous of those who didn’t have to spend their Sunday mornings in a stuffy hall having watered down bible stories regaled them. I felt good though knowing I was on the right path, and my sins of pretending that my sister was hitting me, and throwing a snowball at the hearing aid of the deaf girl at school would be forgiven because I was ‘in’.
The problem was, I felt a bit of an outsider as I grew up, Church really wasn’t the in thing – and the mere mention of ‘Sunday School’ would send my friends into fits of giggles – I was ashamed of the religion that I’d been bought up into, it was a joke. Being a teenager is all about desperately wanting to fit in, and be (seen as being) normal, being different isn’t the done thing, those who were different were the ones who got picked on, and being part of ‘the God Squad’ was a veritable target on a teenagers head.
So, I stopped going – my parents were supportive of it, I was never forced to go after that – I did still go to church for the odd ‘occasion’ – Easter, Harvest Festival, etc.. But then it all gradually faded away and I stopped going completely.
It wasn’t really about trying to fit in any more, I got bullied regardless – but now there was a bigger problem with my faith.
I didn’t believe in it any more.
It’s really hard to say that, and admit it, but I just didn’t. As I grew up and learnt more about religion, it just felt harder and harder to believe, there are so many faiths, so many variants, heck, even a handful of different gods. It’s a minefield, and I just didn’t know what to believe – so I believed in nothing aside from Science, and fact. The more I thought about it, the Bible and other religious texts just seemed to be a load of bullshit stories, used to control the masses and keep people in line. It feels horribly offensive saying that, and I apologise for it, but – I just couldn’t really see past that.
The thing is – I don’t feel like that now – I’ve seen how religion brings comfort to those in crisis and need, it’s easier to accept that crap things are happening because ‘these things are sent to try us’, or someone has died because ‘it was their time’. If you *really* believe that, it will help you, and in some ways I wish I could feel that way too. Sometimes a crumb of comfort is better than a clean plate. I want to believe those I’ve lost are watching over me, from a better place, reunited with those they’ve lost, it’s such a lovely, beautiful concept – all your sins are forgiven and you start a clean slate – it just sounds, well, like heaven. I hate the fact my rational brain says..
“Nope.. it’s just a big black nothing”
I know which way I’d rather be spending my afterlife!
Perhaps there is room for religion in all our lives, not necessarily believing in a god, but taking some strands from it all, being kind to those in need, forgiving those who upset us, loving thy neighbour etc. Religion doesn’t have to be about taking it all to heart, but just extracting the good and positive messages from it all, not arguing over which ‘God’ is the right one, but being happy that there might be one up there, and if there isn’t you can know in your last moments of life, you’ve been kind, and lived well, and hopefully be remembered for the good.