Hi, all! I have a proposal for you all, please bear with me as I explain it:
Part of the reason that I haunt this forum is because I, myself, am still fascinated by the 'possibilities' of the cosmos; I don't have answers, but I
can't run out of questions either. Some of you may be aware that I have studied different world religions and theologies for (accumulated) about 25
years - roughly half of my life, and more than half of my adult life. This inquiry has waxed and waned as life's critical events unfolded - from
about age 20 I began to 'study' in earnest.
(Prior to that - as early as latent childhood, I had much 'wondering' and 'contemplating' going on...and always, always, an underlying doubt
accompanied by a sense of 'something' that I could not quite grasp.)
I discarded Episcopal doctrine much earlier than I stopped attending the church (which was as soon as I was able - about age 16). I was in the church
choir; my mother was the acolyte director and very active in the church; I was in the youth group (we did a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" - a
little movie we made - what fun!). Yes, I forged friendships, and was often moved by the beauty of the music and the awe that a gothic church with
candles, stained glass and a huge pipe organ can elicit. But I just couldn't accept that the words being spoken, by us in unison prayer, by the
lay-readers, by the priests delivering the Gospel and Epistle, or by the priest in sermons - really meant anything.
I had been baptized as an infant, and went through confirmation at age 12. I knew all the drills, the choreography, the prayers by heart. Still, I
could not find that I really believed any of it. For a while I simply went along with it thinking I just wasn't capable of accepting it, and that all
those people must know something I didn't. I was ashamed, but couldn't understand why I was such an incompetent, inadequate kid.
Try as I might, I was still expected to recite how unworthy and how faulty I was, week after week - failure upon failure. I internalized this sense
of "worthlessness"; but I didn't share this with anyone, including my mom (whose agenda it was that my brothers and I be brought up in church). No
one ever told me I was going to hell, nono. I was not beaten or abused in any way (except if you count being "indoctrinated" as a kid - but that's
Enough of background....
I went on to explore other world religions and ideas, both ancient and modern, occult and pentecostal - either through practice or through thorough
research. Nothing ever "stuck the landing" for me. At present I am re-investigating Greek philosophy, and have over the past year read volume after
volume of scholarly work by leading theologists; and also perusing online sites; skeptical, fervent, apologetic, atheistic, fanatical -- everything
from Jack Chick and WBC to Greek Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism as well as Taoism and Buddhism, Hindu and indigenous, tribal ideas.
I am also a sociologist - and religion and its accoutrements are some of the most fascinating of human phenomena to study. I want to know what makes
people tick. Not just generalizations, but every person. All unique.
William James, a psychologist, authored "The Varieties of Religious Experience: A
study in human nature"
(visit the link for one free online version) over 100 years ago. This volume was perhaps as eye-opening as ANY of the
hundreds of works I've read in terms of understanding the "Human Condition" - which is, and has always been, irresistible in my worldview. I can't
stop caring, or stop wanting to know.
So, I want to inquire to ATS members at large as to your personal
"Revealed God". I believe we each have our own private methods and means to
arrive at some sort of reconciliation with the great unknown, and am hoping that you will feel free to share here (or in a u2u if you prefer
confidentiality) how you see your "religious" development.
Was it something you were born into?
If so, did you stay with it, or move on and leave it behind?
If not, how did you come to prefer the "faith" or "absolute atheism" that you have now?
Some of your stories I know, but certainly not all of you. I suppose this could be seen as "nosey" or "ulterior motive agenda-driven". I do not
intend to use this thread as a naysaying vehicle - (I do plenty of that in other threads
THIS thread is one born of genuine curiosity, empathy, and a deep desire to understand humanity.
If you would indulge me by explaining how your
faith or skepticism or abandonment of other ideas came about, in your own words, I would
consider myself blessed indeed, enriched, and one tiny step closer to understanding.
Perhaps no one will want to offer up such soul-wrenching, private business or experience, but I hope at least some of you will. Even those of you
who've already shared with me how you arrived where you are, I'd like to compile as many of our stories in one thread as we can.
In my mind, this is an exercise in compassion; a group project; a collaborative exploration of how much we have in common, how much we do not, and
most of all, an EXPERIMENT in using this small micro-cosm of the world as a place to begin to appreciate each other, SAFELY, and WITHOUT JUDGING one
If you're game, and up for the challenge, this could be a FABULOUS piece of work, in which we could all take credit for having reached out to one
another in good faith.
To be able to say "namaste" to one another, and MEAN IT - "The Divine in Me Recognizes the Divine in You." Let's do it, together.
Are you willing, ATS, to give it a try? Or at least think it over?
Hope to hear from you all. And brightest of blessings to each of you....however you want to interpret "blessing."
Thanks for reading.
edit on 23-2-2013 by wildtimes because: fix linky dink
edit on 23-2-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)