Sorry to be late to the party. Thank you for the kind U2U; I got behind on my messages.
First, William James' Varieties of Religious Experience
is, just as you say, a great book. There's a lot in Aldous Huxley's The Perennial
, too. Even if somebody isn't inclined to agree with Huxley, there's still a lot of information about conceptual similarities among
religions across time and space. Also, even though the title sounds lurid, Bucke's Cosmic Consciousness
has much comparative religion in it
(and was one of James' sources).
Compared with all of that, my own story is fairly conventional. I was born into a Catholic family of moderate religious fervor. I grew away from that
church over the span of a few years, starting when I was about 11 or 12, and being completely estranged by 15 or 16.
I have ended up being a classic agnostic, that is, I do not profess any god, nor profess that there are no gods, because
the evidence and
argument available are insufficient for me to form an opinion one way or the other. As it happens, the beginning of my estrangement from Christianity
was to think a very agnostic idea, that the basis for belief in modern religion was identical to the basis for the belief in ancient pagan religions,
and they can't both be right.
Unfortunately for having a punchy autobiography, I can't say that I became an agnostic with just that one thought. It did loosen the hold of my
cradle religion, but the next few years were an incoherent mess
. There is some irony in that, too. So many people who aren't agnostics accuse us
of being "fence sitters." But the only time when I ever was "fence sitting" was during those early adolescent years when I wasn't
agnostic, nor anything else specific at all.
No fireworks, then, and no confidence that I have any special insight about "reconciliation with the great unknown," beyond being aware that for me,
it is unknown, but I haven't lost all hope that it is, possibly, great.
S&F for an outstanding idea for a thread.