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12/30/05                                                                                       View Comments

Fantasy versus Reality

sent in by Angie

I was raised in a devout Catholic family. We went to Mass every Sunday, and said the Rosary every evening. I had doubts as early as nine or ten. This was about the age when I started to separate fantasy from reality. I started to realise that magic, dragons, fairy tales, Santa Claus, storks delivering babies, etc. were simply fantasy. I couldn't help but throw religion into the fantasy category.

Yet, I was confused because unlike dragons and fairy tales the adults around around me took religion very seriously. Like with Santa, I thought maybe everyone was pretending to believe for the sake of us kids. I actually asked my mother one day if God was make believe and got into trouble. Then I realised that, yes, God was real.

So, I continued go to Mass. I was involved in youth activities. I met my husband at a church singles event. Despite my good Catholic exterior, inside it all still seemed like fantasy but I kept this to myself.

My older brother, my only sibling. was a very devout Catholic. I really looked up to him. He was five years older than me and I thought he was so smart. He seriously considered becoming a priest but decided he really wanted to marry and have kids. When my brother was around, religion always came up as a topic of conversation. He believed that Christianity was the foundation of western civilization. Without God we would not have morality or the rule of law. I had thought to myself many times that if my brother believes in God and Jesus they have to be real. It's hard to explain but I thought it was all real and all made up at the same time.

My brother moved about 60 miles from home. He got married two years later to a nonCatholic (secular Jew), which was a huge shock to everyone. His wife got me a job close by, so I decided to move in with them for a couple of months until I got married. My first day at their house I noticed that there weren't any statues or religious icons around the house. I thought maybe my sister-in-law doesn't allow them.

My first Sunday I slept til noon. I was surprised that my brother didn't come and wake me for Mass and even more surprised to see him reading the paper in his pajamas in the living room. I asked him if he was going to Mass. He sheepishly said no because Christianity is complete baloney. Without even thinking, and much to my surprise, I replied "I'm glad you finally figured that out." It was the first time I admitted what I'd known all along. It's a fantasy.

I hate to say that my brother had to come to that conclusion before I finally admitted what I had known all along. But you're indoctrinated from such a young age it can be hard to admit to yourself that none of it is true. After I stopped going to church a friend of mine said everyone has doubts from time to time. It's normal. I told her yes, everyone does have doubts but only a few have the courage to take that next step and admit that the doubts have validity.

Anyway, I started doing a lot of reading after that, so now I know why the fantasy is so prevalent. My husband Luke submitted his testimony a couple of months ago. We have told my brother to submit his as well. Leaving our faith was hard at first, mainly because our parents were so upset, but today we are all happy to be exchristians.

"What really moves people to believe in God is not any intellectual argument at all. Most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason. Then I think that the next most powerful reason is the wish for safety, a sort of feeling that there is a big brother who will look after you. That plays a very profound part in influencing people's desire for a belief in God." - Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell