The first part of my life was a blur with only a few memories that stood out. I do remember going to church with my grandmother and wondering why people were kneeling in front of the bench with their heads down and looking very grim. As I grew older, my mother and step-dad didn't go to church and neither did me and my brother. I don't think we (my brother and I) cared about going to church, except to make my grandmother happy. She would say, "Are you boys going to church with me today? I sure would be glad to have somebody come along. I think you boys need to go, wanna come with me?" Something like that.
Anyway, it was like that for most of my life and I wondered why people believed in god. I could believe that Jesus was real because I knew that there were stories about people in history and how great they were, so, I thought it was pretty much the same thing. A history lesson. For the most part, I thought I was doing the right thing to believe in god and his "son". When people in the church or around me elsewhere would say good things about being christian, I believed it and felt the same way, except that I didn't go advertising and preaching like others. I thought it was too arrogant and shameful to be trying to tell people about something that they could care less about. Guess I was wrong. My peers acted high and mighty and I shuddered at it and wondered why their heads were so big just because they "believed" in "Him". I was taught to be humble in serving god and that if people wanted to believe in him, I should help to guide them on their path to being closer to their creator.
Of course, the confusion didn't stop there. I was informed by my peers that other religions were evil and that any other act that didn't have to do with the "Lord" was vain and to serve this divine king was to live. I couldn't see that, but, I still pretended that I was one of them to "fit in". I stopped after a little while of doing this. Hell, I was in band in middle school and my band director would hold bible studies at his house with all of us attending. I could tell that I wasn't the only one who was there to hang out with my peers and fit in. I laugh about it to this day, thinking, "What was I doing?" The point that made me realize that it was dumb was when my band director said that he was out with a couple of his christian friends at a restaurant and their waitress stood out to them. They saw that she wore all black and she had a pentagram around her neck. This is where the stupidity and cruelty of the christian faith kicks in. They asked her if she knew Jesus and her reply was that he was a good man. I don't even remember what they said to her because, at that point, I knew that it was going to be a stupid remark, but, in the end it made the poor girl walk away crying! At this, my director laughed and encouraged my peers to laugh too. I thought it was the meanest thing someone could do to another person. Especially since she was working and I would hate to be embarassed at work like that.
So, it was then that I started to think of ways that I could have said something back if I were the girl at the restaurant. I think that was when my direction toward the faith started to take a gradual shift in the opposite way. It was throughout high school that I started to study different religions and their beliefs. I found it particularly interesting and comforting that my true beliefs were parallel to a religion other than christianity. The ones that stood out to me were Taoism and Buddhism. Mostly, Taoism. So, I studied it more extensively in private and didn't really share my studies with anybody else. I hid it like I would either get in trouble about it or get ridiculed. I didn't really care, but, I think I would have been embarassed because it was different.
Anyway, I still pretended to be christian, and sometimes tried to get back into it, and married my high school sweetheart after I graduated. I signed into the military and started my career and my family. Over 4 years I'd been studying various different religions and spiritualities, including pagan. Specifically, Wiccan and Druid. I found it stimulating to my mind that I could get into these other religions just like I could with christianity. They have a sort of initiating process to get started, you pray to a deity/deities, they have focal points of prayer (chistianitycross/jesus on cross, paganaltar/deity image, buddhism/buddha figure, etc.).
After a while, I started looking into Buddhism and Taoism again and found that they were better suited for my personality, mind, and spirituality. I found that they made more sense than ol' christianity. Of course, my wife is still christian and I've expressed my disinterest in christianity to her, but, she still thinks that I'll just "come around". I choose to ignore that though until she tries to question me about it again. I've already made up my mind. Christianity isn't for me. It's mostly for people that can't find any other way to keep their minds in check than the bible. I find that the bible was made up by man, written by man, with man thoughts, man mentalities, and the man ego (when I say "man", I mean mankind, but, you can interpret it the other way too). I consider myself a free-thinker and wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not ruling out the possibility of a god, but, I'm also not ruling it in. There's no way to prove either case. If I'm wrong, I don't believe the buybull's version of the afterlife. All I can do is see what happens!
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)