1ngi: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] 1ngi at 12:00am on 12/08/2009 under , , ,
Dawkins annoyed me the most the day when he admitted that he hadn't appreciated that a person could suffer grief through the loss of their faith.  A woman enlightened him one day during a question and answer session and he later blogged about his amazement to learn that this had happened to people (I can't find the ref on his site right now). He previous lack of empathy was more than a little shocking but I suppose that he had the good grace to admit that he needed to be more aware of this.

I've been peeling back the layers my beliefs over many years and I have still yet to settle on a definitive description of what I do and don't believe.

Known to others as Mormons and to themselves as LDS, it wasn't until I was about ten, I think, that it dawned on me that my family and I belonged to what other people considered one of those wacky 'cults' . On my Mum's side I was a third generation Mormon - my Grandfather, even at  90 years old is still very active in his church ministering Home Teaching to his sisters and brothers. (You don't use Mr and Mrs - you say 'Sister Joan' or 'Brother John' when you address each other.).

My parents divorced, my sister and me left Germany and came back to England with our mother where we drifted away from the LDS. I started questioning for my self around the age of 14 and naturally picked up the Book of Mormon as a starting point. Whatever I was looking for, it wasn't in there. My mother's book shelves, which were vast, had books on everything from Erich Von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods, studies of the gnostic gospels to a copy of the Talmud. Over my teens I read the lot. I also studied RE at A level which took in the synoptic gospels and Islam.

I had a powerful conversion experience in my late teens and became very active in our local church and immersed myself by helping lead the youth group, joined the choir, ran the Christian youth at school for time, and generally behaved like an evangelical pain in the arse. I found myself reacting to the staidness of the CoE and kept sneaking off to the charismatic church at Brickhill Baptist to take part in services with healings and the speaking of tongues. What kicked all of this in the pants was watching the considerable pain of my dearest friend, M, being rejected by his church and his parents when he came out. This was all the more uncomfortable set against my own uncertain sexuality. That, and having studied the origins of the bible, realising that the books that found their way in there had more to do with politics than the guiding hand of the Lord.

I've never lost sight of the story of Jesus wandering off as a kid and found questioning the teachers in the Temple. It was probably an example that kept me holding on to my faith my my fingernails because my continual searching and questioning was validated by his example.

By my mid-twenties things had got to the point where I would often find myself telling people that the only Christianity I could hold on to were the actual words of Jesus and that the rest was just, well, in today's parlance, 'guidelines'.  Without wishing to offend anyone on my friends list, I personally feel Christians might better be called Paulians due to the disproportionate amount of his teaching in the New Testament.

The diminishment of my faith at this point felt heartbreaking. And frightening - what if the devil had really done his work well here and that actually I had turned away and would end up in hell? I never believed hell to be the cartoon version - but a place that was eternally without God.  I think it is rather disturbing that my fear was the last thing to die rather than the love. The way the place of women and LGBT issues were dealt with in the church was seeming ever more nonsensical. I think I still believed that there was a God at this time but more in the sense of creation being god and an expression of the divine consciousness.

My darling Siôn considers that one is not approaching maturity in ones beliefs unless you've changed them at least twice. I was challenged by a friend a few years back who dismissed my then current thinking (whatever it was) out of hand "because I was always changing my mind". Meeting someone who respected my personal evolution was refreshing and a wonderful boost to my esteem.

This process of evolving/devolving has continued all the way through my life to a point where I can rationally cope with the concept of atheism. But my heart does not cope with it at all.

I find myself treasuring the thought that higher mammals have evolved emotions and specifically love as one of their key survival mechanisms. That's a true wonder. When I die I want to buried beneath a tree so that atoms that were once inside stars, and became part of me, will become part of the tree. It will bring forth fruit and be eaten by birds and insects. And so on. I hold dear to the knowledge that I say expressions that were said by my forbears and that my nephew copies me. I kneel in front of a fire and notice what almost feels like muscle memory as I go to light it.

And what of music?

"The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank"

Attributed to Dante Gabriel Rossetti

You see there should be a god. Probably.


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