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Archive for the ‘brain dump’ Category

No Questions

The more I read atheist and free-thinking blogs and literature, the more I am amazed at how unquestioning I was about certain things.  I was just reading at The Atheist Yogi about her feelings when reading Chronicles of Narnia and how it was written to parallel Christianity.  The interesting thing is, I read the entire series just a few years ago (and I’m in my late 30’s) and even then, I never really saw that.  Maybe I just wasn’t looking for it, I saw it as an entertaining read, another fun piece of fiction.

At first, this realization that there are a lot of things I never questioned or looked at from a religious perspective made me feel as though I had been a fool in the past.  The more I think about it, the more I think that I just never questioned religion all that much.  When I “believed” (it’s in quotes because I don’t think I ever really did), I had the belief that all religions led to the same god, it’s just that they called him different names.  I don’t think it is much of a leap to move from that to wondering or questioning if religion is “real” at all.    I think I didn’t have interest in it at a very young age.  What I remember most about church is liking the music, especially at the guitar mass at Christmastime.  And it wasn’t the beliefs that I questioned, but the practices.  Like, why can’t I wear shorts to church? (Never did get a reasonable answer to that one).  Why can’t I get communion? (when I was a small child).  Why do I have to go to church at all if God is everywhere? (that was the first step to not going at all).

Interestingly, I never really questioned the tenets of faith and religion themselves.  Not until I had shed all belief did I see how easy it is for children to just accept and do what their parents do.  I have always questioned why 13 seems to be the magic age where you are considered an “adult” in religion (Bar Mitzvah’s & Confirmation), yet you are not allowed to really make that decision as an adult.  Even as a young teenager, I really didn’t want to be confirmed, but went along because it was expected.  And all my friends were getting confirmed as well.  Looking back, what 13 year old has the experience and the knowledge necessary to really make an informed decision about something that is supposed to be HUGE in the Catholic church?  Even though I didn’t want to be confirmed, I would have been hard pressed to actually give you an answer as to why.  Except that maybe I felt I wasn’t ready to make that decision for myself.

I read with fascination how others questioned the impossibility of the ark and the flood.  It never occurred to me to ask.  It was just a story to me.  Or the fact that Adam and Eve had two sons.  Where did everyone else come from?  Was never on my radar.  My DNA does not carry the faith gene, yet I tend to be naive and trusting to a fault (I do think that people are basically good – most of them anyway).  Is it possible to be a skeptic but not a cynic? I tend to have a positive attitude, and was told recently that I have a certain “lightness of being” that is refreshing to be around.  I know cynics.  I love one.  He claims not to be a pessimist, but a realist.  It’s all fine and good, but it can occasionally drag me down.  Cynicism in some instances is good, and I try to teach my children some skepticism, especially where advertising is concerned (“Don’t believe a word they tell you!  Find out for yourself!”).

Did your questioning arise later in life, after you spent some time in adulthood, or were you one of those kids who asked “Why?” incessantly until you got an answer you could be satisfied with?  Nowadays, I tend to ask “Why?” more often, as well as “What exactly are they trying to say to me/sell to me/get me to believe?”.  Yet I still feel as though I come off as flaky when I change my opinion on something.  But isn’t that what we all do?  Accept that something is the truth until some evidence comes around that proves otherwise?  And aren’t we all free to change our opinion?

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The Amazing Subconscious

I had the weirdest dream last night.  I felt the need to share it because of the strange juxtaposition of symbolism in it.  Analyzing it could prove to be an entertaining distraction.

So here goes:

My parents & I are walking from the car to go into the church we went to while I was growing up.  Spilling into the parking lot is a gay pride parade/protest.  We enter church, which is quite crowded and try to find a seat.  The only seats available are in a pew that has a small hole in the floor beneath it.  In this hole I can see the glow of hot magma.  Being the one sitting nearly on top of this hole makes me supremely uncomfortable, even though there are other holes that people are sitting by, seemingly unbothered.  The priest starts talking/preaching about the homosexual agenda or something similarly close-minded and hateful.  My anxiety is such that I tell my parents I have to leave and they get up and we exit the church.  We are halfway through the parking lot when there is a great trembling coming from the church.  The bells are tolling randomly and it starts shaking so much it is separating from the foundation, yet nobody else is seen running out.  Suddenly the church tips onto it’s side and there is a lake of fire and lava underneath it threatening to swallow it whole.  I’m horrified at the number of people who are probably burning to death right that moment, but I know that it is too late for me to do anything to help.  Suddenly the lava churns and starts overflowing the foundation, carrying the church with it.  It is heading our direction fast…too fast.  Just as it is about to overtake us….

I wake up, heart racing and hyperventilating.  There was also the brief thought that any survivors would thank god for protecting them, but not question why he allowed the devastation in the first place.

I have not had such a vivid and strange dream in years.  It was very unsettling, and in the middle of the night, it was hard to shake the feeling that there was something important in all of that that I couldn’t quite grasp.

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I just returned from visiting my brother. The difference between the two of us religiously and politically is getting further and further apart. Where I am slowly but surely turning away from religion and the fairy tale I believe it is, my brother seems to be more and more immersed in Christianity. I listen to Air America, watch Bill Maher, read a lot of liberal authors and feel very strongly about women’s rights. My brother listens to Rush Limbaugh, voted for Bush (twice), has multiple bibles in his house, and I’m sure is anti-choice given his beliefs.

We went to their church, and while it was one of the most pleasant masses I have ever attended, I couldn’t help but feel a bit like a fraud as I went through the motions and rituals of the mass (save communion, that would have not just seemed wrong, but been wrong). I hadn’t been to church in ages and seeing it with my newly atheist eyes and hearing it with my “new” ears was an experience. I realized how much is made of “confessing your sins”, “asking Jesus’ forgiveness”, “praying for salvation”, “ours is the only God”, that I had never really noticed before because it was just something I did every weekend and had stopped actually listening to what was being said. It seemed odd to me that there was so much reverence for something I believe to be a fairy tale. There was also a interesting feeling of surprise that I didn’t miss any of it, and that I didn’t believe it. Not just thought I didn’t believe it, but really didn’t believe it. Of course my mother noticed that my kids enjoyed it and said I should expose them to it more. What they enjoy is the songs and the singing, and I answer any questions they have as best I can. I’m in a tough spot where I don’t want them to be indoctrinated, but I don’t want them to have no knowledge, and I also don’t want to pass my beliefs (or non-beliefs) onto them and have them accept them without question. I don’t want them to think that only one way of thinking is “right” and the others are “wrong”. I have a hard time with that myself. One thing I realized is that I don’t think I’m going to be a closet atheist for long because I sometimes have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, especially after going through childhood and early adulthood never questioning anything.

There’s no real point to this post other than a brain dump. It’s this kind of thinking that sometimes keeps me up at night. I have a difficult time shutting down my thought processes so I can fall asleep, and sometimes talking or posting them gets rid of them. Sort of how passing an earworm on to someone else tends to get rid of it for myself.

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