Thursday, June 20, 2013

losing my religion

valuable advice from parental figures: "there's no going back, so all you can do is move forward."

moving forward.

so i was asked recently what i believe in -- as in, if i prescribe to any type of religion or organized belief system. it wasn't a confrontational question - more curious than anything - but it still got me thinking. the general answer i give to that question is "i don't buy into it" -- it being the big mass religions like christianity or catholicism. i'm not intolerant of the religious beliefs of others - you do what you do, yo - but it's never been my thing. for me, it's too problematic, and there's just too much i can't square up or make sense of.

i was born protestant but not raised with any sort of religion in my house (and neither were my parents, as far as i know). no church, no prayers before meals, nothing. i had a very secular upbringing, which i never really questioned because why would i? so, religion had no firm impact on my life, and it still doesn't. my stepmother is a baptist, and so there's pre-meal prayers at her and my father's house, but i never bow my head or close my eyes. it feels awkward and weird coming from me, a nonbeliever.

i have never prayed. not once in my life, or at least not on any occasion i can recall. oh, sure, i've sent up wishes and hopes and pleas to the universe and whatever higher power's out there, but i hesitate to call it "praying". to me, that brings up the uncomfortable mental image of getting on my knees and asking good ol' j.c. for a favour. and it's not that i don't believe that something's listening -- it's just not what so many people claim, and what those people want to impress upon others as their belief being the one and only correct belief.

i called myself an atheist when i was a teenager, just to be a shit-disturber. i read a lot of the german philosophers in those days, because who doesn't want to read depressing nihilistic takes on the human condition when you're an angry hormonal adolescent? nietzsche and fromm were great, great stuff to me when i was sixteen. for my major philosophy essay in oac/grade thirteen, i chose the hardest topic from the list: "debate this claim -- 'there is no free will.'" seriously, when you're eighteen and writing a 10+ page essay on free will versus determinism, things get pretty deep.

i came to more close identify with agnosticism as i got older -- it's sort of easier to say that you don't believe in anything in particular, really. i know that's a cop-out, but agnosticism also means you stay open to questioning everything as well, which i do on a frequent basis. these days, i prescribe to signs and premonitions, and intuition. seen too much weird shit not to believe a little bit in that stuff.

i believe in the universe. not even in an ilya bryzgalov way (though universe is humongous big), and although i clearly don't believe in an old man up in the clouds, i do believe that there's some kind of force behind everything. i can't answer whether or not i believe everything is preordained; i think it is, to an extent (again, see note above about weird shit i've experienced). i really do believe that everything works out the way that it's supposed to, even if it sometimes takes years for you to realize it. everybody needs some kind of faith to cling to in the dark times; that's mine.

i believe in intuition -- if something deep inside you tells you to do something, you follow it. (i mean, short of murdering somebody, i suppose. don't listen to your intuition if it tells you to murder somebody. that's not good.)

i believe that there's something up there that watches out for me and guides me, and i try to be grateful for that at every chance i get. i do believe in karma, to an extent. (it's come back to bite me in the ass a few times in my life for the things that i've done, so that's a given.)

i don't believe in luck; i believe that things only change because you make them change. (consequently, i believe in recognizing certain situations as conduits for change. i don't usually believe in coincidences -- again, i think things happen for a reason, even if that reason isn't apparent at the time.)

i believe in art, and love. foolhardy and cheesy concepts to some, i'm sure, and easily confused if you're me (you can love art, but once you love artists it's a whole different ballgame), but i absolutely believe in the power of both. some people believe that organized religion is a cornerstone of the human race; not me. in my opinion, humanity would be nowhere without art and love. those are the two things that endure, and that i will place my faith in any day of the goddamn week.

i believe that everything's going to be alright, in the end.

and i move forward.

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