I am going to put up this prelude before I make this post. What is about to follow has many personal and in-depth perceptions that might not agree with every person that reads them. I’m certain that my own personal choices and opinions are not shared by the masses. I have no delusions about changing anyone’s way of life to fit my own either. However, I wished to write on this subject. So, read what follows with an open mind.
There is a large segment of the population who do not even realize that there is a ground that exists in between known religions and atheism. Atheism receives so much attention since it is the exact opposite of anyone who believes in a higher force. To believe in nothing but the existence as far as what one can see frightens many who feel the need to embrace an eternal power in their lives. They need a guiding hand in their lives to either blame or be a mental support for their own anguish. However, I am not a person who believes that life and humanity is nothing more than atoms and energy. I do believe in something, just not necessarily what anyone else believes in. It might not be the textbook definition of an agnostic, but I identify myself as agnostic over any other definition that exists.
There may even be many people who do not even know the word “agnostic”. I had to explain it to a friend of mine just this past week; however, her native language is Japanese and not English. So, it was not surprising that there were more complex words that she does not know simply because they have a specified purpose for existing. Still, I feel that it is an alien concept to many people out there. I suppose not identifying with a religion at all, or completely lack of religious thought, does not come to mind for the vast majority.
I did not start off my life as an individual who did not identify with any named religion, though. I had a long path to get to the point in my life where I felt comfortable with admitting that I agreed with no religion at all. When I was growing up, I was the child of two different religions, Catholic and Latter-Day Saint. I felt that it was right for me to be a part of a religion because that was what I was told. Out of my two choices, I had been raised as a member of the LDS church. I can’t say why I was more or less raised as LDS, when my father was Catholic; however, I believe my father was not exactly the most active of Catholics out there.
Still, I had some interaction with the Catholic church. It went like this: kneel, chair is uncomfortable, play with kneeling foot thing, boring music, chair is uncomfortable, show something toward person next to me, want to go home, etc. I know that I had attended a few mass sessions. However, I never felt anything more than the fact that I was extremely uncomfortable with next to everything in their sessions. I’m certain that those who are devoutly Catholic can come away with something from Mass. However, I just found it interesting to mess with the kneeling pad thing of whose name I never learned.
On the other hand, I was much more actively brought up as a member of the LDS church. I followed their tenants by the word as I was growing up. It was proper for me to want to get baptized and go to three hour sessions. So, I did as was told. It was proper for me to give a testimony, even though I could never stand reading the scriptures, so I did it. I attended Sunday school, went to seminary class (prior to my choice to start distancing myself from the church, which I’ll get to shortly), went to the temple so that I could be a proxy for baptisms for those who had passed on, and said prayers that were short and meaningless. I did many things to strive for acceptance in their numbers. However, the strongest thing about all this is that no one really noticed that all that I did was meaningless.
By the time that I was a teenager, I began to realize that I did not quite feel accepted as a whole as a part of the congregation. There may have been a select few that actually knew me. However, the majority of the members saw and knew nothing of me. Yes, I was then, and still am, an anti-social hermit. However, they never really reached out to me. They spoke of sisterhood and brotherhood, but I felt nothing from their smiles or claims of family. I personally received nothing from their affections, while they wanted me to be like them.
In the end, I believe that is the largest point as to why I can no longer support organized religion as a whole. If you are not a match for their terms of “righteousness”, if you are a bit of a black sheep, you simply do not get the support and attention as those that do mesh in perfectly with cheerful smiles whilst gossiping when at home.
Furthermore, in more recent years, I have become disgusted by organized religion in many other ways. They dictate their belief sets on other people and demand that their precepts be followed. How does it hurt them so much that a pair that identifies themselves as same-sex would receive a marriage certificate from the state. Yes, I can understand not accepting them in their closed-door religious ceremonies; however, the state is a completely different matter. It is simply a word, a legal status, if it is done by the state. Claiming ownership over that word is not very tolerant at all. Yet, religions try to state that they are tolerant. I’m certain that’s why wars have been waged over religion all the time. However, I digress…
Perhaps, my mother would love to think that my turn toward no longer going to church was because I started enjoying my video games on the more violent side, or felt no shame in watching R-rated movies. However, that is not the case. It is more that the directives of the church demanded conformity that I could simply not abide by. In the end, outside of her, did anyone actually fight to keep me there at the church. Not really. There were a few that still tried to treat me as a friend, but as a whole, no one really noticed one less person who would rather sleep on the benches than actually be there.
I’m certain there would be people who would suggest for me to just find another religion to try. That I should look for other venues of faith. However, I did, in a way, do that. I looked at what other faiths teach and preach. Overall, I love the teachings of Buddhism, and feel like they match my own personal belief system the most. However, I would never really fully entrench myself in that religion either. However, there’s more than that.
I had gone through a point in my life where I had looked into the history of religions and various uses for religions throughout history. The most poignant property of religion that I had uncovered was the manner in which it can, has, and does control the masses. Faith has been twisted in so many ways throughout history to make people as a whole subjugated. Some even willfully give themselves up to this subjugation in order to attain eternal exaltation. For proof on that matter, just look at suicide bombers from extremists or cults such as Heaven’s Gate. Even the politics of the United States are still very much controlled by the views of religion, despite claiming to have a separation of church and state.
Over time, as I pondered over these elements and looked over the uses of religion, I came to my own self-realization. The happiest place for me is to follow my own path and not care what one group says or dictates. I know enough about the Bible to notate that there have been instances where the same thing has been suggested. However, I still feel nothing but extreme boredom and exhaustion while reading a work such as the bible. So, I will never say that I believe in it ever again, whether to please someone else or not.
No, instead, I will openly admit that I believe that people get the choice to live their lives as they see fit. They can find their own heaven or carve out their own hells. Each individual, despite a religion or belief system, can be good or “evil”. I also feel as if “evil” is simply a matter of perspective, to a degree. Naturally, murdering in cold blood for no good reason is evil. However, murdering in the name of a proper cause is something else, even if the cause is twisted. I also feel as if the world requires some degree of evil in order to exist. Balances help for people to see the good in life. For, if there was nothing to compare actions to, how would one know one action from another?
Will I tell others to follow my path, not necessarily. I will suggest that people think for themselves over permitting another figure to dictate how their life should be run. If they do honestly feel like they are not betraying themselves and doing the right thing for themselves by following the advice of others, all the better. However, I will never again be a member of an organized religion. There are simply too many lines in the sand toward making congregations of organized religion accept a person. Instead, I’d rather find my own peace and happiness by being my own person.