Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No More Religion, The Sequel

So I quit going to church, but I was still very much Christian. I was bolstered by exotic new ideas about the non-deity of Jesus (supplied by that friend I mentioned); that he was just a man infused with God's exotic spirit. This was exciting, and I took my time believing it. What if I was wrong? See, that's the primary concern of Christianity: being right. Despite the fact that Jesus never said that believing the correct cereal box back is what made you a good person, rather that bit about neighbors and love, Christianity is mainly concerned with making sure you have the right belief reduced to a mantra bullion. And man did I have the ammunition to prove them wrong.

Another formational book was Pagan Christianity, which confirmed what I had long suspected: that the church traditions I had participated in were actually the result of vestigial pagan practices woven in through Catholicism, administered IV drip style down through Orthodox and the infinitude of Protestant religions.

About this time I helped start a small house church. For those guys and gals I will be perpetually thankful, though I don't see most of them anymore. That period of church was probably the purest and most invigorating of all my church experiences. I don't really have a bad thing I could say about that time. But all good times must come to an end. The guy who hosted it left for college, and the rest of us couldn't seem to organize well enough to keep it alive. Que sera.

I became without church, but kept reading. I was sad that house church was gone, but I certainly wanted no part in Church more so than I had. I went back to college myself and began to read in earnest things about astronomy, evolution, the history of religion and things on paganism. One book, Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, rendered certain irrevocable changes within me. It discussed evolution in ways I'd never heard (the only ways I heard were the horribly retarded and inaccurate methods devised by American Christianity), and it made a lot of sense. It really seemed to explain in greater detail things that religion only chalked up to “fallen nature.” Mainly Daniel Quinn's books introduced the idea that a majority of the things we chalk up to Fallen Nature is simply man living in ways that don't compliment man's nature. It made so much sense. It was like a gong in the heart.

Around this time I also read History of God by Margaret Armstrong, who is one of the most gifted spiritual/theological writers I've ever read. Mainly it introduced with historical proof the notion that the Jews got God from El, the grand patriarch of the Syrian hierarchy, and gradually they became monotheistic. Having read that book and reading the traditions of Sufism and Kaballah, and even Gnosticism, I knew that my progressively more tenuous connection to Christianity was slipping. But I didn't go easy. I struggled, and boy howdy.

It became harder to know what was inevitably coming, and I didn't feel happy. Finally, one night I couldn't sleep, and I wrestled the last vestiges of Christianity, at least fundamental Christianity, out of me. I still feel essentially Christian, but I certainly don't follow any particular dogmatic. If anything, I've worked to become more centered and see things from as many angles as I can. I certainly think that man is living out of balance (Naqoyqatsi to steal from a movie and Hopi word), and I'm not sure what it' take to bring that balance back. But I do so hate stories that obsess over balances of whatever inane Disney concept we're throwing around.

I don't really live any less morally than I did before. I definitely feel better about things, and I feel like the world makes more sense without Dogma shouting in my ear. I feel way more comfortable as a sexual being now. Sometimes Wife feels unsettled by the directionless our new life brings, but I have never felt more excited. I'm an explorer charting the secret Jungian world. I don't have to qualify my thoughts anymore: this is what I think, but because I'm a Christian, this is what I have to think.

I do have a few admissions however. The first is that there are a few things I am unsure of. I definitely used to believe in a magical world, especially in that space where Jesus quit being God, and I learned that El was simply one of many gods. Now I'm not sure. Was it just a totally unique human mind back then? Something alien and unknowable by my standards now? A metaphorical way of viewing the world without dividing spirit and science? Were things different back then, and the things we think of as scientific constants are actually variable? There's evidence for all of that. I definitely don't believe that ancient humans writing profound texts were liars, making shit up because they needed an explanation. I think they were far more honest than that, and when they write something, it means that thing or something like it happened, whether it's really magic or a difference of looking at the world. Again, if magic really exist(s)ed.

I also had certain experiences that I feel are undeniable. Times when I knew things that I had no way of knowing at different times. Times when a small depression would be followed by strange dreams, knowledge, and incite. I can't really say if I experience those still or not. I've always had strange and inciteful dreams that tell me things about myself and my surroundings, things that I don't think I would have learned any other way. But nevertheless, some of these experiences I don't know how to qualify. Were they God? Is there some other process at work? Is there simply more capability in the brain than I think, and sometimes I touch that? It's hard to know.

I suppose that's the story. Few things irritate me more than people who are bitter and angry about religion because they themselves are no longer religious. I try not to be one of those people. Of course, if there's something worth being mad at – like the fact that four years after I simply left church I have yet to receive one phone call or one email, even from friends, about why – I'll be mad. But bitterness for bitterness' sake isn't a way to make friends.

This Post: 40 Total: 130/60,000 Minutes

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