What relevance is religion in the year of our Lord 2022?
Oh my God, what if?
What if my God?
Two completely different questions, asked from a completely different emotional standpoint
One is panicked and frightened , more a rhetorical question then anything
The other a gentle query, uttered with steady faith, a peaceful heart, almost as if to a good friend, knowing help is on the way
If only I could be the second – consistently
Most of my life my brain has hissed and spat versions of the first in panicked little gulps whenever faced with a potential crisis
I enjoyed reading Yacoob Manjoo’s posts during Ramadan, regarding the afflictions of the heart. One in particular outlines how, if we give in to fear and anxiety it shows a distinct lack of faith in God
I’d never thought of it in quite that way
I went to school at a convent school until year seven and I was pretty keen on religion in my earlier years. I was fortunate in that my early teachers were kind and embodied the best qualities of the church they worked for.
Mind you, I would pray and then constantly follow up the prayer with a barrage of missives (we didn’t have email back in the day) about whether the mission had been accomplished and whomever or whatever problem had been solved
Basically wondering when I was safe to return to a peaceful state
(Which I now realise the truly wise never leave)
I blame the control freak in me
To worry is the opposite of trust
To fear is the opposite of faith
And all of the above are figments of our imagination and conditioning. An atheist would say the same of religion, but I’ve seen too many unexplainable forces acting in my own life to give up on the idea of God.
Religion, yes, it has definitely lost its golden lustre, but a powerful intelligent life giving force? No, there is certainly a loving spirit that pervades the world, just as clearly as there is a malevolent one.
And, it struck me as I was watching an archeological tv show where they were talking about a pile of ruins that were from around 100AD …that is AD as in after death (or Anno Domini as in the year of our Lord) referring to the life and death of Jesus Christ. Who was, an actual person, a rebel, a leader, a man so feared by the government of the day that they crucified him and yet his words are still alive in the world now and the Bible (a record of his life and teachings) is a constant bestseller.
We are taught these things on one level, but like anything we read or learn. Our being doesn’t take ownership of the information until we have a personal connection or experience with the subject matter. The aha moment.
So why not choose the more peaceful way of being? And begin healing our hearts of one affliction at a time?
I am overly simplistic in terms of religious determinations. I have seen good decent humans from many different creeds and faiths. I’ve seen evil ones as well. I’ve sat in church and heard pious sounds from parishioners that walk outside and shun or gossip nastily about their fellow man. We are all capable of being either/or and more usually less than ideal humans.
The difference is that some people reflect and try harder as a result of their inner searching. Which is why I suppose the institution of a house of worship exists. As a reminder and gathering point.
Jesus lived amongst the same frustrations as we do and spoke about the same problems. Humans are not God, and if we are supposed to be made in his image well, we all need to face the mirrors of our soul, more often, me included.
Now I want to scratch out half my post but I won’t, because it might help others like me. The thing which we avoid, often is the very gateway through which we should be walking, so I will persist despite my feeling of awkwardness.
I find it extremely difficult to write about my faith with clarity and strength. I’ve always put it down to growing up in a household divided on the subject.
Mum was comfortable quoting wise parables from the Bible (not that she did it often) her gentle, courageous way of life embodied her faith, so she didn’t have to say much. Dad thought the Bible was written by tribesmen high on hashish. He spent his early years schooled by nuns who were in his words “the cruelest women” he had ever come across.
A difference of opinion to say the least.
In Australia, at least in the circles I moved in, one didn’t discuss religion or faith. To bring it up in conversation was to see people tripping over themselves to get away.
Only happy clappers and Bible bashers discussed religion and they usually had the front door closed on them as soon as they showed up. With all that is coming to light now about children abused in church run facilities (of nearly every faith) mistrust and wariness probably, and with good reason, ran quiet and deep.
The teaching and delivering of teaching has to be followed up by a living embodiment of the faith, or it is just hypocritical rubbish. And any child will see straight through it.
My schooling which was Catholic convent and then Anglican boarding school with a slice of state school in between was a prime example, as was Dad’s with his cruel nuns.
I could never see much difference in the two churches – yet Ireland fought bloody internal wars over two different strands of what is essentially the same faith. I know that is an oversimplification and apologise for it, yet that is how a child would see it.
How can some priests harm children terribly, and then be believed for preaching any sort of compassion and gospel on Sunday?
These things sit uneasily in the mind.
I don’t take my faith out and look at it. For the longest time it has been a “solid something” that sits in the back of my heart. A metaphorical wall, on which I comfortably lean, but don’t hang paintings.
It’s something I’m feeling my way into.
Why discuss it now?
I’m a big believer that if something terrifies you to write about, do, or discuss. You probably should do it.
“The obstacle is the way”Marcus Aurelius
And I have a few wonderful blogs that I read which discuss their faith as easily as what they have for dinner. It’s not that I believe what you believe should be discussed every five minutes, but more that if you have a problem doing so, then you probably need to explore why.
With that in mind, a great podcast I recently listened to with Hugh Jackman as the guest, (on the Tim Ferris Show) talking about growing up in Australia, and loving God. His interview left me with a lot of chuckles and aha moments.
I’ll probably not discuss these things again, my doing so here is to begin unravelling within my own heart, of what is a tightly curled piece of string. I’m holding the end, following it backwards, perhaps I’ll see where it leads, but I will do that privately.
Sometimes as writers, we are inspired to create a post for ourselves, yet it lands on someone’s consciousness in a way that helps them to begin their own conversations.
I wrote this post many months ago, I am tired of it languishing in my drafts because I lack the courage to put it out there. Why? Why is it so difficult to talk about faith when so often we talk about fear?
What ever happens, it is always for a reason, have faith, write what scares you. The pieces I hesitate to post are often the most well received – who knows? At least it will be out of my drafts 😊
I mentioned Yacoob – his blog and in particular the series “purification of the heart” is here: https://dreamlife.wordpress.com/category/purification/
Header photo mine – a bush church constructed in Lightning Ridge – from a bike trip a couple of years ago. I fell in love with the quirky town. If I was to worship in a church, it would far more likely be one like this than a stained glass work of art.
I don’t know why we need churches at all, when we have a temple in our hearts and nature all around us – and that is where I have the greatest experience of God. Not a lot of epiphanies arising whenever I chance to sit in a church, but I do like the hymns, and in particular “this little light of mine” which I often hum. It’s a reminder to write, to shine, and to spread love and our own particular breed of it widely. Perhaps that is all that any religions true purpose was ❤️