Anno Domini 2022

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

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.

The link is here: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?i=1000552955819

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 ❤️

23 thoughts on “Anno Domini 2022

  1. I was fiercely devout in my teen years. I thought I wanted to be a preacher. Now I barely attend formal church. I still pray. I still believe in the Almighty, but am weary of anything organized. As with most things, humans mess things up.

    Thank you for posting this.

    • Thanks for responding Captain Q, Anything organised: I like the way you say that, I’m the same and agree, humans can really stuff things up. I think that is why Buddha apparently forbade his followers from writing any of his teachings down for posterity. I think it was Buddha. And it’s the rationale behind first principle thinking. We have a nasty propensity for adding things to something important, and the original brilliance becomes buried in the mire. I think as children and young adults we understand that there is a higher power, we crave a higher purpose and connection to something bigger than ourselves and if we don’t find it then too many times we can slip into addiction or easier ways to access blissful states and become confused and suffer from dissolution as a result. It’s a sadly recurring theme throughout humanity and history.

      • Absolutely! My church friends became my drinking buddies. The Church turned its back since college kids don’t have income to convert into tithes. You just blew my mind with “slip into addiction or easier ways to access blissful states and become confused and suffer from dissolution as a result.” That’s exactly it!

  2. An exceptional piece of writing, I don’t normally get into the religious debate, but you have dealt with a sometimes difficult subject very well.

    • Thanks 😊 I find it difficult to write about, as I think I mentioned throughout. Religion has been the cause of more wars and unrest then any other issue in history. It’s probably a good topic to stay away from, yet I find it interesting to unpick.

  3. We’re all on journeys, and everyone has a different pace, different roadblocks, different scenery, etc. I think a big misconception people have about those with faith is that people of faith need to be perfect – both in their practice of their faith, as well as in their human interactions and personality. It’s this sort of all or nothing attitude which is so unrealistic…yet it’s used as a scapegoat in an already-existing wave of anti-religious rhetoric.

    But – to quote the famous Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder song – “There’s good and bad in everyone…”. Even within our own selves, we fluctuate.

    Writing is a beautiful form of self-discovery – whether you share that with the world (like this post), or keep it private. But the fact that you do it is important. And slowly (or quickly), you work your way to wherever it is you need to be. Free of the judgement of others.

    I’m glad the purification series resonated with you. We’re all human and we were all made by the same entity, and we all have these same issues to grapple with and work our way through – whatever methods we use, and whatever faith we hold onto.

    Life is a journey, and we just try our best as we go along, and hopefully move forward more often than we move backwards 🙂

  4. Kate,…I’m so happy you published this positively exquisite piece. You and I share much in common. I was “raised” in church. My grandfather (who would 112 today) literally scared the hell out of me. Faith, during those times, was rarely mentioned. It was about belief. Believe it or you’ll go to hell. Yet, some of the most cruel people I knew were involved in organized church. Divorce, betrayal, bankruptcy,…my motorcycle accident at age 36,…me wanting to take my own life while trying to raise two sons and lead a school. It became about faith because I fell FLAT on my faith when there was no hope. A faith that a Creator, more loving than I had ever known, reached down and pulled me out of a pit. A pity pit. A pathetic pit. It wasn’t a church, or a pastor, priest, or prophetic person…I saw it and felt it with my own eyes and soul. It spoke to me in the mountains,…whispered in the wind,…and taught me in the trees. It was NOT in a building, although I DO have lessons I learned there that made me a more likeable human. My Mom and the generation ahead of me grew up in church~it was their social life more than anything. And now, as she ages, she worries more than ever. Why grow up believing in God and yet, carry fear all the time? This is not a judgment, but a question I asked my Mom. I can’t explain why I’m not fearing death or my disease. I only feel it. Fearless. Even if I didn’t believe in a Higher Authority I have no reason BUT to follow such a man as Jesus. His teachings dwell in my soul. I’ll never worry about perfection. For it has nothing to do with it. I practice. It suits me and the love I have for God and for others. Even those tough to love or even try to find to admire. My empathy and sympathy come from something far greater than me~faith. It’s more than just believing. I’ve never been, nor will, be about religion ~although traditions can be beautiful and bountiful. To me it’s about relationships. We humans sure are messy. I believe there’s a part down deep in each soul that longs for a feeling of faith for something greater. It’s finding a path to peace. For some that may come at a life or death situation. For some, in their daily routine. And I believe there are those that think life is just fine and could care less about any of it. Humans find their own ways. I’ll never judge. But I plan on keeping my faith until the end. I’m so thankful I know you, Kate. You’re an amazing and thoughtful friend. Xoxo 💛

    • Hi Karla, you are one of the friends and bloggers that write about your faith and beliefs with an easy hand, well practiced and certain. You don’t just preach it, you embody that confidence in a higher power, and I know from your latest fight with Cancer that your words aren’t empty, and that your faith gives you great comfort and strength. And this isn’t the first time you’ve had to face a difficult adversary, both our lives are littered with lessons that grew us. Whether you have a spiritual practice/faith or not, life is difficult and messy and hard for many. In a religious tradition it’s called testing – and I used to think that meant, (because that is what is often preached) certain circumstances were put in our path to test our faith in God. I believe now that life is simply how we make it, full of food and bad and difficult and grace. We have the choice to fear, which makes everything much harder, or the choice to have faith, in ourselves and in the life force that gave us this incredible and rare opportunity to live at this moment. So much here, too much for a post really, I’m working my way through it and it’s difficult but we’ll worth it. Thanks for reading my friend, more so though, thanks for writing about your experiences and faith. Such a positive way of sunshine; you touch other peoples lives in a very warm and beautiful way. ✨💕

      • Thank you, Kate. Your words and encouragement always make my heart and soul smile. I love the statement, “…life is simply how we make it, full of good and difficult and grace.” Abraham Lincoln, one of my favorite Presidents and people, shared similar quotes. And “people are about as happy as they choose to be.” You can add any adjective. The verb, choose. We all have a choice for sure. I always appreciate, respect, and enjoy your perspectives on life in general; every facet! We have some awesome topics when I visit. 😉 I believe you are also a friend that can walk with me in nature and nothing be said. Just understood. It’s a gift to have soul-minded friends. I’m working my way still on many things and supporting you on our journey. Thank you for being you! It’s simply beautiful! 💛❤️🥰

  5. God as any sort of explanation seems too far fetched to me. I don’t personally feel I need him or her for anything so I don’t bother with religion. But it obviously fills a gap for many people, which is fine as long as it doesn’t provide a reason for violence or nastiness of various sorts. Not that people can’t come up with that by themselves.

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