My Particular Relationship With Religion

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#41

Post by Valigarmander » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:13 am

I was raised Catholic. My mom was a devout her entire life, and my dad was a nondemoninational cafeteria Christian. I approached religion with gusto most of the time; Catholic mass was always boring, but I enjoyed Sunday school and loved learning about the Bible and the tenets of the faith. I frequently read the Bible on my own time as a kid. I remember asking for a study Bible for Christmas when I was 13 or 14. I didn't get one. :frown:

Doubts came knocking around age 15. I can't recall what exactly what triggered my crisis of faith. It could've been a moral issue, or maybe a conflict between scripture and science or history. Whatever it was, once I had questioned one thing, it didn't take me long to start questioning everything. I was afraid of where that path might lead me, but I decided that my faith demanded that I not cower away from difficult questions, and that I had to pursue the truth, whatever it might be. Not long afterward I came to understand Christianity as false and God, as orthodox Christianity defines it, to be nonexistent.

In the years that followed I explored other religious and spiritualistic belief systems, but everything suffered the same problems as Christianity, and I could not commit to any. At this point in my life I'd say I'm pretty firmly atheistic and materialistic (definition 1a), and I don't see that changing without extraordinary evidence to the contrary. If I do ever become spiritual again in some sense, it would be without religion. Religious studies in general and Biblical hermeneutics in particular have been a favorite subject of mine for a long time, and it has become impossible for me to see religion as anything but manmade.
Apollo the Just wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:33 pm
man i completely forgot that door-to-door canvassing is still a thing because i live in an apartment complex lmao

i respect people who have the dedication to go door-to-door for literally anything, but i also personally dislike being on the receiving end, so that's what a good ole fashioned "no solicitors please" sign is for :thumbsup:
I've gotten a few in the past, but not since I moved to an apartment complex. I think my issue personally is that I'm immensely antisocial, and I don't like talking to canvassers no matter what it is they're selling. I don't think I'd mind having a back-and-forth with an evangelist if it was, say, over email or something.

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#42

Post by steeze » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:47 am

I REALLY HATE POKEMON! wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:03 am
I think it just came off as somewhat condescending is all he was saying. If the guy feels like he's doing something worthwhile then I don't think he's being deceived or wasting his time. He's busting his ass in his own way, maybe a more important way from his perspective. Not sure there's a reason to think there's anything radical about it or that he's been manipulated.

There's a lot worse stuff young people can and do get into, I don't think society respects religion enough these days. It really does do a lot more good than bad.
There's a Jehovah's Witness community right outside of my town which is why I'm fairly certain that's who always coming to my door. I'd say there's plenty reason to think people in that community are manipulated. When I say radical views this is what I mean.

No blood transfusions ever, no matter what. Including for their children. Imagine your kid has leukemia and is dying or you've been in a serious accident. Well you're out of luck on that front. You can't give blood either.

Committing any major sins like getting a blood transfusion, homosexuality, tobacco use, going to another church even for a wedding or something you are a guest for is grounds for dismissal from the church and members of the church can never speak to you again. That means if your whole family are Jehovah's witnesses your family is never allowed to speak to you ever again. If you leave the church because you don't square with their beliefs anymore the same rules apply. Kids who are born into this aren't allowed to speak up or risk losing their entire family.

They believe the world is going to end soon and only they will be saved. They've been wrong about the date three times already so why not make it four. If that's not the classic fear manipulation, I don't know what is.

The big one. They are discouraged from getting a higher education on the grounds that preaching should be their lives. If you go to school you might take classes that give you doubts about your faith and you'll end up leaving the church. Plus they'll never accept a woman into the upper echelons of the faith on the grounds they aren't qualified.

Like I said before I wasn't comparing volunteer work to preaching. So if it came off as condescending, it certainly wasn't directed towards that. I do apologize for offending you @Marilink I think you do great work.

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#43

Post by Marilink » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:33 am

No worries. I wasn’t necessarily offended, I just thought it came off as presumptuous.

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#44

Post by Apollo the Just » Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:24 am

So, in a turn of events that feels - for lack of a better term - blessed, my simultaneous struggles with how I want to approach religion and the fact that I have been seeking a career change ended up in a very unique culmination.

I recently got a certification to try breaking into the IT field, just because I knew I needed to go back into an office job to pay the bills and save up but I really REALLY R E A L L Y did not want to go back to being an admin assistant, I like/am good at troubleshooting, and the material for the cert was interesting anyway. I ended up applying to virtually anywhere that was looking for an entry level helpdesk tech, but only got one single in-person interview in months of nonstop applying. Everyone wants 3 years of experience for an entry level position.

The position that I did get an interview for is at a non-profit organization that is centered around a church; they were Methodist initially but services are now formatted so that anyone of any and all religious backgrounds are welcome (I forget the name for this, non-denominational is still Christian specifically isn't it? idk lol) - but they also do a metric ****ton of community service work in the poorest parts of the city and are nationally recognized as doing really important work. Basically they uplift the community spiritually but also extend an enormous quantity of essential services for vulnerable communities, including food service, health care, education, child care, and way more.

Basically I get the chance to work somewhere and apply these newfound skills in a role that honestly is fulfilling for an organization that I actually feel is doing net good for the world. Which is not something I have been able to really say before.

Anyway I did get the job and I am so thankful for it because I don't think anywhere else would be such a wonderful place to work. I mean, it's only been a week, but they asked me my preferred name and pronouns before my first day, so I already felt welcome as ****.

I think I might eventually help with their livestream for their services on Sundays, because I mentioned in my interview that I have relevant experience (and their current setup is kind of jank), but for now I'm okay troubleshooting printer issues for Euphemia in HR.

It feels really nice to be tangibly proud of my work and to feel fulfilled by what I do. I know I am really, really, REALLY lucky to be in this situation, and I wish the same on pretty much everyone I've ever met.

now of course give me a month and my tune might change but at the moment at least this is VERY COOL and i am VERY EXCITED. I'm at a place that, for now, seems to have a very fulfilling answer for where I want to be career-wise while also being spiritually fulfilling and humanitarian.

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#45

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:31 am

Sounds like they do a lot of good work. It's good to be a part of something like that.

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#46

Post by Marilink » Sun Nov 03, 2019 9:28 am

That's awesome, AJ. I love what that organization does, and it sounds perfect for you.

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#47

Post by CaptHayfever » Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:01 pm

Coolage. Is it a Unitarian church?

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#48

Post by ScottyMcGee » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:33 pm

I actually have a lot on my mind concerning religion, having grown up entirely from pre-school to senior year of high school in Catholic schools. (@Marilink, I actually would love your thoughts about a couple friends I lost myself due to religious debates. I don't think I ever told you about Ryan and Tim, have I? It's been in the back of my head to talk to you about them for a long time but I forgot if I have.)

Throughout my childhood and adolescence I was actually really stringent in my beliefs. I was much more serious as a kid than I am now, which feels weird and surprising. I always prayed every night and wanted to tell people about Jesus. I remember feeling conflicted when I had my first girlfriend in high school because of her secular ways, particularly in terms of sex before marriage and the like. Freshman year of college was when I really went through a rocky transition in my identity.

I had two really good friends from high school - Ryan and Tim. I particularly thought I was really good friends with Tim because we bonded over movie soundtracks and we could relate to classical music. He was a very dapper guy and very sincere and fun to have a meaningful conversation with. The three of us still kept in contact shortly after we graduated. We even hung out a couple times over the summer.

As a freshman in college, I took a writing test to gain entry into an upper level writing course. You would only have to take one writing course for one semester as a freshman, as opposed to two, and you had to write a 10-paged research paper on whatever you wanted. I had a great teacher in high school named Koch and he taught me everything I know about biblical studies (the historical search for Jesus, the Yahwist, Priestly, and Deuteronmist sources of the Old Testament, all sorts of scholarly work on the Bible). It was and still probably is my favorite course I ever took in any school. I decided to pick up my old notes and write my 10-paged paper on "Was Jesus a Historical Figure?"

To keep a long story short - I fell down the rabbit hole with that one. I realized it wasn't an easy answer at all. Near the end of my paper, I started getting worried and doubted my own beliefs. Up until then I had a firm belief in Jesus, but then I started panicking at all the seemingly convincing arguments that contradicted Jesus' existence as a historical figure.

I approached both Ryan and Tim about my crisis in faith. That was the last conversation I ever had with them. I remember messaging Tim about it over AIM and he ensured me that there was enough evidence to support the historicity of Jesus, but said he didn't have the time then and had to go somewhere. The last thing I ever said to him was something along the lines of, "I'm starting to think it doesn't matter if Jesus was real or not, but it's too late to change the thesis of my paper. I think whether he was a real figure or not is pointless. His teachings meant something and created a religious lifestyle that is an admirable set of morals."

At the same time, I was in the process of making Tim a playlist of movie soundtracks I thought he'd love. He knew about it and had said "Yeah sure send it to me whenever". We did that once and a while - give each other mix CDs and playlists.

I messaged him a couple days later on AIM to send him the playlist only to realize that he blocked me. I went to Facebook and found out that he unfriended me, as well as Ryan. I thought nothing of it at the time. Facebook was a relatively new thing at the time and maybe they got confused and pressed the wrong button, right? (nervous laughter). I requested their friendship again. I noticed later that they denied it because I had the option of sending another friend request.

What happened?

I never knew for sure. All I know was that the last conversations I had with them were about my crisis in faith and my leanings towards doubting Jesus's existence. I was also expressing more secular views on sex and marriage with them. In general, my freshman year of college was a really turbulent time for me for many reasons as I was trying to formulate my identity. I really wanted to figure things out with these two friends of mine, but they ended up leaving me without any explanation.

Years later, I had the biggest delayed reaction. You see, throughout high school there were many obvious hints and clues that I didn't catch. For one, Ryan and Tim were REALLY close to the higher-ups in New Jersey's Diocese of Trenton. Like, they had Facebook pictures with the archbishop celebrating Christmas and having dinner at really fancy restaurants with priests. My high school was an all-boys academy and pretty expensive. I didn't realize until years later how most of us were privileged white kids who were racist, misogynist, and homophobic. It wasn't until Facebook got popular that I saw how most of my high school classmates really believed in what they said. The naive kid in me thought they were all joking, that they wouldn't seriously enact these views outside of jokes. Ryan in particular always said awful things about Jews, Hindus, and atheists. 16 year-old me would just laugh nervously shrugging it off as a joke. Tim never really joked about that stuff but in retrospect I could never picture him being friends with someone of different beliefs. He was firm in his stance that only Jesus could save you, and if you didn't believe in Jesus then you were 100% going to hell, no questions asked.

It wasn't until after Ryan and Tim ghosted me that I thought, "****, I think they were serious." It all hit me on the head like "DUH." I remember back to when the head priest in high school kept saying "Atheism isn't COOL. It's not hip." And I know where he's coming from given the recent pompous attitudes a lá Richard Dawkins, but it was also kind of cringy saying that. I remember the "sex ed" teachings from freshman year of high school. Our gym teacher took a chair and said "This chair has imperfections because man is imperfect. You can't see them but there are tiny holes in this chair. A condom also has these tiny holes. They are imperfectly made." I remember that kind of freaked me out about having sex. As freshman, we also had seniors who were our "gurus", and my guru told my group "Don't believe anything about the health benefits of sex." There was a period in time during high school when I would say things like "Being gay isn't natural" and a bunch of my other friends would find that appalling and I didn't quite understand what I was saying. I was just reiterating things from all our Christian teachings classes. I still have our textbooks with lessons that confused me the more I thought about it like "It's not sinful to be gay but sinful to act on being gay."

Recently, both schools I went to have been in the limelight because of recent arrests of our most trusted priests and deacons. I never thought I would say that I grew up in two Catholic schools with priests and deacons who have been arrested for sexual assault. I had heard rumors a few years ago around 2016 that our priest in elementary school Father Brendan Williams (his name deserves to be called out) did something, but it was hushed as nothing more than unsubstantiated rumors. He abruptly left the school to go to Ireland, his home country. Meanwhile, it was revealed that one of my own teachers from high school, our deacon Joseph Priolli, had molested a family member. He taught me all the basics of how to work a computer. I was very shaken by the initial revelation because to just think - this man TAUGHT me something and I trusted him with my safety and well-being. Same thing with Father Williams. It was revealed this year that yes - he did commit sexual assault, among other things. He fled the country and then returned to a local retirement center for clergymen hoping it would have blown over by then. Back in 2009, he squashed a lawsuit against him that claimed he protected another priest for molesting several boys. In turn, Father Williams molested several girls during my time there as a student. It's unclear to me still where the boys were molested, but one of my closest friends from that school who is gay said it was suspected to take place at a gay conversion camp. When we were kids, Father Williams suspected my friend of being gay and approached his parents about sending him to a gay conversion camp. His parents disagreed and let him be.

When Ryan and Tim ghosted me, I was in a crucial point of my development where I needed someone to talk to, but I didn't have anybody. I was going through a turbulent time in my relationship with my parents, so I couldn't talk with them. I ended up having to figure things out for myself and it pushed aside my enjoyment in life for a long time throughout college. It was too late in senior year when I finally became myself and started enjoying life. Before I knew it, I was back home having already graduated. It was like waking up from a dream you were just starting to enjoy. The first thing I did when I got back home was cry my guts out. It was so sudden and inexplicable. My mom had given me a graduation card from a family member and as I read it I just sobbed because it was that moment when I realized, "It's really over." I can have a big mouth and come off as being an *******, and it's gotten me into trouble. At the time I would blame myself and think "If I had kept my mouth shut I would still have Tim as a friend." Old people always regret not having said their true feelings in order to keep the peace - I have suffered the opposite.

Despite all that, my attitude towards religion hasn't worsened. It's organized religion that I'm wary of. I would want to teach my children all about religion but I am hesitant about sending them to Catholic school. On the flip-side, I think Catholic school fosters a greater sense of camaraderie among the students. I'm still very good friends with many people I met in pre-school and kindergarten. I don't think many people who went to public schools can say that. We see ourselves almost as being survivors like, "Yep, we went through that BS." I hope that something new comes out of this generation with its attitudes towards religion, not to squash it or ridicule it, but to change its practices for the better. My gay friend who almost went to that gay conversation camp has done really great things in the name of Jesus. He has been to Native American reservations and helped people with depression and has done more volunteer work than anyone I know. Our experiences haven't deterred him from his beliefs. He can go the limit to do good that I can't. You don't need religion to be good - but that doesn't mean it never inspires people to do good.

Ironically, I enjoy going to mass more now than when I was a kid, despite being more devout when I was a kid. I find religion and comparative mythology endlessly fascinating and I'm always seeking to learn more about how and why these beliefs started and persist. I'm agnostic rather than atheist. I think there is some truth shared among all religions but you can't quite fully describe the truth. I cringe at radical fundamentalists just as much as I cringe at pompous atheists.

(Also, as a sci-fi/fantasy writer, it's fertile ground for imagination.)
Last edited by ScottyMcGee on Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: My Particular Relationship With Religion

#49

Post by Marilink » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:43 pm

Sorry to hear about Ryan and Tim, Scotty. I wish they would have taken the time to talk with you instead of cut & run at the first sign of dissension.

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