« Student Works for Villagers’ Right to Sustainable Culture in Thailand | Main | Sight Seen »

Non-believer?

cal.jpg If someone like me with a logical and skeptical mind can believe in the afterlife, there might be something to it. As a child in Catechism Class – where I was forced to memorize and recite a litany of questions and answers that began with ‘WHO MADE YOU? GOD MADE ME’ – I thought Eve being made from Adam’s rib was more fanciful than the Hans Christian Anderson fairytales I loved.

I’m not convinced that we exist after death but I act like I believe it. I feel there are other dimensions at play, that energy can be transformed but not destroyed, that the night sky isn’t flat and the stars don’t just stop at the edge of our reality. I believe there is more going on than what we can see. But I prepare for the worst. There is no after life. Our lives just stop. But believing that our lives just stop, makes about as much sense to me as Eve coming from Adam’s rib.

As a child being raised Catholic, I was relieved when the priest and my Sunday School teachers talked about the SOUL. That explained it. I knew I had one. As a child I could easily feel the magical part of myself. Watching my brother Danny die in 2001, I knew there was nothing wrong with his soul. His spirit inhabited his failing body like a bright light till the end. When he stopped breathing and his body was an empty shell, I wondered where it went.

Today the words of Lao Tzu, the Transcendentalists and the science of Quantum Physics resonate with me in a way that church never has. So much of religion seems to be about semantics. I don’t believe in a personal God, a great man in the sky that rewards and punishes. But I do believe in a divine whole, a wondrous alignment that everything is a part of. I don’t believe we need the threat of sin and hell to force us to goodness. I believe our goodness is innate. Why else would I cry when I see others lose their loved ones or rejoice with emotion when they become their best selves.

I’m not much of a joiner. Most every group I’ve been in eventually feels confining. If I was forced to go to church I’d probably go to Quaker service, where they sit in silence to worship, speaking only when an authentic urge arises. But even conforming to that seems like it would be an effort that when the novelty wore off wouldn’t feel natural to me.

I don’t pray the way I was taught to as a child. My prayer is contemplation, time in nature, solitude, and creativity. I don’t go to church like I don’t go to the gym. I go out into the paradise of my own backyard to jump on my trampoline for exercise and to praise the living spirit in everything.

Comments

Hey Colleen - NetChick sent me today. This was an interesting post. I was raised Catholic too. I am now a lapsed (or reformed, lol) Catholic - I consider myself just a Christ-follower. I recently did a study on a book called One Minute After You Die, and it was interesting to think about what happens when you die. One thing we discussed was a study about how someone's weight was measured as he was dying...and at the precise moment of his death, he lost 3/4 of an ounce...we considered whether this might be his soul/spirit leaving his physical body. Something interesting to consider!

Hi Colleen,

Like you, I was raised a Catholic, but unlike you, I never had a problem with accepting what I was taught to believe. I have always felt the presence of God in my life and always turn to him in thanks and for forgiveness. I'm not trying to preach, I'm merely saying that it has just never struck me to look at things in a different way. I firmly believe that there IS an afterlife - I feel certain our souls will all be reunited with our loved ones when we die and I believe that though goodness can be innate, it is also a choice and so the same can be said for evil.
I am not never confused, or waylaid on my faith-course, but it is not breakable. I'm not sure what makes it that way for me and not for someone else, but perhaps it's down to my father's inculcation of his own faith, in me.

Kat

The garden and the country-side are my churches too. I have always believed in a higher being and believe in prayer and nothing in my long life has deterred from this. I love the thought of my soul rising up from my body after death and to be free! And hopefully to be with loved ones. Incidentally I was brought up a Unitarian with my Irish grandma feeding me Catholic dogma on the quiet. Bless her I still have her crucifix.
Nearly forgot - Net Chick sent me.

You have said well much of how I feel. I think we are the threads in a giant tapestry and only by staying aligned do we make a beautiful image. I read an article about Obama's mention of the non-believers in his inauguration speech and the author of the article felt that term non-believer misrepresented the non-religious. I think that is true.

A large part of how my Irish Catholic father was taught Catholicism by way of his Irish born mother was through fear. The stories of what happens if you sin were like some of the worst scary ghost stories. My siblings and I weren't subjected to that, in part because my mother was a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism in order to marry my father.

Kat, I think what we are talking about (God/Divine Presence) is the same thing but that we are using different language and maybe looking from slightly different angles. Words are limiting. Seeing is believing but feelings are the truth, so said Thomas Fuller.

Funny Tabor, I too was unhappy with Obama's use of the word "non-believer" for those who don't practice organized religion but this post was taken from notes written well before that.

As you know, I have dabbled in New Age dogma, was raised Methodist and have also dabbled in Catholicism and non-denominational churches. I prefer to take a little from each of them, but I am also turned off by most organized religions.

Genesis 1:26-27
God said, "Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness,

And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle,
and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth"

God created man in his own image.
In God's image he created him,
male and female he created them

Genesis 2:7
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul

Job 33:4
The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty has given me life

Psalm 100:3
Know that the LORD, he is God.
It is he who has made us and we are his.
We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 139:13-18
For you created my inmost being,
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to [a] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.

Ecclesiasted 12:7
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it

Isaiah 44:24
This the LORD says, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:

“ I am the LORD who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself

Isaiah 64:8
But now LORD, you are our Father,
we are the clay and you our potter,
and we all are the work of your hand

Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed you in the belly I knew you
and before you came forth out of the womb
I sanctified you, I have appointed you a prophet to the nations

2 Corithians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens

Hebrews 2:6-8
“ What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?

You have made him a little lower than the angels,
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.

You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”

John 1:3
All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Romans 1:20
For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen,

being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and Godhead

Revelation 4:11
"You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created."

Colleen....Beautiful thoughtful deep post. I am with you ALL the way in this post, and most particulkarly in that last paragraph. There are ALL sorts of ways to "worship" and if there is a "GOD" it is in Narure. I cannot see the plants, flowers, birds, bees, etc, without knowing there is something greater than myself and outside of myself, that inspires---that puts me in a state of Awesomeness.
As to death and The Spirit: Having seen a number of people and animals die, you can almost see the 'spirit' leave, in a strange difficult-to-explain, way....The body---the Vessal(?) is still there, but the true life has gone out of it. I saw it with two of my cats so very very clearly....They both were in my arms and had been there for quite a long time.....and my face was not even two feet from either of them. At the end....and I knew it was the end----that whatever it is, was gone out of their little bodies. They each died "natural" deaths---I mean, I didn't have to put them to sleep with some shot. They each just 'gave out'....One was 17 1/2 and one was 20 1/2...
I saw it when my mother died, too.....and at leasst one other person. Where does that energy go? I don't know. But I know it isn't there anymore.
Creativity is a very spiritual thing...The act of creating, can be a religeous experience, sometimes, I think and There is 'God' in that, to me.
Like I said---this is all very thought provoking

I share your views, Colleen--and I was raised Methodist. I suspect the great metaphors of scripture became reality in the minds of some folks along the way and it's been all down hill for humanity since because in the process we placed our goodness in the hands of the Big Guy in the Sky and his minions. That's too bad. We made ourselves victims of circumstance.

I take my daughter to the Episcopal church in the hopes that she will hear the stories and make of them what she will. I guide her straight away from the idea that she is fallen from grace and worthless but wasn't she lucky Jesus came along. (I resent the Christianity that teaches our worthlessness, our undeserving natures. So self-destructive--unlike Taoism, Buddhism....)

my path has been winding, full of pitfalls and great hazards, but I ended up here, with family at this moment. Of all the thanks I send up to the Father, my enjoyment of the family he made for me is the happiest. I appreciate that you opened this discussion.
Today's post celebrates my love for fresh baked bread ( by me).

Hi Colleen. Netchick sent me over here today. I'm so glad she did. I've learned so much more about you this time around. I share many of your views.

I was brought up in a traditional Reform Jewish home. We celebrated all the "big" holidays, kept a Kosher kitchen, and went to Temple most Friday nights. I believe in SOMETHING. This universe is so big, beautiful and powerful, that I just KNOW there is something out there. To me, that is GOD, and that is what I pray to. I don't need to sit in a building with other people reciting printed prayers in order to feel it. I experience God when I go outside and look at the sky, or walk my dog in the park and see her play. Or play my music and see people forgetting their daily problems because of something I played or sang.

As I grew up, I began to reject "organized" religion. I'm not RELIGIOUS in a "traditional" sense, but I feel like I am a "RELIGIOUS" person. Some might even call me a NON-BELIEVER! I feel that most of the wars and disagreements in the world are brought on by groups of people who use their religion in the name of getting what they want. Unfortunately, too often, especially in parts of our own country, I hear people referred to as "NON-BELIEVERS" if they don't except Christ as their personal saviour. I like to think that GOD is inside of us and all around us, but to each his own. I just wish people could all just get along!

Thanks for giving me something to think about today, Colleen. Come by if you get a chance. Have a great weekend.

Your post echos alot of what I have come to feel over the years. I have often said, I was a recovering Catholic lol. Over the years I have educated myself on more then a few different religions to come away with the opinion that organized religion is not for me...man made rules , made to control, and TELL ppl how to worship or believe. Often, contradicting or munipulating the bible* as they see fit. Hypocracy rains more often then not.
I think there is something bigger then us, What it is, I don't know, is it faith, left over from growing up Catholic? That I don't know either...I just choose to pray, by thoughts and hopes and wishes about others, sending them positive thoughts when needed. At the end of the day, if there is a god...I think what it wants from us is to be good human beings. KNow right from wrong, try to help others ,be kind...All the crap about eternal damnation if we don't belong to SAID religion is 9&%$^&* as far as I am concerned lol.
Anyway, your post was thought provoking, I enjoyed it thank you!

Well said. What a great thing to read as I head into a yoga session!

I brought up this point from your post the other night during dinner. I had asked Martin about the Billy Graham special I found him watching the other night and we both really like him, not his son much. He spoke with so much passion and you know he believes everything he is saying. He isn't too scolding but he is warning. He speaks a powerful message and not one of hate. I understand Obama using that term because you aren't really an atheist but you don't follow any religion to speak. In church when we use the term non-believer of course we are referring to anyone who does not believe in Christ.

The thing that bothers me with churches and all the problems they have now is that they turn people away from God period with so much hypocrisy and hate. I am not one that believes that Jews or other religions will go to hell. I do not understand it all but I don't feel I am to judge other religions. The one thing I like about Blogging best is getting to know other ways before I pass any judgement. That said though I am a girl who truly believes that Christ died for my sins. That Christ came to show us not to hate. Not to be proud. To live for others. To sacrifice. I don't feel I should judge any group there before me or who worships God differently. But I do believe in hell and I don't believe that every good person makes it to heaven. God is in all things. He is seen in all things. I know of too many miracles to not believe that he exists. I think people make a mistake in thinking that asking Jesus into your heart changes everything at once. We are human and never perfect. But I do believe if you ask him in a child like faith he does enter and never leaves though you may leave him. I heard once when in doubt call upon his name 3 times and feel him in your heart. I am one who believes our links to the spirit is in us not in any organization. There have been moments when to think of him clinches my heart and I just cry.

Sorry this doesn't make much sense. I am not good with describing my faith. I am not a Bible verse girl or thumper. But I am a believer. I read a very interesting article the other day that terminally ill people who believe and are strong in their faiths do much better at surviving or they die in peace versus those that believe God is angry with them, punishing them, or just don't believe in anything. Whether real or not, faith I think is what drives us. So many times in my life when things went so wrong and so badly it was only that little spark of faith that brought me back. When I learned to truly believe and let the past go...to rid myself of guilt and live freely only then was I truly able to love others and see the message I think God had been trying to send all along. While like you I see more in nature than people I do believe with all my heart that he is there. Nothing so wonderful was created by accident. In fact I don't believe there are any accidents or coincidences. Everything follows a plan that we can never understand on this earth. If I did not believe that there was life after this, that I would be reunited with loved ones again...then I think my life would be quite sad.

I sometimes envy the faith of others. It would probably be easier and more comforting for me if I believed all I was taught as a Catholic. But I also love a mystery and contemplating, inquiring, and figuring things out, and I think, for me, that makes me a better person. I want to experience my spirituality first hand and put it in my own words. My mind is logical but my heart is also open.

I think the teachings of Jesus are the most revolutionary and powerful truths out there. I believe that what we sow, we reap and that we have to learn to love our enemies. I think all too often people worship the messenger instead of the message and I believe the teachings of Jesus are filtered through the institution of the church, in the case of the Catholic church, a very powerful power structure.

I believe the Bible can be understood on different levels other than literal. I think the death of Jesus created grace but that I am responsible for my own sins. If you replace the word Jesus for Love or Divine Light, I think most of us can feel that power whether it is considered religious or not. That's what I mean about religion being so much about language semantics. We can be talking about the same experience but wording it differently. I need to find my own experience and words to describe it. I don't think organized religion has a monopoly on spirituality (experiencing what is holy).

I also accept that a mystery is not meant to be figured out. I read a comment recently by a Unitarian minister "If faith ever brings you to the level of certainty, it ceases to be faith." I think absolutes in religion get us in trouble, whether it be Islamic or Christian absolutes.

Thanks for sharing, Deana. I do appreciate you and respect your views!

I believe we are part of the same soul group. ;-) I have pretty much come to the same place as you, except I came from a Baptist background.

Have you ever been to a Universalist church? I prefer to just "worship" in nature, but have been thinking about visiting one.

Susan

I went to Unity for a while when my sons were babies. I haven't been to a Unitarian Universalist service but it would likely be a good match up if I ever felt the need. xo

I had to come back to see the other discussions. I can completely understand your views and feel similiar to a point. There is so much unexplained. And you are so right in that we all need to keep questioning and rethinking. Having faith doesn't mean not looking for answers or wondering. I agree it would be awfully stale and people become too self righteous when that happens and that is one characteristic I cannot take.
I differ from the evangelicals because I don't think the Bible is a literal truth. I think a lot of it is a guide. Some are almost fables. I am shocked when I still meet people who think the world was actually created in 7 days and they don't believe it is over a few thousand years old. They don't believe in dinosaurs. How crazy is that?
I do think a lot of what Jesus tried to show us he thought we'd have enough common sense to figure out yet people keep picking and choosing. Even if he weren't the chosen one he gives good lessons to practice. You'll find to the horror of other church goers I pretty much rule out what the apostles say and listen only to his words. To me they are men and men always have agendas or prejudices. I also believe, or know, that a whole lot of truth was left out of the Bible to keep power in the churches and with men. I think women were meant to have way more rights and were a much bigger part of Christ's life and God's message and men hide that by leaving certain books and letters out.

But I agree with you that a whole lot of it no matter what religion you practice is getting what you gave. Maybe in the end that is all that there is for any of us.

I'm reading a book right now "Goddesses in Older Women" that deals with how women were marginalized in the Bible, in Greek myths and so on. At one time it wasn't like that. The references to the pre-history Goddess religions and the gnostic gospels discovered this century in Nag Hammadi Egypt are fascinating.

I feel that I am more spiritual than religious. I too believe that our earthly lives are mere stepping stones in our universal lifetimes.

Post a comment