Firstly, thank you to the people who replied to last night's blog and made suggestions on potential topics. Nice to know some people are reading :-) Tonight's topic comes courtesy of Kris, who sagely suggested that having done sex and politics, I should probably cover religion. So, here you go. Let's start with my religious credentials. I was raised Catholic, the youngest of 6 boys. I attended a Catholic primary school, intermediate and secondary school, and was Baptized, had my First Communion and was Confirmed. So, I guess you could say I had a religious upbringing. However, I should also note, it was not a particularly strict upbringing, with my parents happy to let me decide whether I wanted to attend Church from around the age of 11.
Around the age of 12, I pretty much decided religion was not for me. This was ironically shortly after my Confirmation. It ceased to make sense to me, and the things I was being told and taught, did not seem logical, fair, reasonable and in some cases even plausible. It was also about this time I entered puberty and this just increased my distance from religion and certainly religious Dogma.
Through out my 20's and 30's I hardly went near a church and it was only the occasional wedding or funeral that saw me darken a church's doors. Being in one (especially Catholic) was interesting, as I knew the drill and the words, but had no association with the meaning anymore. In some ways I enjoyed it, being able to stand back and observe what was going on with an understanding but no emotional or spiritual attachment.
So these days, now just turned (ahem) 40, I consider myself to be atheist and will likely be this way for the rest of my life. I cannot find a reason to believe or even want to and am happy with the notion that we are born, live and die, and that is enough.
I've had my first real challenge of this concept over the past 5 years with the passing of both my parents. This was an interesting time for me, as I had to deal with the concept of them being gone and not having an afterlife to look forward to seeing them in. I am happy to report, that I am still comfortable with this concept. I watched them grow old and suffer, and I had a real sense that their time was done and that there was nothing more to happen. This, of course, is all the more ironic as their faith helped them in their final years.
So what is the point of this post? I guess the point is I don't believe in a God or an afterlife. When I was younger and more arrogant, I used to look down on those who did, but know I understand we each need to find our own way and our own beliefs. What does make me sad, is the way wars are fought because of religion. People murdered because of religion. Men and women suppressed in the name of religion. Organized religion seems to me to be a means of controlling people and society more than anything else, and little to do with real spirituality.
All this said, I do feel richer for my upbringing. There are many things I understand the concepts of and pieces of history I know, due to my Catholic experiences. Also, I have several great lines I like to use for my amusement. Among them...."If it was good enough for Jesus to be a Catholic, it is good enough for me" and "Anglicanism is just Catholicism with the hard bits taken out".
So in conclusion, I guess I am richer for all my life experiences and my religious upbringing is certainly a part of that. However, I am a confirmed atheist, religions' meaning for me is in my past, not in how I interact with the world and what I believe.