This blog is my personal view of religion and spirituality through my own experiences and opinions. They are not to be taken as hardcore facts, but observations. (in the case of religion I will focus on Catholicism since that is my only personal experience with religion)
Raised as a Catholic and emerging as a spiritualist (or what I call myself “being of faith”, sometimes agnostic) was a journey throughout my childhood and beginning of my adult life. As a child I was immersed in Catholic teachings, raised in Catholic School education since pre-school, and attended the local Catholic Church. I was taught, both in school and at Church, that God was something to fear and love. I wanted to love God since this would make my mother, teachers, and priests happy, but I fell short. I believe I have always been a skeptic, being hardwired to need physical proof and to view it with my own eyes. I have never been given proof beyond a reasonable doubt for the existence of the religious God. I say religious God because there is a difference between that God and a God for spirituality.
I slowly became more spiritual in my beliefs once I gained confidence in myself. When I turned 13 or 14 (I cannot perfectly) I no longer attended services at Church because I could no longer force myself to believe something I cannot. Since then, I have attended Church during family ceremonies and the occasional holiday. My core beliefs about God is that he/she/it is something our minds cannot fathom to understand and the abilities attributed to him were created by those who did not understand the world and its changefulness. Floods, disease, death, geological occurrences, and time itself, among many things, have all been attributed to God when in fact they are scientifically proven they do not. I was taught the creation story, which I no longer believe. In turn I have more confidence in the Big Bang Theory. I was also taught the fire and brimstone version religious version of hell and I believe in the idea that we do not know what comes after death. We make ourselves feel better about passing on through the creation of ideas that no one can prove. In my opinion, no one knows what comes next except those who have already died.
For me, the above are just a few issues I have with the blind following religion. I will continue with my own thoughts on the differences between religion and spirituality now that you know my background on these matters.
In my opinion, religion can be an absolutist ideal that blinds people to facts because they want to believe in something far greater than ourselves so we are not alone. God must be both out of reach because of his greatness, but also close at hand because of love. For myself, I believe, through my own faith, in the great entity (called God), that it may or may not exist, but if it does, it keeps a close watch over us. I do not think we will ever truly know for sure. In religion, it is their beliefs and no one else’s that is important. Criticism, judgments, and assumptions are prevalent against those who do not follow a religion’s devout beliefs. This is proven throughout history, especially with the three world religions, that often war and death has its basis in religious ideals and religious political dramas.
Personally, I desire to think outside the box and form my own opinions without being told what to believe. We have this capability and let’s use it. I think religious communities that bring people together is a great way to communicate and create relationships with others and God. For myself, I prefer solitude and not having to sit inside a building to gain a connection to God.
In spirituality, one can talk directly to God, but in religion many times you have to communicate and confess to a priest or religious authority, teaching us that God is not connected to us personally, but only to the priests/religious authorities. I always felt the separation and disagreed with it. For religion, one has to follow strict doctrines and dogmas that tell you how, what, who, and why to believe something. I cannot have such ideas taught to me because it is limiting. I need the ability to be open in how and what I believe, to feel free and not held down by institutions.
In conclusion, these are only a few of my beliefs, which many will either agree or disagree. Since many of my family are still religious, I still partially participate with them. Though this seems random and different from my own beliefs, I will raise my children in the Catholic faith till they are of age to make their own decisions concerning their beliefs, be they more liberal or more conservative than my own. I decided this because although my own beliefs are different from the church, I still feel that the community and relationships it provides is a great learning experience. I applaud people’s ability to believe in something greater than ourselves and to openly accept religious institutions for their own beliefs; this route is just not my own.