View Full Version : When did you find your religion
01-03-2001, 09:51 AM
Just curious at what age you identified with the belief system you currently follow.
Were you baptized into the Catholic church as an infant and continue to follow that faith? Did you realize it made sense to you at some particular time?
Did you spend years searching before realizing you were a Buddhist at heart?
Did you become an atheist directly after rebelling against your "family" faith, or after a comprehensive search of other faith systems?
Underlying this questions:
Do you think religious awareness occurs most lastingly at some stage of life?
Does infant baptism "take"?
Have most folk here practiced one "religion" throughout their entire lives?
Have you tried to see if others suited you better?
Do you anticipate doing so in the furure?
Me, baptized Catholic, realized I did not believe Catholicism while in grade school, figured out I was atheist in high school/college, and realized my beliefs fit in at a UU church in my 30s. Never took formal comparative religion classes, but did some (not incredibly extensive) reading on my own, mainly after college.
01-03-2001, 10:00 AM
Well.... this is an interesting qiestion with me.
I was raised Jewish. I actually had my bat mitzvah (I THINK that's how you spell it). I went through years of "Hebrew School" (Learned not a single thing, except how to escape getting hanged....)
After that, I tried many different religions. I tried any religion that a friend believed in, and a few that nobody's ever heard of. I've tried religions from book, in fact, one in particular that I still kinda use.
But my main religion now, and for the past two years, is Wicca. I found that Wicca is the one faith that I can actually understand in a way that applies to my life.
A few of my friends also join me in my belief, which is great, but there are still a lot of people who are very against us just because of what we believe. It's not the "easy way out" people think it is, and it's very fulfilling, to me.
01-03-2001, 10:00 AM
Baptized as an infant into the Roman Catholic Church.
Also 'practiced' Orthodox beliefs (Mom was Russian Orthodox, converted to RCC to marry dad, but we still celebrated Christmas, Easter, etc., two weeks later with mom's relatives.
Severe test of faith in Mass one Sunday (still in grade school) with the line "Wives, be subserviant to your husbands." What the...? Nuh uh, no way, ain't going there. Almost lost any interest in getting married at that point (got it back later when I realized the world had more that RCC-RO people in it - we lived in a very tight-knit community).
Became a closted agnostic at that point (would probably have been beaten for professing anything other than community standards).
Became open agnostic/free-lancer (explored other faiths) in college.
Still haven't found what I'm looking for.
01-03-2001, 10:16 AM
Baptized a Catholic, raised by very casual Catholic parents. As an adult, I participate much more in the church than my parents do.
I never had a big crisis of faith. I have always been interested in other religions and have enjoyed learning about them because I am curious, but not so much because I am shopping around for a new one.
01-03-2001, 10:18 AM
I am Jewish, though I consider more of my heritage than my religion. I grew up celebrating Christmas (one year my mother and I put a Star of David as the topper to our Christmas tree), hunting for Easter eggs and eating bacon cheeseburgers. So, not your typical Jewish upbringing.
I didn't have a Baht(?sp) Mitvah, went to Hebrew school for only one year in grade school (last thing I wanted was twice the homework), I've been to temple for the High Holidays once, been to mass a few times, went to a Baptist service and a Christian Scientist once. I haven't been exposed to any of the "Eastern" religions.
I'm really not one for organised religions, I just don't seem them as being a Good Thing. It seems they are more about power and control than being a good person and following whichever faith. I am not sure my own beliefs have a definition, I believe there is something, but wouldn't call that something "God", I do believe in reincarnation and the evolution of the soul. I would have to say that all this came about when I was about 15 or 16. It wasn't really a 'crisis of faith' or anything, rather the age when I started to think about the purpose of Life.
01-03-2001, 10:21 AM
I was raised agnostic/atheist (my mom kept the family bible on the shelf with the Oz books and other fantasy) and ran into a group of people in High School who were into Young Life and other youth Christianity stuff, started going to meetings because they were cool and the girls were gorgeous, got sorta sucked into it and became what I think of as a non-demonimational Christian at age 16. Tried going to church a few times, but everybody's interpretation of the four Gospels differed from mine so I just went back, reread them, saw that what I was doing fit Jesus's guidelines, and left it at that.
01-03-2001, 10:31 AM
If any mod/administrator stumbles by and wouldn't mind tagging "religion" to the end of the thread title, I would be most appreciative.
01-03-2001, 10:44 AM
I was born and raised in a religious Jewish home. I thought of it more as a way of life, not really a religion. A culture. I had no problem identifying myself with it, but eventually, through much turmoil and strain in life, I somehow landed on learning more about eastern culture, and found myself looking for certain things in my life.
I landed on Buddhism, more specifically, Zen Buddhism, and I have been practicing for some years now, only, I have recently (within the last several months) taken up studying the Torah again, in fact, I'm reading some Maimonedies now, and I'm realizing that one doesn't really have to stray into other orchards to find the same great tasting apples.
Alas, I am comfortable with the life I've established for myself, and I see no need to change it.
01-03-2001, 11:53 AM
I was raised in a relaxed Christian family, we went to church very seldom. I gradually realised that I didn't see any need or evidence for a god, and sometime in high school realised I didn't have any need for faith in one either.
So now I'm atheist. I'm not loud about it. It would break my grandparents' hearts, so I just don't go to church with them when they invite me, over the holidays. Not exactly a don't ask-don't tell, but they haven't thought to ask, and I don't need to tell.
01-03-2001, 02:49 PM
well, my dads a preacher for the Chruch of Christ, so mom and dad took me there since I was little. I chose to be baptised (nobody forces you to. thats just wrong) when I was 9 (when I understood about sin and such). now I go all the time. its my choice to go really. my opinion about church and children is, take them. if they whine, take them. it goes the same with like showers when kids are little. sure they might hate it, but if you dont force em to do it when their little, they'll never do it when they grow up. somebody I know will find that offencive, and if you do, thats your problem. I wont go around buttering up the truth like a lot of people do. facts are facts, so dont go off about em. and to you that could care less. good for you.
01-03-2001, 05:56 PM
Originally posted by Dinsdale
Were you baptized into the Catholic church as an infant and continue to follow that faith?
Oddly enough, it was my baptism that made my parents angry with the church and they quit.
Until that point, they had sclepped along with my domineering grandmother.
But the priest went on and on how I was now dedicated to christ and the church and no longer the property of my parents, and it was up to the god parents to rescue me if they ever quit the church.
They took me home before he was done talking and never returned.
I was baptized as an infant in the Methodist church to which I now belong. My parents were both casual Protestants -- Mom raised Lutheran (Norwegian) and Dad Presbyterian, and they had us baptized Methodists as a compromise. (Mom would not attend the Presbyterian church because her loathed MIL attended there; Dad would not attend the Lutheran church because his mother -- the loathed MIL -- would have had a fit. Why, I don't know.) Note the deep religious thought going into the choice of church. :rolleyes:
I was raised, however, in the Congregational church, because the Methodist church stopped doing Sunday School and my parents were not sheparding three children under the age of four through services. (Deep religios thought about the choice of church continues.) That's the church I was confirmed in and attended throughtout high school. I attended a pretty liberal Catholic church all through college and law school, but quickly realized that while I enjoyed that church, I could never be a Catholic. When I returned from college to my hometown, I found that the church I had grown up in had hired a pastor who was so mind-numbingly boring and uninspiring as to make going to church a trial. And if it is, why bother? So I did some reading on various denominations and some "church shopping" by attending services at churches, and decided to go to the Methodist church. When I found myself becoming more interested in Methodism, I read up on it and decided it was probably the denomination best fitted to my beliefs and culture. So I joined the church as an adult.
As a moderate Christian, I never had a conversion experience -- I was never "born again." But I did as a teenager take the process of being confirmed pretty seriously. I then went through the typical late-teens period of doubt and questioning, but I have by and large been throughout my life a person of faith -- even if the contours of that faith have changed and are changing.
I have read up on (and taken classes in) most major religions. I have studied the Bible both formally and informally, as a touchstone of faith, a historical record, and a work of literature. I am a Christian by choice and a Methodist by choice, and by informed choice. Yes, I was more or less raised in the faith I hold now, but that doesn't mean that faith was not knowingly and voluntarily accepted. It probably goes a long way towards explaining why it has been the best fit for me, but my ending up where I began was by no means a foregone conclusion.
Does that answer your question?
The Asbestos Mango
01-03-2001, 07:46 PM
Actually, it found me.
I was baptized Catholic, but not raised in the Church. The only time I went to a Catholic Church was for weddings, though I attended Sunday School off and on when I was a kid, usually wherever one of my friends went, or whatever was closest, so no particular denomination.
When I was in Jr. High, my parents took it into their head that I was a bad kid and needed to be straightened out, so they sent me to a hardcore fundamentalist Baptist school. I believed their line for a while. During that time, my stepdad befriended some Mormon Missionaries, the family got the teachings, I believed and wanted to be baptized. Didn't happen, Mom wouldn't allow it.
Somewhere around the age of 18 or so, I started reflecting on what I had been taught about God in the Baptist school basically, you're born damned, and no matter how good a person you are, if you're not "saved", you go to Hell, but if you're "saved", no matter how bad a person you are, you go to Heaven. I basically had this idea that God really wants to roast the whole of humanity in everlasting fire, and that Jesus basically struck a bargain with His Dad that he would take the punishment for our sins, if He would allow the people who "accepted Jesus as their Savior" into Heaven. Thus I thought God was a capricious evil being.
I read a lot of books on a lot of other religions, including Islam, Bhuddism, the Tao, Wicca. I considered converting to Islam for a while. I tried an experiment- for three weeks, I behaved as though I were a Muslim. I wore a head scarf, and five times a day, I would point myself in the general direction of Mecca and sort of meditate about God. At the end of three weeks, I had an intense craving for pork. I ended up as a sort of self-styled Hindo-Shamanistic Bhuddist, with a twist of pagan.
But eventually, I started feeling a tug back toward the Catholic Church. But somehow it didn't fit, my personal beliefs were more Eastern. A friend suggested Greek Orthodox, which I found appealing, but never got around to checking into it.
That lasted until I moved to Vegas, and promptly got a job on a psychic hotline. Yep, I was a live psychic. About the same time, I started having a lot of conversations with a neighbor who was a believing, but not practicing Catholic. Still trying to figure that one out. He gave me a seven day candle with the prayer to St. Michael, and every night for the next few nights, I would light it and say the prayer before I logged on to the network. My readings got longer, and more accurate (not that I was bad to start with, but I hadn't had the Tarot cards out in a while before I started the job, so I was a bit, um, rusty). Which of course meant I was making more money. I had told my neighbor that I was considering checking out the Greek Orthodox Church, and he told me I should check out the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church first.
Then one night, as I was logging on, I suddenly felt this raw terror. I started shaking, crying, and I just couldn't bring my self to punch in those last few numbers to get onto the network. I was actually in fear for my immortal soul. So I hung up the phone, and got down on my knees and renounced Satan and all his works. The next day, I opened the yellow pages and found a Byzantine Catholic Church, St. Gabriel's, but it was clear on the other side of town. The pastor there told me about a Byzantie Catholic community that was closer to where I lived, using the hall of a Latin Rite church for their liturgies. The following Saturday evening, I went. There was this wedding... I found out later that the bride's mother was Greek Orthodox, so she wanted to be married in the Byzantine Rite. Neither she nor the goom were part of the congregation. So, yeah, I crashed a complete stranger's wedding. I kind of took it as an omen.
Also, the people in the congregation were so warm and welcoming, and once I'd been to the liturgy a couple of times, I was hooked. I felt that this was the way Christian worship was meant to be done. I entered the catechism program, was in and out of the Church, frequently having to go to Latin Rite churches because we didn't have our own building, and liturgy was frequently in some far flung region of the universe, and that combined with my work schedule made it difficult to make it to what, by then, I considered "my" church. But we finally got settled into our own building a little over a year ago. I was confirmed last Easter, at the age of thirty-two.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
01-03-2001, 08:26 PM
i was baptized and grew up orthodox. i'm still orthodox. i find it a good life path.
i've observed that at one time or another people will go looking for a path that will give thier life some stability. some people are able to live with a very structured path and others need a more fluid path.
01-03-2001, 09:54 PM
rocking chair, you say you are orthodox, so orthodox WHAT? Christian, Islam, Jewish? Just curious, not actually my business.
I found my religion, as opposed to my denomination, when I was given Christian baptism as an infant. I grew up in the Missouri Synod branch of Lutherans. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is VERY concervative. Women can't be ordained, act as church officers, or participate as lectors, acolytes, etc. They aren't even voting members of the congregation, although some local congregations ignore the rule.
As a young adult I started questioning the rules, and switched to another synod of Lutherans, which is known now as the ELCA(Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) Women are fully equal members of the church. Somewhat over two and a half years ago my congregation got a new pastor I couldn't get on with, which is a whole story in itself, and I tried the other two ELCA congregation in town, and nothing clicked.
So I tried attending at the nearby Episcopal cathedral, because I had received an invitation to a neighborhood gathering there not long before. I liked it a lot, and the churches are not all THAT different. In fact the ELCA and the Episcopalians have just signed an agreement that puts them in "full communion" with each other. What it boils down to is that although they are two seperate denominations they agree on major points of doctrine, can give an receive Communion in each others churches, can call a pastor/priest of the other group, and so on. I have had contact with the Episcopalians on and off for a long time. While stationed in Korea with the Army I attended an Episcopalian service held by a Protestant chaplain, becuase "regular Protestant worship" was SO bland. And another Episcopalian congregation in town(not the one I ended up joining) made me feel welcome when I, along with a number of other folks of good will, aided them in their ongoing conflict with a local hate monger, Fred Phelps. I daresay HIS name is familiar to a lot of people all over the country(he is as evil as they come, ugh)
The upshot is that I joined the Episcopalian church last June. I like the services, the local clergy is great, including the priests from the other congregations, and something our retiring Provost said when I was going to classes really sounded good. Father Terrill said "Here you don't have to check your brains at the door"
Whew! I NEVER have had such a long post before! I guess I pushed my button.
01-03-2001, 09:57 PM
If rocking chair said they were baptized I guess that makes them Christian, doesn't it? DUH!!!!!!!!! How I let that slide past the sponge that is my brain I don't know. SORRY!
OK, so Orthodox Christian of what type? (I'm probably making some other mistake here)
01-04-2001, 10:07 AM
Thank you so much, everybody, for your thoughtful responses. I think we have 14 responses, and i've organized them as follows.
-5 went from exposure to organized religion as children, to being atheist/agnostic/or otherwise no identification with organized "God-based" religion (Dinsdale, Nerd, richman, Mauvaise, screech)
-4 currently practice the same (or similar) religion they were exposed to as children (baker, rc, caesar, delphica)
-2 were exposed to one religion as children, explored various belief systems, and ended up back at (or close to) their original religion (jodi, thea)
-2 were exposed to one religion as children, explored various belief systems, and at present identify with a religion other than their original religion (soulsling, deiket)
-and 1 began as an atheist, identified with a religion for a period, and ended up an atheist again (ethilrist)
Acknowledging that the SDMB is a limited sample, I would be interested if we could get larger participation.
Any comments on my presentation of the data so far?
Suggestions for different/additional categories?
Objections to where you were placed?
Any conclusions we can draw? Hypotheticals we should explore?
One category I see absent is folks who were raised atheist, becoming lasting members of an organized religion other than UU.
01-04-2001, 10:14 AM
Originally posted by Dinsdale
and 1 began as an atheist, identified with a religion for a period, and ended up an atheist again (ethilrist)
Sorry I wasn't clear--I still consider myself a nondemoninational Christian. I don't go to church or consider myself part of an organized religion because I didn't find one that agreed with my interpretation of the New Testament.
I had an English teacher in high school who was an ordained minister; he pointed out once that he felt that organized religion was the greatest impediment to faith in our country.
01-04-2001, 11:39 AM
Sorry, ethilrist. So, are you in the category I suggested was missing? Or would you like to propose your own phrasing?
01-04-2001, 12:14 PM
I was baptized Catholic as a baby and went through the whole confession/Eucharist/confirmation thing. I went when I lived at home because my parents made me, and I resisted.
Went to college at the University of Notre Dame and was really searching there. I was very pro-choice at the time, so I wasn't even sure I wanted to be Catholic, and many of my profs said I did not have a very Catholic mindset. I read a lot of Catholic theology, though, and learned a lot.
After college I became pro-life, and from that I decided to explore my faith more deeply. Through my reading I found that I agreed with Church teaching and I was impressed by the unbroken line going back to the Apostles. I decided to stay.
I'm still not the best Catholic, but I'm where I need to be, and it's not because I was brainwashed by my family or being led around by the nose by the preist. It just all really makes sense to me.
01-04-2001, 12:27 PM
baker, don't worry, not a bad question. orthodox christian, russian flavour. usually i just say i'm orthodox, wait a beat or two and then say, no, the other kind.
01-04-2001, 12:52 PM
Well, I was 12 when my parents got divorced and it just devastated my mom. A friend of her's was very devoted/active in the Assembly of God church and we started going there. We all accepted Jesus as our Savior and continued in the AofG. We actually switched to an AofG that was closer to home and that's where I grew up. For those of you that aren't familiar with the AofGs, they are a pentacostal, evangelical Protestant denomination who believe in speaking in tongues, healing, etc. They also have a tendency to be very narrow-minded, rigidly fundamental, and "we're God's true denomination" type people.
While I was in the military, I went through a crisis of faith, so to speak. I finally realized that my decision to follow God was that: my decision. I was very zealous, legalistic, judgemental, and guilt-ridden, feeling I hadn't done and wasn't doing enough for God. I was very much one of the "if it's not Christian, than I don't want anything to do with it" crowd.
I got out of the military and came home and started back at my old church, marrying my husband there, and continuing to attend until we moved to Nashville in '95. However, before we moved, both of us had started to feel very discontented with our church in a way we couldn't put our finger on.
When we moved to Nashville, we finally found a very small (approx. 200 people - our AofG church had about 3,000!) non-denominational church that really fit the bill for us. Our pastor was SO well balanced and really tried to get deep into the Word with his messages. It wasn't the same old pap I'd been hearing all my life. What a breath of fresh air. Also, he was very much a conciliator - all denominations are part of God's plan and etc - not a "our way or the highway". I don't know if it's possible for me to tell you how much that help change the way I thought.
Now that we're back home again, I've been going through another little faith crisis: this time trying to resolve my disgust with American Christianity (in general - not Christianity itself) with what I read in the Bible. I believe the Bible and am trying to read it afresh, without the denominational slant that I've always been so used to using for its interpretation. I must attribute some of my renewed desire for accuracy to the SDMB. Meeting the people here who believe differently (or not at all! :) ) has really made me think about what I believe and why I believe it.
01-04-2001, 02:37 PM
How Shirley Is Going To Hell In A Handbasket.
Born, baptized, confirmed Catholic. 12 years of Catholic Schooling. Two great uncles were preists. My mom is an ex nun ( well, she was in for about 8 months before she bailed due to the fact that the head nun was, " No fun at all.")
I was raised in an all catholic neighborhood. I liked the community and the fact that every week it was the same faces sitting there in the same seats trying desperately to stay awake during the homily then rush out of mass to be the first in line at the IHOP. Repeat every sunday until death. There is comfort in repetition
I was taught that it was a privelege to be catholic. The line I always got (and still get) from my mother is, " Not every one is as fortunate to be Catholic." Like we get free valet parking at the mall, or something.
I will be very honest. I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't discontent with the whole church thing. The entire issue of women being baby machines and subservient lacked any appeal to me. ( If the Pope is a Man and is is infallible, then why is it that every other man on the planet is wrong wrong wrong most of the time, at least in the company of women? )Oh, and the guilt thing is another huge issue. My mother (74) is in therapy to get over this entire guilt issue thing on subjects I just cannot fathom of why she would even worry about. I must add, FTR, nuns scared the crap out of me. Shriveled up bags of meaness.
Before I was able to receive communion ( end of second grade) being forced to attend church twice a week ( once with classmates, once with family) sets your mind to wander. I coulda gotten frequent flyer miles for the journeys my brain went on during mass.
One day I remember thinking, " What about Mary? Why doesn't she get her own religion and all. All she gets is one day in May. Big deal." In my child mind I formed the Mary Society. I don't remember all the rules that I created, but it was pretty much a no-boys-allowed-on-the-altar gig. The mass would be much shorter and there would be guitar ( which was a very hippie thing then to have in the very conservative church I grew up in.)
Always interested in other faiths.What they were about. Attended a small variety of other Christian shindigs, asking questions and coming away with " WEll, it's nice for them, but it's not me."
As I know no buddist or jew, I am too reticent to attend their clambakes on my own. I like to ask alot of questions and want someone who is in the know there with me so I don't commit a faux paux. (Lately, I've been very obsessed with Judaism.)
Over the years I have come to the conclusion that I don't really beleive in Organized Religions. Too much about power, money and control. I don't really beleive in the bible, as well, considering it a nice book of parables to set examples to chilren, but for the most part, taking it to the nth degree is just hogwash, in my book. I'm too spiritual to subscribe to being an atheist.
However, I would like my children to get the basics of something because I beleive it to be a good foundation. This leads me to think I am a huge hypocrite because I don't actually proscribe to this anymore.
Married a very relaxed german Lutheran ( in a Catholic church to keep my mother from crying. Haven't been back since. Oh, the things you do for money.) His family goes to church twice a year, and that is pretty much it. I could live with that, maybe more, even though I'm more of an Eastern Religion kinda person at heart. Kids are baptized Lutherans. Haven't been back for a service since the dunking. ( The pastor is really nice and always remembers us. If we didn't live 30 miles away, we'd probably attend more.)
I am the rebel in the family. Out of scads of cousins (26, were catholic, remember?), I am the only one who doesn't go to church. They can't understand why I don't just go and I cannot understand why they follow something unconditionally and don't really get anything out of it. My cousins accept me for me.
My mother, however, is another story. Apparently, I'm not allowed to have my own opinions regarding religion. ( "Once a Catholic, always a catholic." Is her view to which I cannot come up with a suitable glib reply to knock her socks off with.)
Prior to kids, I took great comfort in meditation and yoga. Yoga is not a religion, but for me it was a great comfort. It stilled my mind and gave me clarity that I never received in all my years at Our Lady Of Perpetual Guilt.
Then I have children and am very isolated from the world. Meditation is not working at this stage because I have just me and my thougths rattling around in my skull all day. I don't need to calm down my inner self, I need to kick start it because I feel it dying inside with the monotony of domestic drudgery.
So, I am at a cross roads.
There you have it.
01-04-2001, 02:44 PM
raised very charismatic, dancing in the aisles, speaking in tongues, christian. went to christian schools and christian college. my parents are very involved in the church, and growing up so was i. about a year ago, when i was 24, i decided it wasnt for me. it was quite a blow to the folks, but they are adapting and still love me. now i am in an indecisive state. i'm not willing to trust myself with a decision that supposidly affects me eternally.
01-04-2001, 02:56 PM
I would say my category is "raised in a religion-free family, joined religious group in high school, found religion instead of girlfriends..."
01-04-2001, 03:57 PM
I was raised as a Methodist; went to Sunday School and church every week, and basically went along with the whole thing until my teen years. I certainly didn't accept everything I was taught unquestioningly, but most of the ministers and congregations I was exposed to were not particularly dogmatic and were fairly liberal and accepting. As a teen, I idolized the minister at our church; he was young (not above 30), had grown up in the Bay Area (we there then in Fayetteville, AR), had graduate degrees in Asian culture, which I'd developed an interest in, had a great collection of 60s and 70s rock music, and was generally a great guy. I was so taken with him and his ability to integrate Eastern religion with Christianity that I seriously considered the ministry as a career. I spent a lot more time reading D.T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture and the Tao Te Ching than the Bible, but at the time it all seemed to fit together.
By the time I graduated from high school, however, we'd moved to a smaller town and I'd become very disillusioned with how close-minded and mean-spirited most of the people at our new church were. I went through the usual period of college agnosticism, and spent very little thought on religion for most of my twenties.
After I met and dated a Jewish woman for several years, we finally decided that her religion need not be an insuperable obstacle and got engaged. She made clear her intention to raise any children we might have as Jews; having no attachment to any religion myself, that sounded fine to me, but I felt that I needed to understand fully what I was agreeing to. I was fortunate that the Atlanta Rabbinical Association had just initiated an introduction to Judaism collective course for prospective converts and others interested in Judaism. The more I learned, the more I realized how closely my personal values aligned with those emphasized in Judaism. I don't think it's accidental that after leaving Arkansas, where I encountered no more than a half-dozen Jews in my twenty-two years there, I found myself drawn to many of the Jews I met in Atlanta -- my wife, my best friend from grad school, several other students in the grad program, co-workers at my first post-grad school job, etc. Even though many of these were non-observant and even agnostic or atheist, there was something about the way of looking at the world and dealing with other people that I found very congenial and comfortable. After completing the course, I entered into a program of meeting weekly with a local rabbi to continue my study of Judaism, and eventually reached a decision to convert.
I haven't had cause to regret that decision so far. I won't claim to be that observant yet, but I'm working on it, and I deeply value the framework for decisions about how to live my life that Judaism provides.
01-04-2001, 06:33 PM
My great-aunt was a nun for more than 50 years (I went to her “golden wedding anniversary” celebration), mom was baptized and confirmed by Pope John Paul I (before he was Pope, natch) and another aunt’s extremely close family priest was Padre Pio, who I believe has been canonized and is now a saint. So, I was obviously baptized Catholic. However, mom then had a falling out with the RCC so I occasionally went to (Catholic) church but never studied the catechism or anything.
In about kindergarten we moved next door to a Baptist church and that’s when I turned Baptist – got “saved” at about 7 or 8, baptized at about 12, and totally and completely believed that God lived up in the clouds and knew everything we were doing, created the world, heard our prayers, etc. Then at about 15 I started to wonder what kind of a god would allow horrible things to happen to innocent people and what kind of god would allow there to be so many atrocities committed in this god’s name. I also had been told that every single person in the world has a chance to be “saved” (i.e., even the most remote Amazonian village will have a missionary visit them) and if they don’t avail themselves of the opportunity, they will burn for all eternity. I realized that that is a crock (what about all the other religions? Are they all damned to hell?), not to mention logistically impossible, and I came to believe that religion is something mankind invented in order to feel better about all the bad things that happen. I am now a complete and unabashed atheist.
I do think that religion has an important purpose and adds something very meaningful to many persons' lives - I just don't believe any of it. I believe that there was a man called Jesus but not that he is some eternal being watching over us. But I don't begrudge anyone their own beliefs and wouldn't try and talk someone over to "my side."
01-04-2001, 07:06 PM
I was raised an environmental-fundamentalist.
Yeah, you can laugh all you want. But I was raised in a religion where "sin" was anything you did for your own pleasure that spoiled the environment. Like buying stuff you didn't really need but were tempted to buy by Evil Advertising. People who took an aeroplane to their sunny vacation were sinners (the kerosine of that one flight, equals one year of house-heating!- yes, I knew my catechismus, too). I was guilty of using 30 times the energy and food of a child in Angola, Africa. And there was no way I could erase that guilt. Not even if I sorted my garbage (old paper separate, glass separate) for the rest of my life. Eating meat was another sin, killing animals for my own pleasure. Animals kept in a farm under terrible circumstances.
I had the duty to keep myself informed on the government crimes of every unfree country in the world. And do something about it, if I could. If I could do nothing, I still had to read the papers an watch the news and look grim.
Now, I never realised this was a religion. I just thougt my parent were right. I still agree on the meat-eating, but recently (I'm 32) I'm starting to rebel. If I had any children now, I certainly wouldn't raise them the same way!
I have turned away from this religion mainly because I saw it was just that: dogmatic, and inefficient, where my current goal is happiness.
The Asbestos Mango
01-04-2001, 07:43 PM
[risk of hypocrisy by deviating from my fondness for completely unscientific anecdotal evidence]Dinsale, you are right, this is highly, um, shall I say, self-selected sample. Given the fact the the crowd here at the SDMB is generally a highly thoughtful, intelligent bunch, and the people who posted to this thread have actually given a lot of thought why they believe what they believe, you really aren't getting a broad spectrum of religious thought and belief. I suggest you compose a survey (I'll help, since I have some experience in market research) and send it to every e-mail address in the known universe. I'll bet you will find the average American, or other countryan, doesn't put much thought into their beliefs. They just sort of go to a house of worship of the faith/denomination they were raised in, or they don't go to church because it's boring and they'd rather watch football, or they ditched the religion because they were deeply hurt by some religious authority figure without some examination of whether they still believed the actual teachings of the faith (we lose a lot of Catholics this way).[/risk of hypocrisy by deviating from my fondness for completely unscientific anecdotal evidence]
01-04-2001, 08:57 PM
I would like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who actually slogged through the above Thelogical Intangent entitled:WTF WAS THAT? By Me.
( I was on a deadline and damn, is that a mess.)
No wonder I can't decide on one religion, I can't even think straight. I can be more coherent. Really. I just can't remember when was the last time.
Society is to blame.
01-04-2001, 11:41 PM
Raised by a devout Catholic father and a non-denominational mother. Baptised as an infant - enjoyed the sunday school classes, didn't much care for the Mass until about 3rd grade when we had a priest who could do it all in about 35 minutes. Forced to attend Mass every Sunday, even though mom got to stay at home and risk her eternal soul. Attended a couple of other churches such as Church of Christ with friends while I was in my teens - found them too unstructured for my tastes. In college, started taking philosophy and reading up on the sciences (mainly evolutionary biology, cosmology, quantum physics, from a layman's perspective)... went through a period of great doubt as I was beginning to realize that the only reason I believe in God was because I was told I should. To this day, I can't think of any good reason why I should believe.
Throughout college, I went back and forth - sometimes away from the church - sometimes at the student mass, because I enjoyed the sense of community and playing Sardines out on campus. Towards my senior year I began to realize I was an atheist at heart and have pretty much been that way ever since.
Although, as Ogre can probably tell you, I'm becoming more militant about it in my old age.
01-05-2001, 07:37 AM
Society is to blame.
::sigh:: Isn't it always? ;)
01-05-2001, 09:20 AM
Thea Didn't you mean to tell us that one time you worked in a factory with a guy who gambled on Sunday and ...
I tend to agree with your latest comment. And I suggest that that sort of belief contributes significantly towards the negative attitudes many atheists/agnostics have for many believers. I personally have nothing against someone who follows certain beliefs and attends a certain house of worship if that is the result of an intentional examination and choice. What really used to burn me (until I got numbed by the repetition with which it happened) was people who looked down on me for my well thought out disbelief, when they acted in a way inconsistent with their professed belief, or expressed ignorance of basic principles of their "chosen" church. It used to surprise me when ignorant people felt so free to openly criticize and insult my beliefs, when basic decency prevented me from reciprocating.
Unfortunately for you, I believe you are in the minority of the "majority" of Americans who are "believers."
Shirley I found your response enlightening and entertaining. Perhaps you should think even less before posting in the future (as if that were possible!)
I am pleased that both believers and non-believers have responded. I hope a few more do. Thanks.
01-05-2001, 10:32 AM
Born Jewish and thus I remain, but in a traditional sense only. As a kid we celebrated the high holidays but only to acknowledge their importance to the jewish people rather than their religious relevance.
Still celebrate the high holidays with family and kids but in a very non religious way. We don't go to synagogue and don't practice prayer.
As for religion, I tripped over it once in my late teens when it fell off the shelf of my closet. I picked it up and put it back on the shelf for a while. Then I droped it off with some clothes I was no longer wearing at a Salvation Army center. I hope somebody has put it to good use. I certainly have't found a need for it.
01-05-2001, 12:56 PM
The child of a nominally Presbyterian mother and even more nominally Jewish father, I was baptized and confirmed Presbyterian. But even by confirmation-age, I'd pretty much concluded that I didn't really have a very good idea of why anyone should care about whether Christianity was true. It wasn't that I believed or disbelieved; I just didn't see what it had to do with anything.
Then at sixteen, I found the Lord (although it was more like Him finding me - I certainly hadn't been looking). Thirty years later, I still consider myself a born-again Christian. (I seem to be an Episcopo-Lutheran these years, but that's more a matter of preferred flavor than anything else - I like liturgical worship.)
Dinsdale, I wouldn't put me in the category of someone who wound up back near where he started - to me, the religion of my childhood and the faith of my adulthood are essentially unrelated. The one was a formal belief system that had to do with some ancient history; the other was, and is (at least, as I experience it), a living relationship with a very living God. That they both happen to be called 'Christianity' is, for me, incidental.
01-05-2001, 08:15 PM
I was born in a Catholic hospital, by a Jewish doctor, in LA. Pretty much sets the tone...
I was raised pretty much without any traditional religious beliefs. My parents were scientists: when pressed, my stepdad would register as agnostic. He was raised Mormon, and did the early bicycle thing, thought about becoming more esconsced with the Church, but then left it for Cornell and greater icthyological exploration.
Mom was kind of raised with Christian Science, but it was a peculiar Southern California brand. My theory is that it was the predecessor to the current panoply of So. Cal. New Age philosophy, yet with enough Christian principle to satisfy 50's minds, like my grandmother. I did go to Sunday school in that church, and what I recall most is that we were encouraged to ask questions and talk about spiritual matters. Our teacher, Mrs. Brown, was an artist, and encouraged us to paint what we felt. OK by my six year old self!
After that, I never attended a church. My formative Sundays were most often spent in the field with my parents. From that I learned an appreciation of the natural world, and my catechism was the Latin names of plants and critters.
A curious thing, spiritually, is that I've always had an alliance with Catholics. Surrounded in NY and ME, Italian & French, and certainly absorbed a lot by friends. I particularly remember one day in Jr. high when I said I had not been baptised. The horror reaction, and subsequent ostracizication, in a small town Catholic atmosphere, was amazingly oppressive.
So, fast forward to moving to the small town Baptist oppressive South, 5 years after integration. Being mostly an innocent 15 year old, I worked for helping poorer Black kids. I'm sorry to say that I had a less than positive experience with the established spiritual counsel. So, the Baptists were right out with me.
After many years of trying to find a fit, and in the South, where it may be harder for the odd fit, I found that Buddhism was the path I seemed best suited for. I'd read Hindu scripture since age 12, and all them Transcendentalist 1800's instigators. The Eastern way was much more suited to an inquisitive mind.
That all boiled on a backburner, with constant reading and reflection, until I actively pursued it in my early thirties. I sought out Buddhist teachers, and began to practice. I had an epiphany where I saw the true value of it. Being a yahoo, the epiphany lasted a bit, then I slid back into my ordinary
old self. But, I'll tell ya, even a wee bit of epiphany makes you a much better person...
Now, I consider myself a Buddhist. Though, a kind of lost Western one, because I don't have a teacher, which I see the real value of in navigating the territory. But I also read Christian scripture, and Sufi (Islam) scripture. The more I read, the more I find that, at , the root level, it says the same thing; There is a means that human beings can follow in order to get along with one another and find some happiness in the world.
Oh, and according to your OP age request, the epiphany was at age 33.
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