That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
I haven’t said enough
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
“Losing My religion” REM
I grew up in a relatively “religious” family. My mother was baptised United Church, her older brother was a United Church Minister. She came from a long line of Irish/Scottish Presbyters. My father, from a broken home of an already divorced Catholic mom and a reprobate (but fascinating) father, didn’t have much of a religious upbringing but in the 50’s, everyone believed in “God” and he deferred to my mother.
My parents were older. My mom 43 when I was born and my Dad was 50. Their upbringing was definitely Victorian so their God required that children be seen and not heard and if you spared the rod, you spoiled the child. God was not loving, kind or personable. He would punish. Learning boundaries as a child is difficult by itself but when you have a ferocious god watching everything you do it can be traumatic. One small deviation from the path would send me into spasms of guilt, which fed on and perpetuated its self, and gave me nightmares for weeks.
I went to the United Church until I was about 10. I became fascinated by the Salvation Army and decided to go their at age 11. Loved the music.
I out grew the Salvation Army and god by 15. It was 1968 and my mind had been expanded by music, TV and literature. My parents and their religion had lost their influence on my life, but not me. The god of my early childhood had set up me up with core values, especially of my own unworthiness and diminishing self-esteem. I felt guilty for having “lost my religion”
By university I was reading Nietzsche, Jung, Timothy Leary, Kierkegaard and Vonnegut. I smoked, drank and had sex; I lived in Kitsalano and had abandoned the god of my childhood. The guilt of my childhood did not abandon me. I considered myself a child of the universe; my god was cosmic and superficial, just like me.
I tried many other gods on for size as the years progressed. Scientology, Zen Buddhism and finally settled on the Catholic Church as a place to raise my children.
Many experiences of loss, pain and grief drew me back to questioning faith, god and “my religion”
What else do you do when you have a dilemma, why go to the “internet all-knowing” for answers. There is lots out there and many opinions on faith vs religion. I had to decide what it was that I had lost or what I felt I was losing. Was it my religion or my faith or both. Could I even define the difference? I felt that religion tended to focus on differences, while faith helped me to see similarities. My faith was personal, while religion made me feel part of an institution. Faith was my higher power, religion was definitely a set of rules to be followed.
I was looking for change in me. To become a more “enlightened, caring, loving traveller.
the best advice I found was from Rami Shapiro in http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/spirit/archives/well-start-perennial-questions
It made me responsible for me: Not religion,but an ever-expanding faith.
I quote: “At its best religion is the way humanity translates its deepest myths — the metaphors, parables, and stories that carry our greatest insights into the human struggle for justice, compassion, and wisdom — into rituals and behaviors supportive of caring community.”
I love this about all religions.
“At its worst, religion is a story we tell ourselves to excuse our own brutal quest for power and control over nature and our fellow human beings.”
This is what bothers me even about myself.
“Religion is often expressed at its worst. As I’ve experienced it, organized religion is too often a fruitless attempt to tame God — to make God safe, benign, and essentially irrelevant. This god functions like a cosmic concierge granting your every wish. This god loves what you love and hates what you hate, bolstering the illusion that your politics is not yours but god’s, thereby sanctifying your every fear and prejudice. That god holds up a mirror and says, “Amen.” The god I believe in holds up the same mirror to my madness and says, “Change.”
All I can say is AMEN to that!
“When religion is at its best it preserves the stories and teachings of those saints, sages, mystics, poets, and prophets who challenge us to engage Reality without ego projection. Such religion is wild and wondrous, free from theology and piety, and demanding nothing less of us than our total commitment to justice, compassion, wisdom, and love.”
“The God this religion reveals is Reality, uncontrolled and uncontrollable, never safe or benign; this God’s love strips you of every hiding place, demanding nothing less than your being in response to this and every moment. If you hold back you are crushed beneath the weight of your own fear. Religion at its best teaches you how to live without fear, and in so doing to live transformed by love, which is what remains when fear is removed.”
What matters is not how religious or spiritual you are, but how just, kind, and humble you are.”
Rabbi Rami says “the religion versus spirituality argument is a distraction from the only thing that matters: realizing your true nature as God manifest”
“Don’t use religion to excuse prejudice and cruelty, and you use spirituality to excuse laziness and narcissism, you are all trapped in hopeless insanity. What matters is not how religious or spiritual you are, but how just, kind, and humble you are”
Let me be just, kind and humble. Get out of the hopeless insanity and have faith in my journey to CHANGE.
To follow in faith, St. Francis, Buddha, Gaia and Creator. It’s that simple. I haven’t lost anything.