I've noticed so many of you who have left the church seem to have lost your belief in God. I feel like I'm having a hard time fitting in because I do still believe in God or in something bigger than us...just that I have to believe in something. I'm struggling a bit now with this so I may babble. I've started researching other religions/beliefs, trying to find something that feels right to me. Sometimes I wonder if I feel I have to believe in something because I am so afraid of death. Or because it's been so ingrained in me my whole life. I have major issues with organized religion. I don't want to be "shopping" for something. I love the peaceful feeling that Buddhism and Wicca brings. I read a Bible verse a day and there is so much violence or vengeance. Yet I remember one time crying because I wondered what I had done to deserve something so good that had come into my life and I heard a voice clearly saying "Don't you think I know what you need?" - was that God? It's such a confusing time for me and I wonder how you all handle it because I know you have all been through something similar.
Sorry for the rambling...it's the only way I know how to write, to just let it come out with my thoughts.
Very interesting question. Probably the oldest one.I am agnostic myself. I continue to try and learn about cultures and history. I do Know that when we (as humans) don't know or understand something we tend to think of the supernatural for the answer such as god. Is it wrong? As warring cultures would raid each other they would make them adopt their beliefs at the time which help change a cultures original beliefs. Like Constantine, when he converted to Christianity he made it law everybody else has to as well. So then we lose some of the pagan religions. When the Americas were being invaded by Spain they tried to destroy the Mayan cultures as well as others and convert them to Christianity. We lost a lot of education because of religions enforcing their beliefs.
Unfortunately, we though away many cultures belief systems and science in the name of God. Think of the thousands of people who were imprisoned or killed in Europe for thinking outside the box. In America we had our own witch trials.
On the other hand a belief in God or a higher power does give people purpose and a willingness to be a good person and help their common man. If a belief in god saves your life or makes you a better person, than i can not see anything wrong with it. Being agnostic and on the edge of atheism doesn't make be a bad person. It hasn't changed my morals all that much. Humans are inherently good. I know that we were taught that the natural man is an enemy to god. I disagree. If people are in need of help or even these natural disasters we as humans feel spring into action regardless of our beliefs. i think that is the true natural man. The enemy of God is power and greed. Some churches get so powerful that the greed and power cloud their actions and they end up suppressing their fellow humans.(like the dark ages).
All in all if a belief in god inspires you to be better to your fellow man it is good regardless if its true or not. Some people need that belief. I know I am the black sheep of my family for leaving the church. I am ok with that. I love my wife and family and try to be fair by people. My Churchy family have more issues such as cheating on their spouses or taking advantage of others for their own financial gain. I don't need a belief in a church or god to make me be a better person. My brother who is very mormon is having an affair on his wife. But he told me I have a special needs child because God has smitten me for turning my back on him.
You do what makes you better for your family and yourself. If you choose a church remember not to let the beliefs push you into challenging your integrity as a person. i hope that helps. I did not go in the direction I thought I would.
One last thing for you. Sometimes gaining Knowledge means sacrificing your faith. The question is do you want to go down that path? If you try and break down and analyze god or Jesus you may just lose your faith. So ask your self is the risk worth the reward? that is a personal question with know right answer except the one you decide. Good luck.
You just nailed it
Robin, for what it's worth, I'm right there with you. I think there is a lot of wisdom in spirituality and from every religion, although I don't think any one religion has all the answers. I feel that there is a higher power. I have no proof of this, but I feel it so I choose to believe it. I don't let that feeling trump logic and critical thinking, but my belief brings my life a little bit more peace and a little bit more purpose. I went through a period of my life where I tried to analyze and figure God out. I theorized a lot of possibilities for God (or no God). Eventually I learned that I will never have all the answers, and all I can do is keep myself open to every perspective.
I found a very liberal post-modern Christian church that makes no demands on people's belief and a pastor that spends a lot of time deconstructing Christianity and the psychology behind our belief. His lessons are on a podcast so I can sleep in Sunday morning and eat waffles with my hubby while I listen to an intellectually stimulating spiritual message. And I try to pull wisdom from anywhere and everywhere. Having a spiritual life and continuing to explore the possibilities of religion with absolute freedom is something that gives me a lot of personal fulfillment. My husband is agnostic bordering atheist now, he doesn't get a lot out of church, he's much more interested in clear, empirical truth, and I completely love and respect his point of view as well, as he does mine.
Don't feel that you have to reject God because you are no longer a Mormon, don't feel that you have to believe in him(/her), don't be afraid to ask the questions, and don't be afraid of not finding the answers. There are so many possibilities after being free of an intellectually oppressive religion like Mormonism, it's really something to be excited about!
I could tell we were kindred spirits! I am also really interested in some Buddhist ideas and I think you mentioned Wicca which I think is pretty cool and I have a couple of friends that practice it. :)
I was pretty discouraged for a while because I feel the same way about most of Christianity. However, when I was LDS the one thing that I ever really connected with was the teachings of Jesus. And in some of my darkest times, I found a lot of comfort in the symbolism of Jesus suffering all of my pain and knowing how I felt, not to mention the peace that came from believing that I could be redeemed for my mistakes. I don't believe that God actually requires a blood sacrifice in order to forgive, but I do think there is a positive message there that says that you can give your burdens to God and that you can be forgiven for your mistakes. The message of love and charity that Jesus taught is something that I completely adopted as my life philosophy.
So I've been really lucky to find a Christian church that is 100% accepting of everyone, uses other religious philosophies to tie into its lessons, and makes absolutely no demands on the beliefs of the congregation. They also open up each and every lesson for discussion and encourage honest disagreement. It's really refreshing.
Gay rights and women's issues were two huge catalysts for my leaving the church, and you're right, the picture doesn't look that much better in the rest of Christianity these days.
And can I give you a giant AMEN to that last sentence. All we can do is figure out what's right for us. :)
Exactly! ...and I WILL find what works for me :) Reading a great book now called
"The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" and it's very good. One of the easier books on Buddhism to read...I've started a few others and just got lost. But if I combine what I'm learning from this book with what Jesus taught...I think I've found it. A lot is similar. Good stuff!
I share the same views ......
with the added conviction that the principles taught by Jesus are really good principle to live our lives by in a world which is so distrubed and disturbing ....
and of course since his death paid for all our sins, it is easier to let go of our past mistakes and keep trying to live our lives the best we can
If you are interested in Buddhist teachings, may I suggest " Every day Zen" by the late Charlotte Joko Beck. This one really opened my eye's. The other one I am particularly fond of is "Inner Revolution" by Robert Thurman.
Buddhism is very much a religion made up of flawed humans. I am Buddhist and I am flawed. We really are not that different from Christians; There are rituals and gods, and prayer and levels of heaven, and a certain amount of faith. We are just more focused on working out our own issues and use that as a basis in interactions with others. Anyway I could say more.... Cheers!
"I guess trying to find God through an organized religion would to me be the same as trying to paint something as wonderful as a Monet, by using a paint by numbers kit."
I like that. :)