I dislike the word believe and loathe the word faith when it comes to matters of the spiritual/supernatural. I much prefer the phrase “What I currently accept to be true (based on the available evidence.)” Clunky but more accurate. Now some may say, “How can you have any hard/objective evidence for spiritual/supernatural phenomena?” [To be continued…]
I talk about this on my blog here and here. Interestingly, many of my friends have also left the church, as has my wife, for her own reasons. I even recently talked to a long time pastor who told me he no longer attends church since, in his words, “it does not feed me.” This is not to say I do not believe in a “higher being”, but I certainly do not believe the tenets of the Christian faith (or any other faith for that matter.) For the curious, my current view of “God” is analogous to the relationship between cells and our bodies. Each cell is a distinct tiny living organism. While each individual cell is of little consequence on its own, when combined together to form your body (trillions of them), the whole (your body) is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts (the cells). Under this analogy, each of us is a cell, and “God” is the body.
In an earlier post, I commented on how I had abandoned the religion of my youth. While this is not entirely true (I still “talk to God” – a.k.a. praying in religion-speak), I have for the most part rejected the doctrines and practices of Christianity. I really feel that organized religions are not the avenue to spirituality that work for me anymore. Having said that, I do realize that there is more to life than the material world and that I need some form of “practice” to feed my spirit. This was reiterated today on the CBC program Tapestry, one of the things I do as a part of my aforementioned “practice”. On today’s program, there was an interview with Oriah Mountain Dreamer (a flaky name to be sure but: books, covers and all that). In the interview, she quotes a saying:
It’s too late to dig a well when your house is on fire.
The meaning here of course is that you need to have an well developed spiritual practice in place before disaster strikes so that you have something to help carry you through. While agree with this in one respect, I also think that anything that you do on a regular basis can turn into an empty ritual. So I guess the trick is to have a habitual spiritual practice yet somehow keep it fresh and meaningful. What are your thoughts on how to do this?
Well it has been quite some time since I have posted anything here. Lots has happened — the major event being that after 37 or so years of being a regular church attender, I have stopped. Why you ask? Well several reasons really. It’s not like this came out of the blue. I have been dissatisfied / unhappy with church for some time but was too lazy / complacent to do anything about it. My wife has made the same decision, albeit for her own reasons, some of which are similar to mine. So what are they you ask? Well in a simplified form they are as follows:
- I had a very hard time with the idea of “worshiping” a God who allows / causes such incalculable suffering
- I found that I was unable to stay intellectually honest while at the same time trying to accept many of the church’s doctrines (science has made great leaps that the church has just not been willing / able to integrate into its world view)
- I find that much of the church is just socially out of touch with the modern world, especially in conservative groups (woman as equals, contraception, etc.)
- I have grown more and more distrustful of large systems (government, big business, big unions) and that includes organized religions
There are other reasons as well, but these are the ones that immediately spring to mind. I have taken a large step back to reassess just exactly what I do believe. Here is the process that my wife and I have taken so far:
- read books, including: “The Naked Ape“, “The Christian Agnostic“, and others
- attended a Philosophers Cafe about “The spiritual Journey”
- watched a movie entitled “What the Bleep Do We Know“
- wrote down what we believe as individuals and then see what commonalities there are
- revised the above list at a later date and clarified / refined the list
- wrote down how these beliefs can play out in our daily lives
While our new spiritual journey is certainly more work, I feel it has been much more authentic and personal for me. While I am certainly not throwing out the baby with the bath water (so to speak), there is certainly an awful lot of filthy water and seemingly very little baby in my former belief system. What are your thoughts?