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Jun. 16th, 2010

My faith wanderings in supposedly problem solution format

Sep. 27th, 2007

Talking about Faith

So today I'd like to cover the nature of faith and belief. Coming from a Roman Catholic background I was raised to believe that either you were right or you were wrong in regards to your beliefs. Sure there were other faiths, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, other "Christians", but those were not THE BELIEFS. Those worshipers weren't going anywhere good fast, so it was best not to even consider them You either agreed completely with the church or you were wrong and going to Hell.

Of course until this past summer people at the church have said other wise. One particularly kind CCD teacher at my parish caught me crying for my friends fates when I was younger and told me that other Christians would be in Heaven too. They weren't worshiping correctly but their hearts were in the right places, so God would understand. She told me that Jews and Muslims would probably also make it to Heaven if they lived good lives. At the time this comforted me. I felt safe and secure in the world for both myself and my friends.

Now of course, I'm no longer Christian at all. I don't agree with an either you are right or wrong philosophy when it comes to religion. I believe X, but that doesn't have to be mutually exclusive from other beliefs. Also, even though I do belief X and I don't believe Y I acknowledge that these beliefs aren't solid facts. They are what I believe to be true based off of my experiences and other beliefs are what others think are true based off of their experiences. We could both be right or we could both be wrong or one of us could be right while the other is wrong and all of these are equally possible.

To me, acknowledging that what I believe could be wrong doesn't mean I don't have faith. I mean I do have beliefs and I do feel very strongly about them. I don't doubt that they are my personal truth and current reality based off of the experiences I have now, I am just aware that they are based purely in personal experience and that these experiences are subject to all sort of variables. I don't expect other people to follow my beliefs or to agree with me. Just as other people shouldn't expect me to follow their beliefs and believe them.

To me, being able to acknowledge that the world and knowledge is in flux is a strength. It is good to listen to others and to be open to experiences. These sort of tests/experiences will either strengthen my faith or it will void a previous belief and lead me to new and deeper insights. To my way of thinking, there is no down side to enhancing your wisdom even if it is through admitting that you are wrong.

My mother, of course doesn't agree with me. One of the few times she actually acknowledges that I'm not Christian in the slightest is to mock my lack of conviction in my beliefs. I tried to assure her that I was quite certain in what I believed due to my personal experience. I do feel quite deeply that what I think religiously is very true. I would have had to have felt that way to get over the extreme fear of Hell drilled into me at a young age.

My mom's counter was "But you acknowledge that when you die there could be a hell?"

Of course I couldn't say more than "I don't believe in Hell. But I can't deny the possibility that when I die there may be a Hell of some sort."

Apparently, the mere acknowledgment of possibility is weakness. It means one lacks faith and conviction. We can never hesitate or ponder other potentials beyond that which we believe because it means we don't really believe.

I thought it was an interesting way to look at faith. What I thought was more interesting though was that after I admitted that there might be a Hell, my mother tried to convince me that this possibility along is reason enough to be Christian. That's a contradiction from what she had said earlier though. I mean to be Catholic either I have to believe it all or I'm not doing it right, Possibility isn't enough. And, unless I've been out of the game too long, I'm fairly certain that doing good works has to be in thought, intention, and action. If I do then just because I fear, Hell there is no salvation anyhow. So as long as I doubt and can't believe the theology why not enjoy it now?

I don't know these are just some of my thoughts on faith. I just found the duality of what it means to be faithful or to have faith from my mother's view and from mine. Drop me a line if you have differing views on what it means to have faith too. After all, I'm sure there are other takes beyond mine and my mom's.