Thursday, May 26, 2011

My History With Religion

I know I've detailed some of my Neo-Pagan/Wiccan beliefs before, but I thought it might be interesting to go through my history with organized religion.

I remember as a kid of seven or eight years old that my mom suddenly decided that we should start going to church.  This did not sit well with me because let's be sucks.  It's boring and it makes no sense to a little kid.  The only consolation was the candy we'd occasionally receive during the mini "children's sermons."  I remember virtually nothing else about the church we attended in Rochester or my first communion which I guess speaks to its importance in my life.  Moving on.

The first Lutheran church we attended when we moved to Syracuse was headed by a Pastor who was hideously boring.  That, coupled with the fact that my Sunday School class contained an obnoxious kid that was allowed to run wild (the kid wound up going to college with me and embodied the worst in American lax-bro culture) because his mom was the teacher convinced my mom to shop around for a new church.

We fit in better at this new church, run by a female Pastor who hailed from Brooklyn and was nothing short of hilarious.  I don't remember much of the lessons we were pushed through in Sunday school which is probably a good thing because while I disagree with Christianity, I have fond memories of the people we met through that church.

Somewhere along the way some of these messages stuck with me because I went to college considering myself to be a devout Lutheran (while knowing virtually nothing about the faith) and a proponent of abstinence (though that may have been more circumstance than choice).  I think the seed of my break from Christianity came from a logistics problem I'd had from the first moment I set foot in a church.  The concepts of heaven and hell seemed utterly ludicrous, even to my young mind.  Because of that, I never really felt compelled to believe anything that various churches had taught me.  The next pillar to fall was my views regarding sex before marriage.  'Why?' I asked myself, 'Why do I believe this?'  I had no good answer, and because I had no good answer, that belief became a free agent.

As the years in college passed, I found myself growing more and more comfortable with my unwillingness to fit into any group, and as far as I was concerned, Christians was a pretty bad group to fit in with.  There are so many things that Christianity rails against as vicious evils that (in almost all cases) don't harm anyone.  If there is no harm caused, how can something be wrong?  'The bible says so' wasn't a good enough answer for me then, so I began to disregard it.

I think in a lot of senses I simply believed what people told me because that was the only background I had, but as a logical, rational human being, blind faith isn't good enough for me.  There has to be a reason, and I could find none to hate homosexuality, pornography, or premarital sex.  Watching Christians use a very suspect morality to hide their prejudices over the years has convinced me that I made the right decision to distance myself from that faith.

For a little while this presented a bit of a problem because while I believed in something out there, I couldn't lump myself in with any organized religion and feel clean afterwards.  I started to think about what my beliefs were in their simplest form while at the same time researching faiths that are typically treated with a lack of seriousness.  Wicca had always been of interest to me because I had in my head a very stereotyped definition of what it was, and like all stereotypes, I began to wonder how true it was.  When I stumbled upon the final eight words of the Wiccan Rede, "an ye harm none, do as thou wilt," it seemed like a perfect fit.

There are many aspects to Wicca that I either disagree with, or find to be completely ridiculous myself, but a lot of it makes sense.  I don't have a hard time believing in the powerful force that is the world we live on, or that it is the root of life as we know it.  The rede is a bit harder to live by because regardless of what you do, you're likely harming somebody, but it's as close to perfect as I've seen any religion get.

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