Me, Part Six- My Faith


I was raised a Byzantine Catholic. I religiously (figuratively and literally) went to church every Sunday as a kid. At no point along the way did I lose my belief in God, but that belief has radically changed over the years. So too has my adherence to organized religion, and the need to practice. Today, my faith is in a jumbled, yet focused state.

At no point did I renounce Catholicism or the Byzantine faith really. I just faded out from going every Sunday. Some of that was a result of global factors. There was the child sex abuse scandal, and the shame it brought on the church. There was also the politics of the American Catholic Church, which became much more conservative and active (emphasis on the active part) on social issues here in America, and much less heavy on the “love thy neighbor, heal the sick, feed the poor” stuff. Some of my drift away was more local. My church had an older membership, it became a sort of stagnant place to me, and I felt like it was a “small” place to me. I didn’t feel anything, and it felt like a chore. I never had a moment where I said, “i’m not a Catholic” anymore, or where I decided I wasn’t going to go anymore. It just sort of happened this way.

Some of my drift away was doctrinal too, and the fact that I just didn’t buy into everything anymore. When I read the Old Testament, I find so much of it to be ridiculous to me. I mean, when is it okay to stone your slave? I don’t know about you, but those types of lessons don’t apply to me. Things like strict belief in creationism and disbelieving in evolution are just not correct. I just believe in a world where science isn’t some evil trick to make you disbelieve. The world isn’t five-thousand years old.

Even with all of those misgivings with the church, I never quit believing in God, and even believing in Jesus. I am certainly not an atheist today, nor do I think I ever will be. It has been said to me that religion was created because man refuses to accept the insignificance of their lives. I couldn’t disagree more. We are all just one of billions in our own time, a speck in history, this is true. That doesn’t bother me at all though. For me, my disagreement with atheism has little to do with me, and much more to do with us. Our pathway here, our pathway to this moment, and our pathway to the future. Atheism simply doesn’t answer the “why” question for me. In a world where little is random, the answer to “why” we exist, “why” everything exists, is not left to such random devices.

So what do I believe?

I believe there is a God. I believe there was a “big bang,” and that this even was not some random instance of random dust particles before time, but an event caused by God. Whether the universe was created over billions of years or seven days is a largely pointless distinction to me (what was a day at that time), though I will say it didn’t follow the “Book of Genesis” version of events to our understanding of it. I believe we have evolved over millions of years, as have many species, and that this is the work of a universe created with purpose, a purpose of survival and improvement, a purpose created by a God. In other words, I believe in a God, and I believe in science. For me, these things are not in conflict, but rather seem to make perfect sense together.

I also don’t think the existence of different religions should mean conflict either. There are enough similarities in the stories of many religions to see how they may derive from similar sources. If God was speaking in the Old Testament to Moses and giving him the law for mankind, why couldn’t he have been doing the same to Muhammad in a later generation? Would not people living in an advanced world need updated law? Why would Jesus death and resurrection mean that God would not send future profits? I don’t see the inherent conflict that many people see between the religions of the world. I don’t see the harm in the Hindu religion, or other Eastern religions, to the Abrahamic religions. In other words, I don’t see why a person can’t be a believer in one thing, and find truth, wisdom, and peace in another. In other words, just because one is a Catholic, does not mean one has to think the teachings of Islam are “wrong.” In many ways, they are compatible.

Which leads me all the way back to the start- what do I believe? Well, as I said, I never renounced my religion. I believe there was a Jesus Christ who walked this Earth. I believe in his story and his teachings. I believe in the message he gave us on Earth. I believe in a God beyond this world, and I believe that God is beyond our understanding. I also believe in science, a good deal of the teachings of other religions, and a society that doesn’t force moral and religious codes on it’s people. I believe that God is about love and compassion, not about anger and judgment.

So what am I? I feel more at ease with the Catholic faith than I have in years thanks to Pope Francis, who I believe is preaching the word of God on this Earth. I doubt that many priests would openly welcome my belief set into their congregation though. For that reason, I’m not worrying about defining myself right now. In time it will either come to me, or not. That is not for me to tell at this time.

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