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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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My religious history // IRChurch
delirium happy
I meant to write a much longer entry about this, but fate, laziness and other such things conspired against me, and that entry never happened. So, give that I want to get this written before tomorrow/later today/some time or other, you get the shorter version.

One of the reasons that it hasn't been written until now is that it is so hard to write. I don't think I've ever had such a sense, in writing something here, that there would be some among my readers who would be disappointed in me, and some who would be delighted for me. It's odd.

I've never been a particularly religious sort of person. I was raised as a Catholic, primarily because the best local primary school was a Catholic one. I managed to complete sacraments #1-3, but stopped playing before I reached the boss on level 4 (AKA "confirmation").

My early memories of religion include having my next-door neighbour explain to me that just because she wasn't Catholic didn't mean that she didn't believe in God (she was Church of England), annoyance over my complete inability to draw sheep in an RE class and pondering over the logistics of Noah's ark.

All the way through, I never really believed in anything. It took me a long while to actually realise that we were meant to believe things. Church, for me, was always "one of those weird things that adults do that I can't see rhyme nor reason behind, but I get shouted at if I don't do it so I suppose I'd better go along with it". What was the point of saying the same old lines, over and over again, week after week? Yes, yes, I'm sure it's very nice that Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again, but we've been saying that for years. Couldn't you think about getting some new material?

I suspect that if I were to attend another Catholic mass these days, my feelings would be much the same. I don't like rituals and traditions and doctrines and all that sort of stuff. I just don't see the point of them. With hindsight, it is clear that the Catholic church was never going to do me any favours.

So, religious services never seemed religious to me. Instead, they seemed like exercises in pointlessness and futility, and complete wastes of time. As I entered my teenage years, I turned to atheism, driven by the guiding hand of Occam's Razor. I became that most annoying of creatures, the obnoxious evangelical atheist.

I then suffered the same terrible fate that befalls everyone as they get to the end of and then leave their teens. I experienced a bit more of life and realised that I wasn't always, infallibly right about everything (only most things). I mellowed slightly, and became somewhat more open to the idea of God, gods or anything else of that ilk.

I would also, occasionally, get a glimpse of the divine. The two main sources of this, for me were the night time (especially when it was raining; I love the rain) and science. I'm quite sure that I don't understand why people think that science and religion are incompatible. To me, physics is a thing of great beauty and majesty, which leaves plenty of room for the divine, thank you very much ("science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" -- Albert Einstein (though I couldn't disagree more with his other famous quote about the two, I rather appreciate this one)).

I also, mainly through LiveJournal met people who made me realise that religion isn't just for psycho-nutjobs and weak-minded fools. rahaeli, pthalogreen, chess and sath all spring to mind here. I'm sure that others would too if I was properly awake right now.

But throughout all of this, I would have described myself as the typical "spiritual but not religious". If pushed, I'd probably have described myself as an agnostic humanist with pantheistic tendencies. But organised religion? Not for me, thanks. I see the universe in my own way, and I'll commune with it in my own way as well.

But now? I can honestly say that I'm not sure. For Easter, ladysisyphus did a religious service over IRC. Yes, the idea was crazy. I thought so. She thought so. Everyone else thought so. But I was interested, so I figured that I'd show up if I was awake. One of the benefits of having seep patterns that are utterly broken is that you can be awake at 4am to attend such things.

I can only describe the experience as profound. For the interested, you can go read the sermon, listen to the music or read the transcript. Throughout the whole service, I spent a whole lot of time in tears. It moved me. It came at the perfect time in my life, carrying exactly the message that I needed at the time. I cam out of it thinking, "oh, so that's what religion is all about! why did nobody tell me?" The whole thing finally started to made sense to me. Of course, the reason that nobody told me before is probably that nobody could tell me. I know I couldn't explain it to anyone else.

So where am I now? I don't have a clue? Am I an atheist? I don't think so. Am I a theist? Possibly. A Christian? Unlikely? Completely confused and uncertain? Definitely. Excited and eager to move forwards? Without a doubt.

While the original was intended as a one-off, it was such a rip-roaring success, that it will hopefully be a regular occurrence. The second service is taking place today and I'm looking forward to it a great deal. If anyone else wants to show up, it's today (Sunday April 24), at 10pm UTC (that's 11pm BST, 6pm EDT and 3pm PDT -- if you live in any other timezone I'm afraid you'll have to work it out for yourself) though you can turn up any time in the preceding hour for general chit-chat. People of any (or no) denomination welcome. Sermon is here, newbies guide to IRC is here and the LJ community is at irchurch.

Yes, that was the short version. The long version would have contained much more information about exactly how the last service touched me, and how it was appropriate for my life at the time, and what it taught me, and other such things. That was far too difficult to write though, so you get spared it. Lucky you lot.

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