The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

Posts Tagged ‘individuality

I believe in me

with 4 comments

I was listening to the John Lennon song God on YouTube the other day and I could relate to the lyrics – especially the line that said “I just believe in me” and then the addition “Yoko and me. That’s reality”.

Since I rejected religion, I’ve always said that I believe in people, not God. I’ve also learned to believe in myself a lot more. In the past I tried to be what someone else wanted me to be – the people who wrote the scriptures, church leaders, other church members. I conformed myself to other people’s views of how I should behave, what I should think, say, do and not do.

Freedom from religion has meant, for me, freedom to be myself. Several years ago, a woman who wrote on a forum that I used to visit put it perfectly when she said:

Maybe that’s why it hurts to find out the church is crazy. You are feeling the death rattle of a false self. You think it’s your self, but it isn’t. It’s just an identity that was built on something phoney. Your real self is right under it, eventually waking up and stretching its arms like nothing ever happened. And then you’re stronger because you’re living closer to your true identity. – Melissa

There is a deep satisfaction in being my real self, that never existed when I lived the religious life. Not that I’m so very different in my personality, except that I’m much less judgemental, less gullible, more logical and more sceptical. I’m still polite, kind and friendly. I still love to study, but now I study a whole world of absorbing subjects, not just the scriptures. I’m still often forgetful and careless and I continue to procrastinate over tasks that I dislike. One of the big differences is that I don’t feel guilty about my failings – I just accept that I’m human. I still want to improve in some areas of my life and behaviour, but not because someone else tells me I should, but for my own reasons. I don’t have to spend time doing things that I don’t really want to, or that I’m not particularly interested in, because I think God has “called” me to that work. I can say “no” without reproaching myself for it.

Since setting aside faith, I’ve felt the power and strength of reality. It’s not always comforting, but it’s always honest and solid. There’s a simple joy in believing in yourself and your loved ones and knowing that you can count on them absolutely. Believers may fool themselves into thinking that they can count on God, but only because they’ll twist any circumstance to “show” that he was there for them. I know, because that’s what I did. Except, there were certain very traumatic times in my life when, try as I might, I just couldn’t convince myself that I was being supported by a loving God. My belief in him and desire to understand the terribly difficult things that were happening to me in terms of his will, made a hard situation ten times worse. And, despite my faith, there was a part of me deep down that felt that faith wasn’t the comfort I really needed.

Everything about my life has been so much happier and more satisfying since I walked away from religion and from belief in a god. Even if rejecting God and the trappings of belief was the only thing that had changed in my life over the past 6 years or so, I would still be immeasurably richer today than I ever was then. I’m materially better off and certainly healthier psychologically. I’m free from groundless fear, crippling guilt and superstitious magical thinking. And I can believe in myself. That’s reality – and I love it.

Isla

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Written by islaskye

January 27, 2008 at 8:40 pm

Resisting the Mormon melting pot

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cookie-cutter.jpgWhereas IslaSkye had spent much of her church life thoughtlessly acquiescing to the opinions of religious leaders who she believed knew better than her by virtue of their position within the Mormon church, I struggled a lot with the process of “melting” into Latter-day Saint society.

I’ve always been stubbornly independent, so I found the very concept of becoming one with the Saints utterly oppressive. Nevertheless, occasionally, I would make a concerted effort to homogenise into Mormon culture, believing that it was for the greater good – towards building a Zion society – but as soon as I felt my individuality slipping and literally being lost in religion, I would retreat and resist the attraction that the idea of utopia held. It was truly a battle.

I completely believed the claim that the LDS Church was the only church on the face of the earth with which the Lord was “well pleased”, so you’d think that that would be enough of a reason to relinquish the mental hold that I had on myself and fully give in to the truths of Mormonism, sacrificing all and anything that held me back, but no. I truly didn’t want to become another cookie-cutter Mormon, as I thought that I would be, individually, much the poorer for it, notwithstanding that I felt that I was going against an important tenet of the Church – becoming one with the Saints. Often I would tell myself that I could get by with a semblance of balance with other members of the Church, but I couldn’t. Without the real thing I would forever be conflicted within and faced with choices that I didn’t want to make. When I think back on my church life, it’s easy for me to see that it consisted of much going backwards and forwards between blind faith and reason.

It was never easy for me to submit to the so-called “inspiration” received by church leaders because my mind would automatically act as a sort of filter by weighing it up to determine the usefulness or importance of said communication from on high. I’ve never been comfortable with just plunging blindly into somebody else’s conceptualisation of how an individual should regulate his life and thereby gain an unimaginable reward in heaven, and it makes not an iota of difference whether the person claims to be God’s mouthpiece on earth or not, so it was actually a foregone conclusion that my becoming one with the Saints would never materialise – something that I wish I realised at the time, as I wouldn’t have suffered so much heartache when I lost my faith.

Nevertheless, against my better judgement, I did my damnedest to conform to religious instruction as much as possible, mainly because I thought that that would one day constitute my ticket into the highest echelon of Mormon heaven in the hereafter. Obedience to leaders is a big deal in the Church, so much so that you’re reminded of it over and over again from the pulpit – think Chinese water torture and you can well imagine the amount of stimulation such indoctrination held where I was concerned. A church member’s exaltation hangs on how well they’ve heeded the words of their prophets, or holy geriatrics in suits who live in Salt Lake City.

Anyway, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t put behind me the stumbling block that required me to become indistinguishable from the crowd. And as I thought more about the doctrine of having all things in common with the Saints, the more acute my feelings of opposition became.

Eventually, I caught onto the thought that the very thing that I had grown to hate would be fully realised in heaven and so I became unhappy with the idea of heaven – where everybody would be a perfect clone of everybody else. Perfection in heaven seemed to me to be nothing more than the discontinuation of challenges, learning, individuality, progress, fun, wonder and amazement, discovery, excitement, among many, many other things. Or, in short, being perfect would bring to an end everything that makes me feel truly alive. It’s ironic, really, that heaven itself appears to be a kind of permanent death.

Curmudgeonly Yours

Written by Curmudgeonly

October 29, 2007 at 7:12 pm