Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Stories We Tell

I enjoy reading conversion and deconversion stories. I've told my own several times over my years of blogging. Honestly, it seems I have changed emphasis over time. In the deepest of my anti-religion days I emphasized the intellectual difficulties I had with my faith. Now that years of living have mellowed me out a bit on the subject, I am more willing to admit the weight my emotions have had on my story.
In no way was I consciously trying to misrepresent my story. But I recognize that where I stood at the time heavily influenced how I narrated my journey.
Always I was aware we humans are great rationalizers. I don't think it is different in how we form or adhere to our worldviews. The person who is deeply inclined to believe in God will find a way to do it. Likewise, I believe, those who are strongly anti-religious can pull together the full force of emotional and intellectual arguments against their God belief - and they will often have little patience with those (like me) who don't see things the same way.
My best lady friend has been an interesting study for me. She is totally apathetic about religion. It never played the slightest factor in her upbringing, and she never dabbled in it as an adult. She is not at all anti-religion, denies being atheistic, but has frankly told me on a number of occasions that she doesn't understand religion, especially the Bible - which she has never once read. Although she freely admits she just doesn't know about God (probably tends to accept the concept in some vague manner as a default mechanism), I don't think it be fair to call her agnostic because she has never given the matter enough thought to even say "I don't know whether or not it's possible to have knowledge of God."
She is, however, a firm believer in the popular notion of Karma, or "what goes around comes around."
Back to my own story. It was simple enough for me when I wasn't aware of the alternate worldviews out there. Actually, always being a bit of a freethinker, as a youth I was quite animistic. However, my parent's religious fundamentalism overlaid that somewhat. I always had my youthful questions and problems ("who made God?" and so forth), but accepted the obvious fact that I was young and largely unlearned.
The major life-events I experienced (my parent's divorce and then years later my divorce from my high school sweetheart and "soul mate") really led to some soul-searching. My religious impulse is deeply ingrained. It is who I am, who I always was, even in my most rebellious and doubting times. I've finally come to a peaceful acceptance of that fact. But my religious impulse or spiritual nature can be summed in one thing: my feelings about how I personally relate to the greater reality. Thus "organized religion" can be problematic for me personally, although I understand full well the power of religious community (or even non-religiously speaking, community of like-minded thinkers).
Perhaps I just don't remember my story so well. It's hard to condense a life's journey into several short paragraphs, or even a few blog posts. There are many strands of thought that are woven into the tapestry of who I am emotionally and intellectually.
I suppose that's why I'm not keen on trying to convert others. It's easier to speak for myself and to link up with others who have felt some of the same things I have felt or experienced some of what I have. And I don't mind linking with those of a different bent so long as we all recognize how complex is the human mind from which we attempt to make sense of things. The older I get the more distaste I garner for rigid modes of thought.
But that's just me...


  1. I sometimes wonder if this world would be a lot better if everyone was like your best lady friend. Sylvia

    1. Sylvia, dear, I'm so glad to hear from you again. I have wondered and wondered how you are doing because I haven't heard from you in forever! I've thought about you often, though.

      You've planted a seed thought in my mind. Maybe I should try to get my lady friend to put her feelings about religion into words and then use that as a guest post here. I'm sure she would beg off with "I'm not a writer." (Of course, neither am I!) Nevertheless, I think I will ask her.

      As for what you suggest, I can only say add that my humble opinion is that there is no one way to live life or to think about life.

  2. Thanks Doug. I still read every one of your post and enjoy your insight and deep thoughts. I would love to hear your friends feelings on religion. Hope she will write a post for you soon. Sylvia

  3. In the area of "converting others" in my halcyon days in religion, I always felt my "delivery" to the unsaved to be comparable to an infant trying to explain the Cosmos.....