Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"create your own religion"

I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves. 

--Hermann Hesse--

I was raised Catholic, so it’s no surprise that I started attending the infamous, ritualistic (not to mention dry, boring, and repetitive) Sunday services from birth. The Catholic system followed me through archdiocesan elementary, middle, and high school(s). As a child, I of course accepted the religion’s teachings (or at least those they told us at that age, which were basically just happy fairy tales about an awesome man named Jesus). I didn’t really have to think about believing in the rigid doctrine they taught my little friends and me because I was too busy enjoying my childhood. As I grew older though, I naturally started to think for myself. 

The years passed and I became more and more disillusioned with everything about the religion. Even as a high school student, I was forced to go to mass every single Sunday (that led to years of draining fights). But eventually I just stopped resisting and brought my journal with me to read during mass. It was in them I’d written down quotes from philosophy I’d found from my personal reading outside of school. I had decided to start searching for answers on my own. You could say I was doing what Ralph Waldo Emerson once suggested: “Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” At this point, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as an atheist; one could say I had become an “agnostic.” When it came down to it, I was just sick of religion as a whole. I didn’t care what anyone else believed, but the more I began to find universal truths and philosophy that resonated with me, the more sickening it was to see the childish way the world behaves over something as trivial as who has the “Absolute Truth.” 

But over the years, I drifted away from agnosticism as I formed my own perspective, creating a personal “truth” I have kept to this day. I would never call it a religion though. A great amount of the points Thomas Paine speaks of in The Age of Reason capture the way I feel. For example, I too would say, "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turk church, or by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.” Because my mind is my own church, I am the one capable of creating my own hell--not a God or higher power. If we’re going to be honest, I despise religion for what it has done to mankind and the earth. But I have learned to accept these feelings and for the most part set them aside--instead appreciating the present moment and remembering to be here. Now.

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