A preface to something greater?

Some days I think I should just call it quits on this silly agnosticism thing. Believing in something greater than yourself is so much more comforting than facing a void of uncertainty. And wouldn't it be so much better if I didn't feel like I was letting my Mom down every time I slept in on Sunday? I think these things and remember what lead me to where I am now.

For the majority of my life I attended a church. Until I was roughly 18 I went to Briel Blvd Church Of God weekly and, after a lapse in attendance, began attending Gingamsburg United Methodist. I was raised Christian as was everyone else in my family and many of my values and morals still reflect that upbringing. I was baptized as a teen because that's what I believed you were supposed to do if you want to get to Heaven. It wasn't until about 8 years ago that I started considering that God was either not real or not the benevolent, personal God I was raised to believe in. And even after that point I continued to go to church for several years.

For a while I suppose I was a Christian agnostic but have since ceased referring to myself as a Christian altogether. Unlike many irreligious types I hold no real enmity towards Christianity or other organized religions. I understand the role religion plays in people's lives as a source of hope and support and I reject the notion that religion, in and of itself, is negative. Certainly religion has been used to justify all sorts of bad things, but that's the unavoidable consequence of human involvement.

Sometimes I think I should start going to church again, if for no other reason than to have more human interaction. But that's the whole reason I gave up going in the first place - it felt dishonest for me to involve myself in something I didn't have my heart in. I imagine that believers will say God is trying to speak to me and non-believers will say I'm trying to cope with life's uncertainty. I don't know who's right and that's the problem.

Shayne

Comments

Shelly said…
Thank you for this post. Your comment about it being more comforting to believe in God reminded me of a quote from C.S. Lewis (who usually makes me CRAZY - I really don't understand why everyone is so in love with him).

"Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.”

I think my life would have been much simpler and easier and more comforting if I hadn't been grasped by God's grace. But I was. And it is rarely consoling, but always, always awesome.
Tim Mathis said…
Hmm. The consolation question. I think I'd probably pursue the Anglican Via Media on this one. Religion certainly hasn't afforded me freedom from the void of uncertainty. You probably have to become a fundamentalist if you want that particular opiate. From experience, it's not that great of a high anyway.

However, I do have to say that religion is a ladder out of the fiery hellish pit of meaninglessness - if only b/c religion is (one of) the way(s) we establish for ourselves that life is valuable and infused with purpose. It's a way of systematically reinforcing that particular existential choice in community on a regular basis.

Which reminds me, I love being an Episcopalian/Anglican, where propositional truth is less the point than that experience of grace and meaning, and God is defined only broadly.
Timothy Downing said…
Shayne,
It is good to read something from you. You have placed your finger on an issue that I have struggled with often. My church experience has brought me little to no comfort but much consternation. I think I trusted in the people of the church over the God of the church. In so doing I was left empty by the failure of the church to live up to the holiness standard that we were both taught at Briel. What has brought me some confidence in life is facing my own void of uncertainty with a mixture of deep thought and faith. Most people in church are good people and church is a good place to find community, but most church people are struggling with the very same void of uncertainty. The only hope I can find is in my intellectual pursuit of Christ and His way.
Are you in Columbus now? My family and I just moved to Springfield. I would love to connect sometime.
Shayne Mathis said…
Thanks for the comments all. In future posts I hope to flesh out some stuff a little bit more. I'm not really happy with this one - it was part of something larger that just got way too long for a single post. And it's comforting to see religion doesn't necessarily free you from existential angst. I thought I was doing something wrong all those years.

Tim D. - It's good to hear from you, sir. I used to live in Columbus but I relocated back to Dayton a few weeks ago. (I'm trying to decide if that was a poor decision...currently leaning toward yes.) Either way I'm in the area for purposes of catching up.
Timothy Downing said…
Growing up in the country... I remember that Dayton is where the murders happen.

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