Sorry I’ve been quiet – a whole week just kind of got away from me somehow… I won’t commit to posting daily, but I will try to keep it pretty consistent, at least. So, I’ll try not to let more week-long hiatuses happen unannounced.
That said, into the meat of the things…
I was raised Catholic – something my father has apologized for. Well, he apologized for the 8 years of Catholic school. I was also Confirmed, although that was purely to keep my mother happy. I’d started questioning the Catholicism I’d been raised with at about the age of 10, and by the time I turned 12 I’d pretty much fully renounced the faith entirely. That, too, was all my mother – she was very good at emphasizing all that’s bad in Catholic doctrine(the utterly punitive nature of God, the fallen nature of all humanity, the ultimate depravity of all women) while utterly ignoring the good parts of Jesus’ message. Of course, that’s due to a lot of the Catholicism she absorbed – pre-Vatican II, still drowned in Latin and incense. She didn’t adapt to the changes very well… heh.
I went from being Catholic to (self-, and only internally) identifying as pagan. Not much of a switch, there… And in retrospect I realize a lot of what was going on in my head then, with these odd self-aggrandizing epics involving titanic, invisible battles between angels and demons, was really compensating for amazingly deep loneliness. At that point in my life, I could count the friends my age I had on one, maybe two hands. And not many more sympathetic adults… It was a bad time. heh.
My 20s were spent pretty firmly towards the atheist end of the atheism/agnosticism spectrum, with a position I would jokingly describe as “evangelical agnosticism”. To wit, “I don’t know, and you don’t, either.”
That, too, is shifting a bit. It’s odd, too – a lot of my questioning of the idea of spirit comes from my grasp of science. Specifically, what the Internets call stellar nucleosynthesis. The short explanation – the most abundant substance in the universe, probably the only thing created during the Big Bang, is hydrogen. Stars are big balls of hydrogen undergoing fusion – getting smashed together to make helium. And when stars explode, they make all the really heavy shit – from iron through and beyond uranium. This means that the carbon and oxygen and hydrogen we’re mostly made from, and all the rest of the stuff we’re made from, was at one point part of a star. So, you, and I, and everybody else, and all the other sentient things out there(since there has to be something out there) are, literally, starstuff. This isn’t really news – Delenn in Babylon 5 said it on TV in the 90s. But it ‘s something that a lot of people, including those on my favorite internet hangout, are increasingly aware of. (And celebrating(that’s been my wallpaper for weeks now.) And that fact, combined with all we’ve been able to learn about Nature, the fact that nature is, to even some extent, knowable, says to me that there’s Something Going On, and that something is greater than we can understand.
I’ve been talking a lot with Shepherd, a priest I know(in fact, the same priest who’ll be doing the ceremony for Mulder and I this fall) about stuff like this, and the position I’ve basically arrived at he termed panentheism. Reading the page, and pondering the difference between panentheism and pantheism, took a while, but it made sense at the end, and the distinction is important.
As far as the afterlife is concerned, I don’t know. I’d like to think there’s something significant, since human thoughts and emotions are a lot of energy, and it’d be an awful waste for that energy to just go away when we die.
One of the more useful things Shepherd has said to me is that reading the Bible and wondering about heaven is like consulting the rulebook for football for clarification on home runs – it’s not the book that’s appropriate for the job. It’s a guide to this life, and how we’re supposed to treat each other. It’s a fault or at least a limitation of mine that, given my still-in-progress recovery from my upbringing that I can’t quite appreciate the Bible for it’s good life lessons right now, and I have to leave it aside. But I know it’ll be waiting for me when I need it.
So, in accordance with the dictates of St. Savage, hallowed be his name, I took what he calls the Campsite Rule of dating and generally apply it to the whole world. He says that boyfriends, like campgrounds, should be left in better shape when you depart than it was when you get there – so, make it better. That’s such damn good advice(that I’ve tried, very hard, to follow – with mixed results) that I’ve applied it to the whole world, and as many of my daily interactions as I can. And really, I think that’s a pretty good way to live, for now.