Sleepwalking my way through life: "So I guess I was peer-pressured into religion."

"So I guess I was peer-pressured into religion."

The dull yet solid echo of footsteps fill the church, only slightly dulled by the explosion of fireworks outside.

I follow Mary-Franses, Marie's sister, as she enters the main hall where people sat scattered in pews and murmuring to partners. There are a select few who are alone, gazing solemnly up at the huge cross that rests at the head of the church. Mary-Franses dips her hand in the Holy Water and crosses herself before heading towards the pews. I follow her and watch as she makes a quick kneel before sidling into her seat. I look up to the figure nailed to the cross and give a slight nod.

I may be an atheist but I respect an object of belief when I see it.

We sit down quite close to the isle and Mary-Franses kneels and silently prays. Their family isn't deeply religious, but they've had traditions grounded into them since they were young. I sit and gaze around the room. A few people are doing the same as Mary-Franses, others are doing mimicking me, and a select few are chatting with their neighbor. They tell each other about how their grandson just did this and how good ol' Stuart just did that. I feel relaxed.

Marie comes from the toilet and sits beside me. She looks at me and smiles but before I can say anything the sermon starts. The whole church stands and starts the opening psalm, a slow heavy hymn that filled the church with solemn respect. I flipped open the hymn book at the right page and handed it to Marie, but she placed it closed on the pew in front of her. I forgot that she does this every week.

The hymn ends and the congression sits itself down to listen to the hour long sermon of God's teachings. It's at this point that I let my mind wander around the room, my head is feeling warm and heavy with a content sleepyness in my eyes. Perfect conditions for some deep thinking.

I started wondering about my beliefs and values, past and present. I've had many conversations with Jeff on the bus about the existence of God or some kind of higher power in the universe. It usually ends up in a full scale argument where both of us are refusing to see each others point. So I sat in the hard wooden pew and looked up at the huge cross on the opposite wall, pondering the existence of a huge influence in my life.

When I was growing up, I had no religion. Being raised in a Catholic school wasn't too easy for that. I had Jesus pressed against me for seven years as my friends went through their first Communion, First Confession and confirmation. All the while I was left out, pushed to the side-lines while every one else enjoyed their special moments of their special God-filled lives. To be perfectly honest, I felt rejected.

So I guess I was peer-pressured into religion.

So I began to follow the guide lines of the Catholic religion and started praying. Not all the "Our Father who art in Heaven" crap, I just talked to God really. I never went to church, so I'd lie in my bed, look up at my ceiling and have a silent conversation with Him. It wasn't all too bad, but material ran short seeing as He was supposed to know everything and all. I didn't bother to ask Him for things, 'cause it's fucking pointless I'll have you know.

People always used to go on about "What kind of God can let this happen?" and "If there was a God he'd stop things like this". Bullshit. It's not that God's to lazy to get His almighty ass off the clouds to help everyone, it's just that He can't. He gave humans free will and put them on a planet that was hospitable for them. He can't interfere no matter how much He wants to.

My thoughts were interrupted by another hymn. We all stood up and people began to sing again, this time to a slightly more lively and upbeat tune. I stood there, unmoving and silent as ever, when Marie slipped her hand into mine and squeezed it hard. I looked down to see her smiling face looking up at me, so I returned the smile and she looked forward and continued on singing. The hymn ended and we sat down again, Marie still holding my hand on her lap.

I can remember exactly when I stopped believing in God. It was in RE not too long ago and we were going over theories of how you could prove God existed. And they were all wrong. There was arguments saying that "The world is just the right type for us to inhabit, so God must've made it." No, we evolved and changed ourselves for this world, not the other way round.

"Yeah but, you have to trace everything back to it's original source so something must've made the first thing and God made it." No, you're assuming that there isn't a set number of things in the universe that are recycled during multiple Big Bangs, and if you think of things that way, who created God I ask?

You've got your phenomenon on one hand. Concrete and knowable. On the other hand you've got the incomprehensible. You call it God, but to me, God or no, it remains just that, the unknowable.

My thoughts were once again interrupted by the Communion service. My entire row shuffled past me on their way to the alter and sat there and smiled. Marie and Mary-Franses came back and spent a short time kneeling in prayer before coming back up to hold my hand. I looked at her and whispered my thoughts. She whispered them back and I smiled.

The sermon went quicker after that.

I walked out into the explosive night with a content feeling in my chest. Marie snuggled into my chest to avoid the cold, and we walked away.

My faith surely affirmed.
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At 7:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wat ya mean u dont ask 4 anyfin!
u can so get wat u ask for if u speak from ur heart. man i sound so preachy dont i. ah well. luv jeff XXxxxx


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