Monday, June 2, 2014

Do I have a religious instinct?

I wouldn’t say I was raised to religion; although I might have been.  My grandmother, who was self-taught because she spent part of her childhood deaf, raised me until I was ten.  She didn’t teach me anything about religion as far as I recall.  What she did urge me to do was read all sorts of things.  She got me a library card as soon as I was eligible, and I did.  My siblings and I were sent off to church; the First Christian Church of Wilmington California, so I suppose that comprises a sort of “raising,” but my parents didn’t attend.  I recall that my younger brother used to keep the money we were given to put in the collection plate and later buy candy with it.   

By reading “all sorts of things” I eventually got to the point where I could no longer accept the literalism of the sort of religion I was being presented with by the First Christian Church.  My mother did become excessively religious after I went into the Marine Corps, but she gravitated to a denomination that was decidedly not “main-stream,” the World Wide Church of God.  I used to have regular debates with her about it. 

During my agnostic period I read a lot of Marxist and Communist literature, got in some debates with some fellow-travelers if not communists, but was never convinced by anything I read.

I decided I needed to pursue religion a bit more and went through something reminiscent of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha.   I wasn’t comfortable being a non-believer, but my mother had turned me off of Christianity because at the time I thought her denomination or sect was typical.  I wasn’t sophisticated enough to realize that Herbert Armstrong and the World Wide Church of God was something like a cult.  I spent time studying Zen, the writings of Gautama Buddha Buddhist, Taoism – I liked Taoism, or at least the writings of Lao Tsu quite a lot.  I didn’t join anything, however.  I then studied the Yoga third path to wisdom; which involved study rather than doing weird stuff with your body or sacrificing yourself in some weird way.  

I went through a divorce and then found that the only woman who interested me in marrying again was a committed Christian.  It didn’t hurt that she was gorgeous, but I wouldn’t have been interested in a woman who was caught up in any of the other religions I had studied up until then.  This young Baptist lady suited me quite well.  Except, as usual, I spent the next 8 years studying theology and we ended up in a “reformed” Presbyterian Church. 

Continuing to read all sorts of things I now wouldn’t say that I fit any particular denomination extremely well.  Nicholas Wade would say that one can’t be religious unless he belongs to a religious “pack” of some sort.  I don’t agree with him.   I am technically a member of such a “pack” but no longer attend.  My wife would attend if she were able, but she is now an invalid.  Does my being “technically a member” satisfy Wade’s argument that I need to be part of a religious “pack” (btw he doesn’t use the term “pack,” but I can’t recall the term he does use)?  I rather think not, on the other hand our church made two physical moves, each time further away from where we live and surely if we are physically unable to make the drive, they’ve got to accept that; so maybe we are still part of it. 

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