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Daily Prompt

Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful

Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life — or doesn’t.

Faith, at least religious faith, doesn’t play any part in my life.  Even though I was raised Catholic and went to church every Sunday, I had a problem with some of the teachings and the hypocrisy of the church’s teachings.  There were two significant moments in my religious upbringing that turned me away from the church.

I went to a Catholic school from 3rd to 6th grade.  Part of the Catholic curriculum is, of course, a religion class.  My 4th grade religion teacher once told me that to ever miss Sunday mass is a mortal sin.  Me, being a thinker and someone who routinely questions authority, obviously had some questions about this statement.

“So, what if our car is broken down and we can’t get to church?” I innocently asked.  To this day, I still think this is a valid response to this teacher’s inane statement.  She, however, simply shrugged her shoulders.

“What if I’m sick and can’t make it to church?” I inquired curiously.  Again, she had no answer.  She simply reiterated her statement that missing church, for any reason, is a mortal sin.

Sorry, but if you want me to believe that God is benevolent and forgiving, you can’t sit there and tell me he’ll subject me to eternal damnation if circumstances beyond my control prevent me from attending Sunday mass.  The inherent contradiction in your teachings is ludicrous, 4th grade religion teacher whose name I cannot recall.

Three years later, when I was in 7th grade, I was enrolled in a public school, but attending religion classes provided by our church.  The teacher of this class told me, and every other child in this class, that the story of Adam and Eve was “made up” because “no one really knows how God created man.”

Remember these guys? Completely fabricated according to my religion teacher. Good to know, right?

So, on one hand I’m being told to have faith in the Bible and that every part of the Bible is true and on the other I’m being told that parts of the Bible are made up because there are some things we can’t explain.

That is highly illogical.

Once I grew older I began to see other contradictory actions committed by the church which drove me further away.  Specifically, their treatment of gays (love thy neighbor, unless he or she is gay) and those who believe differently than they do.

I’m not an atheist, per se, but I guess it’s more accurate to call me confused.  I’m not sure if God exists or not.  I guess that makes me agnostic.  You’ll never truly know the truth until you’re dead.

I do have faith, however.  My faith is that all things happen for a reason.  This may or may not be true, but that’s what I believe.  That belief is what gets me through hard times.  It helps me to look for the silver lining when things seem their bleakest.  It helps me persevere.  It keeps me going.  A “when one door closes another door opens” mentality.  That belief has served me well up to this point in my life, and so I’ll continue believing that way.  For instance, when my wife left I could have just pouted in front of that closed door and wallowed in a “woe is me” mentality.  And I did for a week or two.  But then I opened another door.  A door that opened me up to new possibilities.  A door which led to a new me.  A door to (to steal from Mikalee Byerman) Me 2.0.  A new version of me.  The sequel.  Part Deux.

That faith, that belief, got me to where I am today.  It keeps despair at bay when I’m down.  It keeps water from my lungs when I’m drowning.  It’s a helping hand to pull me up after I’ve been knocked down.  It may not be a conventional faith, but it works for me and that’s all that matters.

What about you, probably bored reader.  Do you have faith?  If so, what do you believe in?

 

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Discussion

56 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful

  1. Not bored at all.
    I’d have to say we have similar perspectives on this. I too was subjected to Catholicism going to C-school 1-6 grades and being an alter boy and all that crap. What that experience did was clarify what I do not believe in. The jury is still out on the rest…
    Red

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    Posted by SocietyRed | December 29, 2012, 2:25 pm
  2. Excellent points!

    I too suffer from Post Traumatic Catholic School Disorder. I endured 12 years of that shit. And now you know I am all kinds of crazy because of it.

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    Posted by GingerSnaap | December 29, 2012, 2:31 pm
  3. We were raised as Wesleyan and were taught that God is where you live. Church was a place to celebrate life and be inspired by the scripture.

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    Posted by sha'tashari | December 29, 2012, 2:49 pm
  4. thank you for the ping back. I love that you have faith. We all at least need faith to keep going forth

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    Posted by terry1954 | December 29, 2012, 2:49 pm
  5. 12 years of Catholic school I hear you loud and clear. I think you have a very good point of view regarding silver linings. Faith is an individual matter.

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    Posted by Life With The Top Down | December 29, 2012, 3:22 pm
  6. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from people who attended Catholic school.

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    Posted by idiotprufs | December 29, 2012, 3:42 pm
    • Yeah, the worst teacher I ever had was my fifth grade teacher in Catholic school. I don’t remember it, but my mom has told me that this woman, who weighed at least 400 lbs, slammed me to the wall in the hallway one day and pinned me there with her considerable weight. She was obviously fired…

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      Posted by twindaddy | December 29, 2012, 5:15 pm
  7. Reblogged this on cftc10.

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    Posted by cftc10 | December 29, 2012, 3:43 pm
  8. Always love your perspective on things. Very enlightening. Thanks for the good read. (again) :-)

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    Posted by thecheekydiva | December 29, 2012, 3:50 pm
  9. Thank you for the ping back. I think similarly about “when one door closes…” and like the idea that we can reinvent ourselves after a setback.

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    Posted by lena de almeida | December 29, 2012, 4:41 pm
  10. Love the inserts. Hilarious. :)

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    Posted by dmauldin53 | December 29, 2012, 4:42 pm
  11. I had 12 years of Catholic school but, unlike many of the other commenters, it appears that I am one of the few who kept the faith. I ran into a few bad religion teachers, so don’t let a pair of bad ones in your life shake your faith (I’ve never heard what your 4th and 7th grade teachers taught, so it’s bogus).

    Similarly, don’t let the behavior of some “Christians” shake your faith, either. Bad behavior on the part of some Christians does not in itself disprove Christianity. I know one of your objections to Christianity is its approach to homosexuality; while you may disagree with how many Christians approach it, I have written about what I think is the correct way to approach it. What did you think of it?

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    Posted by Null | December 29, 2012, 4:58 pm
    • I knew you would have a comment for this as soon as I saw the prompt.

      Yeah, the 4th and 7th grade teachers were full of it. You can’t teach conflicting lessons…well you can, but it’s stupid. But in my experience it happens all the time in every religion.

      If I recall, your stance on homosexuality was that being gay in itself isn’t a sin, but acting on the homosexual “urges” is. That’s honestly a more reasonable approach to homosexuality than most Christians have, but I don’t believe being gay is an urge or a lifestyle. Or even a choice. You and I, we were born with an innate attraction to women. Gay people are born with an innate attraction to their own sex. It’s not an urge. It’s what’s natural to them.

      Furthermore, I believe that the Bible is not the word of God, but the word of men who believe in God and as such was written with the bias that those men possessed. That’s why women and gays are so denigrated in the Bible and throughout history.

      I, however, know how you are and that this discussion will continue for an eternity if I let it..and I’m not interested in that. We’ve both made our beliefs clear to each other in the past and I have no desire to get drawn in to another religious debate.

      I respect your opinion and hopefully you respect mine. Thank you for reading, Null. As always, your perspective is appreciated even if I don’t agree with it.

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      Posted by twindaddy | December 29, 2012, 5:33 pm
      • Of course I respect your opinion. In fact, I can empathize with your opinions against the Church to a degree. The Church is, after all, composed of fallible human beings and has made mistakes.

        I am glad you appreciate my perspective. I offered it because in my experience my religion teachers did a decent job explaining what the Catholic Church believes/teaches but a fairly poor job explaining why (most of those teachers are laymen who haven’t studied as much theology as a priest or religious brother or sister). I have had to supplement this education by asking questions and reading books to help me understand why the Catholic Church (and Christianity in general) teaches what it teaches.

        (Sorry it has taken me so long to respond — I meant to respond earlier but I was on vacation and didn’t have much access to a computer.)

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        Posted by Null | January 7, 2013, 1:25 pm
  12. You can’t be a thinker and a Catholic. I tried that one too. Not a good mix, like beer before liqueur – never been sicker.

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    Posted by Melanie | December 29, 2012, 6:17 pm
  13. I noticed that the Prompt Folks waited to post this until you were sure the world didn’t end on Dec 21…

    But seriously, TwinDaddy, we are of one mind on this. Am I an atheist? No. But what I believe is that folks need to treat each other well. It is as simple as that. To try to be good people. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t.

    I was raised Catholic until I was 10 when my parents had a falling out with the church. So I never really believed. Most of the Catholics I know, though are really good people who have an acceptance of life’s hardships that I wish I shared. They believe that whatever sucky thing happened, it’s god’s will, and they get on with it. When I am at my lowest I wish I could just believe that. But I don’t, and I don’t pretend to either.

    The hypocrisy of the church gets me too. The pedophilia, the way the church looked the other way during the Holocaust.

    I started questioning it pretty early on. The belief that everybody who is not baptised Catholic is going to hell is one that I questioned early on. Why would god create people just to damn them? It never made sense to me (and it is still my argument against so many Christian sects who think they alone will go to heaven.)

    I am always amazed at how many things you and I agree on, TwinDaddy. It gives me hope that some day other folks will figure out that they don’t have to agree on everything to be friends.

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    Posted by Elyse | December 29, 2012, 6:18 pm
  14. A thoughtful post with nice graphics. The ultimate faith, I think, is faith in one’s self. Thanks for writing this.

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    Posted by Amirh | December 29, 2012, 6:48 pm
  15. Thank you for another thoughtful post. I haven’t read anything boring here yet.

    My faith in the Catholic church is non existent. My aunt still says I need to attend church to “get it right”. Hell is implied. My retort to that is “some like it hot”.

    A year ago, the phrase everything happens for a reason would have earned a stare from me that would have made Medusa proud. I’m learning that those reasons may be as elementary as the choices we elect so it makes more sense now…sometimes. I’m glad it works for you.

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    Posted by 1jaded1 | December 29, 2012, 8:20 pm
  16. **@You’ll never truly know the truth until you’re dead…

    >Hey there Stuph. I got a pingback/trackback from you N being new here I’m sure what that means..Nevertheless, here I am. From the looks of it I’m the only one so far (from reading the comments)with the viewpoint that I have/that I feel/& that I live. I enjoyed reading your thoughts Stuph even though I feel very different…at this point of my life. I also had many questions/doubts once in regards to religion /faith/and whether to believe fully in something I couldn’t see/touch/taste/or hear. Though this isn’t entirely odd for me because I’m an inquisitive person by nature…

    A quick, fast forwarded background on me in reference to the topic at hand. I was christened into the Catholic Faith at birth. Holy Communion at the appropriate age. Due to circumstances of having been co-raised by a Father in the military/moving with each new military assignment I didn’t receive confirmation. Ever. (I’m in a 6 month religious studies class presently, by choice, to prepare for my confirmation on the eve of this coming April..) All of my life I’ve attended Catholic mass when I’ve attended church. Usually more than not..And recently after attended a National Black Catholic Conference out of state(awesome experienced!) I came to the realization that with or without the questions I still HAD..I am Catholic. Period. Now? I’ve a thirst to learn more N more about my Catholic religion and God. My mindset now is that because I wasn’t fully educated on either..is what caused me to have questions. I don’t think anyone can know everything about anything. I find the more I learn, in any topic or regarding anything, the more there IS to learn . Thankfully I’m an avid reader and a quick study.

    Do I think that everyone who is a Christian or Catholic represents a good example of what either of those are? Nope! But then again there are people in many fields and occupations who don’t either..Take policemen for example..certainly there ARE bad apples amongst them that make them ALL look bad. That is no different from anything else in that regard. But one has to believe that isn’t the case about any of all in a group..There ARE more Catholics outside of the United States than within the United States. So unless anyone has been to ALL of the countries that Catholics live N practice…couldn’t possibly have experienced being in a community that one could see how all Catholics practice.

    There is gray area in alot of things…I can appreciate N “respect” anyone’s opinion. We are all entitled to our opinions. I can see how someone could be agnostic…BUT I don’t have to die to believe in God. From things that have happened in MY life I’d literally have to be a deaf mute with very little mental awareness …to deny that God exists. HE is that real to me..in every possible way now. I’m part of a very nuturing Catholic community/church family that is /has taught me things I didn’t know about the Catholic faith. N there is still a TON for me to learn..I’ve only learned the tip of the iceberg of what I will learn. And read…and experience actively . I’m going to end here cause I didn’t intend on writing all of this..thoughts just keep flowing and flowing on this topic. Next time I come to post I promise to use brevity. Peace…

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    Posted by bernasvibe | December 30, 2012, 6:22 am
  17. I wasn’t raised in a very religious family. But then I moved to a place that bombarded you with religion to the point that you had to plug your ears “la la la la. I can’t hear you!”. The problem is that if I were to believe in one God and one religion, who’s to say that I don’t believe in the other? And why shouldn’t I? Aren’t they all the same in the end? To me religion is just a waste of time (no offence to anyone’s beliefs or anything). All the fights and wars we probably could’ve avoided without it. Having faith is nice. Trying to blame discrimination (and murder for that matter) is not.
    gaah. This is getting too serious for me. I’m agnostic too. Do you ever think being agnostic just means we’re too lazy to really think about what we believe in? :P

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    Posted by MissFourEyes | December 30, 2012, 7:03 am
  18. If there’s a worse religion than your Catholicism, it may have been my community’s flavor of Southern Baptist(ness?) When I was 14 or so I started seeing religion as a product of one’s geography/community. I also didn’t appreciate their superior “us” versus “them” mentality. Incidentally, this is the same thing that turns me off to Richard Dawkins’s flavor of atheism. These days, I’m just tired of people trying to validate their own beliefs by discrediting others’.

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    Posted by ohiasia | January 3, 2013, 8:44 am
    • Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Every religion is the only one that’s right, and every other religion is wrong. Makes sense, right?

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      Posted by twindaddy | January 3, 2013, 8:58 am
      • When you invest in something emotionally, I understand needing self-reassurance that you’re doing the “right” thing. Confirmation bias is right there waiting to back us up. I guess it’s easier to grasp that someone is “wrong” than to consider that there may be more than one “right”. Not sure I totally have my head around that one.

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        Posted by ohiasia | January 3, 2013, 9:06 am
        • I get what you’re saying. But that’s kind of why I believe the way I do. With so many religions, and so many gods, how do you know one is right over all of the others. If there is only one god, then where did people get the idea that there are others?

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          Posted by twindaddy | January 3, 2013, 9:09 am
          • Right there with you. It’s always struck me how a truly devout Christian appears to feel the same level of conviction (and “truth”) as a devout Hindu, Buddhist, etc. Recently I’ve been throwing around the idea that religion is like one’s diet. Some people need very specialized diets, but they’re all across the board; some people can’t consume gluten, with others it’s lactose, etc. For whatever reason, I’m an omnivore with an built-in sense of portion control, so no need for a special diet. Food or otherwise. :)

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            Posted by ohiasia | January 3, 2013, 9:20 am
          • I’d rather it all just disappear. It seems to me that religion is the most glaring cause of confict on this planet, and things would be more peaceful if there were no conflicts of ideals.

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            Posted by twindaddy | January 3, 2013, 9:27 am
          • All religions make truth claims, and in some cases they can be falsified. For example, we know from modern cosmology that the universe had an origin ex nihilo, so any religion which claims that the universe has always existed is (at least partially) false. We may not be able to prove that a religion is true but we can rule some out.

            As another example, Christianity claims that Jesus was the Son of God, died by crucifixion, was resurrected, and ascended into heaven. All these can be falsified or (at least doubted) if, for example, we were to find the body of Jesus (for then he didn’t ascend into heaven, may not have been resurrected, etc.).

            In any case, just because we can’t know with absolute certainty which (if any) religion is true (there are few things we know with absolute certainty anyway) it doesn’t mean that no religion is true.

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            Posted by Null | January 7, 2013, 1:30 pm
  19. “I’d rather it all just disappear. It seems to me that religion is the most glaring cause of confict on this planet, and things would be more peaceful if there were no conflicts of ideals.”

    What is the basis for your belief that “religion is the most glaring cause of conflict”? In the past century alone the majority of our major wars have had political and/or economic causes:
    WWI: caused by a political assassination, and a system of alliances which spread the conflict throughout the world
    WWII: caused by what the Germans viewed as a Carthaginian peace from WWI, the rise of a political ideology (fascism) in Germany and Italy, German desire for “Lebensraum” in the east, political conflict between fascism and communism, etc.
    Korean War: political aftereffects of WWII, political conflict between communism and democracy
    Vietnam War: political conflict between communism and democracy
    Persian Gulf War: result of Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait over oil

    Yes, you could say that a number of Israeli wars (Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, etc.) have religious causes (Judaism vs. Islam) but there are political and economic causes as well (and the displacement of Jews into modern day Israel is itself an aftereffect of…WWII).

    Going further back into history the most obvious examples of religious wars are the Crusades (Christianity vs. Islam), some wars between religious denominations (Roman Catholics vs. Protestants, Sunni vs. Shia Muslims, etc.), and some wars between different cultures which also had different religions, but there are tons of wars in history due primarily to political and economic causes:
    uncountable wars of expansion through conquest (e.g. the wars of the Greek, Roman, and Persian Empires)
    conflict over land for resources, access to ocean ports, re-conquest of land (e.g. Alsace-Lorraine), etc.
    civil wars
    colonial wars
    wars of independence
    political jockeying between royal houses (especially in Europe)

    Do you really think that disappearance of all religion (if that were even possible) would magically remove all conflict? If so, how do you explain the fact that the majority of wars in history have not had religious causes but rather political and economic ones?

    And don’t forget that religion has benefited civilization as well. For example, Christianity (primarily the Catholic Church) is credited as being one of the most significant preservers of knowledge, culture, and art from the ancient Greeks, Romans, etc.

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    Posted by Null | January 7, 2013, 1:37 pm
    • War is not the only type of conflict.

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      Posted by twindaddy | January 7, 2013, 1:39 pm
      • Indeed, but war is the epitome of conflict. It is the final escalation of conflict, so any causes (political, economic, religious, or otherwise) of war are also the causes of the lower types of conflict which later escalated to war.

        I claim politics is the most glaring cause of conflict on the planet. Not only is it the cause of most wars (to quote von Clausewitz: “war is a continuation of politics by other means”) but it is the cause of many lower types of conflict which did not escalate to war.

        Why do you think that religion is a more glaring cause of conflict, especially since it is not the cause of most wars?

        Also, is all conflict bad? For example, should abolitionists have avoided conflict with slave-owners and their political allies and merely accepted slavery?

        (I suspect from past experience you will soon grow tired of my questions — if you are not already tired of them — so I will not expect a response even though I would be glad to hear your thoughts. Rather, I pose my questions as food for your thoughts.)

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        Posted by Null | January 7, 2013, 2:09 pm

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