The journey commenced when I was young. At about nine years of age I began extensive questioning. As a result, I was sent to camp to become indoctrinated into my parent’s uber-conservative fundamentalist nondenominational religious sect. The brain washing lasted until I entered high school and inquiry was renewed by Religions of the World class. I wasn’t sure if the faith that my parents taught me was true. I researched the origin of the Bible. I learned that it had been translated erroneously, chapters deleted, and edited by myriad people to suit their political purposes. I could not consider it to be a literal document anymore. It offered good moral guidelines but not verbatim documentation. Jesus Christ was a wise person but I don’t know about any other qualifications.
By the time I was sixteen I was informed by the minister to stop asking questions or risk being excommunicated and my family shunned. I didn’t want to endanger my family member’s souls so I ceased speaking. I suffered through the services and learned how to meditate since the weekly lecture was nearly an hour of torture. Meditation staved off panic attacks when I heard the leaders utter hypocrisy and inconsistencies. It was a painful time.
I began visiting different Christian churches when I entered college. These included a variety of nondenominational groups as well as Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Latter Day Saints. Ventured to other faiths such as Ba’hai, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hindu, Wicca, and Scientology. I accidentally went to a few places which would have qualified as a “cult” and quickly got away. I probably researched 100+ faith based groups. I really liked the Society of Friends aka the Quakers but it wasn’t the best fit.
Most religions hold the same tenets sacred; they just express it in diverse ways. I could not abide groups who declared that their approach is the only system and all others are wrong. That is arrogant and bigoted. Using religion to make women submissive is reprehensible. It is an abomination to use faith as an excuse to harm others. Mere humans cannot state that they know the Mind of God. The Source may be plural, clearly has no gender, and may not even exist. No human knows. I sought a refuge where questions were encouraged but I decided that I wasn’t comfortable with institutionalized religion.
Animistic teachings of my grandfather who was part Native American was enough to sustain my soul. I would thank the Creator on a regular basis and live a positive life. I hovered between Agnosticism and Atheism. If there is a Supreme Being, it exists everywhere (Higgs boson particle) or else it visited Earth and has deserted us. I began to crave communing with other open-minded people. The challenge is that there is no Animistic Congregation. Animism varies because it is personalized by the family, clan, or tribal nation. They share a lot of the same beliefs but each group does it a bit differently. I visited a couple churches with a lot of Native or Hmong Americans but they were more Christian than Animistic. It didn’t feel like a match so I took a long break from seeking a spiritual home.
Seeking an Oasis.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing