Harrison has a great article over at Capitol Commentary today about how Obama zealots are similar to Jesus zealots. I encourage everyone to read it, as it inspired me to explicate how I've evolved over the years in my beliefs on spirituality. Some of this might rehash some things I've already covered, but I think there will be enough new content to keep you interested, or at least get you thinking.
As my profile thingy says, I grew up Catholic. All 12 years of my school, 16 if you count the fact that I went to a Catholic university, were spent in Catholic school. I went to St. Anthony's for grades 1-8, and St. Francis De Sales for high school (for those of you who are at all familiar with the North End of Columbus). At St. Anthony's, they made all of us go to mass once a week, usually on Fridays if my memory serves me correctly.
As compliant as I can be, I've got a bit of a defiant streak in me, so when I feel something is pointless or ridiculous, I'm apt to voice my opinion on how dumb I think it is. In any religion, the person is told what to do: how to live their lives, how to worship, what is right and wrong.
Why am I told that I have to go to church? I always complained when my mother made us all go to church on Sundays, because she knew we had already gone once on Friday. "You're supposed to go to church on Sunday," she told me. That wasn't an adequate explanation for me.
My dad's side of my family are Protestant, Baptists many of them. When I was in 7th grade they started taking me to their church, Genoa Baptist. Needless to say, it was markedly different from what I was used to. The structure that I had grown up with simply did not exist. The big thing that stood out in my mind was that the people there didn't seem like mindless drones going through the sitting and kneeling motions. They actually, truly believed in God, and they felt God's presence. For them, life wasn't about service or being penitent for one's flawed human nature, but rather loving God and accepting Jesus as their savior.
I admit that it put me through a spiritual whirl. I questioned my faith in the Catholic church, and I even considered converting at one point. There was so much about Catholicism that seem inherently flawed to me. I ended up not converting, because I felt a strong sense of loyalty to my mom and the tradition under which she had raised me.
Fast-forward to the near present day, it was not long ago that I realized why I had such a crisis of faith. I realize now that the teachers who were supposed to teach us about the Catholic faith at St. Anthony's were not theologians, and were probably not qualified to teach us about the intellectual nature of Catholicism. It wasn't until college that I discovered the idea of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.
It's important that I did, because it was just the other day that I came to quite a big conclusion: I never felt God's presence, I don't feel God's presence now, and I highly doubt that I will feel it anytime in the future. That's why I couldn't convert, because even then I felt like I was missing something. Lots of people feel that way, that there's something missing in their life, and then they find religion and are suddenly fulfilled. That's not the case with me.
I don't pray. I don't "commune" with God. I don't even believe that God's presence is a real thing, because an ethereal being cannot possibly be felt or perceived by our crude senses. I often doubt whether or not God exists. And this is why the Catholic faith is good for me, because I don't feel that God exists. I feel nothing. I believe God exists, because I've reasoned that he probably does.
I think that's a much stronger faith, because it's not dependent on lies or kidding myself. Feelings change easily, from day-to-day, and I'll never have to fear the day that I don't "feel" God exists, because it's already here. I think there are many more people who don't feel that God exists, but I think few are willing to admit it. They just put it deep down inside, and lie to themselves and everyone else. I'm not comfortable with lying to myself.
Faith should not be a feeling. It should be a decision.