So what about that time in boot camp where I felt the magic of spirituality? Well, like most people who find God again, I was going through a somewhat traumatic time. Boot camp is not all that hard, and I never lost hope, nor did my spirit ever break. But the human brain can only take so much abuse before it starts seeking refuge and escape. That's why I wanted to go to church so badly: not because I truly found God, but because I needed a break from being yelled at and scrutinized.
I am at a point in my life where I have accomplished enough good things to know that I truly am in control of the direction my life takes. My father continues to tell me that "God puts you where he wants you," and that apparently, I can't do shit without God doing it for me, but I know that he barely even understands what he's talking about.
God didn't make me sign up for the Navy. I didn't graduate summa cum laude with a double major in history and political science because of God's grace: that happened because I dug deep and I worked hard. God didn't help me on my job interviews, and God certainly hasn't guided me to my current job. I got this job because a friend of mine happens to work for this company, and I couldn't stand working in a call center anymore.
I don't pray. I don't ask for God's favor or praise, and I certainly don't ask for His forgiveness. I don't know what God wants. In fact, I don't think God even exists in the way that most people think. The traditional Judeo-Christian God is strikingly human, and I believe it is so because it's the only way we humans can understand anything. How could we understand something that exists in a way that we can't even perceive, let alone comprehend?
And so, I've come to understand why my father--and so many like him--buy into their faith. Humans desire two things above all else.
1. To feel as though their lives have meaning.
2. To understand everything around them.
When humans find themselves wanting in those two areas, they become afraid. No one wants to feel like their life is meaningless, but it's hard to find meaning when you realize that compared to all of existence, each person is less than a fraction of a grain of sand in the grand scheme of everything. Insignificance is a tough pill to swallow.
And how do we explain our existence? We'll never ever know, but not-knowing is just as uncomfortable as insignificance. So we create meaning, even if it's based on the fact that some guy wrote about it in 300 BC.
People who cling to religion do so because it's a security blanket. They've spent their entire lives being told that God will punish them for being unfaithful, when in reality, religion only exists so we don't have to feel so depressed. That is a sad commentary on the intellectual capacity of the average human.
On average, humans lack the intellectual capacity to come to terms with their own insignificance. Because they cannot cope with such hopeless hope, they create stories that showcase their importance to the universe. They cannot fathom anything other than being exceptional, and so they adopt the understanding that their very existence is a sign of being exceptional: God created us, and we're special because he loves us.
No, my friends. We humans might be insignificant, but we are special. Not because Pastor Frank tells you that you're special because God created you, and loves you. We are special because we are that one in ten billion. Out of all the chaos and clambor of this largely inhospitable universe, somehow we exist. We are individuals with hopes and dreams, fears and regrets. Ultimately they amount to little, as we are all doomed to die, but that's what makes us special.
Living your life fully, and happily in the face of hopelessness--knowing that someday you will die, and there may be nothing beyond this mortal coil--that is the pinnacle of a life well spent.
For me, the prospect of living a life based on punishment and reward was never enough. It was not until I abandoned that antiquated mode of thinking that I truly became free. Break free from the chains of fear--fear of oblivion and insignificance. Until that point, you are only living a life that has been imposed upon you.
My life has vastly improved. Because I realize that the gate is straight and the way so narrow only because an old ass book says so, no longer am I burdened by crushing guilt. I don't sit and worry about the souls of non-Christians, because ultimately religions are just ideologies that have had murderous, self-righteous assholes as their biggest cheerleaders.
So what's my spirituality? Live free or die.