In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (King James Version, John 1:1)
And from Day One of my existence, God scared the crap out of me. By age four, I wanted nothing to do with Him.
Thank you very much, Catholicism. Or, to be more specific, the thanks really ought to go to my grandmother.
Clearly, I developed a strong dislike of the Church.
Not only did I have to wake up at 5 a.m. to go to Mass with my grandparents, but I would have to remain in the “crying room” with the other children, so that if we got fussy we wouldn’t disturb the rest of the church goers. And although morbid, I found the Stations of the Cross fairly fascinating, even though I was small and didn’t quite understand any of it. Thank you, Jesus, for my love for gore.
My parents enrolled me into bible study, but I learned more from my grandma. Her version of God absolutely frightened me. For a while, the omnipotent and omniscient deity haunted me. Even the friendly portrait of Jesus hanging in the hallway took on a sinister look whenever I viewed him sideways.
I took to hiding underneath the kitchen table, somehow deceiving myself into believing it was a good place to hide from His ever-present gaze. I would drag blankets, pillows and books into my space, giving myself some respite from my fear. That fort afforded me a wonderful sense of security that I still can’t quite grasp today.
Eventually, I became obstinate enough to refuse going to Mass, and because I was spoiled, I got my way. No longer did I have to go to that stuffy little place and get splashed with water by the priest.
My grandma, bless her heart, continued to instill the fear of God into me, however. Despite avoiding church, I could never quite avoid God in my own household, unless I could escape to my kitchen table.
I quit bible study as soon as I received my First Communion.
The God I grew up with was horribly oppressing. In high school, I finally got up enough courage to claim that I didn’t believe in God.
My brother was a freshman or perhaps still in middle school when he asked my dad if he would pay for Confirmation classes. All of Nathan’s friends were already enrolled, so I figured that was from where the desire stemmed.
I distinctly remember the conversation, as I was sitting at my computer in the same room.
Nathan: “Dad, can I take Confirmation classes with my friends?”
Dad: “Yeah, sure. That’s a good idea. I can pay for that. How about you?”
Even though I wasn’t looking, I could feel his gaze on me.
Me: “No, thanks. I don’t really want to.”
Dad: “Don’t you care about going to heaven?”
Me: “Eh, I don’t really believe in any of that stuff.”
For a few heartbeats, there was only dead silence.
Dad: “What do you mean, you don’t believe in it?”
Me: “I just don’t. It doesn’t make any sense to me, and even if I did think there was a god, he or she would not be like the Christian God.”
Since confrontation isn’t a regular occurrence in my family, my dad saw fit to just release a sound of exasperation, and leave me to my IMing.
That’s as close to an admittance of atheism or agnosticism that I will ever give to my family. My grandparents would never understand, so I think we would all be better served if I kept it to myself. Despite my dad’s reaction, he isn’t exactly a religious man himself, which is why he let me off so easily.
To be honest, Dad seems to think more than I give him credit for. I find myself recalling strange conversations we’ve had about the nature of the universe and medical advancements, but I digress.
For the better part of my young life, I have been at odds with religion. It has only been within the last six or seven years that I have begun to change my mind. And it wasn’t until I learned about mysticism that I was able to formulate more concrete statements about my own religious beliefs. I now believe there is Something, but the nature of that Something is wholly incomprehensible.
I’m certain I’ve written about it before, so I won’t go into further detail about all of that, but I suppose this whole entry is about my spiritual/religious journey from childhood to adulthood. Thanks for following.
It’s been a hell of a ride.