I left Christianity when I was a kid. Nope, better qualify that, I was never actually “in” Christianity. My physical body was hauled off to church and Sunday school but my mind would take a sojourn elsewhere. I didn’t believe it. Not a bit of it. And then? A Sunday school teacher told me that I was a “bad” Christian because I asked too many questions. I was a little kid and this upset me. Upset me and made me question her Christianity because apparently, this Jesus dude she kept on about, liked little kids but she did not. So who was the good Christian and who was the bad Christian?
As a little girl, later a big girl and then a woman, I read. I read A LOT. Younger years, it was fiction but then it moved toward biographies, historical books, political books – reality based books. Oh, I still picked up a work of fiction every now and then but primarily and to this day, my preference is for reality, truth and the pursuit of mankind toward understanding.
Part of the human condition is ignorance; not the “picking your nose while driving” ignorance but lack of knowledge ignorance, lack of understanding ignorance.
It was due to this ignorance and a helping of fear born from this ignorance that I found my way to Neo-Paganism. Truth be told? It was fun. Had a blast. For a while. It was a new thing and it was ever shifting; the community was made up of flamboyant and terribly bright people. There were some books written on the topic but not many dealt with the actual history or evolution of Neo-Paganism. Nothing factual or of truth. Didn’t bother me at the time – hung around for a few decades I was busy raising a family and the search for truth was on the back burner while I tried to raise my kids to be as ethical and moral as possible, in a world that seems to prize neither quality. I used Paganism to that end. The boys were raised as Pagans but, they are all pretty smart cookies and they knew that I knew it was a pile of supposition and fantasy.
One of the biggest issues I had and continue to have with Neo-Paganism as a whole, is the rampant hypocrisy. Go in and watch a conversation when Judeo-Christian belief comes into play. Oh boy, the bible is just a book of stories, Christians are evil people who tortured and murdered gazillions of flower throwing Pagans for not believing in their one god. Yes, they do have a very tenuous grip on history – it seems to get in the way of a really terrific martyr complex, you see.
The ancient world, which they have turned into the land of rainbows, love and light was a brutal, survival of the fittest, disease ridden, death always peeking in the window place. Just a simple jaunt through an actual book shows that ancient civilizations were quite adept at torture, mutilation and murder – they had far more practice than did the Christians.
If the Judeo-Christians have no proof that their belief system is founded on fact; you better believe that Neo-Pagans don’t either but the latter is perfectly acceptable, apparently.
I looked, in the beginning of my search for facts, for proof of Gerald Gardner’s claims. None. Nada. Nothing. Crowley and his Liber AL vel Legis; nope. Okay, so no proof. Not a big deal until people opened their mouths and began to denigrate other belief systems. Whoa there hoss – people who live in glass houses?
In my life, I have people who believe they have had God experiences of the Christian sort and people who believe they have had God/Goddess experiences of the Neo-Pagan sort. Whatever. One is just as important to the individual as the other. I don’t believe it but that’s my choice; their choice is to believe.
The very idea that there is nothing, no great power out there watching, protecting the world and its inhabitants is beyond terrifying for many, obviously. The concept that when we leave this physical existence that there may be absolutely nothing afterward is also too much for most people to handle. This would mean that the responsibility for their lives, the joys, the sorrows, the triumphs and the complete screw-ups are totally in their control. That they must “do it right” the first time because there isn’t a second chance is beyond their ability to absorb as a potential.
And that’s fine but to denigrate each other, to claim the “right” spirituality based on that fear is wrong. Its bordering on evil. Same goes for the Atheists though; I’m not a big fan of too many of them either. They can be and sometimes surpass the obnoxious and boorish behavior of the fanatically religious.
The fact is – we don’t know everything. Just as we smile indulgently at the people of old, who believed the world to be flat and that thunder was god or the gods sending a message; there may come a time in the future where our descendants smile indulgently at our belief that we knew it all.
Time and relentless searching, questioning has placed me in the camp of the Agnostics. I am not so full of myself as to believe that I know, for a fact, there is nothing. I simply have found no compelling evidence thus far. Man has found no compelling evidence thus far. A good thing because the search continues. Knowledge grows and we learn (some of us, at any rate). The greatest joy and one that so many people have yet to discover, is the joy found in learning. A joy that continues, that is eternal.