Walking away

My first draft of this entry began thusly: I was in high school when I declared that I would no longer follow a religion.

But that’s not right, exactly.

I was in high school when I became deeply curious about science – biology and evolution, especially – and I remember bringing questions to my weekly Confirmation classes. I wanted to know if my questions would fit into Catholicism. I needed to know if it was okay that I didn’t take the Bible literally, if it was okay that I believed in evolution.

I was told by the instructor leading the class that, no, my questions were not acceptable. The Bible was fact, evolution was one of Satan’s lies, and I needed to commit myself to God.

It was made clear that I was an outcast. I was wrong. I would need to change, fundamentally, to be fully accepted into the faith in which I’d been raised.

After several tearful conversations with my family, I was removed from the classes. I was never Confirmed.

In retrospect, I think I was done a favor. I’ve become a person of strong conviction, someone who won’t align with a label unless I can be all-in. Even in my firm political leanings, I’m wary of using a pre-cut, pre-defined label, out of concern that there will be that one thing I don’t agree with. I was spared the cognitive discomfort of explaining away the injustices of the Church in an effort to protect my faith.

But Catholicism was done a disservice that day. This religion was once rife with scientists and mathematicians, scholars and philosophers. People who defined great things by questioning the meaning of the world around them and heavens above. Hundreds of years of curiosity, culminating in discovery.

In this tiny, small-town classroom, that spirit was lost. Demands of conformity won over discussions of curiosity. So much potential lies in these conversations of faith, and it’s so often squandered. And it’s a travesty.

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4 thoughts on “Walking away

  1. It angers me to no end, when a leader in the church (or any organization for that matter) goes so far as to squash the questions and curiosities of those in attendance instead of investigating them together regardless of the outcome. I think of the many years as an evangelical christian when I had serious doubts, lots of questions, and not once ever encouraged to explore those doubts and questions. Instead, I was surrounded by authoritative figures and pressed to hold on and keep the faith. Twenty years of that bullshit.

    I’m so very glad that yours had a much more speedy course to living out a life that aligned with what you thought and felt inside.

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    1. I count myself very lucky to be the sort of person who has no need of spiritual guidance. 🙂 That’s what “rescued” me. Ultimately, it didn’t matter what I was being told; I simply didn’t need it.

      Which makes faith very unique for me. Especially when younger, I had a deep need for approval and belonging. Why that didn’t translate to religion or faith, I’ll never know. But I’m glad it didn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It makes me wonder how different your trajectory may or may not have been if the conversations had gone differently and if your questions had been encouraged.

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    1. I definitely wonder this, too. If I’d been welcomed into the religion at a formative age, would I have been more likely to see coincidences as evidence of a god? Would I have been open to ascribing the wonder of the universe to intentional creation?

      I’m comfortable looking back and feeling that these questions are ultimately minor, that being in a religion all these years wouldn’t have changed the kindness or compassion with which I’ve tried to live my life. But it’s still something I wonder from time to time. 🙂

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Like

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