I was raised as a catholic and I received the sacraments of the catholic faith and participated in church life until the age of 24. I was raised in a catholic charismatic community, in which it was expected that the holy spirit would descend on you at some point and you would speak in tongues.
I worked overseas (very briefly) with the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Theresa of Calcutta and our family had been founding members of the Catholic charismatic community in Brisbane and been in covenant with that community.
I accepted faith blindly for most of my youth – it had always been a part of our family’s life. I studied for seven years at university, and during that time I did not question my own religious beliefs.
It was later after I started working in the desert that I really began to think long and hard about what I honestly could accept about my own faith, the dogma and teachings of the religion of which I was at least nominally a member and the deeper mysticisms of belief in the divinity of Christ.
I have heard that for some who come to believe, that the process was sudden – a revelation or insight that dramatically changed their lives.
Leaving faith seemed a much slower process – at least for me.
I went through long periods trying to maintain some sort of belief – but I could not in all conscience continue to act in way that indicated that I believed that something was true when I was certain that it was not.
I do not doubt the authenticity of many who do believe, nor do I question their commitment but I found contradictions that were, at least for me, irreconcilable with the way I exist as a living, breathing thinking creature.
I also found that I could live a moral life without the support (or constraints) of a religious framework. I found the same for spirituality, I am able to acknowledge that humans do have a spiritual aspect, for some this manifests as a religious faith, but for me it is more coming to an understanding that while the ability to think and act on those thoughts may make us distinctive organisms on earth, we must also then take responsibility for our own actions – and in many cases for the actions of other people.
I choose to act in ways that harm others as little as possible whenever I can – this has a benefit to all. I choose to act honestly in my dealings with others because this allows me a knowledge of my own integrity which is useful when building the foundations of thinking.
It may seem odd, but I have enormous respect for others who choose to live a life that in some way serves others – whether that is from a sense of obligation or as a result of faith. I grew up in the world of faith, I know the language, the great strengths, the failings of individuals and organisations and the amazing historical continuity and rich traditions.
I’m running short of time to finish this -so call it part one for now and I’ll continue it later tonight.
In the meantime though – here a picture of Hamo on his first day off round at my place roasting coffee – I call this the ‘Coffee Communion’ shot.