You don’t wake up one morning and say “You know what? I don’t believe in god anymore.” It is a process. It doesn’t just happen. When you have friends, or know a family member with a story. And then you ask questions… about your faith, and yourself, then the people you trust.
I accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior on January 17, 1991, the evening operation Desert Shield became operation Desert Storm.
I was 12.
My best friend, Eric, brought me to a youth group event at his church. They were convinced this was it, this was the beginning of the events that foretold the return of Jesus, and I had to be “saved” right now.
To me, that argument seemed pretty sound!
So I prayed with youth group leaders, and friends in the congregation. And by the end of the evening I asked Jesus to wash away all my sins and began the moral life of a Southern Baptist Christian.
That evening was not the first time I had gone with Eric and his parents to Vista Baptist Church. They were involved with the congregation. Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays most weeks, unless special events were happening. Eric’s mom was a devout ‘fire and brimstone’ Christian… and she LIVED it!
She was inspiring. The entire church was! The love and faith that pours from a Southern Baptist Church is beautiful! It moves people to stand and raise their arms to the sky. It fills the air with love and praise. Being in a service on Sunday with a good servant of the Lord, recounting the gospel’s word to hundreds of families of faith… you can’t help but sing!
The welcome feeling of love and faith was appealing to a kid from a single parent home. It was closer to the TV reality I grew up watching at home, than home REALLY was.
Eric and I participated in a religious version of Boy Scouts called AWANAS. We would receive awards based on bible memorization and understanding of different messages. Some of the kids wore the uniform and had badges and pins. It was quite involved if you really wanted to get into it. At that time, Eric and I were in Boy Scouts. It did not excite me to the same extent.
I did enjoy going to the Large music events. The organization that sprang up in the early 90s called “See You at the Pole”, where Christian youth would gather at the flagpoles before school and pray before classes started, also involved large concerts with Christian artists. I saw Carmen twice. I saw a Christian death metal band. A couple Christian boy bands. Sadly, I never got to see Amy Grant. I had her “Heart in Motion” album and I STILL know the words to the songs even though I haven’t owned that album since I was 16. One of the songs popped up on the music at Walgreen’s one day and all of a sudden I’m singing along with a B-side track off of an Amy Grant album, in the middle of the afternoon… in 2018.
I spent a lot of time going to events and being a good Christian Solider, spreading the word to as many as I could. I felt the word of Jesus and shared it with everyone. I felt a connection, and it showed. I brought my Aunt Marty to Jesus shortly after my grandfather died. I know it helped her through a difficult time in her life, as that period in time was difficult for all of us.
Less than two years later, grandma would be gone, too. It was comforting to believe there was purpose to the loss. That, even though it was not seen, there was a reason for the madness. And though we could not see it, in time, we would know… we just had to have faith.
As I got older, as is inevitable, I started asking questions. Science and math have always been my favorite subjects outside music, and a good scientist always asks questions! The answers were always the same… you just have to have faith.
I remember meeting a devotee of the Krishna Conciseness movement, and I asked him about their view of Jesus. He explained that they saw Jesus as a messenger. Jesus told the people, in that place, at that time, exactly what they needed to hear. The only way to salvation is like THIS. The kingdom of heaven lies through ME.
So, I bought a copy of the “Bhagavad Gita… as it is” with a full interpretation of the text. To help put it all into context. It was the first time I contemplated another religious text and not the bible, and it would not be the last.
Modern religions. Historical religions. Ancient religions. ALL carry similar stories. ALL teach LOVE for our fellow Man and PEACE comes from understanding. I would never claim to be a religious scholar, but every religious text I have read shares a compelling story about love. The WORDS they teach give COMFORT to families who grieve, they proclaim the ceremonies of Unions are CELEBRATIONS, and these texts anoint the new generation, when those Unions so decide. But as I grew older I could see the hypocrisy. The WORDS of Men seemed pure, but their DEEDS were pure evil.
… and it is NOT just to be thrown upon religious establishments. Unfortunately, it undermines EVERY aspect where power over weaker individuals creates profit. It just so happens this continues to this day.
I believe in the power of the SUBATOMIC. I believe in a balance of power. I believe that my actions HERE, can DIRECTLY effect someone on the OTHER SIDE of the planet… It’s spooky almost!
But I also believe that on a subatomic level, when we consider what each and every atom actually IS, that we are made up of mostly EMPTY SPACE, and yet I sit here and CONTEMPLATE… YES, don’t tell my ‘Atheist Brethren’, but some days I would call myself “agnostic”… but only SOME DAYS. Agnostic suggests someone who’s “on the fence”. No… pick a side, then let’s Move On!
Each religion, from historical to modern, shares stories that share common themes within common narratives, yet their origins are separated by thousands of years. Wise men recorded these stories to share knowledge with future generations. What elders learned in THEIR years that kept them alive, inspired by the WORD of the Creator, Universe.
As I have walked my path, seeking the answers, walking as FAR AWAY from religion as possible, I found… the answers lie within creation itself!
It can never be as brilliant as the LIGHT, it is only a spoken representation, The WORD of Universe… and We are ALL a part of it.
So, in other words- I will continue to walk my path. I continue to want to know ALL I can. I want to learn ALL I can from every religious text. I want to know the story so I can compair that with other stories, and find the commonality that lies within ALL our shared history!
And I want that opportunity to exist for ALL MANKIND, forever. Each person’s spiritual path is just that… THEIR OWN!
It is my belief, whenever someone decides to ask questions about their humanity, they should be guaranteed access to the answers… ALL OF THE ANSWERS. To make the best informed decisions… After all, on that day of judgement, there will be no one there to answer for your actions… but YOU. We all follow the path, together, the LIGHT showing us the way.
… but I am just an Athiest! I don’t have all the answers. Nor would I ever be so arrogant to claim that I did.
There’s only one way to find out for sure.