In The Closet

I’ve just read this lovely post from The Catatonic Kid – Keeping Faith in the Cookie Jar.

It is quite relevant for me at the moment because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my faith and what it means to me.  A few days ago there were a real rash of status updates on facebook denouncing faith, implying that people who have faith are “denying science” or haven’t made conscious, well thought decisions about their faith.  It really got on my nerve, because these things are completely erroneous when it comes to my faith.  I left a pretty irate status update myself, and it sparked some debate which unfortunately left me feeling even more bereft about being a person of faith in 2009.

A little background.  At about 16, when I was finding my own spiritual identity, I decided that I was an atheist.  I decided that I didn’t believe in God, that I couldn’t have any spiritual faith.  I had thought about it a lot, and that’s how I felt.  I identified as an atheist for about 10 years, despite having worked for Baptist youth groups during that time (whom I must say, adopted me as one of their own despite my opposing spiritual beliefs).

In my late 20’s, I had some kind of shift.  I don’t remember exactly when or how it happened, I went through a massive depression through my 20’s and did a lot of soul searching from about 26/27 onwards trying to get myself emotionally “right”.  Somewhere around my 30th birthday, I began to realise that I no longer felt that there was no God.  And somewhere over those years of my early 30’s, I discovered and formed my faith, which I identify at the moment as “non-denominational Christian”.  Should I find a denomination that works for me, I will tweak that description.

So let’s get a few things straight here.  I do not feel the need to proselytise – in fact I personally don’t believe in it.  As I used to say to the Jehovah’s Witnesses that came to my door “Would you change your religion?  No?  Then why expect me to change mine?”  I also don’t feel the need to have anyone else believe what I do, though it is nice to find a community that does.  Nor do I need to prove my faith to others.

What I do expect, nay, demand is that I be allowed to follow my faith without ridicule, discrimination or judgement.  The same respect I offer to all others, I expect for myself.  I do expect to be able to use Facebook or Twitter, or read a newspaper or magazine, without seeing people ripping into those who have a different belief system to theirs and implying that those with faith (whatever that faith) are stupid, ill informed, bigoted, narrow-minded or in denial.

Yes, I am quite aware that Christianity has it’s demons from the past, and those today that use it to further their own sick intentions.  Those that twist the faith to their own purpose.  Look at this piece that supposedly came from the Reverend Fred Nile (as you will see by my comments underneath, it makes me sick).  I am aware of this, and saddened by it.  But the truth is, this sort of thing is not confined only to Christianity, every faith has it’s crazies that twist the word of their religion, that use their religion to further hatred.  And hey, let’s not forget that Stalin was an atheist.  Nobody’s belief system gets off scott free.  Well, maybe the Buddhists.

But the nutjobs and mistakes of the past do not speak for all of us.  Nor do they speak for our gods, for those of us who have faith.  I believe people are generally good in the majority, it’s just the unfortunately highly vocal minority that give every group a bad name.  And I don’t wish to be tarred with the same brush as the likes of Fred Nile, just as I’m sure the average Muslim does not wish to be seen as holding the same attitudes and hatred as say, Osama Bin Laden, and atheists as Stalin, as a few examples.

I don’t want to feel that I have to keep my faith in the closet.  I don’t want to have to hide who I am for fear of ridicule, discrimination or negative judgement.  I am finding it easy to be fat and proud, but feel uncomfortable with being Christian and proud, simply because of other people’s attitudes.  That is just wrong.  As I said, I don’t need to proselytise or preach, just to BE.  My faith is as much part of me as my intelligence, sense of humour, brown eyes, fat body and short temper.  I don’t want to be shamed because of my faith.  I would never treat anyone else like that.  I don’t even make judgement of people of faiths that I feel uncomfortable about, such as Scientology and Mormonism, unless I have got to know them, then I judge them on their behaviour or attitudes.

What I want is to be able to say “Thank God!” without some smart-arse comment.  To mention in relevant conversation that I would like to find a suitable church, without having to cautiously test the waters for the faith-friendly, at the risk of ridicule and judgement.

I don’t know how to make people think about the assumptions they make.  I wish I did, because if everyone took a moment or two to think before they made assumptions and judgements about others with different beliefs to themselves, we might not have so much aggro and angst around religion.

People like me who just wish to go peacefully without shame might actually be able to do so.

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November 29, 2009. about me, atheism, discrimination, diversity, faith, generalisations, hatred, religion, respect.

6 Comments

  1. Kerri Baillie replied:

    Yet another well crafted & well reasoned post about a very personal topic. I identify with your post about finding a denomination that fits, at the moment there are many aspects to many denominations that appeal and make sense but no single denomination that make entire sense on their own. I suspect there won’t be.

  2. sleepydumpling replied:

    Thanks Kerri. I’m beginning to think you might be right. I got very close to it at a lovely modern church in the US, that felt much more aligned to what I believe than anything I had encountered before. Only it’s on the other side of the world! Sob!

  3. Catatonic Kid replied:

    I went through a very similar journey of spiritual doubt/discomfort then finding things that seem to fit. Slowly, slowly we do. It comes to us… and I try to remind myself not everyone is ready for it. That it means so many things to so many people. And that it is about finding our own peace. And I’m glad to have met someone who takes that peace into their own hands, as it sounds like you have. It is our own. Nobody can touch it… but yes, i also wish that folks could leave their assumptions at the door more often. They get in the way of so much that we have to share, to give and to discover.

    p.s. thanks for the link love 🙂 i am glad my post prompted such thoughts… it’s exactly the kind of conversation i wish people would have more often.

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      You are more than welcome – it was a great post.

      Peace is what I’m really looking for. Peace in my life and peace to just BE. I’ve spent a whole lifetime doing, it’s nice to just find space to be.

  4. BEING BRAZEN replied:

    There may be something for you on my blog 😉 hehehe…go look

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