After lunch this afternoon, I stopped into St. Matthews Cathedral for a little pondering time. I am not Catholic, but I like the ambiance of Catholic churches. There are usually candles lit, people praying or saying the rosary and almost always the sanctuary is beautiful.
As I sat there today thinking about stuff and listening to people pray, I started considering my own agnosticism. After growing up in a very religious Protestant home (my grandparents chartered my church), I found myself growing weary of organized religion at an early age.
I remember "fearing" God when I was a little girl. I have a vivid memory of telling my friend that she should not "swear" (as in "He really did that, I swear") and should pray for forgiveness. I also remember going to an exorcism at the same friend's church (hers was a little crazier than mine) and the people were literally rolling around on the floor and talking in tongues (which is a sort of gibberish sounding monologue that supposedly only God can understand). I went to church every Sunday for eighteen years.
I also wondered for people who do believe in hell, how can they not drop whatever they are doing and start converting others? If I seriously, seriously thought that my atheist or other religious believing friends were teetering into eternal damnation, well then holy shit I couldn't sleep at night! I would be calling my friends at all hours, yelling on the streets and traveling the world in the hope of keep one more soul from hell. I think it is sick and twisted for people who do believe in hell to be doing anything with their time other than trying to save souls. I mean eternal damnation. That's some serious shit, man.
There is also a lot to be said for the community of a church. In a sort of extended family way, I grew up (and in many ways continue to have) an extra layer of support in addition to my family and friends. One woman from my church who recently passed away would pray for me every morning. She has done this for 24 years.
I also look back fondly on when I was really religious. It was nice to be so certain that there was someone caring about every hair on my head. I used to pray about everything from a lost shoe to Billy having a crush on me to not having to pick the dog poop up in the backyard. Those days were a lot simpler and full of a lot more ignorance and bliss.
I guess it's better now.