The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Friday, July 30, 2004


Like the majority of Americans, I was raised in a Protestant "atmosphere." My mother and I were not church going people. There was never a church that I could refer to as "mine." We went occassionally, for weddings sometimes. Mostly we went when visiting a friend or family member for a weekend who went to church every Sunday. Dutifully, I doned a flower-print dress and patent leather shoes, and I sat in a pew, drawing on a scrap piece of paper and trying to entice someone to play tic-tac-toe with me.

Although my mother was not religious, she gave me the standard, Christian answers to life's big questions: Where did the earth come from? Where did humans, animals, plants come from? Why do bad things seem to happen for no reason? And that elusive question that science will never be able to answer: What happens to us when we die?

As a young child, I believed what my mother told me, but as I entered my teenage years, I began to question her about most things (as most teenagers do), and religion was right up there. As Christianity was only a vague, passing idea in our house anyway, it was quite easy for me to discard it. (Jesus turned water into wine? Give me a break!) And really, the story has a lot of holes in it--holes that are filled in by "faith." Without faith, which was never firmly instilled in me in the first place, the entire story just seem preposterous. When I announced to my mother, at age 13 or 14, that I was now an atheist, she shrugged her shoulders.

Life continued, and I assembled more and more reasons not to believe in Christianity. For instance, the official position on gays and lesbians. Then there's all the bloodshed throughout the years in the name of Christianity. Right wing politicians spew the words God and Jesus freely to justify their positions.

In my early 20's, atheism became hollow for me. I searched for a religion that suited me, and I found Buddhism. The ideology of Buddhism, the freedom and individuality, both allowed and encouraged, made me feel safe and accepted. The only real concept I had trouble accepting in Buddhism was what happened when you died: reincarnation. I had long since rejected heaven and hell. Reincarnation seemed like another nice story, but also one that was not grounded in any reality at all. I've tried to accept reincarnation--believe it or not, there are many different ways you can look at it. And I had somewhat made my peace with it.

Then my grandma died. Intellectually, I still think that the atheist position that when you die, that's it, the end, nothing. Part of my brain tries to argue a case for reincarnation. But emotionally, when I think about my grandmother being dead, almost a primal, inner child voice calls up from my heart, pleading for her to be in the Christian heaven that she believed in. I want for her to have a soul, something real and tangible, that still exists and will exist forever. So that knocks out atheism. I do not want her to be reincarnated and come back to earth for another go 'round. The first noble truth of Buddhism is "Life is suffering." I do not want my grandma to deal with anything bad ever again. That takes care of Buddhism. I want my grandma to be in a beautiful place, filled with light and happiness and love surrounding her. I want for her the ideas of the Christian afterlife.

I'm not sure what that says about me and my spirituality. When I am doing okay, or just with normal daily bullshit, I embrace Buddhism. But when the chips were down, really down, I found myself reaching out for Christianity with a force that surprised me.


  • But you have to ask yourself Oz, do you want Christianity for yourself or for your grandmother?

    By Blogger Dan, at 4:51 PM, July 30, 2004  

  • I understand your spiritual struggle. Being a 12-stepper, steps 2 and 3 hold significant wisdom for me:
    2) Came to believe in a Power greater than ourselves that could restore us to sanity. 3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. The key things in those two steps are: CAME to believe and AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM. I've found that when I define God (my H.P.) in terms I understand, and not just take someone elses dogmatic beliefs, life takes on a whole new meaning. I also belieive that everyone can have a God of THEIR understanding and their understanding does not have to be the same as mine. This allows me give people over to the care of their God and know that their God will take care of them just as my God will take care of me. Sounds a little against the Christian mono-theistic philosophy, I know. But I can't help thinking, from a world religion P.O.V. that the Christian God, the Islam God, the Budhist God, etc. are really just different forms of the same God.

    By Blogger NotCuredYet, at 5:03 PM, July 30, 2004  

  • Oh. I wanted to suggest a path of investigation. Check out, if you're so inclined, a book called "A Course in Miracles". Questioning my own Christian upbringing and my tendency toward Universalism, I found this book and it's philosophy to be very enlightening.

    By Blogger NotCuredYet, at 5:06 PM, July 30, 2004  

  • Wow, I can totally relate to this. I don't call myself a Christian, but I often find myself referring to Christian ideas. The idea that my loved ones are happily in some afterlife is a big one. I don't know that I do believe it as must as I want to believe it. Or sometimes I think I do it just in case I'm wrong about the whole thing.

    By Blogger Whimsy Chick, at 11:28 PM, July 31, 2004  

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