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Thread: Losing (Or Gaining) My Religion

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Losing (Or Gaining) My Religion

    Tomorrow (Thursday, couple days after my 64th birthday) I may be getting the news that my life will soon be over. A number of my friends at the workplace are aware of this possibility. Some of them are quite religious and believe in the power of prayer and believe in preparing your soul for God. Examples:

    Our HR Director sends me an e-mail every day, titled "Word" and inserts a bible quote, most relating to getting ready for God.
    Some others keep telling me that they are "praying for me".
    A VP came into my office the other day, closed the door, and talked about getting ready for God.

    Oddly enough ( or maybe not so odd), Katie is "mad" at God. I never read it but I am aware of a book called Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?. Perhaps she should read it. Perhaps not.
    _____

    I was baptized as a Roman Catholic. I attended Gesu Catholic School for 6 years before changing to a public school system for Junior and Senior High. Go Whitmer Panthers! My family went to Mass every Sunday, did not eat meat on Fridays. But by my teenage years I was questioning the existence of God. In my early 20s Cindy (Wife 1.0) and I joined some friends in an "alternative church". Even though it was officially an Episcopal congregation it was very-unstructered and the Sunday services rarely mentioned "supreme beings". When Cindy left me (2nd year of marriage) I blamed my church.

    Over the years it became apparent that my view leans toward agnostic. The only times I have been inside a church since 1973 is for weddings or funerals.
    _____

    I am perplexed because I struggle to make those who talk to me about "getting ready for God" feel at ease. It is a beautiful thing that they like/respect me so much that they are so "encouraging" about my afterlife (if there is one). When I told the VP that I was agnostic he immediately went into the talk we often hear: "Where did all these beautiful things come from? The beautiful earth, the beautiful mountains, the beautiful animals? They didn't just happen. A Supreme Being brought forth all this beauty."

    I greatly appreciate their positive vibes, concerns, wishes. I struggle to do more than mumble, "Thank you, I appreciate those thoughts very much."
    _____

    I know that Cyburbia has a few atheists, a few agnostics, quite a few believers. Not sure if I am asking for your thoughts or just considering my position via sharing my thoughts.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Bear-

    I'm also was raised Catholic and still consider myself Catholic even though I have a hard time with some of the recent political statements made by the Church and the general politics that surround the Church. Something that I always believed is that its ok to have a personal relationship with God. Meaning, you can seek guidance from a church or spiritual source, but the beliefs are yours alone to answer to. I have never really like group worship or group activities with church. I hope you find what you are looking for.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    It sounds like you handle others and their beliefs pretty well. If you are agnostic but you have a co-worker trying to proselytize in your office, it seems that there is no harm in letting them speak their piece and telling them that you appreciate their thoughts. That is how I would probably handle the situation as well and it would only really become an issue if they would not move on after discovering I am uninterested.




    Personally, I was raised Catholic Lite. I do not consider myself a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, and stopped going altogether about 15 years ago. However, I began going to church again last year when we decided to get our daughter Baptized (more as a gesture of good will to all of our parents than anything else). After making a few trips to church leading up to the Baptism, I decided to keep going afterwards and still make it in once a month or so. I discovered that if I take our daughter she is pretty calm in the pew while watching the priest and the choir and the organist or I can always go and take my daughter to the child care center while we are at the service (our service usually runs about 90 minutes or so and I am always tempted to drop my daughter off and then go to breakfast alone and show up again just as the service ends). I've also found that going to the service at my church is a really good networking opportunity. These are probably the wrong reasons to get me to come to church but hey, at least I'm filling a seat.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I'm Catholic and I attend Mass weekly. I think that I'm closer to God after having gone through a rough period in my life. That doesn't mean that I'm a stronger Catholic; I'm probably the opposite. I tried going to a non-denominational church, but it wasn't for me. I continue going to my church because of many of the other parishioners; our church is something that I share with them.

    Bear, let Katie know that I have been very angry with God, and bitched at him every chance I could. I can't say how he felt about it, but after a while I didn't feel a need to do it (as often), so it must have helped me.

    The less Catholic I feel, the closer I feel that I'm becoming to God. I'm pretty sure that I know how my priest and the pope feel about that, and I don't care. I like how my relationship with God makes me feel.

    I wouldn't presume to tell you or anyone else how to worship, or even to worship. It's out of my control. I think that I can tell a good person from a bad person, and I count you as one of the good ones. I wouldn't jeopardize a friendship by interfering with something so personal.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Bear, it is a difficult time and the only suggestion regarding religion and faith is to know why you believe what you believe and base it on as much information as you can. But for many, like myself, it comes down to just knowing.

    I was baptized in a Presbyterian church, raised Lutheran… kind of since we stopped attending church when I was in middle school, and searched for something more for years and years. I attended every possible type of Christian church in my college town, avoiding the Catholic Church at all costs. Finally, I went to a mass and it just felt right. So I dug into the information as much as I could. Reading up on the history of the church, the fragmentation with other Christian churches, differences in other religions, and even information to help me realize that yes, there is a God. I have been a practicing Catholic since my last year of undergrad.

    I have also had several periods where I was mad at God as well, most recently with the death of my mother a few years ago. The best thing for that is to talk about it with people who are qualified to help because holding it in only makes it worse.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I was brought up Christian and still consider myself one but I've become increasing skeptical of the whole church and organized religion thing. It's something I struggled with for a while but I've reconciled my beliefs to where I feel comfortable with them now. They may be too liberal for some but they're what work for me.

    Perhaps I'm too wishy-washy when it comes to religion but I'm at the point where I think that being at peace with your own beliefs is the most important thing. I think people get so caught up in who's right or wrong that many of the positive aspects of religion get lost in the shuffle. I have my own set of beliefs but I have a hard time believing someone else is "wrong" for having a different set of beliefs. You can appreciate their sentiments without buying their underlying beliefs.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    To a Bear

    For starters, I sincerely hope the news is good tomorrow. And for what it's worth, I think "considering your position" is a natural thing to do in your situation. And whether the responses mean anything or help or don't, I think the humanity of the whole thing is worth seeing.

    I have my own views on the afterlife, but they seem somehow so unimportant in the moment. I need to believe that your news is going to be good tomorrow, and so I do. I believe and hope (and pray) that it will. I have known you only a short time and only through what I read. But I am confident in saying you've led a great and rich life and that you have a good, gentle soul. Either the soul is the divine creation of God, or it's the sum total of what makes you who you are - Either way, in my book you've got a good soul, Bear. And whatever the news is can't and won't change that simple fact.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  8. #8
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    I was brought up Christian and still consider myself one but I've become increasing skeptical of the whole church and organized religion thing. It's something I struggled with for a while but I've reconciled my beliefs to where I feel comfortable with them now. They may be too liberal for some but they're what work for me.

    Perhaps I'm too wishy-washy when it comes to religion but I'm at the point where I think that being at peace with your own beliefs is the most important thing. I think people get so caught up in who's right or wrong that many of the positive aspects of religion get lost in the shuffle. I have my own set of beliefs but I have a hard time believing someone else is "wrong" for having a different set of beliefs. You can appreciate their sentiments without buying their underlying beliefs.
    We are cut from the same cloth, me thinks.

    I'm OK with the borderline prosyletizing in the office in that situation, even though I normally stay away from it. For people that are more religious, that is their way of coping and dealing with bad news. Therefore, it is really the only way they know to reach out when someone is getting bad news of his own. I take it with the best intent of the giver as possible--an effort to console, empathize and offer support (just as you seem to have gracefully taken it). That is their means of being at peace, just as you have reached your own peace with things.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  9. #9
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I think that it tough times it is always nice to know (or at least feel) like there is a bigger picture. I know that is what my relationship with God is. It is the context that I often need. My problems, life, or anything else is always just a cog in the wheel of eternity. Just remember that people praying or even just wishing you well, is a way for them to tell you how much they care about you.

    Know that everyone at Cyburbia supports you. You are in my thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Well, Bear, I also hope the news is good tomorrow. I’m really really sorry to know that you are going through this and can’t imagine putting myself in your position (of uncertainty or certainty) though I know it will come to me one day, too. Fistbump…

    I’ve lost a mother, a father-in-law and a mother-in-law while the primary caregiver and now my father is in the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. I was even present at two of these people’s passing, which is a pretty intense experience. But even with all of that, I am at most an atheist (though I don’t particularly like that term as it implies I am anti-God or anti-religion, which I am not) and at the least an agnostic. I was not raised religiously and maybe that is part of it – I don’t really have a framework to hang the thoughts and feelings about mortality on. And I do think its times like the ones you find yourself in where one really digs deep into what they believe (or don’t believe). So it came as something of a surprise to me that I did not have more of a religious or spiritual feeling when I lost these people. Why is that? Am I just out of tune with the forces of the universe?

    I guess if I were pressed, I might admit that I do harbor a wonder for the world and in its most abstract expression I can also feel that “God” is really the essence of existence – the very nature of things, or the reason the universe is the way it is (why certain elements bond with some but not with others, for example). This definition does fit in with a lot of Judeo-Christian literature about the unknowable, omnipresence and ominscence of God. But is God a conscious entity that really pre-occupies “him”self with my actions? Is “he” petty to the extent that I will be judged upon my demise? I personally have never had that sense. Nor have I had the sense that God is some kind of entity I can directly communicate with. Its just the force that runs through all of existence (hmmm, I’m sounding like Obi Wan now…)

    What I do find myself doing in life is responding to my own sense of morality which maybe is somehow tied to God or the spiritual. When I am most in tune with myself, I know what actions are right and what are wrong and I strive to make good here on earth while I am around. I pay others respect and am helpful and supportive and encouraging of others and all of that. But its not motivated by anything my clergy says or any reading of the Bible or anything like that. Its an internal sense. And maybe, in end, this isn’t spiritual at all, but just the impact of my genes encouraging me to act in a way that is most advantageous for survival. We are a social species afterall.

    I’m sure I haven’t offered any new insight now that I read back over this. Still, I’m hoping for GOOD news for you, Bear! Your goodness seems pretty self-evident even in this virtual forum. If that’s the legacy you leave – that you are a force of good in the world – I think that’s pretty wonderful.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  11. #11
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post

    I am perplexed because I struggle to make those who talk to me about "getting ready for God" feel at ease. It is a beautiful thing that they like/respect me so much that they are so "encouraging" about my afterlife (if there is one). When I told the VP that I was agnostic he immediately went into the talk we often hear: "Where did all these beautiful things come from? The beautiful earth, the beautiful mountains, the beautiful animals? They didn't just happen. A Supreme Being brought forth all this beauty."
    Bear
    My take on it, keeping in mind I just said I was thinking and praying for you in the other thread (), is that it's ok for religious people to say they are praying for someone - regardless of your religion, or who you pray to, it means that person is important enough to spend time reflecting on them and what they are going through. I'm not agnostic, so I don't know if it's taken offensively or not, but for me personally, if someone says they are praying for me whomeever it's to, means a lot. It is ridiculous however that anyone would feel the need to proselytize during a time such as this, but I know there are beliefs that actively do this in good times or bad. Frankly, I think "getting ready for God" whether you believe in him/her or not is a very personal thing and is inconsiderate to bring up.

    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    I greatly appreciate their positive vibes, concerns, wishes. I struggle to do more than mumble, "Thank you, I appreciate those thoughts very much."
    Bear, that's all you can say, and I'm sure everyone understands.

    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    I was brought up Christian and still consider myself one but I've become increasing skeptical of the whole church and organized religion thing. It's something I struggled with for a while but I've reconciled my beliefs to where I feel comfortable with them now. They may be too liberal for some but they're what work for me.

    Perhaps I'm too wishy-washy when it comes to religion but I'm at the point where I think that being at peace with your own beliefs is the most important thing. I think people get so caught up in who's right or wrong that many of the positive aspects of religion get lost in the shuffle. I have my own set of beliefs but I have a hard time believing someone else is "wrong" for having a different set of beliefs. You can appreciate their sentiments without buying their underlying beliefs.
    I was born and raised Catholic, and still Catholic but don't attend mass as much as I should. However, there are quite a few things that I disagree with the church on and fully believe what you stated above and feel like the best religion is being at peace with your own beliefs (making me a horrible Catholic ). Religion and faith are completely personal things and what works for one generally won't work for another.

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    I greatly appreciate their positive vibes, concerns, wishes. I struggle to do more than mumble, "Thank you, I appreciate those thoughts very much."
    _____

    I know that Cyburbia has a few atheists, a few agnostics, quite a few believers. Not sure if I am asking for your thoughts or just considering my position via sharing my thoughts.
    Bear, I'm sorry to hear about it.

    I was in Cleveland last week to visit check up on my house, and visit a good friend. When I arrived on Monday, her elderly mother was about the same as she always was. On Tuesday morning, she went to the hospital, from another one of those nasty falls that the geriatric often have. Early Wednesday morning, she died.

    In offering my comfort, I didn't offer prayer, mention an afterlife, or say anything about God. If God exists, and I hope he/she does, and they're truly omnipotent, I don't think.they would need prayer to know what my thoughts are. Even if an omnipotent, just God knew, would they give more favor to those who had more people rooting for them?

    Some atheists will smugly say "Prayer is the least someone can do." In situations where we seem powerless, though, sometimes prayer is all someone can do. By petitioning God, they gain a sense of power and hope where there might otherwise have been none.

    Despite my agnosticism, I converted to Judaism several years ago. Judaism in general is silent on an afterlife, in stark contrast to Christianity. Although Reform Judaism is deist, it tends to look at God as a being who doesn't meddle in our everyday life. God gave us the gift of life, and we should use it to make the world a better place for others. You don't lead a moral life for a reward in the end; you do it for its own sake, and to thank God for the life he gave you.

    If there is a creator deity, I think they are bound by the same laws of physics that govern the universe they created. There's the law of thermodynamics; energy can be change from one form to another, but it cannot be destroyed. I think life is a kind of energy, and that it just doesn't extinguish into nothingness after it's over. Living creatures have to be more than just animated bags of meat. I don't think we'll ultimately end up in the clouds playing harps, or as cows roaming the streets of Bangalore, but I also don't think it's over when our bodies say it is.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    As one of the few Evangelical's on this Board, I'll pray for you. Ultimately, God gives us a choice to believe in Him or not. He does not force us to. As in all things, there are consequences for the choices we make. I was raised Protestant, but had family that was Catholic. My roots are in a very diverse place, so I learned tolerance and to respect others beliefs at a young age. Based on my personal experience and the evidence that science presents, God and Christianity makes the most sense. FWIW, I was agnostic myself for awhile. The people at work have their hearts in the right place and are really concerned for you.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  14. #14
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    I was brought up Christian and still consider myself one but I've become increasing skeptical of the whole church and organized religion thing. It's something I struggled with for a while but I've reconciled my beliefs to where I feel comfortable with them now. They may be too liberal for some but they're what work for me.

    Perhaps I'm too wishy-washy when it comes to religion but I'm at the point where I think that being at peace with your own beliefs is the most important thing. I think people get so caught up in who's right or wrong that many of the positive aspects of religion get lost in the shuffle. I have my own set of beliefs but I have a hard time believing someone else is "wrong" for having a different set of beliefs. You can appreciate their sentiments without buying their underlying beliefs.
    That pretty much sums it up for me. I have a healthy respect for many religious/spiritual perspectives. I think there are as many paths as there are people as far as beliefs go.

    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I think that it tough times it is always nice to know (or at least feel) like there is a bigger picture. I know that is what my relationship with God is. It is the context that I often need. My problems, life, or anything else is always just a cog in the wheel of eternity. Just remember that people praying or even just wishing you well, is a way for them to tell you how much they care about you.

    Know that everyone at Cyburbia supports you. You are in my thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.
    Well said.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  15. #15
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I was raised Catholic. Went to Catholic school for 9 years. Went to mass every weekend. Was even an altar boy in middle school and early high school. Deep down inside though, I always felt that organized religion just wasn't for me. To be honest, I find the notion of "worshiping with others" to be a little creepy and contrived.

    When I started working in high school, I pretty much stopped attending church.

    Since that time, I've considered myself agnostic.

    My wife is Presbyterian but doesn't come from a church-going family. We did decide to baptize our daughters in a Presbyterian church. More so out of a sense of tradition than anything else.

    We do not go to church, but have exposed our daughters to religion. They've even attended a Christian day care at one point. And they will go to mass with their grandma when we're visiting.

    If my wife ever asked me to attend church as a family, I would go. An hour-long period of self-reflection never hurt anyone.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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