Her hand basket is packed and she’s ready to go!


I guess it’s time I go into my religion topic. This should be interesting. Let me start with my religious history.

My parents were both raised Church of Christ. And when I came along, we attended the Church of Christ regularly. I went to Sunday school, not on a regular basis but occasionally. Many times, I skipped Sunday School and sat through the regular service with my parents. I spent most my time doodling on the church bulletin to keep myself occupied. I recall many occasions as I got a little older that my sisters would tell me it wouldn’t hurt for me to actually pay attention during the sermons. But I found them quite boring and generally doodled or slept on my mother’s lap as she would play with my hair. We stopped going to church when I was around the age of 13 or so. As I recall, there was a falling out at our church over the current minister leaving and I guess my parents were not very happy with our church for letting him go. The last minister I recall from that church was Joe Beam. And oddly enough, he is now quite popular nationally with his lesson about sex in marriage. I’m gonna guess that’s why they ran him out of Montgomery.

So, my knowledge of the Bible is quite limited. I don’t claim to know or understand any of it. What I do know from my upbringing in the Church of Christ is that if I was not baptized in the church, I am going to hell. That sure stuck with me. In the Church of Christ, you were not baptized until you made the decision on your own to be baptized in the church. I never “felt it” and was never baptized before we quit going. My mother returned to the Church of Christ after her first cancer diagnosis and surgery but my father refused to go. I was in college by that time and was not living at home when my mother started going again. And quite frankly, I don’t think I thought about going to church or religion at all until Adam died.

When I was at my lowest point after Adam’s death, I thought going back to church might bring me some answers I was seeking. I was single and living in Pensacola at the time so I researched some Church of Christ locations. Gateway Church of Christ was a large congregation in Pensacola and I thought it might offer me more since the congregation was so big. I started attending the main services but did not go to Sunday school. I never felt I could go to Sunday school since my knowledge of the Bible was so limited, I thought I would look like an idiot and I didn’t want to face that. I had several older couples embrace me there when I would attend and before I knew it, I had people showing up at my door at home. THAT I could not take. I didn’t want them coming to my home. And each sermon I sat through, I heard over and over that people like Adam were bad and were destined to go to hell. That was something else I couldn’t stomach. And I began to think, if he was in hell, that’s where I wanted to go. So I quit going.

I have a hard time believing that good people will go to hell just because they did not attend the right kind of church. Does it not matter what kind of person you are? Certainly, if there is indeed a God, he does not punish good people because they did not attend the right church or did not get baptized. But what proof do I have that there even IS a God? I observe things that happen in this world and I have to wonder. Some of the greatest, most Christian and loving people I have ever known have been stricken with cancer and died no matter how hard they fought. And many times I see such good people dealt a situation they do not deserve. Some great friends have been blessed with a child but their child has Autism or Cerebral Palsy. And those poor children…what did they do to be brought into this world with such an affliction? Children are the innocent.

I’ve had arguments with some of my best Christian friends about people who are gay. And I’ve been told by some these friends that being gay is a choice. I ask, why would someone CHOOSE to be something that will have them ostracized by their family and friends? And looked down upon. I truly believe they do not choose that. I personally believe they are born that way. And most I know were conflicted for years or are still conflicted over this issue. If it were a choice, they would choose otherwise. I know they would. They merely want to be accepted and be “normal”.

So when my cat Bob had cancer and was hanging on to life by a thread, I had to make the decision to put him down. My first pet to have to deal with such an issue. Bob was by best buddy and he loved me completely. I did what I thought was best for him. And I came home with Bob in a plastic trash bag inside his carrier. I was horrified they had put him in a plastic bag but no one told me to bring anything other than my cat in his little carrier with a towel. I arrived home and watched as Luke dug the hole in our back yard in Daphne and buried my Bob…still in that plastic bag. And I cried and cried. And for some reason, the thoughts that came to my mind at that time were about me and how I was destined to go to hell because I’d never been baptized in the Church of Christ. It was the first real discussion Luke and I ever had about religion…in depth. And amazingly enough, we were on the same plane. And I felt a little better.

What proof do I have that heaven and hell even exist? None that I’ve seen. What proof do I have that God exists? None that I have seen. I am of the belief that we are here…we’re here right now…and when we die, we are gone. I have times when I feel Adam is with me. I have times  when I feel my two grandfathers with me. But is that just my mind playing tricks on me? I once had a detailed, vivid dream about my grandfather. When I woke the next morning, I told my mother all about it. And she looked at the calendar and said that this morning was the morning my grandfather died. I certainly had not consciously remembered the date of his death. I was in elementary school when he died. But who is to say my mind didn’t recall that?

Did all those stories in the Bible actually happen? I don’t think so. I think perhaps a variation of those stories happened and someone recorded them but I am not certain they were not embellished. So, I call myself agnostic. That scares people…especially in the South. But am I agnostic or atheist? I’m not sure. Let’s look at the definition of agnostic: 1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as god, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. 2.a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study. That being said, I cannot imagine that there are NOT people who are agnostic! I just feel if you are a thinking person at all, you MUST have some doubts. But most don’t…or won’t say they do…because that would doom them to hell, right? How can you fully and completely believe all the events of the Bible to be truth and believe that Jesus will come back? I just can’t. I can’t grasp that.

Therefore, I am a doubter. And should I be banished to hell, I should have many friends there with me….some of whom I miss greatly. And I have no doubt that if there is indeed a heaven, my mother is there celebrating and reaping the great reward she so deserves.

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4 Comments

  1. Whatif said,

    August 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Oh we have even more to talk about than I thought – that’s a good thing. I definitely don’t think youre condemned to Hell. Contrary to what other supposed Christian denominations say or you believe, there is nothing you or anyone else can do will get you into Heaven (thank goodness for all of us). That’s been done for all Christians, and innocents through Christs crucifixion. I hate that certain organized religions preach that. We’re all fallen and sinners even preachers. . Gotta go; we’ll talk.

  2. teentsil said,

    January 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Here is a reply from a friend that could not get it to post:

    You are aware of my strong faith as I have had occasion to share it with you. I assure you, however, that this note will not contain any nuggets of wisdom that will help you ‘see the light’ nor even one original thought. Instead, I’ll endeavor to further share my experience and perspective with you. First let me say how much I regret that most of your church experience has been limited to those with a message of hell, fire and brimstone. Churches that teach God through fear are the reason so many people turn away from the faith and religion of their parent’s and childhood. To my, albeit limited, knowledge I believe these teachings to be in direct opposition to the teachings and example of Christ. Also churches that center around only one man (a pastor) tend to fracture easily when that man turns out to be human (like the rest of us) and unable to keep up a Christ-like appearance for any length of time.

    My story:

    Like you, I grew up going to church for only a short time when I was quite young. We stopped attending regular service when I was in early elementary school so I barely remember the experience. After that, the only times I even cast a shadow on the doors of a church for most of my young life were at weddings, funerals, the occasional week-long summer vacation bible-school or when I stayed over on a Saturday night with a friend whose parents were regular church-goers. Much of my limited attendance was to a variety of faiths from Jehovah’s Witness to Catholic and everything in between.

    The church I remember most and attended with more ‘regularity’ than any other was in my late middle and high school years. It was an Episcopal church in Mississippi we attended when we visited my Aunt Faye several times a year. I remember it was peaceful and very loving. This feeling resonated with me as it was in vast contrast to MOST of the other churches I had visited in my small rural southern hometown. There was a short homily (sermon) that was based on the gospel lesson of that week. Although I didn’t always ‘get it’ back then, I remember the message was occasionally one dealing with sorrow or loss but it was ALWAYS one of love and often steeped in humor. Even with a highly structured service, I was never embarrassed for not knowing exactly what to do at every moment as I was helped along by my pew neighbors and/or the Book of Common Prayer. I could worship along with the small congregation and know what was coming next. I felt comfortable there and was certain that God was in that house. I never worried that I was going to do something wrong and be cast into hell for it. In that little church I was never singled out to come forward to confess either my sins or my faith in front of the congregation. I could take communion, not take communion, whatever. No one would ever ask, “Have you been baptized?” in order to receive the body and blood.

    I think this experience was why, when I found myself wanting to know more about God, I made the decision to attend an Episcopal (Anglican) church as an adult. In my thirties, I was baptized (normally done to infants/small children) and confirmed. As I get older, more questions arise and it is there that I continue to learn about God, in part by gaining a better understanding of the example and sacrifice of Christ but also through personal experience. I have found little resemblance between the teachings of Christ and those of many modern day churches that teach God through the fear of hell. It is not that the question of Hell is or should be ignored but rather viewed from a more academic point of view. Many of us believe hell to be a place of darkness, pain and sorrow of our own making as a result of separation from God and not necessarily fiery lava licking at the human form for all eternity.

    As do many, of almost any faith, I do NOT agree with every single utterance that comes from the priest’s mouth. As much as I’d like for someone to stand up each Sunday and give me the answers, I’ve come to understand that religion/faith/God cannot be tied up in a neat package. The person in the pulpit is a human, just like I am, even if infinitely more educated on his/her subject. Also, corporate worship is wonderful and to be encouraged but it is our personal relationships with God that matter most. As children of God, we are called to have our own relationship with Him as well as each other. With that relationship, like any other relationship, it takes constant care and attention. If you don’t tend it deliberately and regularly, it will go away. But that, again, is of our own choosing to be separated.

    As for the particular church/religion you chose, if you chose one, it makes a huge difference especially as you attempt to learn and begin the journey. For instance, as I said before, I don’t agree with every word but the Episcopal traditions (for me) are important. Because the Anglican Church is one that grants more latitude in interpretation of doctrine than many here in the South, my spirituality is strengthened there rather than diminished by fear. Although we believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God, as a church, we tend to stress less the assertion of particular beliefs. This is not always popular with the strict ‘Bible thumpers’ and may be considered a way around the strictest ideals that are not to our liking. Nevertheless, we are encouraged to question and do so from a place of reason.

    Taken directly from one of the Episcopal Church’s websites:

    We value the life of the mind and dialogue with fields of secular study. Sir Isaac Newton was an Anglican clergyman and theologian as were several of the founders of the Royal Society, the earliest institution organized for the promotion of science. The Episcopal Church maintains this tradition, routinely requiring its clergy to hold university as well as seminary degrees and supporting many university chaplains.

    Believing that faith is for suckers or ignorant southerners is a mistake. You limit yourself, not those you consider naive, by doing so. As noted above, one can be a person of faith AND an intellectual. We are not all lemmings blindly drinking the Kool-aid that our parents poured up for us. In fact, the more science I study and more education I receive, the more certain I am that there IS a God. I am given evidence daily that just because you can’t see it, smell it, hear it, touch it or taste it, doesn’t make it any less real. And God is just that, real, for those of us who walk in faith. There are no 100%, 20/20 clear answers but that’s where FAITH steps in. In fact, that is the very definition of faith.

    I’ve read the Webster’s definitions, but questioning your own faith and belief in God does not necessarily make you agnostic. Being unwilling to step out in faith, needing absolute proof of God and believing that as humans we can never know God because we can never know anything without absolute proof, now THAT makes one agnostic. Denouncing God and having certainty that there is not a God makes one atheist. This of course, according to agnosticism, also can’t be valid because atheists have only their own experiences and therefore ‘no proof’ that there is NOT a God.

    I think a good jumping off point here is: rather than feeling hemmed in by the faith of your parents, which does not speak to or for you, I encourage you to study. Take a religion course, online if necessary. Visit a variety of churches. Become educated in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, etc. These all have eye-opening, truly fascinating points of view. It is only then that you can truly decide for yourself.

    There is a lot more to say about faith as it relates to religion, children, sexuality, disease, pain, death, etc. But we’ll have to save that for Volume II.

    On a final note for this volume: No matter what your beliefs, you, as a child of God, would never be refused His love any more than you would refuse your love to Cole or Ila.

  3. Anonymous said,

    September 10, 2011 at 2:41 am

    I am an Episcopalian. This is because I found a Church that welcomes doubters, like myself. My Church also accept that gays are born gay. I am a huge supporter of gay rights – and my Christian beliefs do not negate this.

    I believe in a God that loves us all – he created us all – he did not make mistakes. A church that tells you that you are going to hell because you’re not baptized in THEIR church is more of a cult. They themselves will be answering for their false teachings.

    I believe in God because I NEED to. I need to know there is something bigger than me in this world, because when I feel alone, which is almost all the time, I need something to hold on to. It’s a great comfort.

    I do not understand why I am sick, I do question it. I get angry about it. In the end, I just believe that I am no better than anyone else and sickness is a reality. I don’t believe I have been cursed. I believed that for a long time, and I was so angry with God that I rebelled in every part of my life. It’s taken 15 years but I am ok with it now. I’ve accepted my life as basically “it is what it is” and not holding a grudge against God for it.

    I am told my by sister (a Baptist) that my beliefs are wrong, that being Gay is an abomination, etc. I can’t deal with people like that. I found people that believe what I believe, and I can live with that.

    It’s all about faith. I don’t know for sure that it’s all real or not…but I need to believe it is.

    • September 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      I’m completely happy for everyone to have his/her own belief…no matter how crazy! Go with it! Do what works for you. Just don’t shove it down my throat and we’ll be great friends! You can pray for me, pray before you eat with me, read your bible while I drink, even give everything a big ole AMEN after I say it. But the first time you start asking me to go to church or telling me I should, I’m OUT! And when I say YOU here, I’m not really saying YOU, anonymous…I mean you in the plural sense.


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