I Want to Believe

I left the LDS church (the Mormon church) a few years ago. With all of the mess that’s been occupying my life for the past two years, I haven’t had much time to think about religion… other than a sharp realization that I could no longer pretend to understand why Christ was divine. (Well, that’s the short story. There’s more to it, naturally.)

So where does that leave me? I don’t know.

I haven’t had a lot of time to examine what I believe. That’s changed now. Most of the mess I’ve endured has been cleared up. And the remainder could be gone any day. So I no longer have a valid excuse or a clear rationalization to avoid it, no matter how tempting it seems.

There’s no rush to figure out what I believe I suppose; though I do feel some urgency to belong. Even if I never attend a church meeting again (in whatever church), there is comfort in knowledge, in knowing where you fit into the grand scheme of things, in knowing that you fit in with others somehow. So what to believe?

Oh, I know some of what I don’t  believe: I don’t believe in the Abrahamic religions. But that isn’t to say that there aren’t parts of that particular religious group that aren’t true. It’s just, as a whole, I’ve examined them and found them unbelievable.

Take Christians, for example; as I’ve already stated, I can’t believe in any religion that believes Christ was divine. As for the other two big Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Islam, they both believe in a single, male God.

It’s not that I have anything against male Gods. I couldn’t believe in a single, female God either. I just can’t believe that there is one all-powerful being in control, male or female.

Perhaps it’s a result of my Mormon upbringing: Mormons believe in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. Oh, they only worship the one male God, but they believe in his female mate too. (What’s more, they believe that an infinite number of Heavenly beings existing somewhere. They just don’t worship them. So they really don’t care much about them, which is one reason why they’re never mentioned and most non-members don’t know about them.)

The idea of many male and female divine high somethings, well, that makes more sense to me. And going from a belief in many Gods to a belief in one single God feels like downsizing anyway.

I’ve looked closely at Atheism. There is an awfully tempting logic to Atheism, and a certain amount of altruism to which I’m drawn. But there’s an awfully tempting logic to belief in a deity, too. Either way, it’s a belief; for just as there’s no proof that there is something divine out there, there’s no real proof that there isn’t.

Which is all to say that I’m leaning heavily towards belief in some divine thingamabobs, and not just one. Which lead me to Paganism. I’m just getting introduced to it by way of the internet. I’m looking for a few good books as references now, since many Pagan internet sites can’t seem to agree on much and much more of it seems a little, well… froofy.

Frankly, I can’t see myself taking spiritual advice from some guy who has chosen to name himself after a flower, wears long plastic beads with Birkenstocks and tie-dye tees, and looks like he has a severe case of patchouli-stank.

I’m hoping to find someone a little more authoritative on the subject than good old patchouli-stinking Sunflower Goodfyllowe, or whatever his name was. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not me.

I mean, Prudence Ponder  is not my real name. (Y’all got that, right?) Yeah, I chose  Prudence Ponder, for various reasons. So me following a self-named Moonman Ravynwylde… not going to happen.

What it all boils down to, I think, is what I want to believe. Oh, I don’t believe that there is a divine green-eyed purple polka-dotted hippo out there that controls the universe, or whatever. I’ve never believed in anything remotely related to Calvinism. I never could.

I just can’t escape the feeling that there is more out there, that there are divine somethings that have some interest in us, however small. And I’d like to think that we have some connection to them.

I think, that after a few years in hell where I couldn’t believe, I’m willing and ready to have faith in some divine pooh-bahs. Whoever they are.

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8 comments on “I Want to Believe

  1. comedyinc says:

    Very interesting read. I myself am an atheist and have been since I was 12 years old. Maybe it feels easier and more comfortable to me because I have never seen, heard, felt or needed comfort from something that wasn’t there.
    Well done on leaving the Mormon Church BTW, I find the blatantness of Joseph Smiths scam so transparent that I’ll never see the justification in following it.

    It seems clear to me though that you have a few misconceptions about Atheism which are quite common in recovering theists.
    Firstly you said that you had “considered” Atheism, which most atheists (at least the ones I know) didn’t do.
    You can’t “choose” to become an Atheist, You don’t “decide” to embrace Atheism…there isn’t anything to embrace.
    You made a choice to put your belief in God.
    Dis-belief in God can be verbally denied, well hidden or even surpressed by the paranoia they feel after a lifetime of mental programming…this is why you end up with so many religiously motivated serial killers, they surpressed their true feelings for so long they just lost control of themselves.

    The truth is whatever it is Prudence and no amount of belief will change that.
    God is either there or he’s not and if he’s not, then he ‘ll never be anywhere other than as a voice that strange people hear in thier head…
    The same is true when it comes to your lack of belief…You either Dis-believe in God or you don’t and that’ll never change just because you want it to…and if there is a God then he already knows that you don’t believe cos he knows “all” apparently…and even if you stick to one religion from now until you die, if deep down you do not believe then how will you get that passed God witht his all knowing brain of death..

    Believe whatever feels right to you and stop trying to find something impossible to believe in and just believe that anything is possible…

    …what if there is a God up there and he is a God of Atheism? A God who rewards those who live independantly of him…
    …you’ll never know mate, so why worry about it.

    All the best from Richard Coughlan

  2. The Green Witch says:

    I liked your post, and appreciated your thoughtful stance. I can see you know what you don’t want! That’s a great start. When I left Christianity, I also knew what I didn’t want.

    Balance, it seems, is the important thing here. You are right to say there cannot be only a Goddess, as it provides no better balance than the ‘only one god’ argument.

    You’ve already found that paganism suffers from the over-ornate, in much the same way as Christianity can at times. Luckily, that is not the whole story.

    May I commend some reading material to you? Marian Green’s ‘A Witch Alone’ will give a competent and unemotional overview of solitary witchcraft, and writers such as Gerald Gardner (known as the father of modern Wicca) speak intelligently of the initiatory paths of the religion. Ronald Hutton has produced, in my view, the definitive historical overview of modern paganism with ‘The Triumph of the Sun’ which draws together all the current scholarship.

    There are several good sites out there; I particularly like wiccaforumsdotcom and whitewiccadotcom, both sensible, friendly, non-stardusty type places, with stacks of good information and reading lists.

    Bright blessings, and I hope you’ll visit!

  3. Abbadon says:

    Firstly you said that you had “considered” Atheism, which most atheists (at least the ones I know) didn’t do.

    Yes, exactly. i didn’t choose it, it just happened. Time to fire up the post I promised a reader a while back on the circumstances surrounding that happenstance.

    Re that husband thing? I’d volunteer, Prudie, but I’m taken.

    :o)>

    I’m sure there’s someone out there for you, though.

  4. vitaminbook says:

    I’d just let things lie for now and see what happens if I was you. I can understand wanting to belong to a group straight away, but there are an awful lot of belief systems out there. Who knows, you might even find that it’s not a religious identity you’re looking for at all!

  5. Vmaximus says:

    Prudie,
    You are an engineer, so go about it like one. Either there is a god or not. If there is one, then he listens or not. If he is interested he may respond.
    If there is a god that is not interested, why be interested in him?

    Ask him. You will not get empirical evidence, but you may get subjective evidence. He may decide to prove himself to you.

    If he does, ask him what kind of god he is. How do you best follow him?

    I used the male pronoun not because I believe god is a male, but mostly from convention.

    It is your personal journey, follow your heart, and welcome to the adventure.

    V

  6. Prudie says:

    comedyinc, I don’t accept Mormon bashing on this site. Any more of that and I’ll ban you. Stating a reasonable intellectual disagreement with the LDS church is perfectly acceptable. Bashing is not. So none of that, sir.

    I have to disagree with the “choosing” issue. Finding a belief (or not) is no different than finding clothes that fit you. I think there’s a ton of choice involved. I think that a lot of people think that because their own choice was so easily made, that there isn’t one involved. For others, like me, there’s a ton of information to parse. And choosing which to accept can get confusing.

    Your use of phrases like “recovering theists” and “religiously motivated serial killers” and “mental programming” and “voice that strange people hear in thier head”… well, all that displays the type of Atheistic snobbery I’ve come to severely dislike within parts of the Atheist community. It’s a Holier Than Thou attitude I find particularly offensive and more than a tad ironic.

    “voice that strange people hear in thier head”… And I now have a new rule: no psychosis bashing.

    The Green Witch, thanks! I’ll look up those books and sites.

    Abbadon, the best ones are always married. Alas. ;)

    “i didn’t choose it, it just happened.” … do you know how many Christians I know who have said just that about their own beliefs? Many, if not most. I think belief or non-belief comes easily to some people.

    vitaminbook, I’m in no particular rush, but the urge to belong is strong! :)

    Vmaximus, I don’t take offense at the use of “he.” I use it too as a genderless identifier for he or she when gender is unknown. I mean, “she” always denotes female, but “he” can be either “he” or “he or she.” “It” is acceptable, I suppose. But that sounds a little impersonal and brings to mind 1950’s era B-movie horror monsters. :)

  7. Abbadon says:

    do you know how many Christians I know who have said just that about their own beliefs?

    That’s odd. I would think most people of faith came by it as a result of, er, indoctrination since childhood…

    the best ones are always married. Alas. ;)

    Aw, thanks, sweetie…

    The best ones are single, too!

    ;o)>

  8. wyomissa says:

    Prudie,
    I have always loved your posts and this one too is extremely interesting to me. I have recently become a member of the LDS church and it seemed to fit for me, my husband, and my children. I too searched high and low and this just seemed to fit. But, to the point, during my search one thing I realized was, I would know where I “belonged” when I got there. Trust your instincts, you are very wise and educated and you will not fail if you follow your feelings.
    Good luck!

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