My parents were raised in the Methodist Church. My father was awarded a Bible for perfect Sunday School attendance. I was christened in a big, old stone-faced Methodist church with a steeple, rows of dark wood pews, an organ, and a kneeling rail where we all took Communion once a month. We all went to Sunday School, and I still remember the words and melody to most of the hymns in the Methodist Hymnal. I can recite The Apostle’s Creed, sing the Doxology, and the Gloria Patri. As a teenager I joined my parents as a member of the choir.
Thoroughly indoctrinated in the Christian faith, Methodist version, and not really knowing anyone of a different tradition, it is quite understandable that as soon as I emerged from that cocoon, and met some decent, intellectually curious people who never went to church, but spent their Sundays doing something else that interested them, I would be like a kid in a candy store.
In college–even an Agricultural & Engineering college where I went–it was fashionable for the Science students to be either agnostic or studying Eastern theology. I read the Bhagavad Gita and “Bridey Murphy.” I learned to play chess (sort of), hung out at the college radio station, and felt that I had found a place where my questions about philosophy would not be considered heretical, but interesting. I even had a novice ham radio license (KN5KBL) for a year, though it was more a trophy than something I used. Though I could not stay longer than 3 semesters, due to lack of direction and money, when I left to get married (in a church), I took my attraction to Eastern theology with me, and I did not go back to church for several years.
I missed it, though. I missed the music, mostly. I tried taking the kids to Sunday School a few times, but it was a hassle getting them dressed and driving to the Methodist church where we didn’t know anyone. It didn’t last long. We stayed away from any church until the kids grew up. Once they went to a Vacation Bible School and were indoctrinated with some Bible stories and learned to recite the names of the books in order. It is not surprising that two of them never went to church after becoming adults.
What IS surprising is that the other two did attend regularly, at least for a few years, one at a Baptist church where he was the sound engineer, and the other at a Unity church where she served on the Board for one term.
After we divorced, my husband got involved in a correspondence Bible Study course. After some time, he told me that the teachers had encouraged him to become a minister, and he asked me what I thought. I told him that I honestly thought they encouraged anyone who stuck with the program as long as he had. Since he was a socially shy person, I suppose that he decided against it, kept his religion to himself, and lived a basically moral, Conservative life. He had burglar bars on the house and went to the Target Shooting Range every Sunday.
In the years when one is busy making a living, church does not seem important, especially if his/her weekends are the only time left to take care of personal things and get some rest. Newly single, with the kids on their own, I wanted spiritual company and support. By then I had studied astrology and been through nine degrees of the Rosicrucian Order. The Unity Church seemed the right place for me to find others with unconventional beliefs. I found friends there and discovered abilities that I did not know I had. I sang, I wrote, I healed, I reached out, and I loved. I went to retreats. And then I went back to college to train for a career as a health professional. When I graduated, I moved 500 miles away to a part of Texas where I could get a job and comfortably work as a middle-aged white woman who couldn’t speak Spanish.
I found a Unity church 25 miles away from where I lived, and I attended for a while, even after I moved farther away from it. But every Unity church is different, and this one was more formal than the one I had left in the Rio Grande Valley, and most of the people had more money than I did. I did not fit. So, soon I was spending my Sundays at home with my cats, or doing something that interested me, often with someone I liked.
And then I retired and out of necessity moved back to the Valley. Less able to go anywhere and do anything I wanted now, due to physical and financial restraints, I went back to the little Unity church where I had blossomed many years ago, and I took an active part. But it is because I wanted to avoid becoming a “potted plant” at home. IN MY 8TH DECADE, I no longer accept the dogmas that were the foundation of my spiritual beliefs when I was younger. I believe that we all have to work through these ideas near the end of our lives, in order to discover what we CAN believe as the truth. And at this point, that’s ALL I am interested in. (Well, almost all.) 😉
Here is where I am now:
DESIRE (to act)—->ORGANIZATION—->MATTER—->CHEMICAL REACTION—->LIFE.
All this I can believe.
Where does the idea of a personal God come from? Or the idea of many gods? It is that there seem to be forces more powerful than we are, and that we cannot control. It is that we don’t know how we got here, why we are here, what we should do, and what happens to our “self” after the body dies. We need a God in charge of all that–and someone to blame for it. Most of us need to believe that someone knows the “how” and “why”, and that someday we will know.
But has anyone heard a voice, seen a non-material being, or been transported instantly to a place off the planet? I can only say that I have caught hold of occasional intuitive ideas during my lifetime, and acted on them with success.
I have felt healing energy, gentle support and guidance, and on rare occasions, joy when I had no reason to feel it.
DO WE NOT LIVE IN A CLOUD OF ENERGY THAT CAN BE DIRECTED AS NEEDED? POWER IS DIRECTED ENERGY. IS THAT NOT GOD? God is not outside the creation: God expressed IS the creation, and that explains how S/He can be everywhere at once and know everything at once.