When I was a little girl, the idea of hell was a very scary place, and I was directed to pray each night before I went to bed. I tried very hard to be a good Christian when I was entered into the Catholic school system at the age of 8. As I grew up I was given every opportunity to ask questions, read any book I wanted, and ultimately given freedom with my personal spirituality.
When I was 14, I openly became agnostic, which evolved to atheism as a late teenager. As an atheist religion has always been a secret fascination of mine. I first read ” A Skeleton in God’s Closet” when I was in high school which just blew my mind. Although it was fiction, it had an unsettling way of ending right where it should have began, it ended with religion being the only answer and all the evidence that riveted me to the contrary in the elaborate hoax. I realize it is a very cut and dry summation but its meaningful also because it is the last fictional book that I have purchased. This book had such a major impact on the reading material I have chosen from there on in.
As well there are some amazing writers out there who have opened my eyes to the possibility that what the faithful wanted to be a hoax, in the novel above, could actually be a reality. For example, “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail”, which predates any of the fiction that Dan Brown has written. I truly am of the opinion that each book you read leaves a little bit inside that shapes your reality going forward. I want to be shaped by factual research and well written material and not some dribble about vampires or wizards.
Once I switched to non-fiction the pieces of the puzzle which religion tried to answer for me, were finally answered, by the ironic lack of it. As a girl trying to be the best Christian I could, I was always trying to please this invisible being. I was constantly seeking signs and reassurances that I was on the correct path in life. I would find signs in nature, my food, the weather, really anything. The weird thing was when religion was finally absent from my life, I realized that the only person I needed to please was me. The idea that I am the only judge and jury of how I live my life, and how I appear to the people I surround myself with has been my own personal salvation.
Religion has caused incredible harm, and bloodshed throughout our history, but unless we research and learn from our past mistakes we are doomed to repeat this cycle and raise children who do not look to themselves or their parents for answers, but rather turn to some invisible being. I know who I want to raise my children, and it is not the voices in their heads or some pious male preaching at church. Making mistakes is not sin, it is part of being human, what you learn from those mistakes is the real value to your humanity.