Religion. Faith. This big, bold belief that some higher being exists outside of human existence. Whether it be Catholic, Anglican, Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist, there are a huge number of faiths that human beings identify with. They always have. Australia is a multi-cultural country, primarily Christian, but due the diversity of our nation we have a little bit of everything.
There are increasing numbers of people in Australia (at least) who identify as either being agnostic or atheist. JJ is one of them. He identifies as an atheist. I’m not as convinced as he is that there is no God, but I’m not religious. At all. I don’t practice and it is unlikely I will introduce my children to practice religion unless they want to. Though I put a disclaimer on that because I think non-parents shouldn’t make absolute statements about their future child rearing until you’ve actually done it. That’s how we all end up with egg on our faces.
I was born to a Catholic mother and an Anglican father. My father, not that keen on religion, let my mother have my brother and I baptised Catholic, as she wanted. We went to a Catholic primary school, only interrupted by a brief stint in the local public school when we moved to north Queensland. We both went to a Catholic high school. I’ve done it all: baptism, communion, reconciliation, confession, you name it.
In senior high school, we were given an option of studying either Study of Religion, a heavily weighted board subject in which you studied various religions, or Religious Education, which was basically Catholic classes. I chose Study of Religion, but my friends who chose Religious Education (not a board of studies subject) usually used that time for their subjects. The ones that actually meant something towards their university entrance scores (OPs in Queensland). Study of Religion was a great subject, because religion can tie in so greatly with different cultures, it was like being absorbed in an entirely different place all together.
As I left high school and moved onto university, I lived on campus. Most of the colleges were associated with a type of Christian church. Cannot for the life of me remember which one my college was associated with, but I didn’t want to go to the Catholic colleges, for reasons that had nothing to do with their denomination. Religion was sometimes jammed down our throat at formal dinners and the like, but I didn’t care much for it. If you witnessed some of our behaviour, I’m sure there would be some who described it as “Godless”. There were a group of about 20 people at college who were so kindly described as the “God squad” who were judgmental, forceful, pains in the collective arse.
Since leaving college, moving into share housing and subsequently finishing uni, I have not sought out religious practice. On reflection, my parents weren’t keen on attending church and the only exposure I had regularly to church was when I was forced to go at school.
I’m quite keen on independent and critical opinion, thought and literature about religion and faith. I like the observations of outsiders looking in. I’m wary of overt religious behaviour being rammed down my throat (as it was in the US where I encountered people all over the place on the street screeching about “sinners” and “God, our saviour”).
I have never enjoyed practising religion. It was always something I “had” to do, rather than something I wanted to do. I would best describe myself now, as agnostic. I believe there is a God. If we’re getting technical, because I believe there is a God or some greater being than humans, I’m best described as an agnostic theist. I don’t believe much of what the Bible says is relevant today and find it strange that people still follow the teachings of a book that was written over 2000 years ago, and says that women are property, slaves are OK and you can be stoned to death for working on the Sabbath. Yes, I know that those are the teachings of the old testament, and the new testament is more about Jesus and his message, but many people are still following some of the old testament.
I believe Jesus was just this great dude who influenced a mass following rather than the Son of God. Don’t really believe the immaculate conception, but am still mildly indoctrinated into the Catholic mindset about it. I don’t believe the story of Adam and Eve.
Most of my friends and family are similar to me. Relatively agnostic. That is why I’m always quite surprised when I meet someone and they immediately describe themselves as ‘Christian’. I don’t often meet people who are religious, or more specifically, people who would use the word ‘Christian’ in a game of ’Tell us 5 words that describe you’. I’m baffled by it because I personally could think of about 50 things I’d rather identify myself as. I don’t really understand that being one of the first things you would tell someone about you. And given my background, I don’t really feel comfortable with people who could be judging me for my non-Catholic behaviours like “living in sin”.
Are you religious? Are you Christian? Do you identify with atheists or agnostics? Are you a different religion? Would it be one of the first things you’d tell me?
Whippersnapper has written 37 posts.