Amazing Grace, or Sorry, it's a long one.
When I was young, I went to church on Sunday mornings with my mother. My father was raised Catholic. He went to catholic school, and declared himself done when he graduated.
One cold morning, I didn't want to get out of bed. "Why do we have to go? Can't I just pray here?" I asked. "You have to go to church so God can hear you pray," my mother answered. "Then why do I pray before bed?" There was no answer to that.
Years later, I learned that I was born on the Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception. But the conception that was immaculate wasn't Jesus's. It was Mary's. I looked and looked in the bible for where it said it. It's not written in the bible. It was something that we just all know to be true, I was informed. Well, up until that point I knew that the Easter Bunny and Santa were real... maybe that's not real either. And while we were at it, what does the Easter Bunny have to do with Jesus?
There wasn't an answer for that either.
I have been questioning religion for years, much to the frustration of my mother. The religion that I was being taught in church and Sunday School, the religion that I was teaching the young children in Sunday School, wasn't making sense. (I remember feeling like River Tam in that episode of Firefly, trying to fix the Bible).
High school hit, and with it the AIDS epidemic. I was politely informed that being Gay was being against God. I asked why, citing that as long as you weren't breaking a commandment, God shouldn't care. Frustrated Christians sent me to Leviticus to look up the passage. I'd ask them, why aren't you following all of these other rules? Why are you picking and choosing? I would rarely get an answer.
In college I began to study these matters of faith. I talked to people, took religious studies classes, and used the internet. I realized that the Bible, is both an anthology and a translation of a translation of a translation. I learned that Mary didn’t name him Jesus. His name was Yeshua. Jesus is the Greek translation.
The more I read, the less things made sense. How can anyone believe this? It’s illogical! Things are historically incorrect, and when pointed out, the historical facts are ignored! (Just try to tell some people that Jesus was born, and died, a Jew. He wanted reform!! And he was all about the whole not killing thing. Did the Crusaders just forget that?)
After this revelation, I began to study religion. I wanted to know why people believed what they believed. Religion, and the culture associated with it is fascinating!! My bother shared this interest. He and his college roommates went so far as to invite Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons in when they came calling. Reportedly, they can counter most bible verses, with other bible verses that contradict. Men after my own heart.
I married a man who was a devout atheist. Then I found the Unitarian Universalist church, which the Ex was rather upset about. They wanted you to question! They couldn’t give answers, or make sense of the inconsistencies, but they also didn’t mind me compiling my own theories of faith from all that I have learned. In fact, they encourage it.
And here is what I have learned: I believe in a Higher Power. I also believe that ALL religions believe in the same higher power. Same window, different drapes if you will. I believe that Jesus did exist. That he had a wonderful message (as Eddie Izzard says: “Cause Jesus I do think did exist, and he was, I think, a guy who had interesting ideas in the Gandhi-type area, in the Nelson Mandela-type area, you know, relaxed and groovy…”). My main belief is that if you follow the Golden Rule (and most major religions on Earth have this rule) life will have a whole lot less conflict.
So now here I am. I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person (something the ex didn’t, no wonder we’re not together). I’ve found a place to belong.