I was watching a film the other day which was basically all about God and (mainly) Christianity. It was pretty much a film about Theists versus Atheists and who is right or wrong, but it was (in my opinion) about steering the audience towards God and the Christian religion. I do have a religion of sorts. I do not attend a church, although I do say the odd prayer. I do not follow a particular religion, although I have a little faith in the fact that there are a few people, or main person ‘up there’ that look after us once we have passed. I have my own faith if you like, in that our souls continue after our body is gone. But I don’t preach anything to anyone and I don’t ask anyone to think how I choose to think and feel. The same as if you are a taoist, buddha, hindu or follow any faith/religion, I would not say anyone is right or wrong – more that each individual chooses to either believe or not believe, follow or not follow, worship one god or a number of gods……to me, it makes no difference. Everyone is unique and individual and are free to think and feel how they like. But I do have an interest in all religions and so if the conversation comes up, I listen, ask questions and am interested.
Now, this sort of film is great if you are a follower of that faith as I am sure it would be a great feel good film and give you a complete and wholesome feeling and whilst it did give a ‘sort of’ argument for the atheist people out there, it wasn’t really a great argument – more a protest if you like. But I think if there is going to be a film about this, then really it should be a more fair argument…..and to be honest, I did not like the text at the end, which was effectively asking people to follow the faith and ‘pass on the message’. Now, to me, faith is about choice……..I have actually tried the Christian religion – it was may years ago now but I was 15, was hanging around with a kid that was hugely religious and his family were all Christian’s and I wanted to feel like I belonged as they all seemed so close and loving, as if they had a simple life – and so I wanted to have that experience. I wanted to feel what it was like to be part of a group that had faith. A group that seemed to be caring and kind, gentle and giving. Besides, I wanted to learn more about this faith on my own. I was also in the Girls Brigade for a number of years growing up and we through this brigade, we learnt about the practicalities of life, discipline, respect, team spirit and also had bible studies……so its not something that I was entirely new to.
But anyway, I wanted to see what ‘true’ Christianity was all about. My mum, even though not a follower of this religion, allowed me to be free to choose. As it should be. However, really, I was in actual fact heavily influenced by this particular kid and their family, as they were ALWAYS trying to get others to attend church with them and ‘mini’ preaching I suppose. Little hints about seeing what it was like and so on. And, yes, if it wasnt for them, I wouldn’t have gone at all. Bearing in mind, that since I was a little girl, I was brought up to believe in spirits and had many experiences with them too, of which is a totally different story and one I won’t go into……but I thought, why not. Lets see what its all about – lets see if I enjoy it and can believe in something else.
So, I went along to church with them. The first service I attended was the most intriguing and it was full of stories, teaching morals and standards all wrapped up in metaphors and grandious stories, part mythical, part biblical I suppose. But being young, it gripped me and sitting in that church with all those people made me feel special. It made me feel like I was part of a huge gang if you like, all joined together and loving the same God and it got me. It really got me. As a youngster, I felt that I had finally found something I could belong to. So, I carried on attending and even went to their after school club where you would go on adventures in small groups and be given clues and end up following those clues to local areas I had never seen before where there were stone/marble crosses in a field I had never seen and where once found, you would read the story about it and move on with the next clue. Again, all intriguing stuff to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would go home and feel loved. I dont mean by my mum, as that was a given. I felt loved through an unseen power of connection and belonging. Its an odd feeling to try to describe, but one that kept me pulled in to the church and the faith. What broke it???? Well, I started to see things a little differently after the first couple of months. It started to feel to me like I was BEING pulled. Being hooked in to the grid if you like and I didn’t like it. It started to feel too intense. I was in 2 minds then as one part of me was saying, ‘feel all this love, belonging and unity’ and the other was saying ‘but it doesn’t feel right’. Perhaps it just wasn’t right for me? Or perhaps it just felt wrong all round? But I started to see cracks in people. It was as if people HAD to be kind. HAD to be giving. HAD to be nice. It wasn’t through their own choice, but more because you had to be that sort of person to be accepted by God. But that got me thinking……God is said to have basically created us all, given us our own minds and will. So, I suppose I questioned, if we are all Gods children, why do we have to almost be clones of eachother? Why must all of us act the same way and think the same thing? So I guess the doubts started creeping in and some of the church stories started to make me ask more questions as opposed to just believing every lesson that was taught and everything that was told. Many say the same thing about ‘if there is a God, why is there pain, suffering, cancer and other diseases’ and so on. The questions are answered in their own way, but it didn’t make me feel it was the right answer, as I still had more questions after that, that their didn’t seem to be an answer for. And going back to feeling people HAD to do or be a certain way, the thing that to me, proved it, was when it was this kids sisters 18th birthday party. For weeks she was getting excited about it and kept saying how big it was going to be and how there would be loads of people. Then the big day came. The grand party at their house. I got there an hour or so before the party was due to start. There was a lovely buzz around the house, the food was being laid out on the table, the barbie was in full swing and the music was on and once again, a loving atmosphere and all was good. Then the phone started ringing. I thought it was friends and family just saying happy birthday, or checking what to wear and so on……but no, it was numerous phone calls with minor excuses as to why they wouldn’t be going. Some even turned up on the doorstep and I was thinking, brilliant, at last someone else to join in the party…..but no, it was to turn up on the doorstep with a card or present and apologise they couldn’t come in. I felt absolutely mortified for her. This poor girl whose 18th it was and nobody except me, her brother and parents were going to be there. She ended up in tears. Everyone she had invited didnt bother to show or let her down. I didnt know what to do. I felt at a lose end. There was nothing I could do as I didnt know her ‘friends’ at all and I didn’t want to be there in this situation where she must have been horrifyingly embarrassed. She went to her room whilst her brother went to comfort her and her parents carried on smiling, trying to keep me there by still trying to make me feel welcome and pretending everything was ok. Then the mother disappeared off for a while……..then she came back and said, “dont worry, I have phoned around the church and people will be here soon”. Ok then. She went up to see her daughter and got her to sort her face from the make up stained tears and come downstairs to wait for her new guests.
Sure enough, within the hour, the house had people at long last! All people from the church, some neighbours and although mainly adults, there were about 10 people of our age range, there or there abouts that also came. Now, this is all well and good and I was so pleased for her that finally she could have her party and feel good again. She did enjoy herself! She was having a good flirt with one guy there in particular, sitting on his lap and messing around, smiling away through the whole party. But this did it for me. This religion was for me, no more.
You see, for me personally – and I am not saying this in a way to sway opinions, or cause any offense what-so-ever but purely this is my experience and opinion of the total 3months experience I had of this religion……..without meaning to sound harsh, to me, it just seemed fake. It was like everything clicked for me then at that party. No longer did I feel part of a group or as if everything in life is wonderful if you believe. It felt to me that people only attending because it was the right thing to do – not because they were making a choice. It was more like, ok, if I go, then God will think I am a wonderful person. See, I suppose if this was the other way around, I would be more embarrassed that my mum had to ring around the church to get people to my party! I would be more embarrassed that people felt they HAD to come, rather than because it was planned and they were invitied ages ago. And I also looked at it from the other view too…..if I was the person receiving the phone call to say ‘oh, having a party now, fancy coming for my daughters 18th?’….isnt that a little bit of an ‘afterthought’ invitation…….or did the mum admit that nobody showed to her daughters birthday and how upset she was etc etc…..a bit of a guilt trip perhaps? Again, no choice there then, because otherwise you would be no better than everyone else that didnt attend. So you see, I decided all the false smiles in the world were not going to save you. They were not going to give you a trouble free life, make people like you and that no matter what you do, what will be will be, whether you believe in God or not, believe in a number of Gods, or whether you have a religion or not. To me, it didn’t matter anymore.
Now, please dont get me wrong. If people want to have a religion, it makes no odds to me. Everyone is free to believe in what they want – its not up to me to judge or change peoples mind and I hope I havent caused any offence in this blog as this is certainly not my intention. But this film got me thinking back and it made me still think the same. Its almost as if Christians try to recruit people. This is purely my opinion of course. But I started thinking back to how it began as to why I attended that church with them and tried the religion, all the times before that that they had tried to get me to go…..and then the text at the end of that film about ‘following the movement’ and text everyone you know and spread the word…..it made me think that perhaps its not just in my head – perhaps it really is about recruiting! But again, this brings me back to my comment at the start – should we all not be given a choice? Why are we almost forced into that religion if you are not growing up already in a family of followers?? The same can be said of course for mormons that knock on the door. Why is there a recruiting process??? Perhaps its me. Perhaps I just dont get it?
On a final note, if you do have a faith, then I applaud you. If it makes you feel wanted, loved and that you belong, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with having faith at all. If it helps you deal with life with prayer, then again, fantastic. If you must go to a particular building or do particular things and it makes you feel happy, then I am pleased for you, I really am. But me, at least as it stands now and has done for many years, I will continue to believe in what I believe in – no recruiting, no preaching, just me and ‘my’ own faith………………………..
If you follow a religion or have your own views on faith, then I would love to hear all about it too!