Monday, November 5, 2007

An Unclear Ending

Miriam posed the question - Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe our actions mandate getting into Heaven or Hell or do you believe we just die?

This is a tough topic for me. A topic I've had many conversations about with only a select few people who are close to me (including C - which oddly enough our discussion on this topic was one of the reasons I had found us to be so compatible). A topic I don't think I can talk about without bringing up my religious (or lack thereof) beliefs.

As a child I was raised Catholic, attended a Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade, and even went to church on occasion. Slowly our weekly Sunday church outings dwindled to monthly and by the time I started high school my family was what I like to call CEO Catholics (Christmas & Easter Only).

To tell you the truth I didn't see a reason to attend church if my heart wasn't in it. If the whole time I was questioning what organized religion was all about. Even at a young age I found myself wondering "If God is listening why do we all need to gather to talk about it? Why can't I tell him when I pray at night?"

Faith is such a strong feeling to possess. I've seen it manifest in people close to me and it really is inspiring. I feel that I have faith in "god", just not the same God as everyone else. I believe that life is a gift. Walking outside, taking everything in, enjoying the beauty of our world is "god". Hearing the birds sing, watching the sun rise and hearing a baby laugh is "god". My faith comes from my surroundings. From life in general. And to not take it for granted. I believe we were put on this earth to live life to the fullest. Not to be judged by our actions while we're here and later punished for our sins.

Sadly the thought of my own death and the deaths of those who are closest to me is one of my greatest fears. Mostly because I am unsure about our ending on earth. Personally I don't believe in heaven and hell or reincarnation, but rather just an ending. And I guess that's what makes it so scary. We are finite. On the other hand, there is a part of me that hopes our spirits live on. But I have always been a logical girl; needing proof, resolution and answers to everything. And death is no different.

I hope I haven't lost any readers by posting my views on this topic. I wish I could be the kind of person who can believe without proof. Love without doubt. And have faith without turning their back. But I'm not. I don't appreciate life any less, in fact I'd like to think I live it more fully because I believe this is all we've been given. Our time here and now.

24 comments:

Princess Pointful said...

Although I was brought up pretty much minus religion, your views echo mine a great deal.
I so admire people with strong faith, but I still find myself struggling with what to believe, yet find little solace in the structures of most beliefs out there.

thecasualperfectionist.com said...

Good answer! ;) I, too, have deviated from how I was raised, and that's okay! My hubby and I are raising our daughter to be kind, compassionate, and open-minded...and (in my opinion) you don't need an 'organized religion' to make that happen. Good post!

Jess said...

I don't think you can lose readers by being so honest and forthright. Not readers who are interested in hearing other people's thoughts instead of looking for mirrors of their own, anyway. I am not religious and don't believe in an afterlife, but that doesn't scare me. It used to. But now I've decided that life is about living and when it's over, so it goes.

Ashley said...

seriously, i couldn't have said it better myself.

there are days i want so badly to believe in something without proof....but i almost feel...stupid, pouring faith into something based on what is written in a book or historically believed.

the whole finite thing though? freaks me out sometimes.

Miriam said...

Yay! My question! I was hoping I wasn't offending you by asking it. I guess I got my answer.

And you answered beautifully. It's funny b/c I feel the same sometimes. That our time is finite. But then sometimes I feel that I will see everyone I've ever loved again in another life. And really wouldn't it be wonderful to come back as a beautiful butterfly?

I guess we won't know for years to come but sometimes it nice to sit and ponder :)


http://lspoon.wordpress.com

L Sass said...

I think that wrestling with these questions is one of the most spiritual things you can do. You don't have to have a clear answer now, or ever!

QueenBee said...

Did you know that Einstein believed in a god. Not in the Judeo-Christian version, but his god was nature. He saw the world around him, realized that it demanded respect, and so he did. But He didn't believe in anything supernatural. He was a Naturalist at heart.

There are so many things I love about Einstein, and that's just one of them.

I find it comforting that there won't be any judgment after I die. I try and live my life by the rule, just trying to do the "most amount of good and the least amount of evil."
Though, I will always respect people and their beliefs. I realize that what may 'work' for me, may not 'work' for someone else.

Making my way in PA said...

WAHOO! This was an awesome post, many thanks to Miriam. I am right with you on this one. I don't know and while that scares me and I am always amazed by those who believe, I don't know that it is for me.

Katelin said...

That is a great post. It's funny because I kind of went down a similar path. I was raised Catholic and have some of the same views as Catholicism but I have developed my own views as well. And as for death, I find it incredibly scary and finite as you said. But at the same time I think that is what makes us appreciate it more.

Sarah said...

Dude, so weird that you wrote this, and I wrote what I did today.

ana said...

I too have faith in God, but faith and God (acc to me) are very personal things. Religion does not dictate what I should/should not believe in. I sketch out my own beliefs. So yes I believe in a God but not the same god as everyone else.

Death scares me too, and I find my comfort in thinking there's a heaven/hell waiting beyond it, where dead people party. And I'm sure the party is rocking, with Morrison and Cobain.

libby said...

interesting - i believe in God, myself...but to be totally honest, it doesn't mean that i don't question sometimes.

the one person who's faith is unshakeable in Him? My mom's. And seeing her almost always 'renews' my faith in a way because she is such a strong believer.

onebigholiday said...

I missed you too!

The Lisa Show said...

I loved reading this. I just remembered we're both former Catholic school girls. Hehe. I believe in the concept of karma, but I call myself an agnostic. I have an insane moral compass though that keeps me in line. My mother is sorely disappointed. She sends me gospel books because she thinks I'm going to burn in hell. Fun stuff.

She Likes Purple said...

I hope you wouldn't lose any readers by being honest and true to yourself.

AJ said...

I'm with She Likes Purple - readers that desert you after this post weren't very open minded readers and not the kind you want to have. Hmm umm err.

Sometimes I think about that stuff too, and then I figure it's all too hard and therefore it's futile to examine. Such a defeatest view, isn't it!

tshirtandjeans said...

i, for the most part, am unsure of the end. the scientist in me says we simply die, our organs no longer function, and our "soul" is a construct of our minds.

but then, there's a handful of interpersonal experiences that i simply can't explain. the feeling you have known the person their whole life and only have only known them all of 5 seconds. as if there is a giant, complicated history that, just by meeting them, you have opened up again - that sort of intensity you don't find very often, which is hard to even put into words. something tells me there's either parallel universes, or essences of ourselves come back.

La said...

I can so identify with this post. We were a go to church every Sunday family, I went to religious classes once a week, got confirmed, and then starting formulating my own ideas and beliefs, and would have screaming fights with my parents about not going to church with them. It's nice to know there's someone out there who feels the same. ;)

blogging said...

i, too, identify with this post. i (aLSO) was raised catholic, and for all practical purposes associate myelf with that religion. however, some of my beliefs? definitely do not go with the grain of what they teach. i'm lucky that mom feels the same way, so i guess i've always felt it OK to have other ideas as well.

i think in the end, as long as you have something to believe in, whether it be mixed ideas, or by the book, thats all that rally matters.

thankyou so much for sharing this.

xo, bb

DG said...

I am Jewish, my family is Jewish, but I have many beliefs that go with other religions. So no "religion" fully fits me. But to have your own views is wonderful Michelle :)

Princess Extraordinaire said...

The wonderful thing about faith is that it's open to interpretation and the meaning differs among everyone - I don't see how reincarnation can be attained without faith in something, however, like you, I was raised CEO after I was old enough to attend JR High. This life is finite in so many ways as it's sad to see our loved ones pass and see things inevitably happen.I have to believe there is something greater out there than this one life and that somehow makes me feel reassured. Do I make any sense?

Lisa said...

I too was Catholic. Church EVERY Sunday for about 18 years. And now I haven't gone in about a year and a half. Actually, I went last year on Christmas.

But here's my beef. Who is ANYBODY to dictate what form ANYBODY's relationship with God (or "a god") takes. I'm totally fine where I am spiritually... I don't feel guilted into being more religious. That's actually my beef: the way religion uses fear and guilt. I don't know. Religion isn't something I can talk vehemently about because seriously? Why don't we all just believe what we want? GOOD IDEA.

funnygirl33 said...

I think church is a place where people with the same beliefs can get together and hang out. I, on the other hand, like to do that in a bar... with a cold drink in my hand...Beer is Love!
That's just how I roll :)

Daddy Dan said...

Wow Michelle, you don't have to worry about losing readers with such a well written and thought out post. You have a true talent for writing.

Death is one of my biggest fears as well. I'm like you in that I'm a logical person and I need proof to fully believe something. The sad thing is we'll never find any proof of what happens after we die until we actually go through it. Have you read C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. I would highly recommend it.