First off, I do believe in God. I have no doubts whatsoever that He exists. I'm not atheistic, although I can understand how some people don't feel His presence for whatever reason. I've had times in my life where I wasn't sure I felt Him at all, yet not wavering in my belief of Him. I'm not agnostic either, but I do understand that until we die, there's simply no way to prove or disprove God scientifically. So this isn't to bash anyone who is atheistic or agnostic, this is simply for my own sake and trying to define who I am.
I not only believe in God, I feel Him and His presence. I know He's there watching out for me and my family and friends. I feel His forgiveness and patience. I believe that Jesus was, in fact, The Christ. In that sense, I consider myself Christian. I'm grateful for the fact that his death on the cross at the hands of Pilate and the San Hedron means that I'm able to enter Heaven, that He made the ultimate sacrifice for me. I'm grateful for having been baptized, confirmed and am able to receive Holy Communion. I think the Holy Sacraments are an honor to receive, including marriage.
It's not spirituality or God or Jesus I have issues with. I have no doubt that Jesus existed. I have no doubt that He carried Mary to Heaven with him so that she would never die and her body would never decay. What I've been questioning is religion. For instance, the insistance of a good Catholic having to confess their sins in Confession to a priest, and that a priest assigns penance and forgives my sins in the name of God. I know my sins, and God knows my sins, and He knows when I am sorry for them. He knows when I do penance for them from my heart, not because some Pope decided it had to be a mandatory sacrament.
I have nothing but respect for the Popes, for the most part, but to believe that their words are actually the Word of God? All men are fallible, including the Pope. How do I reconcile that what some Popes declare as being right and just are later declared to be reversed by another Pope? Especially when it comes to political issues?
How is it that a religion has so much power that it influences how people vote? That, as much as I think the Bible is the word of God, people use the Bible to justify horrors they commit? That so many people, priests included, twist the words of the Bible to suit their needs? What I wouldn't do to read and understand the original scrolls and texts. They must be beautiful and amazing, with the original authors truly being inspired and touched by God. How much has been lost through translations and mistranslations? How must God be sitting on His throne just shaking His head in His hands and thinking "Stupid assholes, why can't they just LISTEN?" I do believe that there are several different ways to UNDERSTAND the Bible... that certain passages mean what they need to for someone who is in great need spiritually of divine help, but I've always trusted prayer. When I pray, it's like having an open discussion with God. Similar to when a doctor tells you to listen to your body so that you can give it what it needs. I firmly believe our souls work the exact same way. That all we need to do is listen, and God will talk to us.
For that matter, I believe in Angels too. I think that they're just on a different plane than we are, a different level and form of energy. I've had experiences where I know in my heart and soul that I was in direct communication with my Angel. For instance, this (taken from a post I made somewhere else):
I've had encounters where I know my guardian angel saved my life. Once, I
was driving home from a college class and was sitting at a light on a back road.
I was the 1st car in the long line of cars, and the intersection was very busy.
When the light changed from red to green, I felt a hand on my shoulder and a
voice in my head said "Stay." My foot wouldn't move off of the brake pedal. Cars
behind me started to honk the horns, but suddenly, a truck from the left and a
car from the right crashed head on into each other, as both ran the light a full
(guessing) 5 seconds after their lights had turned red. I shifted the car to
park, and turned to look at the cars behind me, where everyone's jaws had just
dropped and the honking horns stopped.
When I was living in my mother's house, which I mentioned before was built on property that used to belong to a funeral parlor, things would move around and get lost. Mostly, in the dark in the middle of the night, my mother and I would hear soft, tinkly music much like a piano, but the melody was always just out of reach. My mother would often come into my room to see if my tv or radio were on, and I would often go room to room throughout the house to see where the music was coming from. If I got up early in the morning before anyone else was up, I could hear deep voices in a "conversation" downstairs, but as soon as I entered the living room the voices would stop.
There were a couple of instances where we felt something malevolent... cold, icy, tense, and full of fear. For that reason, my mother regularly blessed the house with holy water. Occasionally, while lying in bed, if I kicked off my blankets something would put them back on me. This happened when I was house-sitting for my parents and I was the only one home. If I was crying in bed, I'd sometimes feel arms hugging me. I believe this was also my guardian angel.
So, do I believe in ghosts? I believe in something, but more like what we think are malevolent ghosts are actually NOT good beings, that they weren't people. I do think that our loved ones who have passed may occasionally try to reach us, but I would think that Heaven is so amazing, they wouldn't want to. They would know that they'd be seeing us soon, assuming I'm going to Heaven too. Souls that have passed, I think, do go to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory, but I don't think it's so cut and dried as that. I think that Heaven is closeness to God, acceptance of Him. That there are different levels of Heaven, so to speak, and the further someone is from feeling God, the further away they are from accepting Him, the darker it is for them. Such is Hell... the absence of God and His Light. If someone commits suicide, I think that the problems they had in life follow them into death, and they still have to work through those issues before they can be allowed into Heaven. For someone to commit suicide, they must feel pretty low and some sort of self-hatred, if not simply a lack of any sort of self-love. A lack of love distances someone from God. Why do I believe that? Because I also firmly believe that our entire purpose, that the reason for life, is to love and be loved. That the more perfect our love, shown through doing good deeds and being a good, moral person, brings us closer to God. That said, I think that someone who was subjected to Hell still has the chance to enter Heaven, if they've realized that they still carry their burdens and try to work them out.
I also believe that only human beings have souls. Well, and angels too, but I don't think animals have souls. If they did, it wouldn't be acceptable to consume them. I actually got reamed pretty good by someone online several weeks ago for saying that in another forum. She couldn't understand how I don't believe animals have souls. I'm very much against animal cruelty, but killing an animal is not considered murder. I think the reason for that is because animals don't have souls. It's not even about intelligence... there are plenty of people who don't have nearly as much intelligence as some dogs or cats. ;-) I also think that some of the most evil people in our history just may have been soulless, or at least had been touched by a demon.
Oh, now demons. I think they're fallen angels, angels who were cast out of Heaven by God. So yes, I believe in Satan/The Devil/The Antichrist if only because I believe he is the one who was against God. Against God, yet loved by God. I actually think that he's much like Anne Rice wrote in Memnoch the Devil, believe it or not. I was shocked when I read that book, because it echoed everything I believed about the structure of Heaven, Hell, and whatnot. It was like Ms Rice had peeked inside my brain and explained in words what I had struggled to express my entire life. I suppose that sounds stupid, but in a very real way, it makes sense to me.
I do realize that all of this probably makes me sound kind of nutty. I AM trying to sort things out in my head, so it's not all going to be rational.
Something I do really, truly believe is that miracles and angels and God are simply something that we can't explain... yet. I think that our science is simply not advanced enough to prove or disprove anything of a spiritual nature. Maybe someday. I see no reason why the Theory of Evolution couldn't actually be true AND have it have been a tool of God in the plan of creation. A day to God is a millenia or even 7 millenia! Millions and billions of years could very easily be part of Intelligent Design. I know, scientists and atheists will scoff at me for this, but I can easily reconcile God using Science in His plan. It makes perfect sense to me.
So, back to religion. I've found myself questioning more and more how closely religion really is to what God wants for us. How much of it is simply human assumption and creation? How much of intepreting the Bible have we got wrong? I do believe Moses saw God and gave us the Ten Commandments, but the much of the rest of the Church's do's and don'ts lists come from Popes and Priests came from themselves and their own ideals, beliefs, and prejudices. After all, Jesus preached love and forgiveness and understanding. How much of that is actually practiced and endorsed today?
Ah well... I think I've worn myself out with this post for now. Maybe more to come later.