This process that I seem to be going through has been evolving gradually and haphazardly for several years; I’ve been meandering around, holding on to my preconception and prejudices concerning religion, but slowly becoming more open and inquisitive. In the last year or so, it’s been much more determined and methodical. Driven, even. And I see my strivings to be divided into two sections.
The whole ‘head’ part involves research and the historical context. I’ve got that under control. History wise, I’m down with Jesus. I’ve been relieved to learn that I don’t have to become a bible literalist, or a creationist, or to renounce my knowledge of evolution. I also don’t have to become a homophobe, or a red-neck, or start to hate other religions or stop using the word ‘fuck’ gratuitously and voting left wing or any of the things that I’d assumed were part and parcel of Christianity.
I can grasp the intellectual parts. It’s not that I definitely believe them, but that I can see with clarity that they are possible.
But of course, there is much more to it than that. There’s the whole concept of ‘faith’. I shouldn’t need proof. I’m probably not going to get it, anyway, as I discussed in this post. But dammit, why shouldn’t I get it?
Twice at church we have had to share with the person next to us a profound experience that has shown us that there is an ephemeral more to life than we were previously aware of. Actually that probably wasn’t the purpose (maybe the minister just ran out of sermon ideas) but both times, I’ve spoken to people who have had fabulous experiences. One had an actual voice (in her head, but still..) tell her that her dead brother was being looked after, and the other had an amazing feeling of overwhelming love or some such thing; don’t remember the detail but it was pretty damn convincing (In both cases, I had nothing of worth to share. I hope no one was looking to me for spiritual succour).
I admit that it’s not a great help that I have books on my shelf such as ‘Why People Believe Weird Things’ and ‘The Third Man Factor’, both of which very convincingly explain the science behind transcendental experiences. My first though is always how an experience can be rationalised. I’m a natural sceptic.
But I’d like, just once, the chance to have something to rationalise. I’d like something mystical or unexplainable to happen in my life.
I’d like the potential for a belief that comes from the heart.
Because at the moment, everything is happening in my head, and faith and belief and religion and the whole shebang surely has to be more than that?