Christmas Day, and it’s a great one so far. Family brings out the best in you, especially if you only see each other a few times a year. This makes Christmas even more special, knowing that whatever happens, your family remains your backbone and your oxygen.
My family had many struggles throughout the years; they’ve seen hardship no family should ever go through. They survived and came out shining like a star. It did make me wonder though why we were going through so much. At the time I thought we were jinxed, it looked like we were, it felt like we were.
It placed a question mark after each time something happened and in the end, it left my faith in tatters. My religion – although already more non-existent than existent, disappeared on me altogether each time something happened that could not for one second explain why God was doing this to me.
Although interested in science, history and archaeology, and interested in religious history, my head and my heart struggle over who or what gets to win the battle. My head says “You absolutely love science, and there is more and more proof these days that disqualify religious arguments” but my heart says “You want to believe. Doesn’t have to be Catholicism or Christianity, but religion should be part of you, especially when you live in a Catholic country.” I was raised a Roman Catholic and through time and space, I started discovering what my religion was all about.
Science, archaeology and history convinces me that hundreds and thousands of years ago god(s) served people who did not know the difference between natural disasters and a truly godly experience. People were ignorant to the way people should behave in respect to others, and they did not know how to differentiate otherwise ‘god-like facts’ and mundane situations. Time is telling more each year about historical events, and time is allowing proof of religious events in a time when I want and need to see proof of their existence.
Sure, I used to collect old bibles in my early twenties because I loved the leather-bound books, the notifications people left next to verses, and the images of biblical characters. My step-dad used to paint icons, religious characters painted on wood as in Russian icons and after his death my mum gave me some. I love them because they are by the hand of my dad and thus of emotional value, not because they are of any religious value. I used to read parts of the bible to find solace after break-ups or after the passing of friends or family.
It was not until I started letting people of the Mormon Church into my house after just being diagnosed with MS, that I realized what religion means to others and how they use it to control you. They were quite judgemental about why I was diagnosed… according to them I “had to repent for past mistakes.”
Excusez–moi but that’s not something someone just diagnosed with an incurable illness wants to hear. I thought I heard the bells toll in Rome (excuse the pun) but they were convinced that by being baptized by them that some sort of salvation would await me. I wasn’t looking for any kind of salvation, I thought by letting them in that I might learn something about religion and hey, I am always up for learning something new.
Catholic people, or those who proclaim to be, also judged me in a similar way and totally out of the blue without any provocation from my part. I’ve no problem with being straightforward, but being so while claiming to be “all good” is not something I asked for or want happening again. Do not use religion as a weapon of attack, or do not be the opposite of it. I lived with Catholics who showed me how to live by the bible but with others who claimed to be Catholic while behaving very differently to what they preached.
Those things, married to everything that happened to us, made me give up on being religious, or at least overtly religious. I love Christmas, not for the presents but what it stands for. Even if it’s derived from paganism, I love the history that surrounds it all. I am intrigued by pompous Vatican City ceremonies while wondering why the pope really needs all this wealth. I wonder if this is what Christ intended and I try to learn where religious traditions come from. I love biblical films and documentaries but then… poof! Suddenly the question marks rise up again!
Head: 70%… Heart: 20%… The rest of me… 10% and still trying to decide who/what/why/how/when. I am now leaning towards atheism, or at least towards agnosticism while continuing to be quite interested in the history of religion and religion itself. When I delve deeply into why I am still interested, it will 100% be because I always want to know what drives people, even if it’s peoples that lived thousands of years ago.
So in the end I don’t know if Christ ever existed, or if he was just made up by people desperate to believe in someone, somehow, somewhere. Even if he is just make belief, in my eyes people are not saints because they point out the faults of others while forgetting about their own mistakes. People are saints when they help, support, listen and are there when you’re in need.
I don’t need my god to be hanging on a cross, slain by the mighty Roman Empire. My gods are my family and friends. Every day of the year, and not just on Christmas Day.
© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.