- Published on Friday, 17 July 2009 11:31
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 3485
I was brought up a Catholic. Starting at about grade 4, I went to schools run by the Marist brothers who believed in strong discipline with liberal use of "the strap". They also had a strong affection for "Mary, the Mother of God" and appeared straight although in retrospect, there were a few gays amongst them. At home, my father was a convert from Methodism and he said it was because the Catholic Church had answers. This implied that the religion had a rational base. In high school, the Marists encouraged debate through retreats where religious topics were discussed. Then I went to University where there was no religious content and plenty of opportunity for debate - but I staunchly defended my faith. I remember long discussions with a couple of Protestants and one friend who took delight in having pork on Fridays so he could upset both Catholics and Jews simultaneously - but not maliciously. At University, I became an Engineer where reason and a rational approach to all problems was taught.
Then about 8 years later, in my late twenties, I had a marriage breakup and simultaneously "left the Church". Out of the entire congregation of the local Catholic Church (about 1200 people), only one couple followed their Church's teaching and tried to help me in my time of stress. Not the priest and not anyone else. I decided at that time, that if there was a god, he did not fit the description of the Catholic Church. I had in effect become agnostic. Then over the ensuing years, I just ignored all religious discussion and did not join any Church because I saw their description of god to be the same as that of the Catholics. I read Siddhartha and several other Herman Hesse novels along with "L'etranger" by Albert Camus. While these are not atheist, they do leave a feeling of "there is no god, you are what you are". This was in the late 60's and many people were "finding themselves" as I was.
Then life became peaceful - or at least there was no need to worry about sin, hell, what a priest might say, etc. Now, all I had to do to feel good about myself was to not hurt anyone. My moral values are that if it hurts someone it is wrong , but if not it's OK. This is not always simple but it's quite straightforward and does not require interpretation of the bible or Catholic teaching. And now recently, I decided to become active and help others. My mother used to say to me when I was a teenager "You probably don't understand, but all I want in life is peace". She did not mean peace for the world but peace of mind, a peaceful existence and personal peace. And now, I do understand. Hopefully, from this site, people can find answers and gain a peaceful existence while understanding that the rest of the world has a way to go to join our contented group.