I don’t believe in god with a capital G. I don’t support organised religion. In fact, I am very much against it. I think history shows that it has brought us nothing but greed, strife, war and persecution.
I was brought up a devout Roman Catholic. The only religion, as far as I was concerned at the time. My parents weren’t terribly devout, and religion was frowned upon in a communist Poland, but both my grandmother’s were religious and they both demanded that I was brought up Catholic and involved in all kinds of church activities from a young age. When I started school, I also started religious education at my local church and dutifully participated in my First Communion at age 10, which was the start of monthly visits to the confessional to recount all my “sins”.
I would get up early during various months of the year to attend early morning mass daily as required by our nun, or go to evening mass at other times of year, depending on what the celebration/festival was at the time. I knew all about Lent and other religious days and periods, things I have very little idea about today. I still have fond memories of going to midnight mass at Christmas, walking on the freshly fallen snow, as if I was the only person in the world. Sometimes I resented all this religiosity, but some part of me loved it with the fervour only a 9 year old can muster.
It was about the time we learnt about how the Church of England was formed in History, on the whim of a king, that I realised that religion was a human invention, not God’s. That all it took was a king’s desire for a divorce to start a new religion and that God had nothing to do with it. Some time around 12-13 years old I stopped being quite so devout and stopped going to confession, realising that all these rituals were of human invention and not at all necessary to the worship of God.
When we arrived in Australia, we went to church sporadically, having found a Polish church, definitely every Christmas and Easter, but not so much during the year. My sister, who was born here, was baptised/christened in a Catholic church by a Polish priest and later went on to do all her Catholic sacraments through a Catholic education.
Not so me. I had given up on Catholicism long ago and in my 20s was meddling in Wicca and Zen Buddhism. I felt much closer to god, yes, with a small g, on the top of a mountain than in any church. I was meditating infrequently and found that peace and quiet helped me feel closer to whatever it was that was out there much more so than any rote learnt prayer. If you asked me now, I wouldn’t be able to recite any of the prayers I learnt as a child, in neither Polish nor English (I never learnt them in English anyway).
It was on a holiday to Poland in the 90s that I saw Catholicism for what it was, a whole bunch of Pagan idol worship and ritual woven in with fear mongering and fantasy to create something to blind the people to the church’s true agenda – gathering wealth and influencing politics at all levels. At least, that’s the way it has played out in Poland, I can’t speak for other countries’ experience.
Arriving in the West also opened up my eyes to the multitude of religions out there, or rather to the variety of the common Christian. Not only was there the Church of England, there was the Anglican Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Episcopalian Church, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons. I had no idea what the difference possibly could be between them all if they all believed in Christ?
Once again I realised that religion was a purely human invention and therefore it could not be trusted as a way to worship God. Worshipping God was best done on the top of a mountain, on the beach or even in your backyard. All these rituals and prayers and sermons were full of bull as far as I was concerned.
Not that I don’t appreciate a good sermon. I have heard a few in my day, but I’ve also heard some ridiculously stupid ones, where I would have walked out had I been able to.
I understand that some people need the comfort that the community of an organised religion gives them. I am not one of them. My spiritual and community needs are met elsewhere.
My god is that of the life all around us. Life, the universe and everything. The beating of my child’s heart, the buzzing of a bee, the infinity of the stars in the universe, the wild surf of the ocean. When I meditate, I often connect with the web of life that is all around us. Sometimes it happens even without meditation. I can be me, but I can also be the man in the BMW Z5 in the freeway lane next to me and the mother with the screaming children in the car on the other side.
On the one hand I am all for freedom of religion. I believe we should all be free to worship what and how we like, but it bothers me that religion has caused so much grief around the world. And, frankly it bothers me that so many people believe in the patriarchal God from the Bible, the Koran and any other “holy” books with all their stupid rules, which people seem to pick and choose as it suits them. Why do we need to be told how to worship god? How to pray? We have laws to tell us what is wrong and what is right, we don’t need “holy” books to tell us things to the contrary.
So what is god? To me, god is life, god is energy, god is the universe. It is everyone and everything. Some call it “All that is”.
Unlike others, I don’t believe that god is love, because that would limit it to being merely a human emotion. God is bigger than that. It exists separate to us. Did god create the world? Was it an intelligent being that caused the Big Bang, as some believe? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But who knows. That is beyond my comprehension, in the same way that we are beyond the comprehension of an ant, but I believe that god is bigger than the universe, so maybe. Maybe we live in a multiverse, as many physicists believe, and I believe that god is present in all of them.
We are all one. I don’t need a Christ on a cross, or the ritual of Sunday mass to remind me of that. I don’t need the words of the Bible, the Koran, or the Torah, to show me that. Why do others? Look inside. It’s all there.
Also published on Medium.