On Religion

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

I live in a very conservative South African city. Pretoria is often referred to as being part of the Bible belt. On the few occasions that I actually go out and about in this city and meet new people or bump into people I once knew, the conversation invariably turns to the what do you do question. The reactions vary and are always amusing.

Mentioning that I’m a horror author usually results in a long pause followed by the person beating a hasty retreat or a quick change of subject, invariably to a discussion on the weather. On the rare occasion, I’m bombarded with questions ranging from why horror to are you like a crazy person to do you do a lot of drugs to but don’t you believe in God. These discussions usually end with I’ll pray for you. Now, I appreciate all the prayers. Really I do, even though the narrow mindedness seriously pisses me off.  Writing horror has nothing to do with Religion or my lack there of. Also my having a Demon as one of the main characters in my novel doesn’t make me a Satanist.

In my relatively short life, I’ve done a lot of looking into different forms of Religion and Spirituality. My mother tried very had to install a sense of faith in me. It’s not her fault that she failed miserably.

We started off in the Anglican Church, but then my father took offence to something  the Arch bishop said or did and insisted that my Mother change her religion. So we became Catholic.

I should tell you here that my father was an atheist who knew the bible inside out and could argue religion till the cows came home. He also took great pleasure in shocking the bible punchers by telling them that Jesus was an Alien. So I grew up in a household of interesting polarities. On the one hand my mother insisted that we went to church every Sunday. She even got me to be an alter server. On the other hand was my father poking holes in any religious beliefs and telling me to stay home and read a book or watch TV with him.

As a result I ended up being rather confused by the whole concept of God. Don’t even get me started on the idea of the Trinity. But I did tend to agree with my father. Even as a child, the idea that there was some old guy sitting up there in the sky passing judgement on everything I did, didn’t really appeal to me. Confession was also something I struggled with. If God was so all knowing why did I have to confess my sins to a priest? Why did the priest even want to know about all my naughty deeds? And was God just some nosey perv who spied on us because he was bored?

Then when I listened to people after church saying things like, Well God will provide for us or God will protect us or It’s Gods will, it irritated me no end. I was always more of the God helps those who helps themselves school of thought. I could never understand why people were so ready to give their power away. I also found that most of those people also tended to not take responsibility for their own lives or their own choices. Every thing was packed into a box and put on their Gods shoulders. I prefer being responsible for my own life and my own choices. But that’s just me.

Needless to say Christianity just didn’t do it for me, so in my early twenties I started looking into other belief systems, including Buddhism and Wicca. I spent a lot of time hanging around Witches. I mean real witches, not the type who just dress up and pretend to be witches. These were men and women who truly believed in Witchcraft and practised it the way it has been practised since before the Christian church began. It was an interesting time in my life, filled with self discovery and revelations about the nature of the world and the people in it. And even though I was never a wiccan (the whole idea of a bunch of Gods and Goddesses running around also didn’t do it for me), I did learn a lot. I also realised that no matter how hard I tried or who I spoke to I would never really know for sure if there was a God sitting in judgement. I also realised that in the greater scheme of things it didn’t matter. The only thing that did matter was how I lived my life.

After many years of searching and trying on different belief systems, my mother refers to me as her little Atheist. I still have an interest in the occult and other religious beliefs which, I think, will probably come out in my writing but they do not define me. They are an interest, a fascination, not an absolute belief system. In my world there are no absolutes.

5 thoughts on “On Religion

  1. Fantastically vivid post. I can completely relate to this, having grown up in SA myself, in one of the East Rand suburbs. I was a very studious church going person and sang in the choir and whatever, but it wasn’t until both my parents passed away in my very early twenties that I really had the opportunity to question everything I had been taught and actually really break away and think for myself, looking at various religions and people’s ideas on the bible, the occult, Sufiism and such. It has blown me away and my research shelf has exploded with books on Buddism, Islam, Wicca, Witchcraft, the occult, Zoroastrian thought and every other religion I could find. Now, more than anything, these books are the things I look at for research in my writing.

    I admire you greatly for this post – it also made laugh. I don’t know what I am any more. Atheist or agnostic? Who can tell? I do however remember that once I met my husband I told him quite clearly that if we were ever to have a child, her name was going to be Pagan. Because it’s a cool name.

    Fortunately, we’ve not had a child to embarrass in such a fashion.

  2. Apparently the Bible Belt stretches far and wide like a fat man’s suspenders, because this old North Carolina boy also grew up in it. And escaped. Mom was never pleased with my atheism, but that’s how it goes. I love your post. Much nicer than what I tend to write about religion, which is why I find it easier not to comment at all. Wiccans are very cool to hang out with, though.

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