What I’m about to write about is a generalization. As all such cases, it applies to many but not all of the people that fall under said umbrellas. There are always exceptions. This is merely an explanation of some of the reasons that I follow the path that I do.
I found I was drawn to writing about this topic because of working through yet more energetic junk. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, merely putting words to explain my choices. I’m validating my own decisions for myself because I know that these observations and decisions have helped me grow and be a better person. Whether you agree with me entirely, or not, I feel there is always something that someone might find benefit in, and utilize for their own growth and development, even if my words only stir a desire within you to examine your own choices a little more closely.
So, since I’m busy blasting holes in concepts to pave the way for solutions, I thought that this is a perfect time to include one more. And that brings me to the main event!
Faith for me became an internal dialogue at an early age because of environmental concerns and awareness, and my own direct experiences.
I have written before about traumas I suffered by other kids, older than I, and how at least one of them was connected to a family that attended my father’s church. They straight up denied that their child would do such a thing because they were such a devout family. I remember distinctly the mom telling another parent that I was a liar because her child would never do something like that. It hurt immensely because he did. I was horribly embarrassed by what he did to me on the playground, and very hurt by hearing his mother call me a liar. It was a double trauma, and made me hate the two-faced people I frequently ran into at church, be it my father’s, mother’s or friend’s churches. Sadly the Mormon churches seemed to be the most wrought with hypocrisy.
As a result, by the time I was in highschool, I was already exploring religions and beliefs. I found a brutal awareness of atrocities levied upon people in the name of God and that began to shape my choices.
See, my father is Mormon and my mother is Catholic. By the time I was starting highschool I was very aware of how both religions and several others had covered up horrible mis-deeds in an effort to save face and ultimately caused even more atrocities and traumas worldwide.
Both the Mormon faith and the Catholic faith see women as childbearers and home makers. A woman’s place is to do her duty and stay quiet. Neither faith makes any significant effort to protect it’s women or children, and frequently levied doctrine intended to keep women and children down in their place.
The Mormon faith was saturated with arranged polygamist marriages, where fathers would sell their daughters to the highest bidder. Often the highest bidder would say they were going to protect said girl, but all too frequently the bidder was 45+ years old and the daughters were 16 to 20 (sometimes as young as 9) and consent was never sought from the girl, only the father. Once a sale was complete the owning “husband” did whatever he wanted regardless of age. Frequently the age discrepancy and polygamy eventually caught up the the old creeps and landed them in jail, but their atrocities we’re usually fairly extreme by the time law was involved.
Beyond the sale of girls and rape of child ‘spouses’, the elders of both variants of the Mormon church have regularly been scrutinized for tax evasion and other questionable business dealings. That was knowledge of my father’s faith I gleaned by the time I was in highschool.
Shortly thereafter the Catholic priests were being taken to court for their abuses of alter boys and the resulting cover-ups. In the process of learning about those atrocities I also learned of financial and political dealings of the Catholic church and how they had hoarded artwork and other precious gems/jewelry items for centuries. During World War II it did manage to protect many items that would otherwise have been lost, but now they sit in deep storage, kept from the rest of society. I was not surprised by any of that knowledge.
Women are not allowed to be leaders of either faith. The newer sect of Mormonism has allowed women to be in lower leadership roles, but never in the uppermost echelon. The Catholic faith will only allow women to become nuns, and none of the nuns make major decisions for the faith, create doctrine, or interface with the outside world beyond charitable works.
I continued my learning.
Judaism and Islam having their “Holy War” of over 2000 years, and the multiplicity of atrocities in connection with that. Islam enforcing women to stay covered blaming them for men being unable to control their dicks. The middle east being wrought with acid attacks and rape, all being levied against women. Even worse it is then blamed on them because they “asked for it by showing too much skin”.
Chinese practices prevented women from being anything other than laypersons for any of their faiths. They encouraged foot binding as a ‘sign’ of social status, and sold poor women and children into a variety of slavery including the sex-trade.
Japanese also forced women into the sex trade, and even idealized it for many women creating a vetting process for a woman to become a Gaisha. If you weren’t beautiful enough or from an esteemed family then you were sold for any number of unmentionable abuses.
Africans of a variety, forced teen girls to endure unsanitary, unsterile and hazardous female circumcision for hundreds of years. Even to this day, with modern medicine, female circumcision is still frequently carried out in homes. It leaves women unable to be a woman without significant pain and great hazards throughout their lives, often disfiguring them for life. In Africa acid torture is used on anyone they suspected of whatever they deemed deserving of such torture. When AIDS broke out they would rape babies because of a superstitious belief that it would heal them. Yet it only traumatized and infected the infant, should the infant survive.
All across the globe for centuries men have levied great atrocities on other men, women, and children. All too frequently their actions are justified by faith, their God’s word, or some doctrine intended to keep elder males in their position of power.
Because of all of this I simply could not belong to any church. All of them had blemishes on their records and none were making any great strides to rectify damages done or right wrongs. I simply could not live with myself if I chose one of them. I knew I could not contribute in any way to any of the faiths that I had learned about.
My solution was to follow the path of paganism. It is the one faith without centralized institutions and doctrine. It is the one faith that places responsibility fully on the practitioner’s shoulders. It is the one faith that to this day turns in it’s own people for misdeeds and wrong-doings. My own local awareness of camp and groups in the metro here in KC has verified that a dozen times over, everything from theft to rape and molestation. If a pagan catches another pagan doing wrong, you better bet they’re going to jail. If only we had that fortitude with charitable works.
But beyond the lack of centralized institutions and doctrine, and the efforts to hold each other accountable, paganism offers flexibility in practice.
I don’t sit in a stuffy church listening to a boring sermon every week to go home and do my best to apply what was said. No, I learned my ethics from the get-go. I learned my beliefs early.
I took what resonated from all the others, the overlapping positives of all faiths, and applied them to my life in as consistent a pattern as I can manage.
My biggest challenge is overriding the temper I learned from my father. My second biggest challenge is time management and making sure I apply everything I know as often as possible.
I meditate as often as I can aiming for daily (and we’ve been teaching the two youngest how to do so). I do yoga as often as possible as well, but really push myself to manage at least 2 to 3 times a week. I do full &/or new moon rituals when my schedule aligns and everything works out.
The rest of my beliefs are interactive. I do my best to treat everyone with respect consistently. I utilize Reiki in my sessions whether directly requested or not. I pray for those in need and those the reach my awareness of being in some sort of struggle. I give money in a variety of ways, as I am able, from CharityWater to Harvesters to local homeless shelters and even people begging on the street.
No I am not perfect, I fail quite often. Much more often than I would like to admit, but I still try. I do my best always, aiming to accomplish good as often as I can.
I simply do what I can, when I can, and as often as possible because my overarching belief is that we are here to make the world a better place in as many ways as we are able. That isn’t something you can accomplish by going to church once a week and just paying a tithing to some institution.
Besides that, CharityWater was the first institution to make certain that individual contributions actually went directly to charitable works. They were the first, and to my knowledge are still the only organization, to cover operating expenses via generous benefactors. A handful of generous people make sure the chairty runs and their expenses are covered, and everyone else that donates are paying for the supplies and services they fund.
If every church functioned that way, you’d bet they would be less flashy and more functional on charitable works. Mega churches would become mega givers. But that’s just my opinion I suppose.
Regardless of your faith, I hope that you understand the world in a greatest, most consistent, positive impact sort of way.
Regardless of the avenue you choose, may you find your connection to God and find a way to right previous wrongs. May you know you are having a maximum positive impact on this world. May you see every deed, every interaction, every thought, every word, as an opportunity to improve our world. May you know that you are doing your best to make the world a better place. May you find ways to help the world heal our long history of atrocities. May you always reach for better. Above all may you know that the divine loves and supports you in all that you do.