"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Sunday, 1 May 2011

When Faith Hurts

Just a warning to those who have fragile religious beliefs and do not like to hear them challenged. This post touches on what I believe, or perhaps, for some they would say, my lack of faith.

When our children were young, I made sure they had to make their own decision regarding spiritual followings, and religion in particular. I am a great believer in choice, and personal responsibility. Children will unavoidably pick up on things when exposed to them, and it is very hard to fool them about anything, and I love that about some people. I call it their 'crap detector'.

So, we took our children to Sunday school, and my wife and I were both very involved, so that our children were not as likely to figure out that I was not a 'true believer'. I never lied to them. They never really quizzed me on why I was there. As it happens, neither one of them participates in any church now, but that is not what this post is about anyway.

In university, and in life before and past it, I have studied the human heritage well enough to understand where the main religions of humanity have their roots, and it is an interesting enough tale for me. I do not need the mythologies of others. I can write my own fairly well. In short, I do not believe in the great pumpkin, or any other supernatural being.

When it comes time to give myself or others comfort it is difficult to have no believable mythology to fall back upon. For me, when older loved ones die, it is enough to say they had a good life, and leave it like that, especially if that happens to be the truth.

In the case of those who die way too young, or who have lives (short or long) of suffering and sadness there seems to be little to comfort those who mourn; ourselves or others.

This past week, a blogger in Montreal who I follow has had her lover and best friend ripped away from her. He was there one day, then gone. She is inconsolable. She cannot believe that a loving God could do this to one who has loved Him. I desperately wish there was anything that could be said to her, or done for her to take away this terrible pain of loss. It seems, like those of us with no supernatural power in our lives, that she will have to live through this, and come out the other side changed.

It is possible her faith may survive this, and I hope it somehow can, because we do need things to believe in, and just because I do not see something does not mean it does not exist. Love is invisible, but I know it all too well.

It seems to me that I am lucky in my lack of mythological baggage; we all have a tendency to validate our own point of view. I feel lucky to not be in the position of having to deal with the loss of a god and a complex system of "support and comfort" as well as a loved one. To me, that is the worst part of religious belief; the shock of finding out that all of that devotion gets you nothing but disappointment and pain on top of the disappointment and pain the non-believer also feels.

Just because I do not have a deity does not mean I do not feel a deep connection to the rest of humanity. The fact is, my walls are much easier to step over than most because of it.

For that lady I have never met, but have felt close to sometimes; I feel so bad for you. Nobody ever dies as long as there is someone who can speak of them in love.


  1. The last sentence says it all.
    How true.
    I have my own beliefs and feel no need to validate them to anyone else.

    Karen x

  2. Thanks Karen. I hope nothing written here moves anyone to feel the need to justify or validate. No offense is intended, only an expression of great sadness.

  3. Halle, you don't need a deity to feel a deep connection to the rest of humanity. You just need other people. :)

    I am also hurting over my friend's loss, and it's not even my loss.

  4. Halle,

    This is such a great post and so true. I am a person of great faith, but the largest obstacle to my transition was my faith at the time. That faith held me back and made my life miserable because it was inaccurate. My faith now is very unique to me and I agree with your statement that you need other people and to be connected. THAT is where I think we find God, in each other. It just took me a while to figure it all out and stop buying into the crap that is mass produced around us.

    You are lucky indeed that you never had to 'unlearn' bad habits along your journey. Thanks for posting this :)