Can I ask, what does god and religion mean to you...?

(51 Posts)
babysaurus Fri 29-Mar-13 22:53:56

I apologise in advance if this has been asked 1000 times, this is my first proper foray into this section.

I am finding myself thinking about God quite a lot recently, which is bizarre as previously I had no interest at all. If I think about it too much I feel skeptical in many ways, but I still want to explore and learn more, to an almost overwhelming degree sometimes although u don't quite know why. Weird!

So, for those of you who do believe, what does it mean to you and why...? And has it been a part of you since you were tiny, or more recent...?

Thanks in advance!

ItsOkayItsJustMyBreath Sun 31-Mar-13 04:09:36

I really don't wish to cause any offence to anyone as I only preach when preached at!

As an atheist I believe god is a concept invented by man for the purpose of fulfilling our need to have things explained that we cannot comprehend (like the start of the universe, life on this planet etc).

Religion, I believe, stems from an innate need to believe we are more important than we actually are and that our actions have a deeper impact (heaven/ hell) than they actually do. I also feel that religion fulfils the naturally selfish part of our being that wants us to be immortal.

I understand the comfort that comes from faith and I used to belong to the COE up until my twenties. I now find the beauty of the world we live in is far more exciting when viewed with science in mind and the thought of loved ones dying doesn't frighten me (although of course it saddens me) as I have no belief in heaven or hell. I try to lead a morally sound life for myself and those around me (sorry that sounds sooo pious blush) and not because I am afraid of judgement from above.

Becoming an atheist has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

CheerfulYank Sun 31-Mar-13 05:10:55

In the children's book Old Turtle, all the animals and ricks and trees argue about God, where It is, what It is, etc. They compare God to themselves. Finally the Old Turtle gives the following speech:

"God is indeed deep," she said to the fish of the sea, "and much higher than high," she told the mountains.

"He is swift and free as the wind, and still and silent as a great rock," she said to the breezes and stones.

"She is the life of the world," Old Turtle said to the willow. "Always close by, yet beyond the farthest twinkling light," she said to the ant and the stars.

"God is gentle and powerful, above all things and within all things. God is all that we dream of and all that we seek, all that we come from and all that we can find. God is."

It's always worked for me. smile

Salbertina Sun 31-Mar-13 08:20:32

God means nothing personally
to me. However, spiritual connection - religion if you will - fills my "God shaped hole".. Buddhism/mindfulness comes closest to facilitating this for me.

I often wish i did believe in God as it seems much easier/more comforting than any other alternative. But all too farfetched for me,

thegreatestMadHairDayinhistory Sun 31-Mar-13 12:40:04

Beautiful posts Tuo and CY smile

babysaurus Sun 31-Mar-13 14:33:16

itsokayitsjustmybreath I could have written your post until very recently, and there's still not much in it I could argue against. However, after most of my life feeling like you, I am now feeling massive drawn towards exploring, shall we say, 'other avenues.'

I am sorry I cannot look on the previous page without losing what I've written (typing on phone) but to whoever said that DS may have prompted this I think you may be onto something there!

Can't type much as need to walk mine and my mums dog while she minds DS but back later.

Thanks yet again everyone for your posts, its great to get all these different viewpoints and ideas to look into.

Happy Easter! smile

MostlyLovingLurchers Sun 31-Mar-13 21:16:22

I think it makes a lot of sense that you started to consider your beliefs and the big questions after having a baby. I re-evaluated a lot of what i believed after becoming a mum.

Fwiw, i have a spirituality that has no god or religion in it, a view more common in the east than the west. So, i believe we are spiritual as well as physical, and that we are all connected. I believe the soul survives death. I don't however believe in god or any divine creator. If there is a higher power it is simply the sum of all consciousness, not some being requiring worship and ritual.

The point is that there are a lot of different ways of looking at the world out there - you don't have to accept the first one you come across, so take your time and explore.

babysaurus Sun 31-Mar-13 23:25:32

mostlylovinglurchers that's a fabulous viewpoint too! This is all so incredibly new to me that everyone's perspectives are brilliant, lots to explore and inspire. At the moment I haven't a clear idea if what I feel or think, but I do have a strong urge to investigate and see where it takes me. To put in perspective, anyone who knows me and read this thread would either think I was taking the piss or has gone dolally! I am very surprised at myself, absolutely, but also very very keen to dig in further. The thing I like us that I don't have to commit or decide I want one thing or another, but can collect aspects I like if I want to instead.
And that is exactly what I plan to do! Explore and learn more, I mean.

I have been thinking a great deal of an amazing woman I worked with for a while who ended up becoming a Christian in her 50's. She was the director of a charity in Cambodia and an incredible woman (amazing energy, incredibly clever etc.) She had never had any feelings one way ir the other but then something's, unfortunately I forget what, changed her view. She also gave me several examples of how this was backed up to her. At the time I was interested but mainly as she was interesting but now I wish I'd managed to remember more.

One last thing, and this too has been simmering for a while, I think I want to have DS christened. DH, who will be fine about it, will probably fall off his chair when I mention that one!

Tuo Mon 01-Apr-13 00:43:48

I'm just off on holiday, babysaurus, so won't be around for a couple of weeks, but wanted to wish you luck in your journey of exploration. If you are thinking of having your DS christened, then why not also talk to the priest at your local church about your own feelings, and s/he may be able to help clarify some things for you. Al the best!

MostlyLovingLurchers Mon 01-Apr-13 11:24:36

I of course think you should do whatever you feel is right for you and your family, but i am perplexed. Why do you want to get your dc christened into a faith that you are only just starting to explore and are not commited to? I understand why people get their dc christened when their church and faith is a big part of their life, or even to an extent when there is family pressure, though i don't agree with it - i think we should be free to make our own commitments when we are old enough to do so. This is, after all what you are now doing - don't you think your child might like to do the same? I don't understand why you would want to do this when you are only just starting down this path yourself (that isn't meant in a judgey way).

I also wanted to say (since you said you were fairly new to this bit of mn), that it may be helpful to you to some time to read some of the earlier threads on here about god, prayer, jesus, etc - many of the questions you are asking have been debated quite thoroughly and it would help you to see both sides of the coin. Look at why people lose their faith as well as why people find it.

babysaurus Mon 01-Apr-13 23:35:50

Good point, and the answer is quite hard to explain! I'll try and hope I don't sound too weird!
Similar to yourself, I find it weird when people who never normally set foot in a church decide to then get married in one. Christening your child when you're not actually religious is, I guess, a similar thing. I guess I like the idea of it from the traditional side of things, and I also like the idea / excuse of it getting everyone together and being a special day re DS. I suppose as everyone in my family has been christened but we are not especially religious it doesn't seem as outwardly religious as it perhaps is.

I realise this may sound odd, ridiculous even, but I am quite embarrassed about how I've started to feel re Christianity / God and would feel very self conscious discussing it with most of the people I know. I can think of far more, as someone pointed out earlier in this thread, sensible reasons not to buy into it all than I can to jump in feet first. I think a christening would mean far more to me than, say, DH ( though the oldies would like it) to have DS christened too. I had for a while thought of something like a non religious naming ceremony as I wanted to do something for DS (he was a very tried for baby, with all kinds of dramas) but I think they are actually pretty naff so it wouldn't really be what I wanted, it would be a concession to it.

Saying all this, I have not mentioned this to anyone other than you lot on here! It's still a bit pie in the sky really!

I have been having a good old nose through threads in this section (the hours I spend in a darkened room with a baby has to have some diversions!) and its been a good eye opener, as well as seeing what or why people think or feel various things.

For me faith is a journey. Sometimes that journey is fast and furious on the motorways and all the new stuff is exciting and challenging; sometimes it is time to rest and look at the scenery and sometimes it is a detour off the beaten track, but I keep coming back to the journey with the Christian God.

If you want to find out more about Christianity then the site www.rejesus.co.uk is a really good place to start.

Faith made more sense to me after the birth of my first baby than it did before. At the heart of the Christian faith is the overwhelming love of God for humanity and when I held my baby in my arms for the first time I suddenly realised what unconditional and total love felt like. That is what I hold onto when it gets tough.

DippyBlinkey Tue 02-Apr-13 21:43:48

Hi babysaurus. Get the embarrassed factor..at my work I feel I would be shot down by most if I said the C word! Some are v anti Christians as they see them as anti gay, and some colleagues are gay, but I just don't get into big debates and actually am not offended at all by gay relationships. What I do know tough, is that I am standing on the edge but feeling myself more and more know that Christianity..being of Christ..is the most sense and most felt by me. and I also know that I still have so many more questions than answers, and this makes me mindfull not to expose myself to too much cross questioning in real life, if that makes any sense!x

babysaurus Wed 03-Apr-13 21:22:06

dippy that makes perfect sense! Totally and utterly!
I would not want to get into a RL discussion about this at all, even though I feel, often, quite strongly. Have been reading up on things and one of try bo

babysaurus Wed 03-Apr-13 21:22:31

Oops! Pressed post by accident!

babysaurus Wed 03-Apr-13 21:40:08

Was trying to say.... I ordered the Lionel Blue book that was recommended to me, and imagine I'll be reading it with the cover obscured,for the time being at least.
Ridiculous really I know.

DippyBlinkey Wed 03-Apr-13 21:41:58

You can buy "Alpha : questions on life" by nicky gumble, which is the basis of the alpha course. Should pick up a cheap used copy on amazon. Might help with some questions. Am always here if want a chat. Best wishes

DippyBlinkey Wed 03-Apr-13 21:45:42

Cross posted with you.. That's good, I may order I too! (I have a variety of book covers for various life issues smile....

babysaurus Wed 03-Apr-13 22:14:50

Thanks Dippy!
What brought you here in the first place? This section of Mumsnet I mean. Are you in a similar situation to myself, except further along the path as it were...?

babysaurus Wed 03-Apr-13 22:16:33

Just lo

babysaurus Wed 03-Apr-13 22:17:55

Argh! Bloody phone!

Was saying I've just looked at the Nicky Gumbel book and it looks good, not to heavy but quite thought provoking. Might order a copy if that too.

DippyBlinkey Wed 03-Apr-13 22:31:39

I've just ordered the rabbi blue one!
I have been going to a Pentecostal church for a few years, I believe but am still easily swayed. Have been through a difficult relationship and divorce and struggling with two young dcs, one with special needs, a rubbish ex and depression, so have turned back to god for support! Easter Day service felt like was entirely meant for me, it was fab. So am taking time for self and looked up this section of mums net, your thread caught my eye

DippyBlinkey Wed 03-Apr-13 22:42:38

I always used to say that I was happy to go to a church if they did nt go on about sin!! Ha! My Christian friend yesterday told me how she resented the idea that someone "died for her "... She is quite self sufficient and does need a substitute thanks!, she told me that she then had an image of Jesus on the cross, with her super imposed on him. As the soldiers came to nail into his hands, her hands flinched away. To her, she suddenly realised that she could not humanly bear the pain of the sum of her sins, but Jesus could. Only he could bear all that pain.
Now, that may sound heavy, but it struck a chord with me. it answered the "why did he have to die?" question for me.
am reading about sin..basically we are imperfect (Clear to see by the 'evolving' world and all it's problems) and god is perfection, so we keep making mistakes but are less likely to do so if we sit up and take notice of what Jesus has said ..and we don't have to be a slave to our past misdemeanours..
Am tired and rambling..
(Ducks as does not want to defend self to any atheists that may pop up!) smile x

babysaurus Thu 04-Apr-13 06:47:20

Dippy, thanks for the replies! Will be tonight when I reply properly I reckon as at my dads till then (am visiting for Easter, am 38 not 17!)

stickygingerbread Fri 05-Apr-13 22:48:39

hi babysaurus. I have been a mystic since birth basically, but over the years have gone all over the map - in religion, out of religion, reading, exploring different writings and thoughts from all around the world and through time. I am just very interested in god though and my exploration is about trying to understand what its all about, and where I am coming from and going to & how to relate to it all.

I was raised by an atheist so that was interesting. He did send us to religious education on my mother's insistence, but she did not have an active role raising us due to mental illness.

My earliest memory is what is often reported by people who have a near death experience, of being in a realm where I am contemplating a great Light and it is contemplating me. The experience was one of overwhelmingly powerful love and joy, even fierce in its intensity. I used to think of/contemplate/remember this all the time as a small child before I was introduced to religion at all. The experience was so powerful that remembering it was like re-experiencing that huge love. So that is why I say I was a 'mystic' from the start.

Of God I have no doubt and I'm not worried about belief or lack of belief either. The sun still shines whether one believes it or not. I would have liked to have something persuasive for my atheist dad, but I could really only say 'I had this experience. I don't know why. I don't know why you didn't.' Though I actually think everyone has it but they forget as babies in this odd transitory material world of forms.

I don't really have any answers. I like to read near death experiences though, naturally, and feel that I should start at least speaking up and coming out about it.

My thought on ideas of judgment across religions is based on that awesome experience of love. I have been very concerned all my life that I would not let God down next time I stand before him - so that is self-judgment. I do not recall experiencing any judgment toward me in that experience - it was total love at a level way beyond human.

After living since 16 with no formal religious practice, I recently returned to RC. Nobody is more shocked by this than me, and that I am enjoying it. The return actually came about by way of studying Yoga and hindu philosophy. I was reading about approaches to god and that the 'bhakti' approach is as a devotee cultivating a love relationship with god - and suddenly it hit me that christianity at its best is a stunning organized bhakti practice of cultivating love with god. And then, at its best, christianity is extraordinarily charitable in its works with people and that is a further extension of bhakti. And suddenly I started to see the point of being in an organized religion, where I could do more practice of cultivating love than I ever successfully cultivated on my own. This insight also really refocused me on Christ, who I never really understood well as his story and teachings are fairly remote from my one single otherwordly experience, which left at least as many questions as it answered.

When I left RC as a teen, I was full of objections, but now I am content to just make the most of it and of course I will still be doing lots of reading in yoga and in hindu schools of philosophy because I love that too and think the thought of both religions has a lot of overlap.

So in sum I would say that the universe is the Territory and religions are maps. Maps are useful but may contain errors. And overall I would say I see the stor of an individual and god as a relationship that is a love story, with twists and turns but ultimately a happy ending.

lowercase Mon 08-Apr-13 23:12:15

Haven't read the whole thread, just the OP.
Wanted to share this quote,

"Don't ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee"

I think you are hearing your calling!

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