This is easily one of the more challenging of the items on the list to write about and it is fair to say that I have been dreading it. I have decided that best way for me to write about this is just to talk about my own education in religion and where I am today.
I was Christened into the Church of England and attended our local church alongside many of the people who lived near us and were friends of my family. We stopped going to that particular church when I was 7 as we moved house and there was a church a little nearer. They were both under the same diocese or whatever they are called so we still had involvement with the old church and the people with whom we were friends. Being only little we went to Sunday school for the first part of the service and would go in for the last 15 minutes of the service. I remember loving the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah etc…They were intriguing and my book had great pictures and the stories sounded amazing and magical.
When I was 7 I also changed school, I went to a Catholic day school run by nuns. This was a bit of a culture shock, suddenly we had feast days and Mass to attend as well as some of the girls first Holy Communion…those of us who were C of E were the choir. This was fine by me and I managed to convince my mum that I really needed a white dress…eventually I added that it was perfectly fine for it to have blue spots on it!! I loved that dress and felt as amazing and special as those whose day it really was.
At 10 I went to a Catholic boarding school, again run by nuns, but these ones didn’t wear habits….I was utterly confused but felt that this was far more normal and the fact that they all had ‘boy’ haircuts was highly amusing to me. I was the very first non-catholic boarder at the school so def stood out on Sundays when we went to Mass. Being young, the services never made any sense and the best part of having to go was that we sang some great songs. We also celebrated feast days, had Mass a lot, had to fast on a wednesday. The feast days always meant Mass on that day which was great because we missed out on lessons. I was more than happy to do that, anything was better than double science or maths!
I would say that the influence of both C of E thinking and Catholicism gave me a greater education than many have when it comes to religion. They believed in the same God, celebrated many of the same things but also had very differing views on other things. You can imagine that at 14/15, given what I was already going through I found this all very confusing. I was meant to be confirmed and attended classes for it, but there was one lesson which really got my blood boiling. I didn’t agree with what the preist was saying and found myself walking home really thinking about being confirmed into something where I would have to agree with things. I can’t remember what it was exactly, something to do with homosexuality, or abortion or something like that.
The whole thing just felt so narrow minded and controlling so I stopped going to church. The last school I went to had no religion attached to it so religious study lessons would embrace ALL religions and suddenly I found my world opening up as well as being even more confused.
Over the years I have given myself the time and the space to think about it. For me personally, and I do not mean to offend, but I find it hard to believe in a God. I believe in evolution and the big bang theory and it makes sense to me. However, there is a little bit of me which then ponders like many ‘well what is the point of all this if there is nowhere afterwards, something better’. This thought scares me, so there is a part of me which hopes that there is something waiting for us when we are done here.
For me, Religion taught me many important lessons, one of which was kindness to those more vulnerable than myself. This is how I have chosen to behave as a person in a world which is filled with horrors and beauty. I do not believe in ramming religion down people’s throats nor do I believe in making fun or dismissing anyone for their beliefs. We should all be allowed to find our own way and be respected for that choice.
I hope that this has not in anyway offended anyone, it was not my intention. This was just a writing challenge which was supposed to make me think which it definitely succeeded in doing.