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Friday, 24 June 2011

how do you define | religion?

I didn't grow up in a religious household. My mum grew up Catholic, my dad was Anglican (Church of England - are they the same thing?), and dad was of the opinion that you didn't need to go to a special building to believe (although I have no idea if he did believe, the conversations never went further than that.)


When I was young (probably 7-8), mum started taking my sister and I (and eventually my brother) to the local Catholic church. We went to mass on Sundays, and attended Religious Instruction on Thursday afternoons. She made me a dress for my First Communion, but sometime shortly after that we stopped going. I have no idea why, and I never questioned it.

When I was pregnant with Chloe, her dad, an Anglican, and I couldn't agree on a religion to bring our child up in, but felt that it was important to introduce religion in some form. We held a naming ceremony for her first birthday (three days after her father left us - but that's another story), and from around the age of four, until sixish, we attended services at a Presbyterian church a friend had introduced us to.

And now I don't do anything. It's not even a subject I can discuss with Steve (who is Catholic, but put off by his mother's attitude. She told him recently that it was okay for her to "take petrol money" out of the tithes she collects when visiting the elderly and unwell.) And I'm torn - I'm not sure that I believe, but I'm not sure that I don't believe, either.

Is religion important in your life? How did you come to your decision?
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9 comments

  1. i grew up catholic. i went to catholic schools and church on sundays. i am no longer a practicing catholic and don't want to raise my kids catholic. i choose to teach them that there is a god and many pray to him in many ways. no one is right or wrong. the main thing is to be a good person. and to do good for others. i have faced huge opposition from both sides of the family, but i don't like the catholic church and their stances on so many issues. that is my opinion. it is such a touchy subject.**sigh**

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  2. Cate, I am a Christian and my faith is interwoven into every part of my being. I have been a Baptist my entire life except for the few years the Chosen One and I merged our Baptist and Episcopal backgrounds to emerge as Methodists. I was raised in the faith so I can't know if I would have found God on my own. I could easily express everything I feel abou faith if sitting with you but not typing it here in a comment. I do believe that one can be a Believer and not have a relationship with a church but I also believe that Gods calls us to come together as a community of Believers to worship Him and serve Him. There was a time that I was very angry at God and turned my back to Him but I never doubted that He was there when I was ready to reconnect. I understand Steve's feelings about his mom. There are too many that do not truly understand the impact their actions have on others' faith. Sorry I'm long winded but I will add that it is (I believe)most importantly all about having a personal relationship with God...organized religion is not the be all and end all.

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  3. I am not religious at all. I don't come from a religious background and only go to mass when I take people at work (I work with the disabled). However, I certainly have an interest in religion, not least because I live in Ireland but also from an historical point of view. I find it useful to look at how religion has contributed to society through the ages as it gives me a better perspective of what it contributes to a person and the world as a whole. Personally, while I do not practice any particular faith (so far, I have found most religions to be judgemental in some way and that is something I don't particularly like), I certainly believe in something, although exactly what that is, I am not entirely sure.
    One idea I do follow is the theory that Kevin Smith explores in 'Dogma' (a film that can easily offend) where he suggests that to believe in God does not mean you have to go into a building or follow an ascribed belief because at the end of the day, God is everywhere, is anyone and listens whoever or whatever you are.

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  4. Even though I grew up Catholic, I didn't consider myself a religious person until after I had children. I was heavily influenced by being around people with a strong faith - my husband's family mostly because their faith was much more intertwined in their lives - or at least it appeared that way perhaps because I was finally at a stage to be looking for it (if that makes any sense). I would say my faith is something that I am constantly working on, so it is getting stronger - but I admit to having doubts about some things that religions teach. I think you have to investigate it for yourself by taking Bible study or other types of classes. But don't be surprised if you have more questions than answers when starting out and don't let the institution of a particular church keep you from forming a relationship with God.

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  5. Hi Cate,

    I started going to church in my 20's and now I'm doing a grad dip in theology. I'm a Christian who happens to go to a baptist church but we visit other denominations when we travel. I think it is very important ... if there is real meaning, purpose and value in the world then it makes sense that the only way to live a good life (and I mean that in the richest sense of the word, not just morally) is to align your life with that purpose.

    If you are interested in finding out more about Christian beliefs I would highly recommend an Alpha course. They are run by lots of different denominations and focus on core Christian beliefs. They usually involve a meal, followed by a DVD, then small group discussions. The groups are open to whatever questions or issues the group wants to discuss (that's how they run in our church). They have a website that you can check out.

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  6. Cate, If you decide to check out Alpha I suggest you ask the sponsering church what the percentage of non or new Believers is to their congregants. We took the course which I thoroughly enjoyed but felt any of the people I had considered bringing would have been intimidated by simply because our members outnumbered them. Ideally staying true to the Alpha concept this wouln't hold true.

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  7. Religion has always been a huge part of my life. I was raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Around the age of 13 my dad made me look at other religions to compare their beliefs and make sure that I wanted to continue as a Witness. We compared what other religions taught against what Jesus said we should do. First we looked at John 13:35 " By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves." Then we looked at Matthew 24:14 "And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Lastly we looked at John 17:26 "I have made your name known to them and will make it known". When I looked closely I saw that Jehovah's Witnesses had great love for one another, were fulfilling Jesus commission to preach and used God's personal name, Jehovah. I learned a lot about other religions in this search and it has made me more well rounded. My advice is to get a copy of the Bible and read it. The gospels are a good place to start (Matt, Mark, Luke and John) then pray to God, in Jesus name, to help you find Him. You'll be amazed at the happiness you can find in being a friend of God.

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  8. Wow, Cate, what a deep and wonderful question. I am a Christian, which to me means that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I try to live my life by Biblical principles, and while I often fall short, I'm thankful the Lord loves me as I am and I can return to Him for forgiveness. I'm pretty sure I was three days old the first time I attended church, so church activities have always been a part of my life and definitely helped establish my beliefs. I've mostly attended denominational churches that can be categorized as full gospel, meaning we believe the Bible and don't add to it or take things out of it. I now take time daily (most days!) to read the Bible and I teach Bible studies on a regular basis. I believe the most important thing for anyone is to have a personal relationship with the Lord and let Him lead them.

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  9. Cate, how brave of you to ask such a question! I'm Christian and I have been what I would consider a practicing christian for around 14 years. I was brought up in a Lutheran home...it was austere, painful, even. No joy. I went to a church service at a non-denominational church during the process of a divorce and fell in love with Jesus. Its been a journey...I think that is what faith is supposed to be. We are all people, imperfect and broken in some way, seeking or avoiding, and learning to be better humans. Faith helps me to put one foot in front of another and just keep moving. I've met a lot of people on my journey who are like Steve's mother - people who feel justification for doing a wrong thing because of the right thing they may also be doing. The hardest part for me to reconcile is how they don't see the conflict - actions to words. But these people are on the same journey that I'm on, just in a different place. The road is a life-time long. Christianity permeates every fiber of my being. Most noticeably that I've come to understand love as a VERB, as not so much a way I feel as a way I act toward others and myself. I try very hard to love people, to speak the truth in love, to give them respect and honor, to thank them and compliment them, and let them know that they matter...its changed my entire life.

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I love reading comments from you. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. xox

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