How did you find your religion?

  • she's fresh to death

    she's fresh to death (100)

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    July 14th, 2014 at 06:23am
  • wxyz

    wxyz (240)

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    I didn't so much find it as I was made to believe it, until I found out how to question things.
    July 14th, 2014 at 11:12pm
  • AmorarEsDeVivir

    AmorarEsDeVivir (100)

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    I am agnostic, which I still feel is something I had to "find," in a sense.

    I was raised Christian. It wasn't until I was almost done with confirmation when I was 13 that I started to feel that Christianity wasn't for me. I started asking a lot of questions about morality and the Bible and saw conflicts between what the Bible said about morality and my own observations of it, and I started to feel very distanced from my faith.

    I spent a lot of time feeling horribly guilty, and feeling convinced that I would go to hell. I wouldn't even admit out loud that I was having doubts because I thought it made me a bad Christian and a bad person. I started using jy journal for prayer, reading the Bible every night, asking questions to my pastor and to religious family members in hopes of reaffirming my faith...but the more I did that, the more I felt like I was trying to convince myself to helieve something I didn't feel in my heart.

    After many more months of guilt, when I was 14 or 15 I finally started to realize that I was pushing Christianity on myself just because it was what I was raised with and what I knew and letting go of it scared me. I spent about a year researching various faiths, many of them Pagan, because I still wanted to believe in something and Paganism had always fascinated me.

    I was probabky 15 and a half or 16ish when I finally decided that Atheist Agnostic was what suited me best (I didn't believe in God and lived as though there isn't one, but didn't feel right outright rejecting the possibility of a divine power or several), though I didn't know the name of that belief/mindset until several months later. I finally told my parents that I wasn't Christian a few months after I turned 16, though that comes with a whole saga of its own.
    July 15th, 2014 at 06:51am
  • heathenheart

    heathenheart (100)

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    I apologize for how long this is, but once I started I couldn't stop, and felt most of it couldn't be omitted.

    For me, I've struggled with it my whole life, and I am still struggling. I don't know if I will ever stop struggling (at least for a while). My whole life, I've jumped from church to church (my family wasn't exactly religious, but they were trying to be, and when I was 5ish I was forced to live with my grandmother until my freshman year of highschool, she was a Methodist, I believe.) My grandma and I went to church every Sunday, and I went to Sunday school which consisted of Veggie Tales and crafts. I used to cry and complain that I didn't want to go to church, to the point where eventually we stopped (my grandmother I learned only went to be social).

    Over the years, and with the things that happened in my life and all over the world I more or less stopped believing in God. The only reason I had a small glimmer of faith is the fear of hell (which people are still pounding into my skull).

    I had another quick little stint of devout religious faith when I was around 12, because I became best friends with a very religious person. Eventually we more or less had a falling out and I wasn't feeling the whole religious thing.

    Then, I was in school (my junior year of high school) and we were on a historical and English topic of vikings and other nordic peoples. I know A LOT about viking culture, I researched a lot of it throughout my whole life (beginning when I was 8 and learned of my viking ancestors, which my family has actual documentation of), so I enjoyed this very much. In English class I (wrongfully) learned of Viking/Nordic religion which spurred me looking into the religious aspect more. I learned of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Celtic, Icelandic/Norse faith.

    The internet, as you all probably know, leads you to some strange places, one of which (for me) being articles on Witchcraft. Not Wicca (although I learned about that as well), not Devil-Worship, etc, but actual Witchcraft.

    I am a huge Harry Potter, anything witchy/wizardy geek. I always wanted to be a witch...but the rational part of me always believed that magic was not real or anything. I read and read on this topic. My understanding of witchcraft now is that it is all about energy. You put energy into something, and you will get an outcome. It is not flying and creating magical little beings, etc. I also learned that Witchcraft is not a religion but a practice.

    I bought books, I've read almost everything I can on the things that I felt drawn to (and that my wallet allowed, I still have more learning to do, as like everything else in this world).

    I feel most connected and drawn to Icelandic/Norse, and a tiny bit of Celtic beliefs, etc. (I also would like to start practicing Witchcraft). I knew it was right for me as soon as I read Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism by Diana Paxson. I know that it is not the one stop shop for all things Norse Paganism, but a lot of what she said felt right. We are not born good or evil, but neutral, and then judged by our actions.

    At first, it was hard to fully stop believing in Christianity. It was also hard to let go of the notion that the Gods/desses were real (Thor, Odin, Loki, Hel, etc). Then I really sat down and thought about it. The Christian Bible says "you shall have no other gods before me," which implies the existence of other gods. As well as the fact that Christianity is a new religion, one of the newest in fact, so what makes it superior to other religions? I mean, I wouldn't go off killing people (if that was what an old religion called for), but what makes God superior to all the other options that are out there?

    Then I took a good look at the Bible. I understand that you are not supposed to take the bible literally, but are supposed to analyze what it meant for them back then and apply the 'lesson' to life today. But, the exclusion of The Old Testament (which is recognized as God's word as well) by some Christian Denominations seemed odd to me, why would you exclude that when it basically founded your faith? (And yes, I know the Jewish believe in The Old Testament, and not the New, which makes more sense to me than just believing in the "Second" book in a two part series basically). But when I looked at The Old Testament, I saw a very cruel God.

    In 4 Kings 2:23-24 a group of boys made fun of religion by making fun of a bald man's head, so the bald man prayed to God and cursed them, and God made two bears go and maul 42 children to death. I understand it was for not believing, etc, but...if you created mankind, and loved us, how could you kill these children? Children haven't gotten to grow up and decide for themselves if they believed in God or not, most of a child's opinions are the same of their parents, or other admired adults.

    Likewise, in Leviticus 21:17-24, he basically cursed this Aaron the Priest's offspring. He said that any deformed or ugly person who comes to him will be ignored. I understand that this curse is probably from something wrong that Aaron did, but why punish ALL of his future children and grandchildren? What did they ever do? Nothing. It was Aaron. Not his children.

    There are more examples of God being unnecessarily cruel in the Old Testament.

    Another thing I looked at was The Crusades, etc. Christianity has converted a great deal of the world over to Christianity by force, and has mostly killed Pagan religions. How can a God condone the death of innocents, of his "children," just to get them to convert? Conversion by force in my opinion is worse than your children not believing at all, because it probably brought a great deal of hatred from your children, and secret practicing of their old faith.

    In Norse religion (which has only actual recordings by Christians, 200 or so years after the conversion in Iceland) the Norse Gods are portrayed as evil and barbaric, when actual historical evidence makes the Vikings out to be decently friendly, tolerant, smart, and clean individuals (opposed to the dirty mess that a lot of people believed Vikings were).
    Also, in Norse religion, I don't remember any case where the Gods harmed a human. Thor is actually the protector of The Common Man. The Gods see us as mostly equals, and they are humble, knowing that their rule will end one day. But they don't give up, and keep on doing their Godly thing. That being said, it was common practice to sacrifice humans to the Gods. It does NOT mean that it was right, and as far as I know Odin, and the other Gods/desses, did not demand this. The myths are left open to interpretation. Odin (the All Father) purposely left things open to interpretation, and even tells us to learn from the myths ourselves instead of him telling you what to do. Now, for a sacrifice, I just make a little extra of dinner or something one night a week and give it to them (setting it out for a few hours and dedicating it to a God or Goddess before composting it). I sacrifice not out of necessity or demand, but out of respect.

    Currently I identify as an Eclectic Heathen Witch. I am Eclectic in the fact that I take a little from the Celts and incorporate it into my own personal religion. I prefer then name heathen (which encompasses every religion other than the main three technically, but is commonly used for Norse Paganism). And I plan on getting into Witchcraft.

    The struggles I am going to have, for a long time is, the fact that I like the structure that one of the Big Three Religions offer, like a bible to follow, and an actual organization, etc. As well as a place to fit in, like a church. I like the notion of going to a place of worship everyday, but the only place a religion even close to my own is recognized is in Iceland, (I'm in the US) and I am in a small town with others that do not share the same beliefs. It is also hard when you can't speak to anyone in real life about your religion, etc because they don't believe it at all and think you are an idiot. I also have stereotypical dreams of settling down with someone and having a family. Not many people follow exactly what I follow and if I have kids, how will we raise them? Will we fight over it? I personally would like to raise my children in what I believe, but allowing them to branch out and follow whatever they feel drawn to, I also planned on exposing them to other religions a little bit so they could see the options out there.

    So that, is why I am struggling right now. I want to be Christian, because it would be easier, but I know in my heart I could never do it. I am a Heathen at Heart.

    (P.S. I know about the fact that a lot of neo-nazi's and racist people follow this religion as well, but the people don't make the religion. Just like not all of Christianity is crazy, racist, nut cases)

    And here is a link to a lot of good common questions and things about Norse Faith, etc.

    http://www.norsemyth.org/2011/11/high-school-student-asks-about-norse.html
    July 29th, 2014 at 06:57am