Friday, October 19, 2007

Belief, Faith and Suspension of Disbelief

Any religion that demands that I ‘check my brain at the door’ is not for me. God gave me a brain and expects me to use it to the best of my ability. The brain is for more than basic needs. If it weren’t then it would not be as it is and we would not have been blessed with self-awareness.

This is not to say that I avoid faith or belief or even just the suspension of disbelief. All of these are very different than turning your brain off.

How about I explain…

Checking your brain at the door, to me, means you don’t question. You don’t question what you read or what is told to you by those in “authority”, either here on earth in the form of Pastors, Priests, Rectors, anyone in authority, or in Heaven. You don’t ask questions and you NEVER ask why. You are told to take everything that is given to you “on faith” or you are not a good Baptist, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, whatever the flavor is. (I am limiting this to “Christian” beliefs because those are what I have personal experience with) You are told that if you question you are sinning and sinners go to hell.

The suspension of disbelief, to me, is where you do ask questions. Many questions. When sometimes you get the answers, you may not be able to believe them. However, you know somewhere deep down that they are true. You choose to suspend disbelief or you choose to believe (different things if you think about it) but, you are not asked to swallow information based on blind faith and no thought.

Growing up I made the mistake of asking a lot of questions. This did not please the pastors and priests that I interacted with. Some of the questions were the standard “why do bad things happen to good people” some were a bit more esoteric but all got the same or similar response. First would be a simple answer to the question, such as, “because there is evil in the world” answer to the bad things to good people question. If I pressed further I was actively discouraged, if I did not listen to the discouragement then I was told that I was a “girl and what did I know of these things.” Well, I knew what I didn’t know and that was why I was asking the questions.

Round and round I went, till I fell apart, and began the process of falling together.

I spent the better part of 3 years angry with God. Angry does not quite capture how I felt. Rage. Rage is a good capture of how I felt during that time. I was pissed off about the bullshit answers (or non answers) I got to my questions, great and small. I was pissed off at the abuse I had suffered all in the name of “god's will” and casting out evil. I was pissed off at the condemnation of who I am. Both the questioner and the orientation aspects of myself. I demanded to know why God created me this way but then condemned her creation. “Fuck you” was said to God a lot during that time. Sometimes I even embellished it with “and the horse you rode in on.” I even turned my back to her for a short time when I ran out of words but couldn’t stand not screaming something at her.

The entire time She just waited. Waited while I hurled insults, anger, pain her way. All the while being silent. The good kind of silence, the waiting kind, full of love and understanding. After about 2 years of this, She spoke and asked me “is it me you are angry at or is it my self called ‘followers’”? I had to rail for another 3 months before I would answer that question. I did finally answer it and spent the next 3 months angry that She did nothing to stop all of that from happening.

“I had a purpose in letting it happen”

“Fuck you!”

“I will tell you sometime what the purpose was, then you will understand”

“Ok but can you tell me soon”

“You will know when it is time”


Much later I did get the answer and now I am actually grateful for having gone through my past. If I had not, I would have no true understanding of the suffering of others.

So, to wrap up.

Belief that God would not strike me dead was what allowed me to be angry with God.

Faith is what allows me to hear her voice and understand what she is saying.

In order for me to be where I am today I needed to suspend my disbelief that God would allow me space to work through my anger.

Hope that cleared up my perception of the differences between those three.

But, I digress...