The view from here on religion.

by Lori Dwyer on December 20, 2010 · 24 comments

I’m not a religious person, as such. In fact, religion, and devoutly religious people, often take me by surprise.

It’s not that I don’t believe. In fact, when asked to clarify my religious status, I often state ‘Believer’ and leave it at that. I believe in a Higher Something. It’s just that religion in it’s organised formats irritates me, scares me and intimidates me.

I wasn’t bought up religious, did you guess that? My father and both grandmothers are varying shades of apathetic, agnostic and atheistic. The most devoutly religious person in my family would be my aunt, who has been a practicing Wiccan for thirty years.

My mother currently attends a Catholic parish with her devoutly Catholic partner who is separated, but of course not divorced, from his wife; but she does not take Communion. I think, from memory, she was Christened as a child. My best guess is to say that she, like me, is a ‘believer’ in some inception.

Despite not growing up with religion, I know the basics. Occasionally I attended youth fellowship, and I remember once going to a service, with friends of mine. The thing that stands out the most about that service is that I was wearing a skirt- not a regular occurrence for me, then or now- and I emerged from the bathrooms at one point with my skirt tucked into my undies. A good ten minutes later, someone pulled me aside to let me know. That was as close to a religious epiphany as it got.

The only regular secular influence in my life was Sunday School, which was actually not held on a Sunday but once a fortnight on a Thursday, as part of our regular school class times. Incredible, in the literal sense of the word, that this was par for course- all students at my non-denominational public school attended Christian Sunday School, unless their parents specifically opted them out of it.

My husband family are Catholic. Their Catholicism insisted my son be baptised, and they don’t eat red meat on Good Friday. In the time I’ve known my husband, his Catholic family have attended church twice- once for my son’s baptism, and once prior to that to organise my son’s baptism. And I do believe on the second occasion my mother-in-law took the Lord’s name in vain in front of the priest.

The last time I attended church was only a few weeks ago. I performed a magic show for the congregation of a church that runs the playgroup myself and my children attend every week. It was a blissful, uplifting experience. To hear people speak of love and acceptance, and to feel the evidence of that not only in that room, but in the kinship between the parents I see every week at playgroup; well, that’s a beautiful thing. To hear people raise their voices together in joy, sweet and harmonious, to sing praise; the sound of it buoys my heart. My frustration at not being able to join in, knowing not the tune nor the words, is tempered with the pleasure of closing my eyes and listening to the rapture of others.

And that is what I find to be redeeming, concerning religion, the element that sits with me comfortably and speaks to my soul. The love. The faith. The light it brings to people. I remember a conversation with a close friend of mine, confiding in her that my greatest fear is what would happen to my child if I were to pass away. She, being a devout and practicing Christian, replied that she didn’t worry so much about that because she knew Jesus loved her child even more than she did, and He would always take care of her.

How extremely comforting. What relief, to give yourself to a higher power like that, to truly put your existence in the hands of the Creator. What a sweet balm for the horrible pain of life.

Faith such as that, I am envious of. But I am also far too cynical to relinquish the illusion of control that I prefer to maintain over my own reality.

Sometimes I feel both hypocritical and blasphemous, because, in my own belief, I have picked and selected parts of different faiths that sit well with me. The concept of a Creator, of Something Higher and Mightier than us, I have to believe in that. I look around at our planet, the people on it, the tiny miracles that knit together people’s existences every day; and I can only conclude it is arrogant, ignorant, to not believe that there is Something beyond us.

I believe- I must believe- that everything happens for a reason. That every event has a ulterior consequence it is clicking and tumbling toward. Easy for me, who has lived a life of relatively petty pain and minimal loss, to say; but it breaks my heart to think otherwise. To consider the idea that we are all just floating in some kind existential mess, a serendipic creation of chemicals, catalysts and sheer luck- I can’t bear it. There must be a purpose for suffering. For no other reason that I cannot stand it, if there were not.

And, if I believe this, must I not also believe that our trails are set for us, our fate entwined, entangles and defined from the very second we crown into the world? Yes, I must. That is the way with theology and philosophy- belief to assumption to belief, a domino effect untempered by selfish reason.

The very essence of faith.

I believe in karma, that what you give is what you get returned. I believe there is a connection between people and people; between people and the Earth; and that some people are more in tune with that phenomena than others.

I believe you should be kind, without being overly righteous, because what you do comes back to you, three fold. I believe there is a Plan, and everything is a part of it, though you may never know the reason behind it.

Simple truths. The things I must believe, to make sense of the confounding puzzle of a world, and the occupants within it.

I feel selfish, for cross-stitching the less intricate elements of religions I know little about, in a clunky mish mash of my own belief system.

But I also don’t think I’m doing anyone any harm, believing the way I do. It causes me to be a better, stronger, person, rich with a patience I don’t always possess and an appreciation for the things that bless me. And while it does not bring the level of comforting submission that I imagine comes with a full sacrifice to a deity, with a complete immersion into a formal religion, I take solace from what I believe.

Surely whatever God there is, would be OK with that.

Inspired by a question from the FormSpring.
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy August 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Lori, I am so glad that when things were darkest for you that there were people who shared God's love with you and that it touched you. Praying you will encounter many more people and experience much love on your journey.


edenland January 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hello lovely. You just sent out a tweet about how being tucked in used to bring joy. So I came here for a while, to sit with you, here -in your space.

I remember when you wrote this post – barely a month ago, fark. I was really struck by how beautifully you expressed yourself. You still do.

I hope you can sleep ok tonight, love. Just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you.



Jen December 24, 2010 at 7:15 am

Wonderful post Lori. I was just thinking myself about my own faith just the other day and I am very much like you :). What struck me was that the people who I have been drawn to to form incredibly close friendships with in the last ten years have both been incredibly religious people. One catholic and one Baptist. It always comforts me to be around them and to view their faith and fellowship with others. I am almost envious at times but I also don't want to give in completely and follow one faith devotedly because I also see that doing so can cause a small wall up in which their religion is seen a little better than other religions. I stand in a position when I am fascinated by all religions and I believe in god and can take from all of the religions and all of my friends beliefs and that feels right to me. I am not ready to give up the controls on myself to any one religion.

Sorry for the long comment…perhaps I should put this in a blog post :p


Veggie Mama December 23, 2010 at 10:34 am

I don't think it's selfish at all :)

There are thousands of documented gods, how am I supposed to know which is the right one? I'm sure there's probably something out there, but am also equally sure it's not what the bible tells me it is. I question too much for faith, but I have seen how it gives people a deep sense of peace and love toward others. I have both those things, but I certainly don't attribute it to a god.

Besides, I think half the point of life is to search for these answers and be at peace with what you find.


MultipleMum December 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

It is hard work to put into words all of these thought Lori and you did a mighty fine job :)


Draft Queen December 22, 2010 at 11:35 am

I'm cynical. And oh boy, am I jaded. I have a love/hate relationship with fate that I just can't articulate. I believe things happen for a reason and at the same time I can't bring myself to believe that I have my fiance because my best friend is dead. (or his, for that matter.)

It's all very hard for me to really commit myself to.

But I do love that you've created your own belief system.


Jade December 22, 2010 at 2:51 am

I share most of those views too.
Particularly the bit about – not being jealous of, but kind of I guess, people who do have a strong faith. It would be such a wonderful thing to be able to unstintingly rely on.


Smudgeblurr December 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Lovely post. I think I am agnostic – that I have belief in a higher power but not necessarily in God. I wasn't christened as my folks wanted to allow us the freedom to pursue any religion without restriction. I am very much a believer of each to their own!


Fiona December 21, 2010 at 11:43 am

A wonderfully articulated post.

To me, religions and gods and the like just don't make sense, don't sit right. Thus the atheism.

I do like to learn about the religions, and try to figure out what makes people believe in them.

And I love the latest XKCD comic:


Life In A Pink Fibro December 21, 2010 at 10:44 am

Great post Lori.


Michelle Twin Mum December 21, 2010 at 10:31 am

I think you have to believe in what sits right for you and much of what you state fits in just perfect with my Christian beliefs. I hate the word religious, many would say I am. I go to Church once or more a week, I read my bible, I go to Christian Conferences but that does not make me religious. Religious I often think are those who have double standards and say and do compeletly different things. I hate that. I strive to be Christ like and I fail most of the time but that is OK as I try, as do you Lori.

Happy Christmas, if I don't see you before.

Mich x


JourneyBeyondSurvival December 21, 2010 at 8:20 am

I think taking the best of what you find and creating goodness is what we all strive for! Good for you for improving yourself and your family with what you have and believe. That's goodness!


Katie December 21, 2010 at 3:00 am

Well said Lori.


Mich December 21, 2010 at 12:06 am

If you start a religious group can I join? Much love to you Miss Lori <3


Jodie at Mummy Mayhem December 20, 2010 at 11:56 pm

What a fantastic post, Lori. Enjoyed every word of it.

Now, I'm a Catholic. Became one because I wanted to in 1996. In fact, hope you don't mind, but I wrote about it here:

Anyway…pretty much what you believe in – I believe in too. I think my religion teaches me many of your same values. Treating people like you want to be treated yourself. And I believe wholeheartedly that everything happens for a reason. (Wrote about that too a few days before the above post I noted here.)

The one thing that I find is drummed in to us as Catholics, is that God is a loving and forgiving God. He loves us. So, what you wrote in the end there about God not minding…I think you'd be right. My MIL – a Catholic also – believes that you take what is around you and you make it your own in terms of beliefs and religion. I choose to go to Church and learn from there, but I also take a lot of what goes on around me. I don't think the Catholic church is perfect (far from it), but it gives me a great foundation for my beliefs. And I think praying together with a community works for me. It's uplifting and supportive….all that.

Do what feels right for you.

Great post.



River December 20, 2010 at 10:08 pm

When I was in school, our "Thursday Sunday School" was held on Tuesday mornings and was called Religious Instruction. I recall spending most of the lesson doodling in my exercise book or gazing out of the window.
Like you, and your other commenters, I've also picked and chosen from various beliefs, to follow in the way I live my life.
When asked do I believe in God, I'm known to reply that I believe in all the gods in all the heavens as I believe that greatly enhances my chances of getting into whichever Heaven is open at the time of my dying.
I also believe that our paths are set before us, but when the road forks, we are free to choose which direction to follow. The end destination will be the set one, but the road taken may be easy or hard depending on our choice of direction. There are many forks along the way and if we've chosen wrongly, we are able to save ourselves by making a better choice at the next fork.


Sarah December 20, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I've just stumbled across your blog. I love your post, and your views sound like mine, but I've never sat down and tried to articulate them. I've struggled to get my story straight ever since my 4 y o started asking about death. I still don't know, I don't imagine I ever will but gosh it would be comforting to be able to give her a neat story – but truthfulness trumps faith for me.


edenland December 20, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Hon, LOVE this.



Kel December 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Good stuff – and I'm right there with ya :)


ForeverRhonda December 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I do the same thing, I tend to just pick and choose different things from different religions that I learn about and put them to use in my own personal brand of faith.


A Daft Scots Lass December 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Lovely thoughts. Every one has their own beliefs


In Real Life December 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Beautiful, Lori!


Trik82 December 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm

It is seriously like reading my own thoughts…


Eva Gallant December 21, 2010 at 12:56 am

We have a lot of similar beliefs. I was raised in the Catholic church, but stopped attending mass in the early 80s after I was divorced.


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