Home » Reasonably true » Family values and me

Family values and me

For many people, family means refuge, a warm, inviting place where they will always be welcome, where there will always be unconditional support. Throw in a strong religious conviction, and they just add God to the list of familiars they can always count on.

For me, family was always about suffocation. Religion was there, a very strong presence, and stifling. The two together seemed absolutely crushing.

This had nothing to do with lack of love and support. That was always there, too, in abundance. It’s just that the totality was overwhelming, with no room left for the kind of soul-stretching I yearned for. I spent hours looking out doors and windows, dreaming of escape.

How to account for the difference? Hard to say, but I suspect it is rooted in the style of upbringing. Mine was very rigid and inflexible, and the same can be said for my religious upbringing: twelve years of Catholic school, ironically much more flexible than my father’s idea of what was appropriate for children. Still, the razor-wire was there all the same, just a bit further out.

These days, only three of us remain from the family, siblings. We live thousands of miles apart. We get along very well. Words like love and support are bandied about so often nowadays that I don’t trust them; basically, we live our own lives, and are interested in each other’s lives, and would undoubtedly rally to each other in case of a crisis. Let’s leave it at that.

As for religion, I’ve left it far behind. The still faithful erroneously think that’s because of a grudge against God. True, anger and rebellion initially caused me to examine the tenets of Catholicism, but once the cat was out of the bag there was no going back. Occasionally, protestants of various flavors tell me the problem is Catholicism, that their particular variant is more loving, more forgiving, etc. They miss the point. Nowadays, I’m no more angry at God than I am at Santa for not bringing me Christmas presents.

God, in the form of an omnipotent creator who nevertheless tinkers with his creation at the request of believers, is an insupportable idea. Once you start questioning dogma, and persist at it, this is inescapable. God was created wholly in the image of man: spiteful, loving, patronizing, generous, egomaniacal, vengeful, forgiving, take your pick; it’s all there to reinforce your decisions wherever your personal inclinations lead you.

Do I miss any of that? Rarely. The more I think about things like eternity and immortality, the more I realize we’re already there.

10 thoughts on “Family values and me

    • Still, if it’s unbelievable, how can you believe it? Religious people seem to be able to will themselves to do that. To me it’s as impossible as believing the moon is made of cheese, and frankly I think I’m better off for it, having experienced the alternative.

  1. Mostly they don’t will it. They are born into religion as they are born into a form of life. I fondly remember Passovers as an opportunity for an exciting family get together with no thought for the fact that we were celebrating both liberation of a people and the mass murder of Egyptian firstborns. Even atheists have to have their stories to provide them with meaning, for which they rely on philosophy, culture and even science. Personally, I find the story of creation no more ridiculous than Big Bang Theory which posits a nothingness, then a Bang.

    • It’s almost like you’re saying we’re different, Malcolm. The only thing that bugs me about the faithful is the insistence on extrapolating their experience onto the rest of us, as if we’re living in denial. Seems a bit desperate to me. The story of creation is much more ridiculous than big bang theory. Let’s just agree to disagree. I can if you can.

    • It is true we are born into a religion , and will seldom evaluate whether it is true or not. But , we should not ignore the fact that we are living within a system , a universal system .Who created it? How was it created? What benefits we may get? Can either be found in religious books or just remain questions.
      Look around , read history and think…human beings are born to think 🙂

  2. I think we are different… some of us seem to have an instinctive sense of “something out there,” a transcendent dimension to life, and some of us don’t. Those of us who do choose a set of narratives and traditions to integrate that transcendence with the rest of life.

    I don’t think being one way or the other is better or worse, it’s just part of human variety.

    And I say that as someone who was not born into religion but came to it as an adult; as a child I had a sense of God but no attachment to any religious community, as an adult I was able to find other people with whom to explore these ideas.

  3. I don’t like anything
    No body likes me either
    I live my life..for self
    and rest is dust on shelves.
    I will die just as others
    then perhaps will find out the truth
    was I living in fantasy with no clues 😉

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