A Writer’s Conclusion: The Noble Path
In reading Beth’s entries this month in response to my challenge, I found her story was very similar to mine. I also went through the motions of CCD and Mass, which I found largely uninteresting. I also played mental games to occupy myself during services waiting for the last Amen so I could be released into the room at the back of the church where my brother and I would rush hoping there were donuts and orange juice left. (The bribe of juice and donuts seems to be a common one.) My reaction to losing my Sunday mornings and Wednesday evening to the Church for much of my childhood was not just to reject Christianity but also to spend the proceeding years attempting to understand why religion in general did not work for me, and subsequently, to figure out what did.
This, in so many words, was the primary goal of the task I set forth for Beth in this month’s chapter: To interact with diverse spiritual experiences, and through thoughtful reflection, come closer to understanding one’s own beliefs. As I told Beth at one point during the month when she seemed to be struggling with reading the Bible, my intention for this chapter was to actually read these ancient religious texts which not many people have done even though they may be familiar with the stories, and to interact and reflect on these texts and the profound affect they have had on us and our culture. Even if we feel these ancient documents do not directly affect our lives, they do have an enormous impact on how a lot of people perceive the world. They are a record of the hopes and anxieties of our ancestors and the mythology they created to deal with their world.
Ultimately, each person has to decide for him or herself what worldview they are going to embrace. However, sometimes you have to experience something and reject it to gain a greater understanding of what you believe. If nothing else, the goal of this chapter should be a thoughtful examination of our beliefs and a questioning of why we believe what we do. A critical analysis of all of our beliefs, spiritual, political, or otherwise, is probably the most essential and useful instrument in the self-development toolbox. Otherwise, as Anais Nin put it, “When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons.”