This is a three part blog series that explains my current state when it comes to matters of faith and spirituality. This is one of the hardest things I’ve written, but hopefully it will be instructive to those who might have a similar background and journey as myself.
In my last post I outlined the history of my faith since childhood. I had journeyed from the Salvation Army church through Lutheranism, Methodism, Evangelicalism, and landed in the Catholic church. My new wife and I started settling into our life and for a while church was a part of it. I still loved the “event” of Sunday mornings, with it’s ritual and liturgy. However, something in me was starting to change. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, but I started feeling less and less motivated to go to mass on Sundays.
At first it was missing a Sunday here or there, but eventually it’s grown to a point where I’ve only been to church a half dozen times in the past 2 years. Almost all of those times were with extended family for some manner of gathering. As I drifted away from church I started to notice more and more things about it that started to bother me. In particular I have developed a deep dislike of congregational singing in church. I simply don’t derive any joy from the act of singing mediocre songs with people who can’t sing, with a musical backtrack that is either the neutered organ, or a half-hearted attempt at a “contemporary” ensemble.
Sermons have become mostly uninteresting to me anymore, which leaves the ritual and liturgy. Strangely, I still find a great deal of comfort and peace in the liturgy. When we have attended mass I still enjoy and feel fulfilled from those acts. I still treat them with reverence and respect, despite my questioning. That questioning is also at the heart of where I’m currently at.
As someone who has studied theology for over two decades, I always assumed my faith was solid and could never be rocked. I’ve experienced multiple tragedies in my life, yet my faith never wavered. What has caused my faith to waver is an exposure to life without constantly being a part of a church. As I’ve stopped going to mass the past couple of years, my mind feels like it has started to clear, and I’ve began to question what I always took at face value before.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to insinuate that there was any type of brainwashing or sinister intent. I simply can’t find the reason for why I believe what I believed anymore. Now that I’m not immersed in it on a regular basis, I struggle to find what it was that made me believe in it to begin with. I’ve studied esoteric theological concepts, preached sermons, written extensively about matter of faith, but when I look back at it now, I don’t really know what it was that I thought I believed.
My faith was something that existed and I didn’t question it. It was my worldview, and it (usually) shaped how I behaved towards others. But when I got some distance from it, I found I couldn’t answer the question of “why” I believed what I believed. I loved the community, the ritual, and the teachings of how to treat others. However, the belief in a divine being seems to have fallen by the wayside. I simply don’t know why I believed in God without question most of my life. When I actually take time to ask questions, I don’t get any answers that draw me back to Him. In fact I often end up moving further and further away from the faith of my childhood.
When I became a Catholic I uttered the phrase, “Catholicism or atheism for me,” and how prescient for that phrase to be coming to fruition. In many ways I feel like I’m reaching the inevitable end of a journey that was much longer than I thought, and has a much different outcome than I expected. In tomorrow’s entry I’ll unpack a bit more of what all of this means for me going forward.