I was thinking some about my past a little after reading an email from a friend, in which we were talking about atheism, which prompted me to respond with part of my own personal story, more of which I’m sure will be told here as I continue my blogging.
I was raised Catholic and then when I went off to college, I went to a southern Baptist University and then to a Catholic graduate school where I studied counseling for a time which I may have mentioned.
While in grad school, I learned of Centering prayer and some of the mystics like St. John of the cross and the like and found this rather fascinating as it encompassed a much further reaching interpretation of the biblical texts which I had read than the fundamentalists who take everything literally.
I remember a conversation I had with a freshman girl when I was a senior in college. She said "if the bible says that Jonah was Swallowed by a Whale, than I believe it."
I asked "What does that say about Jonah spiritually and psychologically?" Though she was a straight-a student in her studies, I think the question left her a bit perplexed.
That’s the problem I had with the fundamentalists and literalists of the Christian religion, not being willing to see beyond the writing itself and extrapolate meanings beyond that which they already know, if that all makes sense.
After leaving graduate school and moving to Akron Ohio, I fell in with a group of Catholics who, my mom says were a cult.
I lived in a house with 4 other men, we grew our own vegetables, had specific chores and assigned times for meal prep etc., and though those aren’t at all cultish in and of themselves, we also began each day with song and prayer and were encouraged to go to confession for any sin, attended mass quite frequently and it was in that time that I began to have some struggles with some rather personal issues related to my sexual awakening and how some of those activities, I believed, at the time, were sinful in nature.
I could go into the details but that’s all rather personal and something that not a lot of people know about and someday I may write a blog entry about it but, suffice it to say, this lead me to a crisis of religion and conscience around those prescribed beliefs.
After some time in counselling for some emotional issues and that sort of thing, my beliefs shifted towards deism. I believed and do believe that there is a God who created the universe, there are just too many patterns and phenomena in nature that occur that lead me to believe that it all can’t just be random. However, I do not believe that this god cares about each of us individually and this God doesn’t care if we want to marry in our own gender or the opposite sex, smoke weed, drink alcohol or anything else we do with our lives on this planet. Now, that may sound incongruent to some, after all, if an intelligent entity created the universe, would that being not be concerned about the inhabitants of that space? I just can’t believe that but the strange thing is, when I read about the crucifixion of Jesus and how unjust that all was, there was a time, I believe, even early in my adoption of deism, that it evoked an emotional response, a response more about justice and balance, after all, he was innocent of the crimes they said he committed and yet, he was needlessly killed in the most barbaric way imaginable at the time.
When I was in graduate school, someone told me that if I was the only person on the planet, Jesus would have died for me. I said "I can understand him dying for the collective of mankind, but just me? I’m not so significant really."
I suppose all this speaks to some issues that I have with me having the belief that I’m not that valuable or that my contributions aren’t really that significant, after all, even though the wife is joking when she says "you have such talent, but you put all this droney shit out into the world" meaning why don’t I compose more melodic stuff? I don’t know if her joking really bothers me, after all, it’s just in gest but I wonder, if I really do have such issues of self-worth so-to-speak, would it not be understandable that I’d feel a bit of a sense of validation regarding those ideas, regardless of how untrue or objectively inaccurate they are? hearing those words from someone who says that she’s really supportive of my work is really odd to a lot of people and maybe her words give lie to her claim, I don’t know.
am I just too sensitive and too serious about myself? I don’t really know but I’ve always had a struggle with a lack of confidence in my ideas and my execution and communication of those ideas in a way.
People commenting on my music has seemed to help some and, for me, I’m sure you know that it’s not at all an ego trip or anything like that, it’s just a form of external validation and knowing that people like my music tells me that it’s the one thing that I can go to, a place of creativity and even therapeutic release sometimes.
I guess the best way to summarize all this is to say that, a lot of times, I see myself as a whole bunch of contradictory parts that are trying to fit together into some sort of whole that’s greater than the sum of all those parts, to throw a little Gestalt psychology in there.