As a young child, I attended a small rural church with my mother which had little impact on my life other than as a place for weekly social gatherings. Around 12, I attended an evangelical religious summer camp with my Grandmother's church, and the subsequent path of my life was forever altered. I was scared into a faith which I didn't understand, but only feared. However, notions of Hell would not be enough to sustain my loyalty to a religion which I had never grasped.
Faced with the daily temptation of a beautiful girl, and the subsequent pressures of sex, the plagiarized faith that I had so adamantly clung to faded away. Given that I had crossed some fundamental line in the sand, and lacked any community or network to go there was little hope of a quick return. My own guilt and inability to admit my failures to those most important also proved to be one of the biggest obstacles to my own desire for a meaningful spiritual relationship.
Around my junior year in high school, I also encountered a very simple idea. We read This Side of Paradise, a simple coming of age book for a generation past. The text serves its purpose well. The book ends with the following phrase: "I know myself and that is all-" another edition ends with a period rather than a hyphen. That simple difference in punctuation sparked a realization that everything which I had held dear to me for most of my life was all the product of my family, church, and school. I had done very little to forge my own destiny. From there, I entered a very rebellious stage of my life, where I sought to redefine every aspect of my life. I did the things which I had always thought I would never do. I needed to understand them for myself, and grasp why they were so harmful, why such prohibitions were in place. Minor scuffles with law enforcement, and frequent run ins with authority figures ensued.
During my college career I had several classes which shaped the way I think about the world – specifically, my freedom and my existentialism classes. I recognized the bondage to my own ideas as well as the ways in which I clung to food, society, culture, possessions. In my existentialism class, I became even more aware of my own dissatisfaction with life. On one hand I saw a path to happiness through pure experience, while on the other I saw my own inability to control my actions. I could execute the things I really desired to.
I will take to time to elaborate about my own ideas of religion during this time. As the class was winding down, I felt for once that I was able to face death. And I still saw the path to happiness even I recognized that I was temporarily unable to fully experience it. There was however, one over riding idea that emerged. Sartre, in “Nausea” talks about an unsettling feeling he was powerless to escape for sometime. It wasn’t a physical sickness, if was just a gravity about his soul. It was something that I felt quite frequently /
...to be continued