The last few years have seen a massive amount of change in my life, not the least of which has been what some might call a "crisis of faith".
If you've kept up with my blogs through this time you can understand some of this process.
When I look back at my entire life journey (which, of course, I'm covering in my absolutely fabulously, stunning and riveting autobiography - coming soon!) there have been many "crises of faith". They have all centred around either my sexual identity or the validity of my spiritual experience in relation to traditional christianity.
In the last 3 years I've finally had the freedom to give as much time and thought to these things as I've needed. This has led to allowing my heart to fully express it's doubts, conflicts, hypocrisy, assumptions and paradigms with no guilt or shame - an absolute freedom to use every faculty God has given me, to think, reason, discuss, and discard, instead of going with the status quo.
I've always wrestled with the idea that I simply think too much and am not prepared to accept and walk in faith with all the beliefs and doctrines of traditional christianity. So most of the time I put stuff in the too hard basket and left it there, quietly smoldering - for over 40 years.
But now, every aspect of what I (mostly) believed has been unraveled, exposed, questioned, analysed and had the glaring light of integrity and honesty thrown on it.
Basically, christianity doesn't come up to the mark. Its so full of holes in logic, morality, common sense and history that to think its actually plausible is borderline insanity.
If we strip away the horrific absurdities of the Old Testament God: legalism, vengeance, hatred, genocide, misogyny, racism, slavery - you name it, we are left with the basics of what Jesus taught. The writings of Paul, a lot of the time, talk about Jesus providing a way for acceptance, peace, love and joy - for a way to experience love that doesn't depend on us but rather puts the whole onus on God to look after us. Psychologically this works amazingly well, when we consider how many of us desperately need to experience an internalised form of love that comes from an external source because we are incapable of finding that love within us.
So I see the incredible value of the basic tenets of christianity, and if it wasn't for my own belief in them, I would be dead by now - long gone, swallowed by suicidal depression.
But its only a cheap imitation of the vastness, the incredible peace and joy, the experience of love beyond expression, of what awaits us when we break out of that tiny box of religion. Its not just christianity, I talk about that because its the only religion that I've embraced. But all religions face the same dilemma - they have a dogmatic set of paradigms that define "truth", expressed in sacred writings, that severely limit us from experiencing our real identity, and God's real identity and character.
I've said a few times lately that I've had it with christian fundamentalism. But its more than that. I can no longer, in all integrity, embrace any religion as THE truth. To even think that any one religion could possible be the only way to God is the height of ignorance and arrogance.
I can relate and identify with the security people find in various religions, and don't have a problem as such, as long as the fruit of those beliefs are love, joy and peace (mostly love). But lack of integrity is something I really struggle with, and it almost physically hurts me to see people blinded by dogma, and simply refusing to open their hearts to see the bigger reality. I guess fear plays a big part, because the small world of christianity, or any religion, provides a depth of security that is really hard to ignore and let go. But it is only fear, produced by controlling and confining dogma, that stops us from being willing to take that step into the unknown.
I can no longer describe, with any certainty who or what God is, but I do know that I, and all of us are one with him/her, completely infused with God through every atom of our being. I am an expression of God as we all are, and the only road to growth is allowing that unity and expression to "change our minds", to open our eyes to who we really are, and that is mind blowingly awesome.
I've probably burnt my bridges with the last of my traditional christian friends by saying all this. But if their friendship and love is based on acceptance of religious beliefs, then that love is a shallow illusion anyway.