I am searching for a religion. Yes, seriously. I am looking for a home for my divine beliefs. Strange, isn’t it? That someone is looking for something that is so, well, common. So common in fact that, having specific faith borders on common sense. Well, common sense, as the quip goes, is not very common.
From that paragraph alone, many of you have already made up your minds about my standpoint and have probably boxed me somewhere. Off the top of the shaking head, the first point would be, “but you are Christian”. Eish, I will try to be brief on that one. South Africa is generally perceived to be traditionally Christian. (There’s irony in that statement). Most of us were Christian before we knew our own names and in that, lay the perils of assumption. Assuming that, because you rocked your Sunday best since yay high, you automatically know WHY you were Christian in the first place. For more than half my life I believed I was Christian. That is until I realized I had stopped being Christian in very much the same way as I had become one, without my knowledge. John 14:6, Jesus answered ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’. My dilemma was that I didn’t believe that the Christian God was the only God, or that Jesus was the only channel to him. I believed in Jesus as much as I believed in Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, or the Hindu deities, or Haile Selassie. This is mostly because I know that, had I grown up in the Middle East, Christianity would be something I see on TV mostly. I have also sat down with people from different faiths and listened to how, to them, it only makes sense to believe in their specific religion.
But this is not a post about Christianity. I am not trying to discredit anyone’s faith. Although, I do know that by putting these points across, some will perceive it as me being against their faith. Not even the Sunday Facebook church. You know, the Church of The Holy Update and All of A Sunday Saints. But the world of religious beliefs is also becoming very muddled, in my opinion anyway. With so many religions and beliefs, many claiming the sole right to God, it does beg the question; how necessary is it to belong to a specific faith or denomination? Everyone believes his or her faith is the right one. Why? Based on what? Sadly, these questions are usually written off as me lacking the backbone to stick to the “one true God”, regardless of which name he answers.
I could very easily resort to Atheism. But it is, in itself, an institution. Also, I feel they tend to be reactionary, anti-something or other. I’ve entertained Gnosticism, which loosely provocates for a faith sans middle “man” like Jesus. But this route is also murky. I believe that one’s analysis of one’s religion revolves around certain fundamental of questions; do you believe in the existence of/a God? If yes, then do you feel that your belief in this divine being has to be structured around certain practices, acts or routines? Does this faith then need a name? Then, more contentiously, do you believe this faith should have the sole right of existence above all others?
The other reason I can’t get with the Atheist crew is that I DO believe in God. Also, very typically, when sh*t hits the fan in my life, I do want to reach out to “something bigger”. Something to assure me that existence is not in free-fall. But this reaction, especially the Christian elements of it, comes more as a force of habit than anything. My main gripe is the countless “human” variations of God. We grow up in religion in the same way we grow up in school. You are taught a lot of things that you are told will make sense later in life. The problem comes in, especially in faith-based societies like ours, where like in school, you want to choose your own path/career. In primary school, I was not taught graphic design, but A is for Apple has stuck with me. The basic tenets of having faith have stuck with me from my youth. But the path before me is not leading me to any specific house of worship. But it seems as though choosing not to have a religion is like going to school and then choosing to be a bum.
Writer: Vus Ngxande