There wasn’t a lot of church activity when I was growing up – occasionally Mom or one of her husbands would get the idea that they could sleep off their hangovers if we were in Sunday school – but we weren’t regulars at any church. I remember kids in school that were having Confirmation but not having a clue what that meant – some archaic practice by Christians I guess.This was the God that kept my family in poverty, the depths of alcoholism and domestic abuse and did nothing to save us. (views I had as a child)
As I grew older the God of the masses – picture the bearded old man, scowling down from heaven, condemning mortals to hell – and those who worshiped him weren’t appealing in the least. This was also the God that hated homosexuals and had condemn all gays to die of AIDS and I was beginning to believe i was one of those homos. (views I had as a teenager)
So when I was a teen, I opted out – I chose to believe in the the ancient Gods of Greece instead of the Christian God of those around me. I believed that if someone believes in something then that entity becomes real and gains power from that belief – this idea was likely instilled in me by various comic book storylines of the time – Teen Titan’s Brother Blood in particular. So as long as I believed in these old Gods they would have power. Sounds nice no? I firmly believed that my belief in these old Gods was stronger than the belief of 100 Christians.
During the time of my exploration of belief and worship of these old Gods I also did some research into Satanism. I wasn’t really interested in being a satanist, but I figured you should know who your enemies are and I should at least see what all the fuss is about – after all, if the Christians were opposed to Satanism there must be something worth while in it. I bought a copy of the Satanic Bible, by Anton Szandor LaVey the fact that this thing was even available at the book store still surprises me. I read and studied this book and overall didn’t think much of it – I didn’t feel any power or evil aura about the thing – it is just like a Bible Christians use – fiction. I was 15 at the time, I suppose if I looked at it now I might feel different about it or if I studied it with someone who claimed to be a practicing Satanist it might have more significance – but the Satanic Bible, like the Christian Bible, is open to interpretation. If you want to see evil in it, you’ll see evil in it, if you want to see good in it, you’ll see good in it. I wanted to see a path to power and magic, but I didn’t see that in it at all. A few years later I bought a few extra copies of the book and distributed them in school to folks that were curious – still rather amazed that that didn’t get me into trouble.
None of these belief systems was really practiced religiously – for lack of a better word – by me. I’m sure there are aspects of believing in the ancient gods of Greece that didn’t even occur to me. I just know I wanted a better option than what was available to me in Midwest WI, and having many gods each responsible for different parts of the universe seemed very appealing – being different than the masses, the sheep, even more so.
When alcoholism caught up with me at the age of 22 I was without hope – here I was a believer in Dionysus, the god of wine, how could I worship him and be sober – that was a dilemma for me, sounds silly I know, but it really was an argument that went through my mind frequently during my first attempt at sobriety.
At an AA meeting the other day I shared that when I first came to AA (actually, this was my second attempt at sobriety) I was convinced that I had to believe in the Christian idea of God – no matter “god of my understanding”. And that “god” I hated. Here I was, hopeless, and having to believe in a God I wanted nothing to do with – but I really did want to get better and find a solution to my problem. That solution, AA assures me, is a power greater than myself.
Eventually, through working the Steps of AA, taking actions I didn’t believe in, and praying to a God I hated – I grew to no longer hate the idea of Him. The problem was I was convince that even though I no longer hated him, I knew he hated me – he hates all the homos and queers you know. So I struggled for a while, believing in this entity that I was certain didn’t want me to be on the planet, or in the universe. This led me to wonder why I was cursed with these thoughts of same-sex attraction by this God, why tempt me with these thoughts if you were just condemning me to hell for acting on them? Obviously, he hated me.
What you, well at least what I, come to find out in AA is that God is Love, God is Action, God is. So eventually the fear and hate left me and left my idea of God and I was content.
More will be revealed.
As the years have come and gone, my ideas of a power greater than myself have evolved. This is a result of AA, praying, actions, and love. But also a result of those things is the current state of belief for me – I don’t think at present I believe in a God.
Our book says “Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.” Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter 6 Into Action. I can do that, I can see where the practice of prayer and meditation can benefit me – even if that prayer is sent up to nothingness it’s the act of saying the words aloud that change me. I’ve looked into the organization that gets people sober without God, but it’s a completely different program that doesn’t incorporate the Steps and I don’t know how deep I want to delve. I know the 12 Steps work, I know it based on myself and countless others I’ve seen changed completely by the Actions we’ve taken.
But, I can’t believe in a talking snake. I can’t stand by and watch the religious condemn others, I can’t pretend to be ok with the hate I see spewing out of these building/organizations that should be about Love. I can’t believe in a God that says “I have to wear a silly hat” or “women are less than” or “thou shalt not eat pork” or “once a year you have to walk around with ashes on your forehead” – WTH is that about. If I want snakes to talk – I’ll drop some acid. What do hats have to do with God? Why do I have to remove my hat when entering a Church, unless it’s one of the silly hats prescribed by the tenets? Does your God only favor certain hats – shouldn’t we stop making any hat that’s not acceptable then?
The point of this particular rant today – at the moment, I choose not to believe in a power greater than myself. For my sobriety, I’ll still pray to nothingness, I’ll still take the actions I know to be the right actions, but I’ve not going to spend time and energy believing in myths and stories from ancient times that people are still trying to make relevant today.
If you want to believe in an ancient spiritual being with guidelines from those times – hey, go ahead knock yourself out. But think about what your doing when you believe. Think about the organization that you are supporting. Are you full of love? Are they? Or are they a political machine or worse a child prostitution ring that continues to get away with raping innocent children with the help of your donations. Is that the type of organization that is worthy of spreading a message of love? I digress – the point is, think about your blind faith.