I have found my peace by being spiritual but not religious. I was raised in a supportive environment by parents and family who instilled values in me that may have come from a religion but are also basic human values. Primarily they were Presbyterians with a smattering of Baptists and Methodists. I attended church, Sunday Schools and youth groups. But as I grew and inquired, I found many good people in the church who had pat answers to my inquiries but were not prepared to explore the deeper issues that surrounded the questions I had. My “Why?”, “Who?”, “When?”, and “Where?” questions were met with “Because…” answers that did not delve deeply enough into the answers I was seeking.
Specific random occurrences reinforced my disappointment. After my first communion when I was less that 12-years-old I remember running down the hall shouting that “It tastes just like cake!” (It was supposed to be the body of Christ). I was hushed up and it became readily apparent that this was not acceptable behavior. At a church camp when I was a teenager there was an emotional sunset service at which we were asked to stand up and say what we were going to do with our lives. I stood up and said I was going to be a missionary in South America. I have no idea where that came from because I had never thought of it before in my life. Afterward I felt guilty about my lie and ultimately that I had been emotionally exploited. In church on Sundays I sometimes heard sermons from the pulpit that incorporated ideas that I vehemently disagreed with. I wanted to rise up and question the minister. Eventually I found excuses not to attend church.
Over time I came to know people from many religions that were different from mine or with no religion at all. They were all good people. I saw the opportunities religion offered to a few to manipulate others—Jim Jones, Salem witch trials, human sacrifice, Christian Science, forced conversion, Boston bombings, and others.
I also understand how religion can be comforting to many and a metaphor for the unknown.
It took me a while, but I have come to peace with myself and the universe. Even my family has decided I might turn out alright after all. I remain spiritual, naïve, but not religious. I am a voyager in the cosmos who is at peace. I wish the same for everyone.