This I believe. I believe that it is necessary to be a part of a religion and at the same time ok not to believe in it. For so many years of late I have worked hard, through my reading, my thinking, and my writing, to reconcile myself with my unbelief, with my agnosticism, or even atheism. I have had to put myself on a pedestal aloof from those I would categorize as needing the structure and discipline that their religion provides. I would struggle to explain the writings and orations of those much smarter than me who attest to unshakable faith, but ultimately decide that these leaders simply said what was necessary so that their sense of a desired end could be achieved. Their preaching, their proselytizing led the masses to a tonic they knew was so necessary to this life on Earth. And all the while I felt superior in both my knowledge and my ability to live this life wholly and ethically without the crutch of religion.
And yet I find I am not so strong and pure in my humanism as to be focused and disciplined in my thoughts, actions and deeds. The lack of structure offered by my secular living blurs the edges of my vision and confuses my choices as life presents its many pathways at each intersection. I am dismayed to discover that I find great comfort and solace for my confused and troubled mind in the sanctuary of my religious upbringing. I listen to the prayers and hymns and chant along. I hear the words and they resonate with what I think and believe about how to live and how to act.
I, the proclaimed agnostic and believer in the weakness of those who feel they must believe, am chagrined by such personal failing. I seem to be just another weak soul seeking salvation. But the salvation I seek is not of the otherworldly type. My salvation is the straightening up of the soul here on Earth, the alignment of my soul, my essence with an ethical vision and discipline for action. I believe that it is not belief or faith that I seek when I attend synagogue, but rather the warm embrace of my religion’s heritage as it nurtures the yearnings of my soul and gently guides me on a path in life that is true.
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