Shaping My Beliefs

Pete - Oswego, Kansas
Entered on November 24, 2008

When I was born in 1958, I didn’t really believe anything. I would come to discover that others would volunteer to help shape my belief structure.

In 1968, I was convinced I believed in God, and joined a Southern Baptist Church through baptism and a profession of faith. I attended Sunday School, joined the Royal Ambassadors, Cub Scouts and had dinner at the church every Wednesday (except during the summer). Miss Ruby’s fried chicken could not be beat. I think sometimes that was the only reason some people went to church. I remember seeing faces on Wednesdays that were total strangers to me. I later discovered that they were visitors to the church and had been invited in by the pastor (as if fried chicken could get them to join).

In 1993, I was ordained as a deacon in that same church, and really began to evaluate what my religion meant to me. I was placed in a position of judgment…I was to help evaluate whether other men in our church were qualified to be deacons. We looked at their involvement in the church (he plays on the softball team), their family structure (he’s divorced…no go), their spirituality (they were here every Sunday) and their willingness to serve (apparently the most important criteria).

In 2001, terrorists attacked the United States, and I was told by the same church to hate Muslims. I had never personally met a Muslim, but they were all alike, weren’t they? I continued to attend that church for two more years, but my relationship with the church began to change. I began to see hate in people I had known all of my life. The worst was seeing it in my mother.

In 2003, I left my church and began searching for a religion I could embrace. I tried a Presbyterian church, a Methodist church, an Episcopalian church, a Lutheran church, a Via de Cristo group, and just reading my bible. I didn’t find what I was looking for. I read everything I could get my hands on, seeking some kind of enlightenment.

In 2004, I married a former Baptist, now Buddhist, woman and began a life of religious ignorance…no, I wasn’t ignorant, I just ignored religion. In 2005, we moved to Kansas, focused on our new daughter, and religion fell to the wayside. It reared it’s head when we began taking my mother-in-law to services at a small Nazarene church. All the ladies began making plans for enrolling our daughter in the nursery, toddlers, preschool, Sunday School and “wasn’t she cute playing with that little boy!” Mom stopped going (too much for her health) and so did we (too much for my nerves).

On November 16, 2008, I turned 50, and decided I had it right at birth…I don’t really believe anything. But there is always someone willing to tell me what to believe.