1/09/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Cody ~
It's January 1, 2014. A brand new year for all of us. And hopefully a better year for me. Before I begin my story, I feel I should say that I have been clinically diagnosed with major depression and aspergers.
I'm a 21-year-old male going to a Catholic college. I have gone to a Catholic grade school and a Catholic high school too. I had a blast when I was a kid and overall my life was and still is good, people like me, I was athletically gifted, good looking, I took good care of my health, and my parents own a Harley Shop which means we were more than financially secure. I still have all these qualities plus some good values (like generosity, care for others, and loving).
Even though my Catholic schools were pretty religious, I thought they were pretty good (as indicated by the consistent good reviews in the local paper every year). Overall, they were pretty gentle with the indoctrination of core Catholic beliefs (which has pros and cons). During my high school years, I won the "religious studies" award out of 172 males in my grade. Somehow, the teachers voted me over the two male religious preachers in our class. I think they did this partially because I went on two mission trips (one local, one in Mexico). But even still, all my classmates were shocked alongside of me.
Thankfully, pretty much all of my family members aren't really all that concerned with what religion I follow. My two older sisters are non-believers and my parents don't seem to care. All of them love me dearly and appreciate all odd things about me.
So you're probably wondering why I am complaining.
Does God exist? Does Jesus exist? How could a former priest turn into an atheist? How does creation tie with evolution? How could the creation story hold up if there is actual proof that this planet is millions of years old (as proven by dinosaur fossils and other scientific facts)?Because I feel so odd about life now. I consider myself a late bloomer and about four months ago, I questioned basically everything I learned in the past religion or not. Does God exist? Does Jesus exist? How could a former priest turn into an atheist? How does creation tie with evolution? How could the creation story hold up if there is actual proof that this planet is millions of years old (as proven by dinosaur fossils and other scientific facts)?
There was one thing that really hit me hard that I never thought about before: someday, I WILL die. That fact really hit me hard. My mind went nuts and I even had some occasional panic attacks at this realization. My questioning became rampant and I sought help from my school counselor (who is excellent).
I have engaged literature on both sides of the spectrum (belief vs. non-belief). I have watched tons of God vs. no God debates, watched some online commentary youtube videos from a Catholic priest and read some books about atheism. My struggle is that even though some of the Christian stuff I was taught still (somehow) makes sense, so does some of the atheist material. But I knew something awoke in me when I read Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo. To put it simply, I didn't believe the story. It's not that I think the story was coerced or edited or that the author lied but for some reason the testimony just seems too fantastic to be true. I looked into "atheist responses" to this book and somehow they have convinced me that there is a chance that the kid's mind produced a radical vision and had everything to do with the story rather than a "supernatural experience".
Overall, I haven't had any traumatic Christian related experiences but I feel like the innocence of the religion is just gone. I don't really feel safe anymore. I have two diagnosed mental conditions. Even though I am heterosexual, I show many feminine qualities (which I feel Christianity doesn't exactly approve of).
I first noticed my discontent with my religion in high school when I went on my first mission trip to a Catholic parish nearby. One of the parts was to go door to door and preach the "Good News". Honestly, I felt terrible doing that and I was glad we only had to do that one day. I understood why it's important but I am more of a believer in letting people find belief or disbelief with their own understanding. The second is when I hear stigmatizing of atheists. Even though I was Catholic, I knew it wasn't right that religious folks were making them feel bad about being a non-believer.
I've been going on this site for the past months during my newfound struggles this semester of college. I do think I got the good end of the religion stick considering I turned out pretty well and I was never really a threatened Christian. I also think that my religion also contributed to teaching me good values like compassion and love. But I absolutely loathe the dogma of the Christianity and the Catholic Church. Honestly, I don't hold a grudge towards the religion or the Church. But for some reason, I feel trapped right now and a little bit confused (but not hopeless thankfully). Currently, I believe in something beyond natural reality but I don't like calling it God. I do hate being Catholic and I feel unsatisfied with the "answers" the religion gives me.
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