I’m not a religious person. Not anymore. I was raised quite Christian while growing up. My Dad was a pastor when I was small, and I’ve spent a ton of time in churches. I was always helping and attending and singing. I used to read my Bible every night and pray afterwards. That is all in the past though.
My disconnect with religion first began with hating the church. When my father left his last job at a church is probably when my parents’ relationship began to really go downhill. From that point on I started to notice the fragility of life. I guess at this point in time I can tell that maybe I blamed church for doing these things to my life. But nonetheless, I hated the idea of going.
I continued to read my bible and pray though. I figured that not liking to go into a church each week did not mean that I did not like God. And then that started to change too.
Part of it has to do with growing up. I was becoming aware and passionate about problems around the world. Poverty, hunger, human rights, etc. began to be things that were on my radar. With that I began to think how I could believe in a god that would let these things happen to people. Then my family began to fall apart at the seams and I prayed for it to stop. I prayed and prayed and prayed. No result. Then I was done with God.
For a while I started to say that I was agnostic. I didn’t really know if there was a god or not. I certainly hoped that there wasn’t a higher being that could prevent all of these horrid things from happening and simply wasn’t. Part of me still leans towards this. Growing up religious makes it difficult to suddenly become firmly atheist overnight. Yet, I’m also starting to stray from that path as well. We’ll see what happens.
So how does this all relate to my exchange?
Throughout my current stint in Europe, I have had the opportunity to visit quite a few beautiful houses of worship. Baroque and Gothic and mammoth places where people go to find…well I don’t know what. I don’t think you have to be religious to realize that these churches and cathedrals are beautiful. Yet, for some reason these buildings still have a deep meaning to me. I feel safe in them. I wonder about what goes through people’s heads when they walk in. What makes them worship something that doesn’t seem to do anything good for anyone.
I’ve enjoyed exploring the churches and cathedrals of Europe, and I will continue to. They may be shaping my view of religion more than I know. If you ever take a trip across the pond I highly suggest you look into a few. At the very least you’ll get some pretty pictures.