Got dravengodvamp, purpleflake, and pop_rasta moved into their new place yesterday, which is a nice place, Hell, I like it better than mine! Regardless, I know they're happy to have their own place, and I'll go check in on them at some point today.
Oh, I should mention that the rats finally have names. We decided to eschew the more classical naming in favor of names more appropriate to their natures, so they are now officially named Panic, Chatter, and Minion. Pix will follow, one of these days.
My cousin Heather recently called me, out of the blue, as I may have mentioned. In response to her wanting to know more about how I thought and believed, I finally got around to writing this e-mail.
You are correct in that there was a time that I went to church with Mom and Dad. This, however, was not by my choice, but rather because I had to, or "I was supposed to". It meant nothing, it was merely something I had to put up with, twice a week. Once I reached sufficient age, though, thinking for myself and questioning life for myself, it became a major area of research and question. I have never been one to merely accept things on blind faith, or because someone claims to know the "truth", and therefore I should believe what he says.
So I questioned, and i searched, and I thought, and I questioned further. The more I questioned, and the more I searched, the less I found: the only responses I got were that I was "supposed" to believe and feel something. I'm sorry, but for someone like me, that's bullshit, so for a while, I didn't believe ANYTHING. This led to a pretty hefty fight with the parents, who assumed that I was like this because I read horror and science-fiction and played Dungeons and Dragons. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but they weren't gonna listen to me at that point. Eventually, they figured out that they were WAY wrong, but they wouldn't admit it, which was fine, I didn't care if they admitted it or not. I was forming, changing, growing, questioning my world and my views and discovering what I thought and how I thought...and WHY I thought.
Believe it or not, at one point, I DID come back to Christianity (Church Of Christ), because I thought I 'felt' something...and that lasted about a month, before this 'feeling' turned out to be peer pressure combined with cyclothymia. That's probably something you didn't know about. It's like a mild form of manic-depression, not as severe, but annoying for all of that. At the time, I hadn't been diagnosed (that wasn't until college), but I got hit with a lot of pressure at the same time as I was going through a depressed phase, and went with it. it wasn't until later that I realized what I'd done, and how I felt about it, which wasn't good.
Now, believe me when I say that, in searching for what I believed in, I delved deep, looking for something that matched my personal beliefs. Hell, I became something of an authority on religions! But I found none that felt right to ME...and that became part of the situation.
So, what exactly DO I believe? Well, first off, I don't believe that any other person has the ability to tell you what ANY god says. Your salvation (or whatever) is between you and your god, and you don't need a middleman to give you the details. That just promotes sheep-like acquiescence, and makes it less likely that you will think for yourself (hence why I couldn't find an organized religion that felt right to me).
Now, that leads to the question of just what god I owe allegiance to. In one sense, the answer is none, but that isn't really correct, either. See, whoever I would 'worship' would be whoever created everything...and creation is order. But a being of order could not create EVERYTHING, as they are limited by their OWN order. Therefore, only a being without order (i.e. of chaos) would have the ability to create ANYTHING...and pure chaos could not, by definition, be a being at all. So, the most I can do is refer to it as Primal Chaos; in other words, the pure 'natural force', if you will, of creation. Symbolically, it is represented by the many-rayed star, arrows going in all directions, showing that all starts there and goes everywhere. http://www.zombiedip.com/very/fhp/fhpctat.jpg
OK, so I believe in Chaos and I don't have a priest that runs services for me. You may be curious as to how I communicate with 'my god'. Simple: I don't. I don't believe (nor could I or WOULD I) in a god that needs to talk to me or expects me to obey and pay homage to him all the time. Something that big and powerful should be able to get through the day without little ol' me...and have better things to do than fix the little problems in my tiny life. My belief is of more natural forces anyway, as discussed. I believe that force is there, and I'm glad that it made me along with everything else, but now that it has given me life, it is up to me to do something with that life.
Let's explore that point. I am a baker, my life is the bread. The mayor of the town who said 'be a baker' isn't concerned with whether I'm a good baker or a bad baker, because my bread reflects on ME, not him...and my bread is not for him, but for those I deal with every day (he has other things to do). Besides, there are LOTS of bakers here. If my bread goes bad, I don't say it was his will for that to go bad, I look for what I screwed up and improve it. Ultimately, *I* am responsible for my bread. Does he challenge me to make better bread? He shouldn't have to, since my bread is my livelihood. Does he tell me how to improve my bread? No, I have to discover that...it is MY effort and MY work that makes good bread.
So, let's see: my 'god' is a natural force of creation, I don't go to church or listen to a middleman, I don't bother praying and my destiny is my own. Almost sounds too convenient, doesn't it? Sounds a touch atheistic, perhaps? Well, to the untrained ear, yes, but that's a pretty limited view, you must admit. I don't mean this to be antagonistic, though, so let's just leave that.
Let's focus down a tad: what exactly do I believe in, on a more specific level? A lot of my beliefs are similar to Christian views, in that I'm against murder, theft, etc. But not because 'god' told me they were bad, because I think they are wrong. I actually do have a pretty serious set of ethical standards, I just don't feel like trying to narow them all down in type right this minute (or I'll be here all day!). Feel free to ask about specific things, if you are curious, I certainly don't want this to sound like I'm just not talking about it. For a broad start, take the basics of the Southern Gentleman upbringing and Chivalry (honor, respect, politeness, gentility), and you'll have a pretty solid base for what I believe and how I act.