October 31st, 1986, in probably my last year of legitimate trick-or-treating (before I was too old for people to shoo me off their porches), I receive in my bag that year a little religious booklet that explained to me how I would burn in hell for all eternity if I did not accept the big J-man as my savior. I was 11 years old. It was at age 10 that I had started reading about the religious beliefs of others (actually spurred by my already being an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons who had read the Deities and Demigods book a hundred times..., and the fact that at that time my parents had decided that they were Zen-Buddhists), the ideas of different faiths really peaked my curiosity, I read them all from Taoist ot Hindu, Islam, Judaism and the Bible.. and so on... I was born Jewish, I had attended several church/temple/what-have-you services by this point in my life, including several different Christian denominations, and I came about with the somewhat "agnostic" views I have today.

It goes a little something like this: If God is going to tell a Buddhist monk who has spent his entire life in seclusion and piety, never harming another living thing and living in quiet appreciation of the gorgeous world around him, that he is going to be punished just because he wasn't a Christian, Muslim, etc... then that's not a god I want to follow in the first place, as a matter of fact, that's a god that I'll openly defy, and perhaps after I pass from this world, I'll go to hell, I'll just have to get used to the heat. Do I doubt that there is a god? In some ways, yes, at least a god in the sense that he is portrayed in many popular religious texts. Do I doubt in the immortality of the human spirit? No. Now this just may be the limitations of my human mind and it's inability to deal with the concept of "not being", but I feel that some part of the human spirit is eternal, it's nothing I can prove or disprove, it's something which deep down I feel to be true. Afterlife? It's possible, but I don't think that anyone has it right yet and I believe that it will continue to be a mystery to the living. Organized religion? well it has clearly failed me and my basic sensibilities, the failings of the few (I do know that there are religions which are more tolerant than some forms of Christianity) have spoiled it for the lot. Henceforth I will continue to be the best person I can be while I am alive and deal with whatever comes afterward on my own terms.

This is the second in a series of Where things have lost me Where feminism lost me was the first.

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