It was the question posed to me; the gauntlet thrown down. A test of whether this person would continue to associate, or if they would begin to proselytize.
I didn’t respond right away.
I wanted to give the energy time to settle.
I knew there was more to discover.
So, I paused and continued watching a television series about the interactions of medieval Vikings and English Christians from 700 AD. Part history, part soap opera, both sides holding clues to my family’s heritage.
I watched them battle for power, land, resources and ideologies — I guess nothing much has changed in 1300 years. I witnessed intolerance on both sides. I turned my face away during scenes of human and animal sacrifice. My heart ached when they fervently justified harmful actions in the name of their religion.
All the while, I contemplated the question — do I believe in God?
I do not believe in God as portrayed by the Christian tradition. Although as a child I was baptized and participated in this faith, I never connected with God in this form. I knew, even then, that something so much greater than myself would not be judgmental, exclusionary and vengeful. Those were human concerns. The stories in the Bible are interesting and relevant, with important messages, should we take time to listen.
However, they are fundamentally stories, created by humans with a desire to understand how the Universe operates and our place in it. We all wish to have something to believe in, to know the path we’re walking is true and righteous.
I also don’t believe in the pagan gods either. Their stories are even more interesting, humorous even, but also brutal. A snapshot into the human condition, gods and goddesses playing out every human tendency and foible. Betrayal, murder, pain, love — all on display. I understand why my early ancestors would have developed such elaborate mythology. Just last night, as my partner and I watched a massive lightning storm, I jokingly remarked that either Thor was releasing thunderbolts in his anger or, it was ionic particles built up in the atmosphere. You decide.
Am I denigrating anyone who chooses to believe in a Higher Power?