I grew up as a communist atheist, and I more or less maintained this worldview until I got 20 or so. Then came a time when I was shaken and lonely and my life had lost the relative stability it had enjoyed before. I got "softened up", and without real reason I began to explore spirituality. The whole time between 22 and 27 I was pretty much nuts in my thoughts. I developed schizophrenia, and I'm not clear how to think of that. Did my focus on farfetched ideas create the illness, or did my illness make me focus so much on these ideas? I had some strange experiences, or rather, the schizophrenia made me experience life and existence in a strange way. Adding to that was the current tumultous age, I was often scared or at least agitated when I read the news and followed what was going on in the world.
To be brief, as of now I have trouble understanding myself, what I did and why I did what I did. My sister once told me that she could always say why she did what she did in her life. I don't find things that easy. I am able to view myself critically, I can see that I sought an easy way out via religion, and I also see that I was even on the route to bigotry. I never became a real fundie and right wing religious nut, meaning that I refused notions of hell and eternal punishment and that I felt that religion needs to stop short at condemnation. I also always felt uneasy about what the religious right calls speaking out against homosexuality or other things which it considers sin.
What really disturbs me nowadays is how insensitve a person can become in religion. Today I had a long phone talk with the head of the local Salvation Army in my city. The Army is a church I can easily respect. Their mission to help the disadvantaged of society is admirable and, in my view, justifies them more than any proselytizing ever could. Yet, today in the phone talk, I told the man how I had become unsure of my beliefs. I had been reading essays on church history and such, and had become desillusioned. The man was irritated, and began to preach and went on the usual road about how God is holy and cannot allow holiness to be violated and all that. To sum things up, the pretty facade of the Salvation Army as selfless carers about the poor broke. I'm loosing my trust in "good christians". I've been reading an essay last night about how christianity (and most other religions) can be explained via memetics. I also learned that prior to christianity there were "jesus-movements", and these movements were a lot into social reform and had only later on been "religionized". That was the point when I remembered a few other things I had come upon during my studies. For example, in the bible there is an epistle of James. In this epistle, religion as wanted by the father is onle ONE thing, which is to go looking after the widow and the fatherless boy, ie society's poor and disadvantaged and how faith is shown through deeds accomplished in charity. I found it enlightening to read how venerated protestant reformers like Luther called this epistle an epistle of straw, ie a stupid epistle that needn't be followed. Eventually, what I see is that christianity is in fact a sum of the jesus movement, a deep concern about the welfare of man, and the spiritual religion that is more or less only interested in metaphysics, and who couldn't care less about man and the world.
But, where to go now? I have come to a dead end. Things make sense now, stuff like why I was never certain that there is a God, why I often didn't even feel God. I even started to question the times when I was certain that God was near. It seems all like a psychic thing, and to be honest, I feel pretty ridiculous to have gotten so obsessed about religion. Yet, at the same time, I cannot simply be an atheist like other atheists. That is because I have become different in the past years. I have become suspicious of both religion and science, and also of philosophy.
And what is man really? What kind of being is he? Are we noble savages that become corrupted, or are we a ratrace that now and then has lucky moments of inspiration? It is frightening how easy it came to me in my religiously obsessed times to think that all people are evil and nasty. I am frightened about how easily I lost my humour and my ability to feel for others. Becoming a christian didn't make me more loving, it only made me more polite.
All of this was also the reason why I made that other post here some days ago, asking about worldviews. It seems to me now that worldviews are only games. Constructs that are useful to have in discussions but who don't really benefit anyone in the end. The world is pretty much a fighting pit.
I did read some Nietzsche in the past and his philosophy of strength makes much sense now. I mean, what else can make sense with reality being how it is? Of course arrogance isn't always such a good idea if you feel a need for getting affection, but, ironically, arrogance can often gain you as much appreciation as humility, sometimes even more. A humble person is more easily pitied than respected. St. Paul hit it right on the mark when he said that without Christ being God, a christian is to be pitied in his beliefs.
I think I'm going to need something else than religion or a philosophy replacing religion. I will travel more and see if I can get a local romance and other kinds of distraction from life as it really is. I am rather skeptic that I could ever collect enthusiasm for something intellectual again. It's like my batteries are empty. And I still dislike dillydallying, I am still of the oppinion that I have to passionately dedicate myself to something, if I believe it. But it's impossible for me now to dedicate myself to something. I am rather cynical these days. I hope this won't go on forever.
A real problem is the feeling ridiculous because of my past obsessions. I mean, I tried to talk my own friends into believing in the christian dogmas. Now I feel stupid for having tried this. Some years ago I had a friend who wrote poetry against christianity and religion in general. I often laughed about him, back then being an arrogant atheist, thinking of how silly one must be to buy what I considered back then to be the laughable claims of christianity. Now, 8 years later, I see I have bought the meme just the same. And I also wrote, secretly, my share of dark poetry. What I really miss is feeling individual and unique.
Is there philosophy and literature that explores this? I am determined not to dwell on feeling ridiculous. Having lost my formerly gigantic pride is one of the only worthwhile results of all these years.