Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Religion - why is it so hard?

Today I had my one and only tutorial for my Special Study Module. It’s called ‘Religious Beliefs’ and the brief is very wide. You can basically choose any topic concerning religion and medicine, and write a 4-5000 word essay about it. I picked this SSM (as second choice, alas for not getting creative writing…) for this reason – I figured it was open to interpretation…

There is about 16 students in the group, and they’re all pretty different – except that they all seem sure of their own religious beliefs. Well, at least they’re sure of what religion they identify with. And they are happy to include their religion as part of their identity.

I am not. I may go to church every Sunday, I may have been brought up as a Christian, but I am still so awkward about whether I actually believe or not, that I cannot put ‘Christian’ in my identity. As part of my social and cultural identity I can accept Christianity. As a personal and spiritual identity, I am still unsure.

I am unsure of:

1) Is God really there?

2) Is Jesus really the saviour of the world?

3) All the bits of the Bible I haven’t got a clue about?

4) All the bits of the Bible that contravene my fundamental moral/social beliefs?

5) Why I don’t want to be identified as Christian? Is it fear, or because I think there’s something a bit stupid about it?

6) Why I spend so many hours sitting in Church going ‘what a load of rubbish’ yet feeling ‘healthier’ (in the head and heart) for being there?

7) The patriarchal system of the Bible. Where is the mother goddess type figure? And I don’t except the Virgin Mary as a substitute. Sorry, but that ain’t cutting it for me.


I hate having religious conflict in my head. Once upon a time, many years ago, when I was a wee thirteen year old, I did believe. I prayed, I identified myself as a Christian, I got confirmed. But in the intervening years all that belief has drifted away. Floated out of my head and my heart while my back was turned. Possibly while my head was in a text book...

Although I’m not one of those who thinks that science excludes religion. If anything, learning more about science, especially the complexity of the human body and its functioning, has made me look with increasing wonder at the world, and feel more certain of a higher power. How could such perfection have been created by sheer chance?

(Or is it that my poor little brain can’t deal with the fact that such perfection could be chance? Do I want to feel more important than that?)

I also think that there are so many unexplainable things in the world, that this cannot be it. There must be something more – even if it is not perhaps as simple as heaven and hell.

I hope this SSM will help me to think about religion in the context of me, and try to work it out. Some people at my church in Birmingham are trying to start a young peoples group (ie 18 – 30. Just like a Club Med holiday, but with less sex and more bibles…). I am keen to go to talk about this sort of stuff, but frightened of looking like an idiot, or being made to feel small or embarrassed by my lack of belief. I’ll think about going… maybe if I can persuade Felicity to go too!

Oh, and I’m either going to write my essay on psychiatry and religion (though that may be a no go due to the fact I can’t spell pyshciatary), concentrating on religious crises vs pyschoses with religious content (ie mad or talking to God?), or look at the issues surrounding female genital mutilation, which is a hot topic, especially as its becoming more commonly encountered within Birmingham obs and gynae services.

Expect more posts on these topics soon…you lucky lot!


Marysienka said...

Did you watch that episode of House last week? It was about religion. And I quote the doctor:

"No, if you talk to God you’re religious. If God talks to you, you’re psychotic." -House

I'm not religious. I don't believe in any god. I prefer spirituality...

Anna said...

I love house! we're on series 2 over here - i'm guessing you're further along...

although hugh laurie doing mean with an american accent is a little wierd, i'm more used to seeing him in jeeves and wooster...

Cheeler said...

I think these questions you are asking yourself about your religious beliefs are valid and good. I myself am religious, but I've asked these same questions myself.

I say -- keep searching for something out there with more truth and answers to your questions than what you currently have. It's out there . . . so don't be afraid to explore it when it knocks on your door.