What I Believe
edited: Saturday, January 01, 2005
By Henry Custer
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Become a Fan
My humble attempt to explain my personal beliefs concerning the afterlife.
I have found that any discussion of beliefs or religion inevitably comes down to me trying in vain to explain 'what I believe'. Actually I suppose it is very simple. I believe that I DO NOT KNOW!
I don't KNOW how our world began, I don't KNOW if there is a God, I don't KNOW where I will go after life ends, or indeed, even why we are here. I can only speculate on the possibilities, all of which are probably wrong.
My problem arises when I attempt to explain that I don't believe anyone else KNOWS either. That they only blindly follow what has been written ages ago by unknown persons, then collected into a composite work. Among Christians this is the Holy Bible. And after a lifetime of brainwashing by our society and their peer pressure, most people, even the intelligent and educated ones, eventually succumb to the pressure to accept this book as absolute facts which they must now live by.
As in most other religious societies, if you don't 'believe' then you are ostracized. Perhaps not openly but covertly in subtle ways. Probably much the same way as being black in a white society. So, there is tremendous social pressure to put on the act of compliance. To be a part of this society it is almost mandatory that you follow the herd in actions and beliefs.
The great sadness in my life has been the loss of friends to this insidious business of becoming a good Christian. It is sad to lose friends and relatives in the normal course of living and dying. But I find it much more devastating to lose a friend to Christendom, that is, to the act of becoming 'Saved'. And they are soon lost as a friend, because when a person accepts the Biblical teaching of the church, he is compelled to try to convert all those within his hearing. This in turn eventually makes it unbearable to be in their company and another friendship is lost.
Now, with this increasingly fierce world battle between God fearing Christians and the Godless Muslims there is even more pressure to publicly make your beliefs known. (Or is it the fierce battle between the God fearing Muslims and the Christian infidels?) Depends on where you were born or who your parents were I suppose. At any rate, I don't find the beliefs of either side to be valid.
I do willingly admit though, that in a way, I do envy those people who have found inner peace in their belief. If they can honestly be so absolutely sure of a joyous afterlife that they find all the pain and sorrow of this life to be trivial, then how can I not envy them? I have known the same feeling for a 93 year old grandmother who spent all her waking moments laughing and visiting with imaginary friends and relatives. Although she could not see or get out of bed by herself, she was totally happy and carefree. Does this sound good to me? Perhaps, in a perverted sort of way. But being of sound mind and body, I prefer to make my own choices. And I choose to put my faith in my own good judgement and abilities. If this belief angers some God at some future time I stand ready and willing to accept the consequences of my actions and beliefs.
Yes, I will wager my eternity on my belief that no one KNOWS. So if you KNOW the answers, then I certainly do envy you, but I cannot follow your path, for I DO NOT KNOW.
Web Site: Henry Custer, Author
Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by Leland Waldrip
|Excellent, well expressed statement of belief, Henry. Like you, I find the acceptance of faith, any faith, mostly a product of the circumstance of nativity. In my poem, "Atheists All," I make the point that the other side of the belief coin is disbelief. If one is a believer in a particular god, then one is necessarily atheistic toward all other gods recognized throughout history.
Were all atheists kids, dads and mothers,
Some just believe in fewer Gods than others.
Understand why rampant atheism we all reflect,
To know why Gods of all stripes, some reject.
|Reviewed by William Neven
|A well-conceived and thought-provoking article, Henry. You echo what many feel but are perhaps uneasy to express. Now keep in mind that there have been more than 100,000 recorded religions in human history, most of which died out with their followers. Secondly, we are all a product of our culture. As you point out, it would be hard to believe that today's Christians who were born in New York would not now be Muslim had they been raised in Doha instead, for example. Thirdly, it is called 'faith' not 'proof' for a reason. I believe in Jesus Christ, myself, but do not believe in a spiritual existence immediately following death. [After all, Jesus did not raise Lazarus' spirit from the dead but rather his physical body - as is reported by his followers to have happened to his own. Subsequently, I feel this 'afterlife' for all will occur only when every living human being obeys the two commandments Christ pronounced at the same moment - assuming that is ever possible, of course.] However, this is through conjecture and [hopefully] more analysis than merely blind faith. Anyway, follow your heart - and keep using that magnificient brain of yours, Henry, that wants more than simple explanations to some very complex questions. I am sure you will find your own answers to your questions eventually. I always enjoy reading another author's well thought out and honest feelings, by the way. [One minor point though: you have a typo in sentence #1 where 'afterlift' should obviously be 'afterlife'.] Again - I thought it was a good read.|