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  1. #1
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Default For those of you who have changed the worldview you were raised with

    This is a topic that comes up frequently on the forum, and I also notice its influence in the attitudes and reactions that many have to different issues. I myself have noticed several people around me that have changed the faith they grew up in, but don't seem to completely be able to go on happily. I am trying to sort out why this is. Certainly, your world view floods through every aspect of life from moral decisions, to career choices, familial relationship, beliefs and attitudes about your origins, the way you live from day to day and the attitudes you have towards other people and yourself.

    Rather than derailing by getting into the details of the problems you had with your specific former faith, these are the things I am curious to know:

    1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?

    2. Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? Was how you were treated a factor?

    3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?

    4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?

    5. Has anything replaced your old faith?

    If this is too broad, you are free to only answer one or two points.

  2. #2
    Senior Member statuesquechica's Avatar
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    Hmm, this looks very interesting...thanks fidelia for putting this up.

    1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?

    I was raised in the Catholic Church and went through all the steps of indoctrination, including communion, confession, and ultimately teaching catechism to elementary age children when I was 17 myself. I had no reason to question the organization because they did projects throughout the community and the world; I found their "mission" something I could support.

    Following graduation from college, I was a volunteer in the Peace Corps in South America and it had a significant impact on my life, in all respects. I saw firsthand a society that was deeply ingrained in the Catholic faith and how dangerous and unsympathetic many of its values were. It appeared hypocritical and irrational in light of how people were living in such abject poverty yet the faith espoused policies that were so detrimental. However, there were radical factions in the Catholic church which talked about redistribution of wealth, so I was supportive of that part, but not the policy against birth control. It changes a person beliefs when they see the suffering and cruelty (malnutrition) imposed on its followers. I was 21 at the time and the stark difference between reality and the church couldn't be ignored.

    2. Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? Was how you were treated a factor?

    I found our church that we went to a very liberal church, probably considered a "hippie church" by all accounts. The faith was focused on doing good for those less fortunate, not an ornate church, very simple and comforting. The saint that our church was named for was a black man who made toys for children, so not your typical in-your-face Catholic church. At times, I did find going to church a comfort when I was a teenager.

    I believe the doctrines of the faith didn't remain with me because of what I witnessed firsthand. Also, my own investigation into the particular tenets of the faith did not ring true. The history of the Catholic church is filled with violence and maintaining a perverse heirarchy.

    3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?

    I have no regrets about being raised Catholic because it exposed me to beliefs that I had an opportunity to practice for a time, and I must confess it was a bit comforting when my mom died and I had those memories of going to church with her, just her and I.

    I think it is important to thoroughly question one's beliefs and look at it from all aspects, including active participation, in order to come to a decision about the role it will play in one's life. I have never been a person to just blindly follow; it is in my nature to question. My only regret was not knowing the full history of Catholicism and its corrupt power.

    4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?

    I am already seen as the black sheep of the family in that I constantly surprise them with my actions. Some of my family are still religious, others are not. I don't feel ostracized for by beliefs, or my change of them.

    5. Has anything replaced your old faith?

    Nothing formal, I am very interested in researching the validity of the Bible and the life of Jesus, but I have no replacement. My search for some "truth" is probably more important to me than a named religion, in addition to treating people with kindness.
    Last edited by statuesquechica; 08-12-2009 at 05:41 PM.
    I've looked at life from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It's life's illusions I recall
    I really don't know life at all

    Joni Mitchell

  3. #3
    AKA Nunki Polaris's Avatar
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    I was raised by a thoroughly Christian family. I gave that belief system up at about the age of 14 because it didn't resonate with me on any level. It was neither believable (though I can't say why), nor did I agree with the Christian lifestyle. It was a few years before any of my family members learned that I no longer held their beliefs. When they found out, it resulted in a few days of stress and prayer on their part and a long-lasting grudge from my grandfather. Other than that, nothing has really changed between us. Right now, I don't practice any religion--no prayer, ritual, etc.--but I do have a spiritual worldview that brings me understanding and direction. Looking back, I have no regrets; I've found my own answers, and that's best thing anyone can do, regardless of where they end up.
    [ Ni > Ti > Fe > Fi > Ne > Te > Si > Se ][ 4w5 sp/sx ][ RLOAI ][ IEI-Ni ]

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    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Your age now?

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    AKA Nunki Polaris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Your age now?
    I'm 22, if that was addressed to me.
    [ Ni > Ti > Fe > Fi > Ne > Te > Si > Se ][ 4w5 sp/sx ][ RLOAI ][ IEI-Ni ]

  6. #6
    Senior Member Scott N Denver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    This is a topic that comes up frequently on the forum, and I also notice its influence in the attitudes and reactions that many have to different issues. I myself have noticed several people around me that have changed the faith they grew up in, but don't seem to completely be able to go on happily. I am trying to sort out why this is. Certainly, your world view floods through every aspect of life from moral decisions, to career choices, familial relationship, beliefs and attitudes about your origins, the way you live from day to day and the attitudes you have towards other people and yourself.

    Rather than derailing by getting into the details of the problems you had with your specific former faith, these are the things I am curious to know:

    1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?

    2. Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? Was how you were treated a factor?

    3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?

    4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?

    5. Has anything replaced your old faith?

    If this is too broad, you are free to only answer one or two points.
    I could probably go on for a VERY long time but for now I will keep it short.

    Hmmmm. I don't say that I have a "faith" in fact I really detest the word. I say that "I practice things/___" or that "___ resonates with me". Fwiw, I practice 3 major world religions, or subsets of them. There is an idea called the "perennial philosophy" which I tend to generally agree. I see "religions" as particular vehicles/paths/practice methods. To a vast extent, that has nothing to do with "faith" and vice versa. I think of spiritual/contemplative/meditative traditions as systems that have practices that expand one's level of awareness/consciousness. Others may call that "religion". Also, I take reincarnation VERY seriously, and feel that that does, or at least can trump, where your born and various things that you are born into.

    5) Well, like I said, I practice 3 major world religions/meditative traditions, or some subset of them. Taoism, Buddhism [Mahayana, zen/chan], and Hinduism [nondual vedanta, yoga]. I've practiced other things as well. I understand in the langauge of any of those three, I can speak in the language of any of those three, and if needed I could potentially teach any of those three. To me, any of those three, and more feel very "at home". The religion/denominations of my childhood never provided any of that kind of feel, ever. Fwiw, I've been told that I was a monk in Asia in numerous of my past lives, and others I just live din Asia.

    4) Like my mom says "I know nothing about Buddhism." I don't know how my family feels about it. We generally let each other do their thing without too many questions or nagging. I think if you go up to my grandparents it would be even harder for them to understand. I think one of my Aunt's is semi-similar in her beliefs to my own. I moved from HS to college, and then from there to Colorado, plus several other moving before and during those times. I was a military brat as well. In short, I've moved quite a bit, but not nearly as much as some other military brats. Many of my friends actually find what I do VERY interesting. I've almost never had bad experiences sharing it with people, but I've also taken my time and been selective in who I've talked too. Other people have been much more nosy about asking, but I think even there they've been forced to respect my convictions and the depth that i hold for them.

    1) I'm not sure I've ever had "faith." Hmmm, I was always very serious about things and very contemplative. Religion meant things to me when I was younger, I just don't think "faith" is a good word for that. I was around a lot of SJ's who took religion very seriously. I don't like knocking on what is important to other people. "Religion" never did much for me, but I kept wanting it to, and kept thinking that maybe around the next corner is when someone will part some big curtain and show/explain it all to me and I'd have my "aha" moment. Like when you turn 16 or 18 or whatever they come sit you down and share all the "secrets" or something. When we lived on AF bases and attended military churches, there was always a very strong sense of community and purpose, I respected that. I'd then go to whatever civilian churches, including one's my parents grew up in, and it always just paled and I wanted to tell these people "have community like our military churches do! and quit babbling about your personal takes on whatever, you know stuff is standardized and you have a non-standard answer right?" My parents made me take confirmation when I was about 16. You had to stand in front of the church and say "I believe" as part of that. I kept feeling like there was something more people just weren't telling me, that curtain hiding all the secrets I mentioned earlier, but they never opened the curtain and I just couldnt go through with it. I was the only one in the group who didn't. Telling our pastor and my parents "No I can't do this" was the hardest thing I had ever done up until then in my life! I was pissed at them for not opening the curtain and showing all the secrets, I think they thought I had no faith and was hiding it. Actually, they thought I "believed" but wasn't willing to get in front of a crowd and say so. I remember my parents buying us bibles when I was like in 3rd grade. I was all pumped to finally have one and get to read it as much as I wanted and "soak up the wisdom" and "see the essence of this faith." In my eagerness I read the first 30 pages or more, and kept waiting for the page that just said all the important stuff instead of all this "storytelling" and blah blah blah. I was very disappointed! I think most people around me took it all [the passages] very literally. Too me it seemed short and incredibly lacking in detail. Very much like a kids storybook actually!

    I started studying martial arts around high school. Some schools emphasize the connection to Buddhism or eastern philosophy, though IME most don't. Some of my instructors were military people who were religious fundamentalists. I remember them handing out like 10 page booklets of the bible "refuting" buddhism and hinduism and taoism. That impacted me TREMENDOUSLY, and to this day I have never fully gotten over it. At the same time, I'd hear or read eastern philosophy or "kung fu wisdom" and it made total sense to me. Buddhism was introduced to me as "trying to be a better person." That made total sense to me and I couldn't falt it in any way. People told me you can be Christian and Buddhist, the Buddhism is fine with that, the Christianity may not be.

    In college, my exposure to eastern philosophy went into high gear. My college was Catholic, my parents are both Protestant. I never "looked down" on religion, or thought of it as childish or "for controlling the masses" until being around those Catholics. Note: I grew up around some LDS, there were often hushed discussions about that, is it a cult? are they Christian? etc. Anyways, my exposure to eastern philosophy skyrocketed in college. Throw in some personal experiences and whatever else, and well I'm EXTREMELY eastern in my "orientation" towards "religion". It was meant to be, or as I'd say "karmically propelled".

    2) Not really. Its funny, I might have felt more "connected" if I'd been around more NF's, or if I hadnt felt like our NF pastor's were pretty different from me. For other questions see discussion in 1).

    3) I feel like "I've come home." If I went to India I'd very likely never come back. I own a book full of stories of Westerners who did exactly that. Many of them were Canadians btw. Regrets, hmmm. I feel like finally someone opened the curtain and told me all the "secrets". I'm home. I return to what I have done many many many times before. In college I wanted to put all religions "on trial" and ask each person to look into their hearts and see if what stood before them had value. I left things that I thought had meaning but no one was ever able to show it to me, I now stand in what I value.

    I was at a talk/book singing this last weekend. The author mentioned how when he was like 19 he "found" the Tao te ching [Taoist book], zen books, etc. Those pointed him to entirely new vast possibilities of human potential and existence. As he said "When I was reading that I wasn't happy about what I found, no, I was PISSED!!!!!!! no one had ever told me those things before!" I can 100% relate to that. The idea that "religion"/meditative traditions are vehicles that assert higher existence and then show you how YOU can get there yourself, that is a RADICAL departure from how many in the West see religion. I think William James is the one who said "I don't need faith, I have experience."

    Did I answer your questions? I don't want to say helpful, but were my responses informative? Guess I gave a longer answer than I had originally planned, but if you have any more questions feel free to ask. I'm pretty open about answering these sorts of things and others.

  7. #7
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Excellent, thank you! I usually use the term world view, as many people equate the term "faith" with a formal religion. However, I would also argue that while the word "faith" has that connotation for most, anything we subscribe to involves faith on our part to believe it and live accordingly. If there were a definitive way of proving truth once and for all, our belief would require no faith. Even one without a distinct "faith" has faith that there is nothing out there, or that there are pieces of other beliefs that together make up the collection of ideas which guide their actions and outlook.

    I also like the term "worldview" because it truly does affect every area of our lives and of how we see the world around us.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Scott N Denver's Avatar
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    To perhaps address the intent of this thread let me say
    1) I find the idea of "you don't believe in my religion, therefore I can't talk to you " DESPICABLE. Fwiw, I don't believe that there is anyone in my life who has persuasions/affiliations like mine. Almost no one that I have ever met does, though many find those subjects "fascinating" and wish they knew a lot more about them. Buddhism in particular, yoga/hinduism to an extent. I've met several people who moved to Asia to practice martial arts and/or religion. I've given that very serious thought myself.

    2) I think of religion as a personal matter. If someone asks I'll talk, and if they seem open and I'm curious I'll ask them. But still, its a personal matter so I generally leave it at that, unless we get into ongoing discussions or something. In short, it helps me understand others and where they are coming from, but I don't define or judge someone based upon it.

    3) My attitudes towards "faith" and "religion" have really been kicked in the teeth ever since college. I'd look around at others and what they did and how they kept "professing" their faith, and it all just seemed to hollow and lacking and shallow to me. Like they made up their own little thing and acted like it was a decree on high given to them and more or less no one else, and now it was their job to share it with everyone. I have ~0 respect for proselytizing. Like I read somewhere, "if you were meant to this, you'd find it on your own, and that would happen because you've done it before in previous lifetimes and have karmic affinity. Those lacking such affinity would never find it, or at best quickly lose interest. With that said, all are welcome to come here and try it, and we don't know who does or doesn't have karmic affinity."

    4) Looking at various saints, sages, zen masters, and others, I was struck by their openness and clarity and warmth and compassion. I felt that "these people had something", and I wanted in on it! Similarly with reading major "religious works" from Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, etc. To this day I have NEVER felt probably any of those things from anyone in the religions of my family or culture. In fairness, I have heard of them, but whenever I look I don't see them. I told a boss once who was a hard core religious christian conservative, "I look around at what I see in [particular faith's], and I see little of value, or at least nothing that can't be found in a ton of other places, and I think to myself, 'I'd rather spent the rest of eternity in hell that associate/propagate this stuff'". I'm pretty sure that dumbfounded him.

    Being a military brat we moved a lot. Constantly meeting new people. Have to work withthem, no choice. You don't get the luxury of getting to hate them for their beliefs. It gets kept quiet and put on the side. "Don't rock the boat, don't fight in public" or whatnot. Then I join the civilian world, good gosh do I not like what I see there. People meeting there neighbors for the first time and interrogating them about their religious beliefs, and then decreeing that your kids can never play to together because "they believe the wrong things"

  9. #9
    Senior Member Scott N Denver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Excellent, thank you! I usually use the term world view, as many people equate the term "faith" with a formal religion. However, I would also argue that while the word "faith" has that connotation for most, anything we subscribe to involves faith on our part to believe it and live accordingly. If there were a definitive way of proving truth once and for all, our belief would require no faith. Even one without a distinct "faith" has faith that there is nothing out there, or that there are pieces of other beliefs that together make up the collection of ideas which guide their actions and outlook.

    I also like the term "worldview" because it truly does affect every area of our lives and of how we see the world around us.
    I'm not sure anything that I talked about dealt with my "worldview", which in my mind may have little or nothing to do with whatever religious persuasion or lack there of one my hold. I consider worldview as "how you look at the world" which may or may not connect to one's religious persuasion or lack thereof. So I ignored the word "worldview" and talked about "faith" and "religion". Particularly because that causes more family/interpersonal strife than do "worldviews", and family/friend strife is what you described as your motivation for starting this thread.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Scott N Denver's Avatar
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    I had some born into Catholicism, left it for New Age/whatever stuff friends in college that would probably have some MUCH more interesting and informative responses. That crowd is like chock-full of "recovering Catholics" from my understanding.

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