Saturday, July 2, 2011
Hello and Happy Saturday!
Thank you so much to Stephanie for her very enjoyable interview last week. I enjoyed reading your answers and I thank you for sharing Stephanie!
Today we have a new post so please welcome Friko.
Friko is Agnostic and I know you'll enjoy her interview as well!
Here Is Friko's Introduction:
I come from Germany and grew up in a rural environment where the Church played a major role in society. Catholic and Protestant, no fundamentalism at that time of any sort. This was not long after WWII and life was very hard. I was educated at girls' schools, mainly catholic, with only a few protestant children in the class. We had religious instruction and were obliged to attend a mid-week church service as well as a Sunday service.
I lost contact with the church during my grammar school education, mainly for political reasons. I could not reconcile Germany's recent past - although we were never taught about it at school and all my knowledge came from my own family - with some of the preaching from the pulpit. But as they say, once a Catholic, always a Catholic, the wrestling never stops.
I have lived in the UK for many years. Our household is liberal, law-abiding and pretty decent, I would say. Every member of the family is encouraged to think for themselves. We have religious and non-religious family members, Christians and Jews, several races, black, white and brown and although we do not always agree with each other, we give each other plenty of space.
1) What religion do you practice?
I do not practice any religion as such, in that I do not attend any services of any church.
I would, however, consider myself to be 'a good Christian' in so far as I hope to follow the moral code prescribed by Christianity and most religions, if not all of them; I don't know of any religion which advocates moral and spiritual wrong doing. 'Christian', because I grew up in a world where Catholicism was dominant and I attended an exclusively Catholic school for the first four years of education. My background is very mixed, ranging from Catholicism, incl. a very religious grandfather whose sister was a nun, to another branch of the family who were mainly communist/socialist/left-wing political and anti Catholic church.
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I am an agnostic, a searcher, and have yet to find a reason to make a decision. Certainty is not part of my nature, questioning is. I started this process when I was about 14 years old and have not found an answer to date. The reasons for breaking with Catholicism were political at the time and part of the background of the country I lived in. My disillusionment was then far more with the church hierarchy than actual faith itself.
3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
The concept of heaven/hell is not one I have any certainty of. When a person dies their body dies with them and their soul becomes one with the cosmos; this is what I would like to believe. As for reward and punishment, those are human-made concepts; I cannot believe that an omnipotent, all-embracing, all-understanding, all-forgiving entity would be petty in any human sense.
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I object strongly to this expression. Religion should not be 'a good fit'. Religion of any kind should not be adapted to suit the petty constraints or otherwise of man. If there is a God, man does not tailor him to suit his personal needs. That would be utterly presumptuous.
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
The days of the Catholic calendar are still, even now, special to me and I celebrate them in the old-accepted fashion, in spite of not attending church services. My thoughts turn to the original meaning of these days and I will not allow them to become mere 'holidays'.
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Most certainly. A person's faith is a matter for their own conscience, not mine.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
We would have to discuss comparative religions to answer this question in depth. I actually believe that those who worship God, worship the same God.
11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I don't know enough about Islam to be able to give a reasoned response. I will not rave and rant blindly. I would be very unwilling to wear the burka, for whatever reason.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Not in the Catholic Church, but the church of England is moving into the 21st Century. Personally, I can see no reason why a woman cannot be as good and devout a religious leader as a man.
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
Pews are for all, women, men and children. That's a good thing.
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
My daily life is not affected very much by the conscious thought of any particular religion. As I said earlier, I try to live a kind, decent, honest life. Basic human decency allows for weaknesses, wrong turnings, failings; we all go wrong at times. I have no problem with gays or lesbians, but I am not sure that a civil contract between people of the same sex can be called marriage. This is purely semantics; I would prefer it if a different expression could be found. This is probably due to my age and old-fashioned understanding of the word 'marriage'. I want to make it clear that I do not object on moral grounds. Abortion is such a huge and painful subject that I feel almost disinclined to answer. I cannot, simply cannot, believe that any woman would decide to terminate a life voluntarily, lightly, without the most agonising heart searching. But I will not judge; this is a matter for a higher judgment.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
It has happened, I am fine with it.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I don't quite understand the question. The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church; he does not necessarily speak for me.
Nobody speaks for me, I am an Agnostic.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
No and I hope not to become one now, after filling in the questionnaire.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
No, on the contrary.
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
I would so dearly love to be able to believe in reincarnation, it would be so comforting, so nice and cosy to know that this is not all there is.
Life is over in a flash, for the most part it is quite brutish, so a vision of an afterlife in a paradise of whatever religion would make up for the suffering in the here and now. I can give you no answer.
I would like to add that this questionnaire deals in certainties. The questions presuppose that there are definite answers and that we, fallible and ignorant human beings that we are, can simply lay our hands on them and produce them. That, I suppose, is what faith is.
I am afraid, I don't have the answers.