I have told you, the reader, that I was raised in a cult. From 1982-1993, I went to church under the “Biblical” model they used. Between 1990 and 1993, the original president (they called him an apostle and expected him to live forever) began to see that changes needed to be made and appointed as his successor a man who would see to the beginning of those changes. I watched as the early changes began to tear the cult apart. I even applauded (and still do) many of the changes.
From dogma and doctrine, to songs used as praise, the changes swept through every aspect of what was being taught and what was believed. We went from being a cult to being just another church that met on Sunday. We went from observing the “Holy Days” to celebrating the average holidays. We went from believing that we were the elect to realizing that we were just another branch of the same vine.
These changes caused many to leave on a worldwide scale. And, yes, we were actually a worldwide cult with branches in every country. Even in the Middle East. Our leaders had met nearly every world leader from Anwar Sadat and King Husein to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Over time,though, this notoriety grew too heavy as did the unbending dogma.
While I agree with the direction the church has taken, I have outgrown that part of my life. I am too far ahead to remain defined by a building, a temple, or an organization. While they were changing, so was my understanding of what was contained in all “Holy” books. I began to understand that there was no wrong path forward. There was only forward and backward. Forward meant growing in compassion for my fellow humans. Backward meant to diminish in compassion and grow in hate and evil.
No, I didn’t come to this milestone all at once. Like any growth, it happened over time. Slowly, I began to see the cracks that were still evident in the facade of religion. I realized that, no matter what I learned on my own, religion-by nature-would still be about what was outside a person, not what was within. What I was discovering was the fact that faith and spirituality are neither one driven by what one can see, but what one learns and grows inside. In other words, they rely on the unseen. It did not rely on what we preach, what we do physically, how many souls we could save in Jesus’ name, nor how much we owned or did not own. It simply relied on what we learned and put into practice. It relied on leaving behind all the precepts and concepts we had been taught and forging forward on our own in search of the truth.
It has taught me that wisdom is born from knowledge put into practice, not knowledge preached to others. We only grow through experiencing changes within ourselves. And the “Holy” books? they are only words, in the end. Physical words that can be interpreted to serve whatever selfish desire we wish it to serve. And God? God is whatever we make of him and however we choose to explain him. For many, he is hateful, vengeful, and angry. To others, he is the spiritual equivalent of a human being…flaws and all. They see angels as men with wings. In other words, they see what they want to see. What is easiest for them to see.
They see the spiritual world is a rumor. A myth. Or, worse yet, heaven or hell. It is neither. Nor is it under us. It is all around us.
Yes, what our pagan ancestors believed is true. The spirit realm is everywhere, as are the dead, God, and Christ…not to mention whatever other beings we have yet to be guided by and those that guided us before God. yes, I know. This is heretical talk coming from one raised to be “Christian”, but I have come to realize that the reason all those voices no longer speak to us is because we stopped being close to that realm.
No, I am not talking about prayer. I am talking about our inability to acknowledge that we are surrounded by beings we cannot see, feel or hear except in the case that we are receptive to them. In my case, I have dealt with them all my life, but have been afraid to acknowledge this due to my upbringing and the fear of being accused of being “Possessed”.
But now that I am an adult, free of the judging of a system, I can freely admit to what I know to be true. Just as I know that we must shed all that we have been taught in order to truly learn the truth and be able to accept and utilize it. We must let go of all we have been taught in order to gain true wisdom. And so I have. I have embraced what I have found. I have begun to peer inward, to the spirit rather than outward to what I dislike in others. And it has been very rewarding.