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And so this is Christmas…

In my youth, my father advised me that there are two topics you never discuss with a friend. Those topics are how terrible their romantic partner is and religion. Againt his wisdom, I’m going to talk about the latter. Specifically, I’m going to talk about my personal spirituality, which is a topic I really don’t discuss amongst my friends at all. (Probably because my father is a wise, wise man.)
I stopped going to church in my early teens. The reasons behind this were very simple:
– I was the only kid there. The church was nothing but old people. No youth group. No weekend retreats to exotic mountainous locations. No Bible study. Heck, the Sunday School class was my father and me in a room talking about the Bible stories. All my church-going friends had activities beyond Sunday Mass.
– I like sleeping in. For example, Christmas morning at my house was never a scene of me bouncing on my parents’ bed at six o’clock in the morning. They usually had to come and wake me up.
– I was beginning to question the Bible. I’ve always been a curious kid, as my ever-patient parents can both attest to. The people in my church, however, frowned upon questioning the Word of God. My point to them, though, was that The Bible was written by Man, and Man is inherently flawed. If Man was perfect, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus.
So, instead of finding another church to attend, I decided to walk away from Faith as I knew it, and explore the spiritual realm on my own. If my path led me back to God, it would be on my terms, and it would be a decision I made for myself. So I spent my teenage years and my early twenties exploring with an open-mind. The first thing I noticed was that most Christians were closed-minded. It’s one thing to believe that you’re right. It’s a far different thing to refuse to discuss the matter with someone who questions it.
I’ve never said that the Christian beliefs are wrong. I’ve never denied the existence of a supreme being, though I did go through a short agnostic phase. I simply wanted to see what my options were, and make an “educated decision.” So I read a lot, and I mean a LOT, of holy texts from other religions. I read several books about religions. I made friends with religious leaders of various faiths, and had very open discussions with them. These were the discussions that I was shunned for trying to initiate by the church of my youth:
What happens to a baby that dies before it has a chance to pledge its soul to God? How is it fair for God to send a tribal African to Hell simply because that poor soul has never even heard of Jesus? How can God love us so much, and yet turn his back on those who have never been exposed to him? Why is the God in the Old Testament so much meaner than the God in the New Testament?
These are topics that don’t have a flat answer, though many of the closed-minded individuals will spit them out as if they have personally been given this Divine Knowledge by God himself. That bothered me a great deal, and still does, I’ll admit. But it’s not my place to judge them. Perhaps my example of impartiality on this will serve as a lesson.
In 2000, after my years of seeking, I returned to God. I accepted that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of all humanity, and I acknowledged that I am amongst those sinners. I can admit these things without closing my mind, though. I can openly discuss my choice and my beliefs with someone who does does see things my way, and I can do so without being offended or offensive.
Why am I writing this? Because I am looking for a Church. I have found my way back to God, but I will always be seeking. I will always be questioning. I will always discuss and debate, and I know that my faith will lead me back to the Answer. I want to find a Church that will not shun me for this, and perhaps even encourage it.
Christmas is almost upon us, and I want to attend a Christmas Mass for the first time in 16 years.

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