When I was a young man I accepted many things as fact. As I grew up and was educated at school there were more facts. When I was told I was going to a grammar school (which meant I was in the top 5%) I accepted that fact. When I was told I was a really good example of a really good Christian I walked away from that fact. As we all approached the end of our grammar school education and were asked which university we would apply to – I found out a curious fact. That my education was simply me on someone else’s conveyor belt.
I was brought up with facts at home as well. That when we went bed on Christmas Eve in a normal house, and woke up on Christmas morning to “Santa’s Grotto” – the fact was that Father Christmas had been to our house and “magic’d-it” while we slept.
That the tooth fairy left us money under our pillow. That we had to go school (just like dad had to go work – just like mum had to look after us). That mum and dad “struggled” at times because mum struggled with us six children (and because we never had enough money no matter how hard mum and dad worked). That we went to church every Sunday. That you mustn’t smoke (we all did). That you mustn’t drink too much (ditto). That you mustn’t have sex before you got married (ditto to that as well). That there is a God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That the bible is God’s word.
All these facts were just part of growing up. That’s how I grew up. And somewhere in all of that I was meant to become my own person. Which included accepting and rejecting. Meant changing and challenging. Meant leaving home. Getting a house. Getting married. Earning enough money. Having children. Starting all over again – but this time without the mistakes done to me (… really??).
Life was never complicated. And that is a fact.
And then in the second half of my life I began to ask questions.
Just how had mum and dad accepted a ghost (in one of the houses they lived in)? A little old lady ghost who turned up at bath-time for the wee-ones. Who sat in the corner of the bathroom and who, after bath-time, disappeared again. I never saw the ghost (before my time), but I remember my (Christian) mum and dad telling us about it – just like I would tell you about what sort of day I had.
Like arranging to meet our youngest daughter at Oxford Circus (tube station), London. And I forgetting that a young girl traveling alone – who had never traveled this route by herself – who was arriving at a busy underground station with trains coming and going every minute – a station that has multiple exits everywhere – that has crowds of people all the time – that is a place you could pass by your best-mate and not even see them – that THAT was where I had arranged to meet our young daughter. I remember sweating. I remember praying. “Please let me see her, please let me see her …” And I did. As I ran down an escalator and onto the platform I spotted our daughter in one carriage of a whole train of carriages full of people whizzing by me. I remember keeping my eyes locked on the door she would exit. And she did. And we met as arranged.
Statistics and science might tell me why. And I will thank them for their explanations, but I will still whisper “Thank you dear God”. As I did then (and still do when I recall the terror inside me). Just as I still wonder about that little lady ghost.
Because there are number of “my miracles” (which all probably come with a scientific explanation) that keep happening. Like hearing someone talk about getting a call in the seconds before they were about to do something – a call that said simply “I have no idea what you are doing but I do know I was “told” to stop what I was doing and call you to tell you not to do whatever it is you about to do.”
Like my dad going to withdraw cash from a cash-point, and hearing a whisper to double the amount, but having no idea why. And then later that day finding someone needing exactly that same amount of “double” cash he had been invited to withdraw.
There are too many personal examples to record here (isn’t that written somewhere in the bible?) – so many little “connecting things” that come without any reason right then – but make perfect sense later (or never). There may be “science” in all of that. But I have too many for me to be convinced it has to be that complicated.
And it is for those reasons that I have come to question the bible. Not because I don’t believe in a “God” anymore. But because I believe that I don’t have to call Him “God” or even “Him” anymore. I don’t see my “God” being as small as defined in the bible. I don’t see my “God” being as contradictory as I have been taught to believe. Because that means I have to cherry-pick my God in the bible. And that is why I don’t regard the bible as fact anymore.
But I do believe in something. Something all sacred texts point to:
A love that connects (if we allow). A love that empowers each of us (ditto again).
Am I right? I have no idea.
But I believe in me – and you – and love.
This was not (touch three). I wrote (touch three) earlier this morning. And then heard a whisper: “Not enough love. Let them know you believe in me. Let them know you know Love.”
I see Love everywhere in everyone. Love that does not demand you believe this, that or the other. We all know what Love is. Love is kind. We are all connected when we Love. We all do “sacrificial stuff” when we Love – but we just call that kindness.
(and that predatory self-centred stuff some people call “love” … we know it’s not)
So when we define (whatever we call our) God – that for me is religion. And that comes with “I believe” stuff. Stuff I am told to believe is fact. And then people behave badly to people. And call it “God says”. And that isn’t Love. Not for me.
So now this is (touch three)
And (touch four) is already written.