For most of the last 20 or 25 years, I have been “studying” up on religion. It began long ago – when I was around 18 or so – that I decided to read the Bible and see exactly what was in these mysterious pages. Being born and raised the first years of my life in an Italian-American household in Brooklyn, N.Y., there was never any question as to how I would practice my faith: it would be as a Roman Catholic. Of course, as a Catholic your religion is pretty much spoon-fed to you; here’s how it is, here’s God, here’s what He wants for you, here’s what you have to do to avoid burning forever in a lake of hell fire, and don’t forget He loves you, and so on. Good stuff.
Yes, good stuff, but confusing. In Catholicism all – and I do mean all – salvation comes from the Church, and only the Church. There is no salvation without the Church, right? Which makes sense because, as a religion, “we” have to have the monopoly on “the truth,” right? The Church must be infallible otherwise someone else has the monopoly on the truth and we simply can’t have that. However, if you are the least bit curious, which I am, then you have questions, and they’re not always answered by the Big Two. The Big Two are my characterizations of the two most sited responses to questions about the Catholic God and Catholicism in general: 1) God has a plan and, when that doesn’t answer your question, 2) He works in mysterious ways. There it is; now go play in traffic, kid, you’re bothering me.
At some point, at least for me, it became necessary to find my own answers. I heard from some Protestants that a lot of the Catholic tradition isn’t supported in scripture. Wait, what?! That’s right, there are no saints, no sacraments, no salvation only through the Church, no restrictions against eating meat on Fridays, (son of a…!) etc.
Thus began my modest trek to find a or the “true religion,” and I began to read the Bible to find out for myself. Of course, at least initially, I thought perhaps Protestantism was the answer; Catholicism without the big hats but, alas, that wasn’t to be either. The simple fact and basic defect of religion is that is just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Fast forward 20 years or so and I find myself an atheist – or, at least, an agnostic – researching scripture, Hebrew & Christian; how and when it was written, and by whom. And I discover an entire universe of research dating back to the 18th century and beyond. To call it an epiphany would be both humorous as well as ironic.
However now we’re in the province of history with which I am very much more comfortable. “History” removes the faith aspect completely, it requires substance, evidence, testing the arguments and prevailing. I have been a so-called history buff so many, many years, even as a grammar school kid it was my favorite subject and has remained so ever since. This is the venue in which I found the answers for which I had been searching for so long; that and much, much more.
These will be the topics of this blog; unwinding the mythology behind religion, exposing the emptiness of belief upon faith alone, assigning culpability for the history of unspeakable horrors perpetrated upon the world by religion. Religion as what it truly is: mythology.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.