Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Australia Day in the Viaduct

Australia Day in the Viaduct, originally uploaded by San Nakji.


What a stupid way to stop blogging again. So...

Everyday since I took my break from blogging I have been thinking about how to start again. I stated before that I wanted to take my blog back to where it started. I started with no photos and a lot of opinion. Somehow my blog slowly morphed into something else. Photos and no content. That's not where I want to be. That's not what this blog should be. I need it to be more me.

I was thinking about what I could start with. One thing that I have been dealing with a lot lately is religion. More precisely the lack of religion. I don't think it's a secret that I am an atheist. (I always spell this word wrongly!) My mother's side of the family is hard core brethren. They ostracised my grandmother when her husband left and told her that she would go to hell for some perceived wrongdoing that only they could see. Watching my grandmother racked with guilt every day of her life is not a pleasant thing. She has tried to make amends with her family, but there is always something between her and everyone else. Our family is the black sheep.

When I was a kid I decided I wanted to go to church with my first best friend. He was a baptist. The actual church thing held no interest for me. What I was really interested in was the activity books the kids got at Sunday school. They were great. You could do colouring in. Join the dots. Solve mazes. That's what I was in to. I can't remember ever thinking about why everyone was really there. I did ask a lot of questions. (nothing has changed) I asked so many difficult questions that the teacher asked my friend's parent to stop bringing me. So much for my dip in the waters of Christianity.

From an early age I was always impressed by Buddhism. Sometime in my late teens I decided that I would be Buddhist. I read a lot of books on the subject, visited temples. Did everything I thought I should do to be a Buddhist. However, I wasn't a Buddhist. I just couldn't believe in what Buddhists believe. It, like Christianity, didn't make any sense to me. What I really loved and still love today is ceremony. I love the old forms of Christianity the best for this very reason. Coptics, Orthodox and Catholic blow me away with their ceremony. That's what I love. It has nothing to do with the very heart of every religion. The belief in god, or gods.

I even thought about Islam for the briefest of times. Why? Because I thought it would be cool to go to Mecca.

So come university I had firmly decided that atheism was for me. I had no time to believe in god, because I wanted answers. I wanted to question. In my mind, you can only question religion so far before the answer is god. When that is the answer, then there is not enough proof for me.

In the past year I have received two books about atheism. One is The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and the other is God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. The God Delusion was the first I read and I have to tell you I couldn't finish it. It was extremely boring. I am currently reading the second book and while it is an easier read I just am not satisfied with it. I will tell you why.

I am comfortable in what I believe, or do not believe, as the case may be. I am not sure I need to read anything to tell me how I should defend my position or attack the position of others. That's what these books do. Much as many books written by religious people would put forward the position that their particular brand of religion was the best, so are these atheists, or probably more correctly, antitheists. I am comfortable in my decision and I am happy with others, many blogging friends of mine, who have come to different religious decisions in their own lives. Why do I need to attack them? I do not. They do not attack me or put me down. All is good.

Of course if the freedom to believe whatever I want is threatened or I am discriminated against on the basis of my choice of non-belief, then I will fight. So far, I have no need to fight.

For me, living in New Zealand has many annoying points. Sometimes I throw my arms in the air and just wish I were elsewhere, anywhere. One thing however that I am proud of is the fact that religion or what you believe is not an issue. Extremist religious groups exist of course, but they have no power. Our very own prime minister is an atheist, but that does not affect how people vote. It shouldn't. Her personal belief that there is no god is neither here nor there in the running of the country. One fringe Christian group tried to make it an issue, but it came to nothing. I was happy.

So that's where I am. My writing style is one of a flow of ideas with very little checking to see if it makes sense. I hope this does. I have thought a lot about this topic. I have been influenced by the people who comment on my blog. Many of them are Christian. I do not want to offend, but at the same time I want to be honest. I read their blogs and religion is an integral part of their lives. I admire this. I am not envious of it, I appreciate the differences. I hope you do too.


Matt Morelli said...

Awesome post. You can rest assured it all makes sense and flows beautifully. I had no idea Helen Clark was an atheist. I'd like to think it wouldn't make any difference in the UK too. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't.

Christopher said...

Yeah, faith is always a tough one. I sometimes wish that the states were a little more open minded about such views. Sounds like New Zealand is the place to be though. :D

hoardingsanity said...

hey san! great post. (it's aaron, i'm dusting off my blogger name for you!)

your points are well taken and you have some interesting insight. i, like you, struggle with an 'athiestic' point of view. on the one hand, i can't seem to invest in any specific faith, but on the other hand, it troubles me that there are people who are so against it (dawkins or hitchens).

what's important to note is that this new athiest uprising is in response to the (i would say) near zealotry that has taken over our socio-economical lives. that religion is, in many ways, destroying us in terms of making us ignorant to other forms of thought.

i think that ultimately, their message is a good and helpful one. the problem, is that it seems too dogmatic to those who maintain (and seem to require) a faith in their lives. i wonder who the athiests play to, who their audience is, if they only seem to strengthen the atheist 'argument' against faith, and merely infuriate the faithful against non-believers.

sorry for going on and on fella :P but twitter's down and i'm a bit bored this morning. i have a lot more to say about this, but perhaps i'll leave it for another time :)

Cergie said...

Coucou San Nakji !
I'm happy the true San Nakji is back, the one I met at the beginning of your blog in the past
I agree with you, it is good living in a country where you can be free to practice or not. It is the case in France happily.

I believe for my own, that instead you are atheist, you cannot avoid having heard about religion. All our civilisation is founded on that. Buddism or catholicism, it is the same (I know that in buddism you must not kill, not want to have the wife of your neighbour and so on, exactly the same than in christianisme.)

I believe that the world is wonderful. There are so many beautiful thinks or living : butterflies, apricot, stars and so on. That is what I believe : friendship, love ans so on...
Never mind if you are religious, or not. The most important is being respectuous of other's opinion.

Heather said...

Faith is something that I think everyone struggles with at some point in their lives.

I'm a very devote and spiritual person. However, I do believe that the Christian faith may not be right for every single person. I guess you could say there are plenty of ways to climb the mountain.

I do wish you did believe in some higher power, but I can understand that you don't. You know I pray for you, very often. And I appreciate that you don't get upset at me for doing so. But, I at the same time don't mind that the favour can't be returned in the same fashion. However, your good thoughts and wishes are more than enough for me! It reminds me that someone else out there loves me and cares about me.

My most favorite thing about you is that you embrace the world and all of it's beautiful creations just like I do. We just believe they came about in different ways. And that is perfectly cool!!!

Don't change, SN. You are a wonderful and amazing person! *SUPER HUGS*

LM (Ori)