Religious, but not Spiritual

January 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm 3 comments

For some people, not having to participate in ritual is one of the benefits of deconversion. This was not true for me.

True, rituals tend to be silly when looked at objectively. Lighting candles on a birthday cake just to blow them out a minute later while everyone sings at you is a practice I expect some anthropologist has spent a fun day with. But for me, rituals are a helpful tool for building community and celebrating what (and who) I value.

I’ve been asked why I don’t keep the trappings of my old faith, continuing to go to the churches I know. I can’t do this. I’ve tried. Those rituals are tied too tightly to feelings of loss and anger for me to take up lightly. And the stories told, if not true, are not ones I consider moral. So I tried joining other communities who might gather for joint ritual and song, and work together to make themselves and the world a little better. I missed that.

The local CFI group is pleasant to chat with, but often focus more on what they are against then what they are for. The local Unitarian congregation is pleasant to visit. The rituals were familiar, but the stories and songs were new and spoke of the here and now. There was a lot of interest in making the world a better place. The community, though, were mostly people twenty to thirty years older than me, and while we spoke in a friendly manner with each other, I wanted something more.

It occurred to me that I was approaching this backwards. I then went to friends of mine who I wanted to build my relationships with, and found out what sorts of ritual communities they were a part of. Since then, I’ve been participating in the occasional pagan or heathen ritual; maybe twice in one month or once in every two months. The ones who know me best know my story, but no one cares what I believe or don’t believe. They care what I do. That’s a favour I can return.

I still talk with people from CFI and the Unitarian center, and may join them in an event or community service project, but it’s nice to have found a community of ritual I can feel at home in.

Entry filed under: Quester. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

If Christ truly rose from the dead, would I follow him? Choose your own deity

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ... Zoe ~  |  March 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Very interesting Quester. You’ve piqued my curiosity. 🙂

    I find gardening, nature and photography to be my new rituals. I built a garden of remembrance for those friends and family who died. I avoid funerals if I think they will be too toxic for me. So honouring loved ones in the garden helps me. My mother who can’t understand for the life of me how I could ever be atheistic tells me that I’m still spiritual and the act of gardening itself is prayer. 🙂 I don’t argue with her.

    I hope one day that my photos will speak to my grandchildren about who grandma is and was.

    My time at the water’s edge, inside the woods or walking through a conservation area have become my times of grounding, silence and calm.

    Sometimes even blogging becomes a ritual. 😉

  • 2. Quester  |  March 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Those are all reflective and meditative activities, Zoe, which seems to be what many people mean when they say “spiritual”. They are also very individual activities. Those kinds of rituals are good for building and celebrating yourself and what you value. Do you have, or feel any need for, a gardening, photography, or blogging community?

    P.S. Good to see you again!

  • 3. ... Zoe ~  |  March 18, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Good question Quester. The individual thing was an important part of getting in touch with me and my own healing/recovery. My struggle with PTSD as well as RTS (religious trauma syndrome) kept me isolated and not looking for community. I’d had my fill of community in my former years. Community here meant Christianity. Joining a photography club involved the same thing. So I had zero interest in that. As the years went by and recovery progressed I began to see that I probably could cope with community but I’ve never stepped out to do that due to chronic pain and illness. I only have so much energy to give to community and I prefer to keep it close to home.

    I do wonder if there was a Unitarian Universalist community here if I’d inquire but I’m not willing to travel to the nearest congregation about 45 minutes away.

    I do have community in blogging. Though I removed my blog from search engines, it is still online. I very much enjoy the community there. As well I enjoy commenting on blogs where people are leaving the faith and struggling with how that works out in their practical lives.

    I was pleased to see you here. I just happened to click through someone’s blog who still had a link to this site and saw recent posts.

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