"God dam it!" and "Jump'in Jesus H. Christ and all the Saints in heaven!" were my father's way of initiating me into the world of church and cursing. So, let's just say I was introduced to Christ at a young age and have spoken of and to him often.
Sunday school, Catechism class, Catholic high school religion class and "yes", I was an altar boy.
My Grandmother Nichols was the most devote Catholic I've ever met. She attended mass daily.
Our family is very ecumenical; my wife and son are Methodist, I was raised Lutheran but my daughter and I are Catholic and I have an idiot brother who's been Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish and is now Muslim ( he's had a few wives).
Having attended college in the late '60's and early '70's, I've read about Buddhism and the Eastern religions and took courses in the Bible as literature. So I'm aware that the King James Bible is a translation and revision from Greek. The Apocrypha, these are the books they decided to leave out of the KJ Version, was some light reading in grad school, as was the Septuagint.
Like many people, I have actually read the bible cover to cover. There are some damn good stories in there but I can not for one second follow it verbatim. I see it more like Uncle Fred's take on posted speed limits," They are just suggested!"
So, to answer the question do I have religion?
I understand the tenets of the Christian churches and some Eastern philosophies, the politics behind some of the changes over time, attended and practiced two similar approaches but never
truly accepted any one of them.
Jesus, I believe, did live and walk the earth - as a man. For over 2000 years people have been trying to follow his teachings. If you know your history, you know that he preached to the common man, at a time when this was not done, to people under Roman rule - Pagans. He drew a crowd! Here was this young Jewish Rabbi who was drawing crowds like a rock star, teaching the Old Testament religion to "everyman", talking about God - his father - traveling with an entourage, giving dynamic speeches that made crowds cheer, turning water into wine (this is where he enlisted most of the men - hear me & drink free!), raising the dead and healing the sick - naturally the Romans got rid of him. He was stealing their power with the people.
The picture at the top off the page was chosen purposefully because I believe that Jesus was an out going, happy man, who smiled and laughed. His perpetual fame had to come from his charisma as well as his message - but as a man.
He said that God is in all of us - this I do believe.
In my almost 58 years, I've seen ugly, really ugly things but I've also seen the unbelievably beautiful and fantastic things too. We could list the ugly and the beautiful and be here forever, so I'll do my short list: I saw a mother cry at her babies funeral but I've watched my children laugh themselves to tears - I've seen Friends and relatives suffering with cancer but I've loved and been loved. The Yin Yang of life.
My strength comes from my belief that there is something more, some place beyond; problem is I don't know what or if there's a where. If it turns out to be an old bearded guy on a throne or St. Peter at the gate my rationalization is they will understand and I'll finally find out what the "H" stands for.
If they don't - I look pretty good in red and horns might be fun.