Despite being raised in rural Ohio, I’ve never been very religious, and quite frankly, it’s a little disturbing to imagine what I would be like if I were.
My World in a Nutshell
I have always been a really intense person. My feelings run deep and my passion is fiery. I’m one of those emotional creative types with too much ambition and a mind that takes me to dark places. I also have some serious mental health issues that only fan the flames.
I question my reality a lot – did this really happen the way I think it did? Rational thought meets overwhelming emotions. Oftentimes my world differs from the real world. The atheist in me looks for simple answers – the ones the evidence actually points to – but my mentally ill brain tends to complicate everything. I know my feelings and experiences are valid but sometimes I overthink and under analyze.
A Disturbing Thought
Knowing all this, could you imagine what I would be like if I were religious? Holy shit! My complicated brain would become a raging dumpster fire. I can’t even imagine how far I would take it. When I find something I’m interested in, I give it my all.
I’m not a very social person but regardless, I know how to use my voice. Art and writing mean everything to me and I’m sure I would use them to spread the word.
But what would that do in my personal life? How would that affect my daughter?
I’m not going to lie – this is a really weird and frightening thing to think about.
I have a schizophrenic disorder and I’ve seen many people with similar diagnoses become religious fanatics. Thankfully I’m stable on medication and haven’t gone down that road.
A Secular Life to the Rescue
I’ve often thought that atheism has contributed to the shreds of sanity I cling to. I couldn’t imagine if that were gone.
I decided long ago that I would use my relentless drive for good instead of evil. Despite my head being in the clouds most of the time, I really do value common sense. My mental illness tends to muddy up my life but atheism has brought me some longed-for and much-needed clarity.
What would you be like if you were religious? Or perhaps you were religious in the past — what were you like? Were you ever a fanatic?
I was never a believer. My body was sent to Sunday School and church, but I don’t remember ever believing any of it.
The deeply religious people I know always seem so miserable and belligerent. For example, when I walk my dog, there’s this one house with a retired man. You don’t talk to him. If you call out “have a good day” (standard for this area), he’ll launch into how it’s a good day because The Lord allows it and The Lord gave him another day to convince the sinners to repent and he’s got a LOT he wants to tell me and hey, where am I going, get back here so he can “school” me on the Bible! HEY!” In other words, I can walk faster than he can run and he’s VERY ANGRY about it because as a white man, it’s his PRIVILEGE to lecture me about his religious beliefs and how dare I deprive him of his GOD-GIVEN RIGHT?!?!?
Dr Sarah says
Interesting question. I’d most likely have started out as modern Orthodox Jewish (because Judaism is always the religion that resonated most with me, to the point where I looked seriously into converting, and because by nature I share your trait of going all in on things) and moved over to Liberal Jewish (because the going-all-in trait is one I’ve tried to modify with common sense and proportion as life has gone on).
I’ve thought about that too. I think it’d be better for me if I were a believer. Rather than blame myself or others, I could blame a god. I wouldn’t feel the sense of responsibility I do. I know lots of good people who are religious, and I once had the comfort of belief, but too many things just don’t make sense in that world and it’s no longer available to me.