Religious Background My family is fairly religious and my views have certainly been influenced by their beliefs. I was brought up in a Christian household and the majority of my relatives are Christian as well. All throughout my life this has been the only religion that anyone in my family has followed. Most families have some sort of differing beliefs however mine lacks this and there is very little that differs in any of the family’s belief systems. Though my parents wanted me to attend church regularly I was never forced into anything whether it be attendance or belief and I truly appreciate that.
Religion is not the center of my life but it still has a strong presence and influence on my life. Though my family does acknowledge most traditions we have never strictly adhered to them. Of course we celebrate the main events such as Easter and Christmas and partake in the events that go with them. My parents would make sure that we knew the reason that we were celebrating these holidays and though presents still seemed to reign supreme there was always the thought of something bigger. We would always attend the evening church services and the large (and usually dull) family gatherings on these special occasions.
Going to church every weekend was not something that was a necessity for us however I believe most would still recognize us as regular attendees. It was always my belief that going to church was not an essential part of my religion and we would occasionally choose football or even sleep over the usual Sunday morning service. Earlier in my life we attended an Evangelical Christian church and my family agreed with the belief system for the most part though my parents seemed to have issues with some of the smaller aspects of the Evangelical church. It was at this church that I first began to form my set of beliefs and my opinion of religion.
I have always been prone to asking questions and even at a young age I somewhat philosophical (now I realize that even though I have learned a lot over the years I am still asking some of the same questions that I was asking at the age of eight). My mother was raised in a Christian household but her family was more traditional than ours is. Both of her parents are Christians and that belief filtered down to their children. Overall they seem to be a bit stricter in their beliefs and going to church was emphasized much more than it is in my family now.
It seems that with every generation gets slightly more liberal with their beliefs and morals. With my mother church was a large part of her youth and I was hardly involved. It seems to me as if there are three types of churchgoers, the ones who attend regularly (every Sunday), those who only go on Christmas and Easter, and those who live church. She was one of the people who lived church. My father grew up without a belief system but when his sister began searching for answers she became a Christian and that got him thinking and he joined a Bible study because of it.
After a while it began to make sense to him and he accepted the religion as well. After both of his children had this new found faith my grandfather decided to “investigate” as he calls it. He was incredibly skeptical at first as religion had never been a part of his life, but he decided that the best way to find out would be to read the Bible. After much deliberation and consideration he decided that there was some truth to it and he became a Christian as well, with his faith based entirely off of the Bible. My grandmother followed suit and thus my aunts’ change in belief lead the entire family to reconsider their belief.
In a way I dislike calling myself a Christian because of some of the connotations and countless different belief sets that the word Christian brings to mind (such as the people who stand at the street corner telling people that they are going to hell if they don’t repent their sins), and I feel as if labels can sometimes be problematic and inaccurate. The Bible is a large part of my belief system as it is one of the few things that make sense to me (if the Bible is the basis of the religion then I feel like it should be the basis of my faith).
It seems as if so many different churches try to impose their own set of beliefs and morals on their attendees and it has always made sense (at least for me) to deduct things for myself through reading the Bible. Many of the main points of the Bible seem to get lost in translation and I have always disagreed with Churches that constrict themselves to a specific ideology and I prefer being a part of a non-denominational church or a ‘congregation’ that is a little bit more open-minded than most. I base my beliefs off of the Bible and I feel that this is the inspired word of God.
I believe that the main message in the Bible is one of love and that getting to heaven isn’t based on works but is instead based on faith. There will always be questions and many people with different viewpoints all believe that they have the answers. Religion interests me because it seems to me as if there will never be an positive answer to life and our purpose. Religion is one way to try to begin the attempt to explain what exactly life is. I think for many people religion is a way of coping with the fact that no one really knows for sure what death will bring.
The search for meaning has always fascinated me and this drive reoccurs continuously throughout history. Many people devote their entire life towards finding the meaning of life and while it is not my intention to do the same, I still find it an interesting subject and I believe that studying the history of religion is a great way to expand your mind and gain some insight into what has unfolded in the past. I want to continue to learn about not only my own religion but other religions as well. It is my goal to keep an open mind about everything and really begin to understand and study all religions.