Been a witch for a while now......met the PHB (Lil Bro's ex, the psycho hose beast) 8 years ago, she introduced me to the Craft, probably waited a year or two before I broke down and really started studying though......still, Catholicism teaches you stuff like, if your faith's strong enough, God shines on you. And the Craft is a lot of work, when you're transferring your beliefs from something so structured to something that so many see as heretical. It requires a decent helping of that faith thing, directed instead at something much harder to define and in the face of people telling you that you're a) going to hell for your beliefs, and/or b) putting your faith in something quite imaginery. If Christianity is canvas, paganism is fishnet in the Christian world; you have to work your ass off to build it a foundation that can take your weight. Then something earth shattering comes along (like your dad dying), and one leg goes right through that fishnet and you're left scrambling. Ever throw a cat on a hammock? Same concept - hysterical to watch, not so fun to experience (as a crisis of faith anyway...).
Of the three of us (Lil Bro, Lil Sis, and myself), I'm the only one that went through all the sacraments of Catholicism (baptism, confession, communion, confirmation, Christian marriage). Lil Bro made it to communion before my folks' lapsed Catholic nature drew him away from the church (that and our proximity to it...the closest Catholic church near Warren was a town or two over, so it was much easier in those days to hit up the Protestants downtown), and he eloped on the beach. Lil Sis was raised by two very lapsed Catholics by that time, so other than Mom occasionally dragging her to Sunday service, the kid received very little spiritual foundation growing up (to the not-so-objective eye anyway, and compared to the years of catechism that Lil Bro and I endured). She experienced the faiths of friends, became born again in late high school, and is drifting toward the Methodists following Dad's exit. Lil Bro, thanks to community service, pulled an even stronger faith from his psyche; he just rebaptised himself, this time as a Baptist, is studying the Bible, and seems to be finding peace and strength with these beliefs. It's heartening and I'm so proud of him, but I also couldn't help feeling squirmy as I sat in his church at his baptism, listening to the well-meaning pastor expound on how those who aren't saved are damned. We even parked our car away from the others in the lot and with the back facing away from the church, so people wouldn't take notice of our considerably liberal bumper stickers. I'll shout from the rooftops the merits of finding a faith that works for you personally, but don't ask me to buy into a faith that condemns those who don't believe in it. I just can't believe that God gave us free will, only to punish those who exercise it...I mean, you take certain levels of Christianity seriously enough and people should go to hell for studying world religion in college.
But I'm a lazy witch, letting sabbats pass by without thought, and I don't keep an altar or light a daily candle or pray that much...I blame the cats for the altar thing (Fig would make short work of any altar within cat range, with the way she tears ass through the house), but I know it's a copout. So having to suddenly define little things like the concept of an afterlife or how God figures into the grand scheme has left me cast adrift. I've been trolling the Web for evidence that my beliefs could fit into the structure of Christianity somehow, so that all this wouldn't be so much work, forgetting of course that one's faith is probably one of the hardest roads you'll ever travel in this life, so if it's going along easy, you're taking it for granted or doing something wrong. I've spent the last day studying the Quakers, thinking that their liberal nature and quiet, simple lifestyle could somehow mesh with my beliefs, but alas, I've come back to the big thing standing in my way: I don't believe Christ was anything more than a man, and the Bible's just a book written by men. I'm just not a Christian, no matter how I try to bend it. I'm grateful actually for this little crisis of faith, because scouring the Christian websites for glimmers of information that ring true brings confusion, but when I then go back to websites that are closer to my faith (like Reclaiming or Feri), things get clearer and it's like I've come home. So it's time to get to work. I have the books I need already...Starhawk and T. Thorn Coyle and Margot Adler will speak volumes to this Ember Madrone, and I already own most of the good ones. Time to quit whining and put in the effort. Scary certainly, but the resulting faith and strength I'll experience will mean volumes as I come to peace with Dad's death.