I attended Clairmont Christian School for grades two through seven, I guess my parents thought that Catholic Mass wasn’t enough. The doctrine at CCS was some form of protestantism I don’t remember which. I do remember some of the wacky lectures we received from guest speakers- “Scientists have found Heaven in the Andromeda Galaxy”, “Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone, here’s what happens if you try”, and the standard “Heavy Metal-Satan’s Music”
Of course there was also an “Idolatry in the Catholic Church” lecture at some point. Meanwhile at Mass they were giving a more subdued counter attack. The Protestants said the Catholics had it wrong and the Catholics said the Protestants had it wrong. I decided that they were both right and I remained an unaffiliated Christian for the next ten years. A believer in the Bible if not the church.
That ended when I heard that some Biblical scholars had developed a new version of the Gospels. It was the King James version but the words attributed to Jesus were colored black if the scholars thought Jesus definitely said, gray if it was something he probably said, pink if it was something he probably didn’t say and red if it was something he definitely didn’t say. My head was spinning for days as the idea that the Bible, even just some part of the Bible, was wrong worked it’s way into my head. Bouncing back and forth from Catholic to protestant I knew that interpretations of the Bible could be wrong but it had never occurred to me that the book itself was flawed. From Christian I shifted uncomfortably to deist.
But I wanted so badly to believe; in an external purpose, in a cosmic justice, in an objective right and wrong, in rules, that the good were rewarded and the bad were punished. Being a Christian was so easy, all I just had to parrot back what I was taught as a child, occasionally reinforcing it with a rationalization.
I stood on this shaky ground until I took Comparative World Religions for an English credit. After I looked at the world’s seven major religions side by side one stood out for it’s simplicity, modesty and relative lack of atrocities, Buddhism.
While I haven’t been a very good Buddhist I have finally found a belief system that isn’t threatened when contemplated. The Four Noble Truths are philosophically sound and unthreatened by scientific understanding or other people’s beliefs.
But most importantly, Buddhism allowed me to be happy.