Growing up in the Midwest, like many red-blooded American adolescents, I was born and raised a Christian, more specifically, a Catholic. In realistic terms, it meant going to church on Sunday (and Church holidays), being an Altar-Boy serving mass, attending Parochial School, receiving Sacraments (Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, etc.).
But perhaps, the most far-reaching and impactful aspect of being a Christian was learning about, accepting and Believing in God, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, Heaven & Hell, Angels, Miracles and the like. At times, it was downright interesting, bordering on fascinating. Most people accepted you for who you were and subsequently, your spiritual life went largely uncontested by others.
As a child, open to learning new things, willing to accept concepts at face value, being able to decide the truth of things and contemplating a logical result, God really didn’t seem that much of a stretch. In fact, considering the history of the world, cultures, society and the awareness of other “religions”, it appeared to me that many of the primary belief-systems had quite a bit in common with each other. At a bare minimum, each worshiped a “Supreme Being.”
Life was good, things made sense, people appeared grounded, confident and for the most part, good-natured. Everyone was generally concerned with each other’s welfare, safety, etc. In essence, people were civilized.
Somewhere along the line, however, beginning in the 60’s, maturing in the 70’s, running rampant in the 80’s, spiraling out of control in the 90’s and then, off the charts at the turn of the century, people began changing their focus inward, toward self-indulgence, worshiping False Gods (technology, entertainment, celebrity, drugs) and eventually, sin itself. It’s as if people believed God had gone on vacation or had stopped “being” God.
As I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize that Life has really become, anything but simple. People have collectively and largely, become morally weakened, stressed, frustrated and fearful that God has abandoned, or worse, “left the building”. It’s as if the bright light at the end of the tunnel, eternally shining as a beacon of hope, direction and support, had mysteriously been vanquished, snuffed out and replaced with Darkness, uncertainty, fear and turmoil.
Our indomitable Christian Spirit had been broken and the Hope for true Life and a future in Heaven became dim and precariously vulnerable to extinction.
In hindsight, it’s no wonder atheism has grown, same-sex relationships have blossomed and genuine concern for each other as human beings and Children of God has all but become a thing of the past. What was once considered an “R” rated movie is now an unfortunate norm on daily and weekly network and cable television series.
We have effectively been “downgraded” as a species, no less, by ourselves; and a likewise, self-inflicted and universal lack of faith. What was once the majority in the United States, i.e., Christianity, morally grounded behavior and values; has now become viewed as “out of touch”, old-fashioned (emphasis on old), and lame.
Pretty grim story thus far, yes? Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t need to be that way; unless you truly wish it to be true. Each of us creates our own future by our free will, choices, thoughts, behaviors and actions.
Returning to that young Catholic boy who went to church, prayed every night before bed, served mass on a weekly basis and wondered in awe of the Goodness of God and the notion of a magnificent future in Heaven… that boy has grown up and matured into an insightful, caring, confident man, rooted in faith, who REFUSES to cave in to the moral corruption and decay of society.
I have never been, am not and will not be nor view myself as a victim. To the contrary, my future is secure, my purpose is clear and my actions demonstrate my confidence in what awaits me after my physical body expires. Believe me, it is BEAUTIFUL!
Perspective is a much maligned word, previously confined primarily to drawing, art and geometry. For me, perspective has become a foundational brick in the wall of my Faith. It is an essential element by which understanding of God, life, purpose and most notably, self; is very possible, realistic and visible, i.e., REAL.
I’ve lived and experienced too many “coincidences” in life, too many exceptions to the rules, too unlikely a circumstance to naively think and/or conclude there is no God, no eternal life, no miracles, no Angels… no Accountability or Consequences to sin.
To the contrary, God (simply) is, Heaven (simply) awaits us, evil (simply) attempts to devour and consume us, and Love (simply) conquers all.
“I’d rather live my life believing in God and then die, to find out I was wrong; than to live my life in a forlorn mental capacity, believing that life is but a cosmic accident, waiting for the “end” and then die, to find out I was wrong and missed the entire lesson that God Himself intended and designed for me to experience, learn and grow in spirit.”
To each person that calls him/herself a Christian, I challenge you to step out from the Shadows of your fears and your life; and publicly proclaim your belief in God and His way of Life, to your spouse, parents, family, friends and those close to you. Begin living your life in a manner for which you can be proud, when the “Exit” sign is illuminated at the end of your journey/path.
All it takes is a bit of Courage, Heart and Wisdom. Be well.