I consider myself a religious person. God, conscience, and virtues have always been central in my thoughts and behavior.
I don’t mean to say that I have always been a rigorously good or straight person. There were times, I must admit, when my integrity as a religious person can be questioned.
But whose isn’t? Purity belongs to angels — who, I was told, are made of light — and saints, people who are chosen and favored by God and whom, as a result, He has made godly.
Ordinary human beings like ourselves are just that: ordinary — in every sense of the word! Being human is good and bad, all in one and the same mold. Isn’t this what the Holy Books say?
I used to feel very guilty about not being able to be “straight”, to follow religious rules rigorously — although I had always been trying. But there are, as I have now realized, different kinds of religious rules. Some, I believe, directly come from God — those words revealed in the Sacred Texts of my religion or related by the Prophet; some are derivatives — those inferred or interpreted by men of learning and clerics; some are inference of inference or interpretation of interpretation; and some are just traditions.
I have always been told that I have no authority to make any interpretations of God’s words. Being a lay person, my interpretations will never be ‘correct’. I simply don’t have the depth of knowledge and methodological rigor that it takes to approach and dissect the Sacred Texts, even for my own personal purposes.
I understand, except that now I also know that any interpretations of any texts carry with them the ideological load of the interpreters. I can still pick and choose among the various interpretations, of course. Coming from the experts, they must have some degrees of truth.
But I am a thinking person. And as such, I have the tendency to be skeptical. I questions things, rather vigorously.
If rules and rule-following are the measure of one’s religiosity, then my religiosity is suffering. The only thing that remains unshaken is my belief in God.
The more I read and look deeply into myself, the more I believe in the idea of God and in God that I believe. Other ideas contrary to this are just unfounded.
My belief in God is dialectical; I constantly keep in touch with him — through my readings of His words, my prayers, my conscience and virtues. I believe He is close and is a good Listener. I believe He speaks with his creatures all the time, albeit in silence. I believe He will let me and encourage me to find and understand Him with the faculties He has given me. I believe He will let me ask questions and think of His answers. I believe He wants me to do good, to be loving, and be just because He is. The Book says all this.
I can and may be skeptical about religious ideas, but I can never doubt about God — His existence, His intentions.