It's sometimes hard for me to put myself back in the mindset I had as a believer. For one thing I am ashamed that I believed what seems to be clearly nonsense. And, I did things, like bringing people to church, or children's liturgy, that in retrospect are too close to evangelising for comfort. I can't change the past, but at times I can't really imagine it either. It is like it happened to someone else. But that person was me, a backwards wishful thinking version of me.
In a way it was death that brought me to religion. I'd been raised Catholic, and even passed a few years as an altar boy. I saw my first zombie film in a church as part of an event organised for the altar boys. Looking back it seems an approriate place to learn about zombies, and my love of them outlasted my love for Jesus. By the end of Primary School I was already losing interest in religion and was fairly comfortably agnostic, with elements of superstitious woo, through Secondary and University.
I now know I was lucky, as an Irish Catholic, to escape unmolested. Especially as the church I attended, and a priest we all avoided, were mentioned in the recent Murphy Report. Unfortunately that priest died before the report and so is unavailable to be punched in the face! His isn't the death that brought me to religion. That was my grandmother. I greatly admired her for her strength, and I belive that many of my qualities that I like in myself came from her. I was devastated. I missed her so much and was so upset. So I decided to go to church, just because it would remind me of her. It seemed like a harmless idea, but I got sucked in. Thinking I could talk to her made the grieving easier. I'm not sure I treated god as more than a magic radio, and obviously I knew some doctrines came attached in the user manual. I didn't really care. I missed my grandparents.
And it was death that set me free too. I read about mediums, and how they preyed on the greiving and the vulnerable. It made me feel sick to think of these terrible people cashing in on grief, peddling empty promises.... Yes, before long I joined the dots and realised the church was just a giant version of Derek Acora with costumes and cathedrals.
But that's not the death I wanted to write about either. I wanted to write about my own, or maybe the hope of my own. I often see comments left by believers claiming that atheism is a philosophy of death, or that atheists are in love with death. Well I know I am not in love with death, but I remember a time when I was.
All the masses I attended kind of blur into one. There's not a lot to remember in a Catholic ceremony. The same responses week after week. But I clearly remember my cycle home after church. This is the time to die, I would say to myself. If one of those cars runs me over I'll go straight to heaven. I'd think that way, week after week. It is inconceivable to me now. Life is precious to me now. But to that former me, life was a chore, a box to be ticked, something to get past so that the good stuff could start.
I like to think I wasn't a fundie, but looking back at those moments it seems like I was as insane as they come. Which at least means there can be hope for the theists that argue with us, however empty headed and irrational their ideas can be. It just takes the right combination of ideas, and a little time to simmer, and you can wake up.