I haven't done a Group Therapy in a really really long time, mostly because I haven't had the time to. But I'm having a peaceful quiet day, and I really felt like answering this one, even though I suspect this is one of those topics I'm not supposed to publicly share on.
My really close friends already know most of these answers. Anyone reading this from work might be a little surprised. I don't lie about my religious beliefs. I also just don't always go into them where people can bother me about them. Or where friends might be bothered by them. *smiles*
1. What is your religious background?
My mother is Catholic, my father is Congregational. I have been told I would have been baptised in a Catholic church, except that the one my mom took me to wouldn't do it because she didn't officially belong to the parish. I couldn't possibly have known this, since I was far too young and didn't hear the story until about 4 1/2 years ago, but I get the feeling this somehow set the tone for my religious life.
My grandparents would take me to church when they visited, or when I visited them. I also went to church with friends on occassion, or learned about Judaism from my Jewish friends (Natick was a very Jewish town). So I wasn't uninvolved in religion. In fact, I rather treasure the way I grew up because it gave me a real overview of organized religion -- I learned a little of everything as a child, and it taught me a very big lesson about religious tolerance.
2. What belief system do you currently follow?
I call myself a pagan. I was 22 when I finally started reading up on paganism, at the recommendation of one of my close friends. I had to get past the gut instinct I've been raised Christian so this must be bad feeling that I had and just read about it to find out that basically, paganism is what I've been all along. Its the religion I chose for myself.
And I'm solitary. This means I do my own thing, by my own belief system. I don't belong to a coven, and that's really not the way I do things. I'm a pagan because of *what* I believe in, but not how I worship.
And I do have faith. I have a very strong faith, and that's one of the things that keeps me going somedays. But it isn't the same as everyone else's faith. And in my opinion -- that's okay. Faith should be personal, not dictated.
3. How often do you attend a place of worship?
Rarely. Was just there a couple of weeks ago for my son's Baptism. Sometimes at Christmas. For funerals & weddings. That's about it.
4. How firm are you in your belief system?
I have strong faith.
I'm not into organized religion. To me, my beliefs and an actual organization are two different things. As I said above, I believe faith should be personal. So I have no difficulties with someone else believing in an organized worship manner. In fact, I encourage it -- everyone should have some sort of faith and most people feel more comfortable in a standard organized religion. Basically, find YOUR niche and go there. Be happy.
Er, I digressed. I suppose the best way to say is it that I am firm in my faith, but I'm not sure that translates into a belief system. *smiles*
5. Do you pray? If so, how often and for what purposes?
I talk. Its not prayer -- I'm not asking for anything, not even tolerance really, except occasionally please gods let me get through this day/drive/flight. But I talk to the gods around me -- the world, the air, the earth -- and I figure they're listening because they listen to everyone. Sometimes I feel like they answer, just because of things that happen.
I figure this kind of dialog keeps me in touch all the time, not just the "right" times to do it. Faith is always.
6. How do you react when someone invites you to their place of worship?
I go. Like I said, I have no problems with someone else's religion as long as it isn't harming anyone ("a man's right to swing his fist ends with another man's face"). I've been to baptisms, christenings, baby dedications, holidays, funerals, weddings, etc. I've got friends who have invited me to things designed to convert me, or at least teach me more about their organized religion, and those I will politely decline. I will celebrate their faith with them, but I will not subscribe to their organization. We agree to disagree, and I've really found that this works.
7. What are your thoughts on life after death? (Heaven, reincarnation, etc.)
I hope there is something. I am a realist, and for this reason I am terrified of death. I get the shivers thinking of there being NOTHING except decomposition. I know why there is belief in life after death, and I don't know if I have that sort of belief. But I do have hope.