The idea came to me after I read two books one after the other, and they had unexpectedly many observations in common. Hejtoholik (“Hateaholic”) by Michał Wawrzyniak, a Polish artist-mentor-entrepreneur, written using psychological language, and Fear Fighters by Jentezen Franklin, an American pastor (polish translation: “Zwycięstwo nad strachem”) written using christian language.

I am going to describe my observations about religion in general, but I will focus on catholic faith, which I believe in, although I suspect most of what I write here will still hold concerning many different denominations, especially those christian and middle east.

The topic might be controversial, so I will gladly accept feedback, but please be gentle and open-minded; I have never spoken about my understanding of religion so extensively before. Especially uncomfortable is that my schooling only taught me secular English.

Is spirituality an escape from reality?

As the Betteridge Law of Headlines says, since the title is a question, the answer is obviously no. Spirituality I know assumes embracing and accepting reality, not distorting or falsifying it. It assumes living your life to the fullest, in complete responsibility for one’s own decisions (if you do not take care of something, it will not take care of itself) and in full freedom from undeserved responsibility (if something is not your fault, you do not have to — although no one can forbid you — take the burden).

This is faith for me — a decision to discover your deepest true longings, and systematically, baby step by baby step, seek to make them happen, even though life is not easy: not everything will come successful, not everyone will be helpful, not once will I make a mistake and pursue some utter nonsense. And to discover how it is, including life not being easy.

I, however, (like loads of others) believe that in all of this toil one powerful ally sees all my effort and does not stay indifferent.

Embrace reality means be yourself

I meant something similar in the first part of my Thoughts on opinions. Be yourself! Are you a talented ukulele player? Play the ukulele! Maybe you dance beautifully? Dance on! Are you rich? Buy valuable stuff, support great projects! Are you tall/short/ginger/lost in thought? Not sure when, but one day it will save your life. Come to like yourself.

Religion as private matter

In this key religion is not any supplement to everyday life. It is the very basis and center of it (etymologically requirement, compulsion, exactness, conscientiousness). If anything different is your basis and center, I’m sorry, but precisely that is your religion then. For some time in the past, messaging people used to be my religion, talking to them ten conversations at a time through different instant messaging services. Long time ago it was playing computer games who was my religion, it had been several toxic relationships for a while, it was also several valuable relationships, it was my university, it was better and worse TV series, and in the end it was the parties. Only recently have I discovered that the central part of my life must be… life. Spiritual life, which is simply inscribed in nature, completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. The ministry I discovered during my university time (MT translated duszpasterstwo akademickie as academic chaplaincy) really helped me. It gave me excellent relationships (which I hope to sustain), unforgettable memories, understanding of myself and others, and finally exceptional spiritual development, my personal rescue from really dangerous ideas.

So is it possible to keep the central part of your life to yourself? You can try, maybe it is the fashion now to not lean out; but it will never be like living a life in accord with yourself. Respecting others is a different thing. There are people who disagree with me, I know it and don’t force them to anything. I only share what great events happened when I decided it is the end with half-measures and it is now time to accept 100% of the God’s gift. I think all the misunderstanding comes from that someone feels made to do something. In this sense I have no intention to give unsolicited advice. But if someone wants me to pretend Jesus is not the most important to me, they simply make me lie, so I firmly refuse.

Is there some inexplicable reality?

I don’t know. For real. Even though I believe, I won’t tell you for sure, whether there is or there is not, nor what it is, because it simply cannot be scientifically verified. I only know that there are some things that happened in my own life, too incredible and beautiful to rationalise.1 And even so I believe that what God says (meaning what’s written in the Bible and what goes in the “preaching of the Church”), it is worth checking out, since it is something very tangible. And I know that those who risked and believed, do not regret. (I risked myself, after all I became a laughing stock for the skeptics, but I gained something great, something I can call a relationship with God.) When I say there is something, I do not always mean there must be, more often I mean I believe there is. I’ve never been to Australia, but I say there is Australia. I know a dozen people who have seen Australia with their very eyes, but I have not seen it myself. Therefore, I don’t know, but I believe.

Blindly believing in fairy tales

Yeah sure. Is good God a fairy tale and deception? Stupid stories are rather those told by people arguing that life is easy, that zero effort can lead to achievements, that true happiness can be bought or gained with a simple schema, that there is a pill for everything, that the lunch is free, and theft is a profession like any other. Or that…

God only waiting for you to slip?

Unfortunately this is what I believed for years; the consequences are easy to imagine — crisis, life in fear, excessive expectations from myself and of course, since I did not meet those astronomical expectations, because how on Earth, self-esteem deficiency. Maybe not that heavily, because nobody diagnosed any mental issues in me (maybe only because of no examination), maybe not that constantly, because with breaks, but still unfortunate stuff.

Now I believe it is exactly the opposite. That God constantly waits giving you a hand to help you get back up. Does someone Good (and almost every “believer” has heard that this is the first description of God) tells a child just scalded with boiling water “I told you so”, or does he try to help? The child already suffers a great deal and knows that it was something stupid. Why make it even worse?

Floating ghost

That’s pretty much how I always imagined God. Some invisible guy always walking behind me or next to me. Now I think that, however it might have been an image of some worth, it was quite childish. Today I mostly don’t think in such schemes, but if I had to, I would rather say there is someone I write much with, but we only know each other “from letters”/“over the phone” (or from Discord?) and I don’t know how He looks, but still lives somewhere around.

Reward after death

According to catholic church creed I believe in eternal life. But a lot of hints point that the Kingdom of God as a phenomenon in a sense starts here in our lifetime already. One thing that particularly got me was present tense in some of the eight blessings2 noticed by a biblical scholar I know (for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, not: shall be). I can confirm it from my own experience (described above, tldr: there was various stuff, and now all is really well) that I can already see how the world around me changes along with me.

Sadly, the similar applies to damnation; you can surely sometimes see people who act as if they were “dead even while the live”3 — this is unfortunately not funny, but rather sad and dramatic that they choose to surrender to an addiction, routine, or some other life empty inside, over changing at least anything. This is sadly the last stage of a long-lasting slippery slope. I get it of course that not everyone is privileged to choose better life, but there are many who are, but don’t even try.

Technology and religion

I’ve heard quite an intriguing story from a girl who had her phone stolen. She lost it during World Youth Days in Lisbon, and shared one thing that moved her: she had lost all the photos she had on the phone. The only ones left were those she sent to someone. Yet she drew an inspiring sentence from that: “if you keep something for yourself, you will lose it in the end, unless you share it with someone”. So as you can see, I am sharing. :-)

A simple situation: someone stole a phone from a girl, and she lost most of her photos. But the whole thing has a second meaning, and she noticed it. Many situations have a beautiful extra meaning to them, easy to read if you look for spiritual truth, or simply life truth.

Spiritual wisdom coming from technology. What a blast!

  1. and every situation when I received rescue, a gift or an effect I would never expect, makes for a good book title or chapter title at least (and they are only those I remember fine): plentiful catch, a rose in a tram, convincing music, accommodation from heaven, a loss under the pillow ↩︎

  2. Matthew 5:3-12; CCC 1716 ↩︎

  3. loosely inspired by wording of 1 Timothy 5:6 ↩︎