Schooled in the Catholic tradition, I embraced its tenets and its rituals with utter, unshakeable faith, despite growing up in a household that fluctuated between devout Anglicanism (mother), blatant atheism (father - the Catholic!) and a pervading sense of hedonism. The god of my youth, on the cusp of having a make-over during Vatican 2, demanded my attention and non-questioning belief and the nuns who taught me made sure of it. They were convincing and I seriously considered joining them until my mother, sensing their influence, made it very plain, "OVER MY DEAD BODY!" Every year, to my adolescent embarrassment, I won the school Religion prize. That just wasn't cool and I remember cringing as I slunk to the stage to accept. There always seemed to be a deathly silence accompanying it. The nuns were smiling, but my parents were, well, bewildered. I wanted the prize for intelligence, not blind, un-empirical belief and I began to resent those prizes. Faith clung to me like a mantle. Friday evenings were spent with similar minds discussing theology as part of the Children of Mary. Needless to say my parents were becoming very concerned that this was the sum of my social life and my mother all but handed me the razor and tweezers to 'tidy up' my monobrow and my legs. I loved the comfort of my belief, but, every now and then doubts arose. I don't know where or when or why, but the doubts began to take over and, besides, Cat Stevens was providing all the philosophy I needed. I became a lapsed Catholic. Later, that 'lapse' morphed into a confused sort of atheism that has suited me just fine. After all, I don't need to believe in anything, except the dignity of life and a sense of justice and compassion. But every now and then doubts arise. They come unbidden. They catch me in both quiet and noisy moments; with family, with friends, when writing and when I connect to that poised and peaceful centre during yoga. As I get older those doubts arise more often, despite the logic of my mind. What to make of it? Perhaps I'm a lapsed atheist. 

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AuthorAmanda Apthorpe