Mental Illness and Faith

I’ve been contemplating writing a post about how being Bipolar has affected my faith. Several people have inquired about what I believe and why, most of the time I decline to answer the question. The reason is that I generally forget many of the backing thoughts behind the beliefs (due to shitty verbal communication). Also; Atheists, shut up already. Your argument that religion causes only death and strife is a bit weak against the hundreds of millions that Atheist dictators slew in the 20th century to enforce the “no religious state” policy they had. Don’t get up your own asses. Structuring your belief around the God Delusion by Dawkins is the same thing as structuring around the Bible.

I have a problem with the foundations of religion in general that boils down to being Bipolar. Most religions are founded on teachings and interpretations of sacred texts; the Bible, Quran, Tanakh. Now, even if one believes that these texts are the word of God handed down; God is not the one interpreting them. Religious leaders are. People, like you and I. There are plenty of kind-hearted people involved in religious institution that genuinely do want to do the right thing. My own diagnosis and initial treatment came from Catholic Charities.

What about the people that are broken? The people like me who have drastically skewed perceptions of what the world is and is not? It seems a little foolish to rely on people just as fallible as you or I to be the guide to a personal relationship with a creator. Especially when those leaders are filled with people just as, if not more broken, than you or I. Now, for those of you that have been following along; it is to easy to see my brain is a bit fucked. So what would happen if you had people like me interpreting holy writing? Or in some cases, pulling it out of their ass?

Scientology created by L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard was mentally unstable, his closing days of life being much like Howard Hughes’ where he was saving his urine in jars, was entirely unkempt, and afraid of outside. Some argue that he created Scientology as a sole means to generate money. Why? Because the government does not persecute religious belief thanks to the 1st Amendment. Therefore, he could largely do what he wanted and invoke his rights under the 1st Amendment to shield himself. Which he did, often. This belief is also attributed to a quote he alleged made about creating a religion to make money. Hubbard used his own writing talents to create a religion where the only way to advance was through an ambiguous E-Meter test and paying far out the ass in cash; something that no other religion requires. Scientology has alienated its members from their families, infiltrated the government in multiple offices to ferret out perceived enemies (Operation: Snow White) and destroy them, and L. Ron did not give a rat’s ass about his son’s suicide except on how it would affect his cult.

But, Scientology is pretty fringe right? It is not like we see major endorsements of it plastered all over the place or anything. Unless you count all the celebrities who are Scientologists or find it “fascinating”.

Now, several people like to trash the Catholic church for their myriad of failures to their congregation and other shenanigans. I’m going to skip by the typical rhetoric except for laying some foundation. The church denies that it shuffled around pedo-priests to protect them and the image of the church. The outpouring of victims and evidence to the contrary seems to support otherwise. Some argue that the Pope and the upper echelon should not be held responsible because they did not know what their underlings were doing in a worldwide organization. Logically, that does make sense. But even if you are Catholic and do believe that the Pope is an infallible Divine Representation on Earth; does it not also make sense that God, Jesus, or Saint Peter would pull him aside and say, “Hey, you might want to do something about all the innocent children being raped by our holy men. It could potentially destroy our followers’ and the world’s faith in us and all.” That seems like it would be a fairly imperative topic if the Pope is receiving divine guidance from Saint Peter the Apostle.

Then again, maybe the defenders of the Catholic church are right. Maybe it’s not their fault. Like it’s not their fault they chose to remain neutral about the Holocaust during the war. Or how they abused the fear and faith in them to claim properties and ruin people they felt stood against them by accusing them of witchcraft or Satanism. Moral authority can be a very shaky thing, especially when you are supposed to be an organization that stands for the morally just. And the list goes on and on.

Now, what does that actually say about the Catholic church? That it is full of people like you and I, just as broken and in some cases even moreso. The major difference is, we are not claiming that our beliefs are the only way to be saved lest ye find yourself in a fiery pit of damnation. Am I, or you, to rely on these individuals to help guide us to a favorable end in the afterlife? That seems fairly retarded to me.

Eastern philosophies in general tend to make the most sense to me. Attaining internal tranquility to be at peace with yourself, your existence, and the world at large. To realize that we truly are insignificant in the major scheme of things. Even still, where did those interpretations come from? Was it someone who was stable and had the well-being of others in mind when they determined it? Seems impossible to say.

So; what do I believe? It boils down largely to the difficult time I had with social interaction my entire life. I tried to be like other people, to fit in, and function normally. All that got me was an increased feeling of alienation as I failed miserably at it. Eventually I reached a point where I just stopped caring. I feel the same for the afterlife.

The most important thing I’ve learned in life is that I truly know nothing. That most things that people think they know, simply do not matter. I’m not going to ask forgiveness for the mistakes I’ve made, because what does it really matter? I don’t go out of my way to harm another person emotionally or physically. The only time I really do is when I’m unwell and can’t tell what reality is. That is something I have absolutely no control over. So why would I ask forgiveness from anyone other than the person I’ve wronged? My creator? The one who made me as a broken ass individual?

No, I think religion and karma are a convenience. It brings order and structure to the human experience where generally there is none. It is very clear, evil is punished in the end while good is rewarded. If you do right, you will be rewarded in some way. Karma will bring you positive things. You’ll go to Heaven and have an eternity of happiness. There is some cosmic order to the universe after all.

Unless you look at humanity’s presence on the world. Innocent people are victimized for no other reason than convenience or fun by the depraved. Then the lives of the depraved are defended by idiots who would prefer to continue feeding that individual instead of say; feeding some of the many starving people in this overpopulated world that aren’t murdering or raping people.

But look at Karma and the afterlife of virtually every major religion; do good and be rewarded. Do evil and be punished. Simple, black and white. It provides a sense of structure and order to the universe that is not usually there for most people. It is an easy system to attach to when confronted with the shitstorm that is constantly churning outside of our front doors.

Do I have religion? No. And I never will. What I do have is faith. Faith that if there is a Creator, they would prefer me to use my own mind to determine right from wrong since I have that capacity. To take responsibility for my own actions whether for good or ill. To not be so flakey to do something shitty, beg forgiveness, and then do it again. I feel absolutely no need to ask for forgiveness from anyone or anything unless I feel I have wronged them unjustly. Even then, I still would not if I was not apologetic.

And as I’ve said many times before, the only thing I truly know in life is that I know shit. I’ve thought about it many times as it has been asked to me many times, “What if you die and you end up at Heaven’s Gates to answer for your life?”

I hope I have the temerity and spine to look Peter in the eyes and say, “God made me as I am. I’m a broken person who did the best he could with the hand he was dealt and tried to improve some lives of those I‘ve come in contact with. I don’t seek forgiveness because I don’t regret every mistake I make. God can either take me as the broken, flawed individual I am or he can go fuck himself.”

Lastly, I have a real drastic problem that anyone would suggest that a person be punished for committing an act of suicide in the afterlife. If you have never been suicidal, then you do not understand the isolation, numbness, and misery that goes along with it. There is no joy, no hope, and the connection with what you care about is so weak it has no bearing on your thinking. It is one of the worst, shittiest feelings in the world and is usually the culmination of several years of depressive build up. Any God that would punish someone so harshly for their moment of weakness is not a God of love and mercy.

If you find happiness in religion, more power to you. Personally, I don’t think it’s ever been that simple. But then, what the fuck do I really know?

“They wanna bury me, I’m worried — I’m losin my mind
Look down the barrel of my nine and my vision’s blurry
Fallin to pieces, am I guilty? I pray to the Lord
but he ignores me unfortunate because I’m guilty
Show me a miracle, I’m hopeless — I’m chokin off
marijuana smoke, with every toke it’s like I’m losin focus
Fallin asleep while I’m at service, when will I die?
Forever paranoid and nervous because I’m high”

Only Fear of Death, Tupac Shakur

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One Response to Mental Illness and Faith

  1. Bren says:

    Dennis,
    I read your post and will reread it again.
    I have many thoughts and concepts I would love to share, and that I would want to hear your
    perspective too…
    I guess I must heave a big sigh after reading your missive.
    and I have to agree…it is hard to see the Creator and accept love from Him when the Creation itself is
    so fallen…
    I , for one, am glad for faith VS religion: I could never bond with an institution.
    I can only love fully within the constructs of a relationship.
    Just some thoughts to share with you my dear.
    bren

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