Like many adults, Maureen spent a better part of her youth going to church and participating in church sponsored youth-group activities. And like many adults, she spent much of her young adult life avoiding church. In her mature years, however , Maureen searched for a philosophy or belief from any source, religious or otherwise, that could provide her with answers to even some of the questions she had about the human condition.
The variety of conditions and complexities of her life and the lives of the people she knew, sometimes scared Maureen. Sometimes they made her angry. Maureen was a woman of intense passion. She prayed silently. She cursed loudly. In the quiet of her mind she spat angry interrogatories at God. What am I?!! Why do I have to be here?!! What is the point of all this?!! What are you?!! Where are you?!! Why won't you answer me?!! The ambiguous reality of her mortal existence created a painful rage in her and led her to embark on a search that would relieve her of her pain.
Maureen frequently went on "prayer binges," engaging in long soliloquies demanding God to free her from the angry pain inside her. Still, freedom from her pain was a second tier supplication. Maureen prayed most for "God to let me feel His presence inside me, even if it were scary or made me hurt. I wanted God to fill me with His presence and allow me to be an instrument of His will." Eventually, her life was altered by her desire and belief that she was destined to be one of "the exalted few God will use to make clear many of the hidden truths about Him and His creation.
At other times Maureen went on "silence binges." she hated that her "prayers were not being answered". She felt "God was ignoring me! Perhaps he wasn't there? So sometimes I ignored Him too". Nevertheless, her desire to be free from the silent rage inside her made it impossible for her to abandon her search for a comforting religious belief or even a secular philosophy.
The religious and philosophical wells from which Maureen drank were many. Some were shallow and some were deep. She discerned that most religions, in one way or another, included in their creed the belief in a sovereign, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent deity. Different religions, however, attributed disparate qualities,expectations, punishment and rewards to their god. These multifarious attributes and sundry suppositions about how God want us to act left Maureen "sorely vexed".
Maureen wanted a religion that is unencumbered by "conflicting rules, hypocritical behavior, superfluous formality, and ponderous do-nothing rhetoric. In Maureen's better world, a good religion would be simple enough that the "tribe" who subscribed to it could reasonably understand how it's beliefs would allow them to please God and live comfortably whild doing so, Paramount to everything, she believed that "members of the tribe should not have to relegate themselves to being blind, silent, slaves to doctrines and rules, or failing to do so, run the risk of being ostracized, damned to hell, or killed."
Maureen believes that the reality of religion is such that attempts to make sense of the voluminous meandering rules, philosophies, and conflicting treatises of fact leave many followers mired in confusion. As a result, the only viable alternative to confusion is to embrace the concept of faith. It is a concept that presented much consternation for Maureen and others like her. Nevertheless, its simplicity, notwithstanding, abundant faith makes the human condition tolerable for those who feel burdened by the realities of their lives and lack any real sense of safety for themselves and their children.
We have faith because we need to believe. We need to believe because of an unquenchable desire to be certain our life has purpose beyond mortal existence. We have faith because we want to excise any fear over our assumed eternal existence. We have faith because we need to believe, indeed "know", that our God is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent, tolerant, protective, and forgiving; or we feel vulnerable in our imperfections.
We feel scared in our lack of power and control over our eternal destiny. Without steadfast faith, those who believe in the God of a religion are relegated to the tenuous position of always searching for a truth to give solace to their soul and feeling incapable of ever knowing it they have found it. The price of a life without faith or a replacement for it is a life with pain and fear as constant companions.
Maureen acknowledges that a strong faith would retard her pain. But she desired more. She desired a definition and knowledge that fostered confidence in the existence and accessibility of God, that also encouraged her to live comfortable under the scrutiny of God. Most of all, she had grown tired of "the forced diet of religious babble and the rhetoric of faith".
This desire to have a substantiated confirmation of God instead of relying on faith without an authenticated confirmation does not come without a price for those who insist on it. They experience physical pain because they dare raise questions about religious faith. They sometimes suffer fear and trepidation because they dare confront their uncertainty about God's accessibility and attention. Nevertheless, they are relentless in their demands on God to allow them to know Him in a intimate way, a way that is not predicated on nor bound by the rhetoric of faith.
A compulsive demand of God is emotionally and psychologically oppressive on those who insist on the behavior. paradoxically, to find relief from their oppression, they increase their demands on God. Despite their fear and trepidation, they would dare spat interrogatories at God. They would dare rail against God for being elusive, for being unseen, and for being unfelt. They would dare question God about the wisdom of worshiping Him when He insists on avoiding and ignoring them.
And if they had to, they would dare make demands on God to reveal Himself to them. They believe it is the only was the pain that distorts their soul can be eradicated and their souls comforted.